CMS pushes back explanation of controversial two-midnight rule

An explanation from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on a section of its controversial two-midnight policy will be published more than a month later than expected, the agency announced Friday.

CMS originally slated its explanation of the rule, which would cut payments to inpatient hospitals by 0.2%, to be published on March 18. It will now be released April 27, the agency said in the Federal Register.

A court ordered CMS in September to publish an explanation and response to public comments on the pay cuts, which are expected to reduce hospital payments by roughly $220 million annually. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell has stated the cuts would help offset the cost of moving patients from outpatient to inpatient status under the two-midnight rule.

Hospitals objected to Burwell's explanation of the cuts, saying they were unnecessary. More than 50 hospitals joined together in January to sue HHS in opposition to the rule, despite CMS' stating that it would “not propose to reconsider the reduction... at this time.”