MedPAC Meets

Last week the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission met in Washington, D.C. to discuss a number of Medicare payment issues.

The issues on MedPAC’s January agenda were:

  • The Medicare prescription drug program (Part D):  status report and options for restructuring
  • Redesigning the Medicare Advantage quality program:  initial modeling of a value incentive program
  • Hospital inpatient and outpatient payments
  • Physician payments
  • Outpatient dialysis payments
  • Skilled nursing facility, home health, inpatient rehabilitation facility, and long-term-care hospital payments
  • Hospice and ambulatory surgery center payments
  • The 340B program
  • ACO beneficiary assignment

MedPAC is an independent congressional agency that advises Congress on issues involving the Medicare program.  While its recommendations are not binding on either Congress or the administration, MedPAC is highly influential in governing circles and its recommendations often find their way into legislation, regulations, and new public policy.

Go here for links to the policy briefs and presentations that supported MedPAC’s discussion of these issues.

Medicare Money for Nurse Practitioner and Physician Assistant Training?

Should Medicare offer graduate medical education money for nurse practitioner and physician assistant training?

That was the subject of a recent inquiry by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

In a new report inspired by concern over the current physician shortage and the belief that making greater use of nurse practitioners might help relieve that shortage, the GAO examined whether expanding Medicare’s graduate medical education (GME) program to include resources for the training of nurse practitioners and physician assistants was practical or possible.  As part of its research, the GAO reviewed current literature, interviewed officials of professional associations, and explored the financial and academic implications of a greater federal role in the training of nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

The possibility of GME funding for nurse practitioner and physician assistant training would be of great interest to the many private safety-net hospitals that have medical education programs.

Read about what the GAO learned in its new report Views on Expanding Medicare Graduate Medical Education Funding to Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants

Good News and Bad for Hospitals on Outpatient Payments

A federal court has provided relief to hospitals that saw reduced Medicare payments for some outpatient services in 2019.

But that relief is only partial.

In response to a suit filed by several hospital groups, a federal court ruled that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid services had illegally reduced Medicare payments for services provided in some hospital off-campus outpatient departments beginning on January 1, 2019 and ordered the federal government to repay the hospitals for the Medicare revenue they lost.  The reduced payments were part of a new Medicare site-neutral payment policy for outpatient services, and CMS has announced a plan for reimbursing affected hospitals for their losses.

At the same time, however, CMS announced that despite the court’s ruling, it will implement the same policy of reduced payments for outpatient care provided in some hospitals’ off-campus outpatient departments in 2020, and an effort by hospitals to persuade the court to ban this payment reduction was rejected by the same court that ruled against CMS on the 2019 payments.

Learn more about the ruling that CMS must reimburse  hospitals for lost payments in the Healthcare Dive article “Hospital group cheers CMS move to pay back outpatient payment cuts.”  Learn about the court decision not to impose the same decision on 2020 payments in the Fierce Healthcare article “Judge strikes down AHA’s bid to halt CMS’ site-neutral payment cuts for 2020.”

President, VP Attempt to Mediate HHS Feud

President Trump and Vice President Pence have stepped into a feud between Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services administrator Seema Verma.

Azar and Verma have apparently clashed on numerous occasions in recent months, with Verma criticizing at least one Azar proposal during an Oval Office meeting and Azar being overruled by the president on several occasions.  According to Politico, President Trump “…instructed Azar to smooth things over.”

Verma, meanwhile, met with Vice President Pence, with whom she worked when Pence was governor of Indiana.

As head of CMS, Verma oversees the country’s Medicare and Medicaid programs but reports to Secretary Azar.

Learn more about the clash between Azar and Verma and the attempts of the president and vice president to address them in the Politico story “Trump pulled into feud between top health officials.”

NASH Conveys End-of-Year Priorities to Congress

Preventing Medicaid DSH cuts, a fair approach to protecting patients from surprise medical bills, and reducing prescription drug costs are among the policy positions that the National Alliance of Safety-Net Hospitals recently shared with Congress.

In its message to Congress, NASH also asked lawmakers to protect 340B prescription drug discounts for private safety-net hospitals and to preserve dedicated funding for community health centers, the National Health Service Corps, and the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education.

Learn more about NASH’s end-of-year policy priorities from the message “Protect Safety-Net Hospitals and the Communities They Serve in Upcoming Budget and Legislative Deliberations” that NASH delivered yesterday to all 535 members of Congress.

MedPAC Meeting Transcript Now Available

Last week the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission met in Washington, D.C.  Among the Medicare payment issues on its agenda of interest to private safety-net hospitals were:

  • Assessing payment adequacy and updating payments: Physician and other health professional services
  • Assessing payment adequacy and updating payments: Ambulatory surgical center services
  • Assessing payment adequacy and updating payments: Hospital inpatient and outpatient services;
  • Assessing payment adequacy and updating payments: Skilled nursing facility services
  • Assessing payment adequacy and updating payments: Home health care services
  • Assessing payment adequacy and updating payments: Inpatient rehabilitation facility services
  • Assessing payment adequacy and updating payments: Long-term care hospital services

A transcript of that MedPAC meeting is now available.  Find it here.

MedPAC Meets

Last week the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission met in Washington, D.C. to discuss a number of Medicare payment issues.

Among the issues on MedPAC’s December agenda that were of special interest to private safety-net hospitals were:

  • Assessing payment adequacy and updating payments: Physician and other health professional services
  • Assessing payment adequacy and updating payments: Ambulatory surgical center services
  • Assessing payment adequacy and updating payments: Hospital inpatient and outpatient services
  • Assessing payment adequacy and updating payments: Home health care services
  • Assessing payment adequacy and updating payments: Inpatient rehabilitation facility services
  • Assessing payment adequacy and updating payments: Long-term care hospital services

MedPAC is an independent congressional agency that advises Congress on issues involving the Medicare program.  While its recommendations are not binding on either Congress or the administration, MedPAC is highly influential in governing circles and its recommendations often find their way into legislation, regulations, and new public policy – policies that often have a major impact on private safety-net hospitals.

Go here for links to the policy briefs and presentations that supported MedPAC’s discussion of these issues.

MedPAC to Meet Tomorrow

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission meets this Thursday and Friday in Washington, D.C.

MedPAC’s December agenda is dominated by Medicare payment issues:  how much Medicare should pay for different types of services in calendar year 2021 and FY 2021.  The services to be addressed during the December 5-6 meetings are physician and other health professional services, ambulatory surgical center services, hospital inpatient and outpatient services, skilling nursing facility services, home health services, inpatient rehabilitation facility services, long-term care hospital services, outpatient dialysis services, and hospice services.

In addition, MedPAC commissioners will discuss their mandated report on expanding Medicare’s post-acute care transfer policy to hospice and hear a status report on the Medicare Advantage program.

MedPAC is an independent congressional agency that advises Congress on issues involving the Medicare program.  While its recommendations are not binding on either Congress or the administration, MedPAC is highly influential in governing circles and its recommendations often find their way into legislation, regulations, and new public policy.  Those recommendations, in turn, can have a major impact on the nation’s private safety-net hospitals.

Learn more here.

Administration Shares Regulatory Priorities for 2020

The Trump administration’s health care regulatory priorities for 2020 have been outlined by the Office of Management and Budget in a newly released “Statement of Regulatory Priorities for Fiscal Year 2020.”

The statement, an annual OMB document, organizes the priorities as follows:

  • Facilitating patient-centered markets
  • Fixing health care financing through protecting private insurance and Medicare
  • Fixing health care financing through reforming the individual market
  • Fixing health care financing through making the ACA and Medicaid fiscally sustainable
  • Bringing value to health care through price and quality transparency
  • Bringing value to health care through patient-centered health IT
  • Bringing value to health care through deregulation, especially for coordinated care
  • Bringing value to health care through tackling the high cost of prescription drugs
  • Bringing value to health care through accelerated drug and device approval and reimbursement
  1. Promoting health and protecting life
  • Addressing impactable health challenges: kidney health
  • Addressing impactable health challenges: combatting the opioid crisis
  • Protecting conscience and life at all stages
  • Reducing the disease and death associated with tobacco use
  1. Promoting independence
  • Returning TANF to promoting work, marriage and family
  • Supporting adoption
  • Empowering Americans to improve their nutrition
  • Promoting flexibility for states, grantees, and regulated entities

Learn more about the regulatory directions the administration intends to take for the rest of its 2020 fiscal year in the newly released “Statement of Regulatory Priorities for Fiscal Year 2020.”  Go here to see the complete list of regulations that the Department of Health and Human Services intends to pursue in FY 2020, including 55 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

 

MedPAC Meets

Last week the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission met in Washington, D.C. to discuss a number of Medicare payment issues.

The issues on MedPAC’s November agenda were:

  • congressional request on health care provider consolidation
  • increasing the supply of primary care physicians
  • redesigning the Medicare Advantage quality bonus program
  • reforming the benchmarks in the Medicare Advantage payment system
  • considerations for plans serving low-income beneficiaries in the restructuring of Medicare Part D
  • post-acute care spending under the Medicare Shared Savings Program

MedPAC is an independent congressional agency that advises Congress on issues involving the Medicare program.  While its recommendations are not binding on either Congress or the administration, MedPAC is highly influential in governing circles and its recommendations often find their way into legislation, regulations, and new public policy.  Those recommendations, in turn, can have a major impact on the nation’s private safety-net hospitals.

Go here for links to the policy briefs and presentations that supported MedPAC’s discussion of these issues.