MedPAC shows enthusiasm for equalizing SNF, inpatient rehab facility payments

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Rehab providers blast site-neutral payments, call for rejection
Rehab providers blast site-neutral payments, call for rejection

More uniform reimbursements for skilled nursing facilities and inpatient rehabilitation facilities could be implemented soon, policy analysts recently told the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.

The move, known as payment rationalization, is not a new idea. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services tested the concept in 2006, after developing a patient assessment tool that could be used in both settings. The trial showed that payment rationalization is feasible, according to a brief on post-acute payments prepared for MedPAC. The group, which advises Congress on Medicare policy, met Thursday and Friday.

“Broad payment reform for PAC has many challenges but, in the near term, CMS could pursue a strategy to narrow the price differences between IRFs and SNFs,” the brief states. “Both providers focus on institutional rehabilitation services and there is overlap in some of the patients they treat.”

MedPAC commissioners support rationalization, the Bureau of National Affairs reported. The panel is nearly unanimous in believing that post-acute payment reform can begin with IRF and SNF price narrowing, said MedPAC Chairman Glenn Hackbarth.