CMS proposes Medicare increase for LTC hospitals

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has proposed a rule that would increase Medicare payment rates for long-term care hospitals 2.9%, or an estimated $118 million, for fiscal year 2005. Long-term care hospitals are defined as those with an average inpatient stay of more than 25 days.

CMS' proposed rule would modify the interrupted stay policy: Regardless of where discharged patients go, Medicare would reimburse long-term care hospitals for one episode of care for readmissions that occur within three days.

The proposed rule will be published in the Jan. 30 Federal Register. Comments on it are due to CMS by March 23. The agency is expected to issue a final rule this spring. To see the announcement, visit www.cms.gov/media/?media=pressr.