Medicare growth attributed to change in skilled nursing facility pay rates

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A one-time change in Medicare payment rates for skilled nursing facilities contributed to a 6.2% expansion of the Medicare program in 2011, according to figures recently released by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Medicare grew at a faster rate in 2011 than in 2010, which saw growth of 4.3%. In addition to the SNF rate change, increased Medicare spending in 2011 could be attributed to more people seeing doctors through fee-for-service Medicare and Medicare Advantage programs, experts say.

Medicaid spending slowed significantly in 2011 on a year-over-year basis. The program grew 2.5% in 2011, a significant drop from 5.9% growth in 2010. The CMS report said budgetary pressure on states caused by the weak economy and the June 2011 expiration of federal aid to the states contributed to the slower growth.

Overall U.S. healthcare spending grew at a rate of 3.9% in 2011, the same as in 2009 and 2010. These three years saw the slowest recorded growth in healthcare spending since the National Health Expenditure Accounts began 52 years ago.


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