MedPAC Report Stumps for SGR Repeal, 1% Hospital Pay Increase
In its annual report to Congress on Thursday, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission recommended increasing certain hospital payments and urged lawmakers to overhaul the sustainable growth-rate formula, Modern Healthcare reports.
The 443-page report presents the group's Medicare payment policy suggestions, which were approved by its commissioners in January.
MedPAC recommends that Congress increase hospital inpatient and outpatient care payments by 1% in fiscal year 2013 (Zigmond, Modern Healthcare, 3/15). MedPAC also calls for reducing payments for evaluation and management visits in hospital outpatient departments to the rate of free-standing physicians' offices across three years.
In addition, the report recommends a:
- 0.5% payment increase for ambulatory surgical centers;
- 1% payment increase for outpatient dialysis services; and
- 0.5% payment increase for hospice services (MedPAC factsheet, March 2012).
MedPAC did not recommend increasing payments for skilled-nursing facilities, long-term-care hospitals, or inpatient rehabilitation facilities (Modern Healthcare, 3/15).
MedPAC Reiterates Support for SGR Repeal
MedPAC in its report continued to urge Congress to repeal the SGR formula and replace it with a 10-year path of statutory fee-schedule updates (Pecquet, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 3/15). Specifically, the panel recommended freezing current primary care payment levels, and reducing payment levels for all other services by 5.9% annually for three years, followed by a freeze.
The report included an October 2011 letter in which MedPAC offered various ways to fund a SGR repeal, such as applying an excise tax to Medigap plans and rebasing skilled-nursing facility payments.
Mark Miller, executive director at MedPAC, said he is unaware of any current legislation that aligns with the group's recommendations to repeal the SGR formula. He added, "But as long as the cost of the action is $300 billion, they've got to figure out how they're going to finance it" (Modern Healthcare, 3/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.