CMS wants more comments on possible overhaul of therapy pay rules

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Providers can still email comments to CMS, officials said Thursday.
Providers can still email comments to CMS, officials said Thursday.

Despite the closing of the official comment period, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services officials said Thursday they will still accept feedback from providers on a proposal to replace the current skilled nursing therapy reimbursement method.

CMS posted an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking in May, along with the fiscal year 2018 payment proposal, stating that it was considering replacing the current skilled nursing case-mix classification model. The official comment period on the notice closed Aug. 25.

The agency received just under 250 comments on the notice, which are still being reviewed, officials said, according to attendees of an Open Door Forum call held Thursday. Many of the comments concerned the possibility that the amount of therapy provided to residents would be reduced under the new system, a point that CMS is “taking very seriously,” officials said.

John Kane, a skilled nursing team member at CMS, said the agency will still accept comments on the proposal via email, at snftherapypayments@cms.hhs.gov. As of Thursday CMS had no plans on publishing the comments and their answers publicly, and may eventually request additional information, officials noted.

They also used the call to remind providers that the deadline for submitting staffing data for the period of July 1 to Sept. 30 is Nov. 14. Providers that miss that deadline will have their overall staffing and registered nurse staffing ratings suppressed for the December 2017 Nursing Home Compare update.

The next Skilled Nursing Open Door Forum call is expected to take place in late December or early January.