Specialty Hospital Moratorium Will Not Be Extended
CMS will not extend a moratorium on approval of new specialty hospitals, despite a request for an extension last month by two senators because of concerns about information in a recent survey, agency spokesperson Peter Ashkenaz said on Thursday, CQ HealthBeat reports (CQ HealthBeat, 8/3).
Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and ranking member Max Baucus (D-Mont.) in a July 28 press release asked CMS to extend the moratorium until Oct. 8. The 2003 Medicare law included an 18-month moratorium that expired in June 2005, but CMS officials determined that the agency had the authority to extend the moratorium until Feb. 15.
The fiscal year 2006 budget reconciliation bill enacted in February included a six-month moratorium and required CMS to develop a plan on regulation of specialty hospitals. CMS must release a final version of the plan by Aug. 8, at which time the agency could end the moratorium.
As part of the effort to develop the plan, CMS in May sent a survey to 130 specialty hospitals and 285 rival facilities to determine the effect of specialty hospitals on community facilities. However, CMS sent the survey to at least five rival hospitals in states that prohibit specialty facilities, and "numerous hospitals that should be considered 'competitor' hospitals were not surveyed," according to the senators (California Healthline, 8/1).
Ashkenaz said that CMS will release the plan by the Aug. 8 deadline and that the agency has found no evidence to warrant an extension of the moratorium (CQ HealthBeat, 8/3).