Hospitals: Change SNF pay

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The government should adopt Medicare payment policies that better support hospital-based skilled nursing facilities, the American Hospital Association urged in a recent letter to a top healthcare official.

The SNF prospective payment system should give more consideration to non-therapy ancillary services such as diagnostic X-rays, according to the AHA's June 25 letter to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. 

The SNF prospective payment system also should have a high-cost outlier payment adjustment, the hospital association stated. 

This would help providers care for “exceptionally high cost” patients without having to resort to high therapy volume to maintain margins, the AHA argued. The organization pushed for legislative action that would allow CMS to make this change.

Such changes would bolster hospital-based SNFs, which “treat more medically complex patients, discharge patients with a much shorter length of stay, and use more ancillary services” than other skilled facilities, the letter stated. About 850 hospital-based SNFs are members of the AHA, according to the association.

The letter served as the AHA's official comment on the proposed rule for the fiscal year 2015 SNF prospective payment system.