MedPAC recommends Congress give long-term care hospitals a break

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The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission did not recommend to Congress a proposed moratorium on payment to long-term care hospitals within existing acute-care facilities, calling such a move premature. Members of Congress had questioned the unusually high payments such facilities receive from Medicare.

The commission unanimously agreed that long-term care hospitals need to distinguish themselves from skilled nursing facilities to justify such payments. The commission suggested defining LTC hospitals by "criteria that ensure patients are medically complex and have a good chance of improvement," averaging a 25-day length of stay.

There were 318 long-term care hospitals in the U.S. in 2003, up from 105 in 1993, according the MedPAC. Medicare payments to such hospitals reached $1.9 billion in 2001, up from $398 million in 1993.

Congress is not legally bound to accept MedPAC's recommendations.

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