MedPAC pushes SGR repeal, but few pay changes

Most providers won't see any payment increases if the government takes the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission's (MedPAC) recommendations.

MedPAC last week voted on Medicare payment changes:

  • Inpatient and outpatient hospital pay - 1 percent increase
  • Physicians - SGR repeal (reiterated from 2011 recommendation)
  • Long-term care hospitals - no marketbasket update
  • Inpatient rehabilitation  - no marketbasket update
  • Home health providers - no marketbasket update
  • Outpatient dialysis- no marketbasket update
  • Ambulatory surgery centers - no marketbasket update

Although MedPAC approved the 1 percent increase, the American Hospital Association said it wouldn't be enough to cover sequestration.

Meanwhile, MedPAC urged Congress to keep payment the same for long-term care hospitals, as well as inpatient rehab and home health, AHA News Now reported.

MedPAC once again continued its call to repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula. The longer the government waits to repeal, the more expensive it becomes, MedPAC noted.

The American Taxpayer Relief Act, now signed into law, averted the fiscal cliff temporarily. It still includes a 26.5 percent cut to physicians' Medicare payments that will start later this year. MedPAC said one-year fixes continue to hurt the Medicare program, MedPage Today reported.

Congress can push "the physician community to embrace alternative payments by linking an SGR repeal today with incentives to move in the direction of value-based care," said Craig Samitt, President and CEO of Dean Health System in Madison, Wis.

In addition, automatic 2 percent cuts across all federal agencies are expected in less than two months, further affecting Medicare providers, Government HealthIT  reported.

MedPAC will issue the full report to Congress in March.

For more information:
- check out the MedPAC meeting documents
- see the AHA News Now article
- read the MedPage Today article
- here's the Government HealthIT article

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