Medicare payments to acute care hospitals jump 2.3%

General acute care hospitals will see Medicare payment rates rise 2.3 percent in fiscal year 2013, after allowing for other payment and regulatory changes, thanks to the final rule issued yesterday by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. That's a big jump from the 0.9 percent the agency proposed in April.

Under the final rule for the 2013 Inpatient Prospective Payment System and the Long-Term Care Hospital Prospective Payment System, CMS expects total Medicare spending on inpatient hospital services will increase by about $2 billion in 2013.

Meanwhile, long-term acute care hospitals will see a 1.7 percent bump in Medicare payments with the new rule.

Provider groups already have praised the updated payment rates. For instance, the American Hospital Association "commends CMS" for its actions. "Although we remain concerned that CMS continues to implement unnecessary coding cuts for changes in 2008 and 2009, we are pleased that CMS changed course on the new 2010 proposal that would have challenged hospitals' mission of caring," AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock said yesterday in a statement.

With the final rule, CMS added a new outcome measure to the value-based purchasing program set to begin in October, now rewarding hospitals for avoiding central line-associated bloodstream infections.

The rule also determined the methodology of the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, which will penalize hospitals for high readmissions for heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia starting in October. Hospitals should expect a 0.3 percent drop (about $280 million) in Medicare payments due to the readmissions program, according to CMS.

In a string of rate increases, CMS last week gave skilled nursing facilities a 1.8 percent Medicare payment bump for fiscal 2013.

For more:
- read the CMS announcement
- check out the final rule (.pdf)
- read the AHA statement (.pdf)