CMS proposes small pay increase for acute care hospitals
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) expects operating payments to acute care hospitals to increase by about 0.9 percent, or $175 million, in 2013, according to a proposed rule.

That figure includes a 2.3 percent net payment update which accounts for inflation, productivity improvements, coding changes and other adjustments, as well as other policies included in the rule, and affects approximately 3,400 acute care facilities and about 430 long-term-care hospitals.

Also under the proposed rule, payments to long-term, acute care hospitals are expected to increase by approximately 1.9 percent, or about $100 million, next year. That projection is based on a 2.1 percent payment increase to those facilities that is then reduced by 1.3 percent to account for a one-time budget-neutrality adjustment. This brings the actual payment rate increase for long-term care hospitals to 0.8 percent for next year.

The regulation also suggests changes to the hospital inpatient quality reporting program; outlines new measures for the hospital value-based purchasing program; and proposes requirements for the ambulatory surgical center quality data reporting program that is effective as of 2014.

“The proposed rule would implement key elements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's value-based purchasing program as well as the hospital readmissions reduction program. It also establishes the groundwork for extending Medicare's quality reporting programs beyond general acute-care hospitals to other types of facilities,” acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in a statement. “It is part of a comprehensive strategy to use Medicare's payment systems to foster better care and better value in all settings, thereby reducing overall Medicare spending.”

CMS is accepting comments on the rule until June 25 and plans to issue a final rule by Aug. 1.