Federation lobbies Congress on site-neutral payments

The trade association representing many of the nation's for-profit hospitals has asked the leaders of two key Congressional committees to take a close look at proposals that would impact site-neutral payments to providers. 

In particular, the Federation of American Hospitals wants Congress to take a closer look at payments that are being made for outpatient care to providers that are owned by hospitals.

A budget agreement reached between Congress and the Obama administration last autumn would introduce site-neutral payments to outpatient centers recently acquired by hospitals, with the remaining sites grandfathered in to higher payments. Hospitals and hospital-owned facilities are generally paid more by the Medicare and Medicaid programs to provide outpatient care than standalone operations.

Site-neutral payment policies are projected to save the Medicare program as much as $30 billion over the next decade, a sum that is larger than if the eligibility age to enter the program was raised from 65 to 67. However, the issue of site-neutral payments has been a battleground among policymakers and providers for many years.

"We are particularly concerned that Congress may be considering further site-neutral payment policies, such as past recommendations from MedPAC, especially without the benefit of evaluating the consequences, intended and unintended..." read the letter, which was addressed to Fred Upton and Joseph Pitts, chair of the House Energy Committee and chair of the health subcommittee. 

The letter also warned that a wider adoption of site-neutral payments would hamper development of outpatient services in underserved areas, both rural and urban.

To learn more:
- read the Federation's letter (.pdf)