Long-term care hospitals get reimbursement break

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has backed off plans to cut the long-term care hospitals' reimbursement rates by an average of 11%. Public comment helped lead the agency to be more generous, the agency said.

CMS issued its final rule regarding appropriate LTCH rates Tuesday. CMS significantly revised the fourth component of the payment formula, which gives a blend option and considers the patient's length of stay.

The final rule will be published in the May 12 Federal Register and be effective for patients discharged from July 1, 2006 through June 30, 2007. Medicare payments to LTCHs during rate year 2007 will total approximately $5.3 billion, according to CMS estimates. For more on the rule, visit www.cms.hhs.gov/ReportsTrustFunds.

Long-term care hospitals generally have an average Medicare inpatient length of stay of greater than 25 days. They typically provide extended medical and rehabilitative care for patients who are clinically complex and may suffer from multiple acute or chronic conditions. Services typically include comprehensive rehabilitation, respiratory therapy, head trauma treatment and pain management. A significant number of LTCH admissions are "short stay" transfers from acute care hospitals that may supplant or precede nursing home care.
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