Prompted by a hearing of the House Ways & Means Committee, the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living has reiterated a call for bipartisan action to reform Medicare without further steep reimbursement cuts. 

The House committee, led by Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), heard from two Medicare experts during the hearing last Friday: Jonathan Blum, deputy administrator and director, Center of Medicare, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; and Mark Miller, executive director, Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.

Both men addressed post-acute care payment reforms in the White House’s proposed 2014 budget. In addition to reductions in Medicare payments to post-acute providers, the proposals include readmissions penalties for SNFs and more robust bundled payments for post-acute care.

AHCA/NCAL President and CEO Mark Parkinson spoke after the hearing in support of broad-based reforms that “do more than simply cut payments” noting how many SNFs have “razor-thin operating margins.”

“We appreciate the committee exploring payment reforms that are based more on the quality of patient care rather than the location in which care is provided,” he said.

Both panelists expressed support for this type of payment reform, with Blum noting CMS is placing a special emphasis on post-acute participation in bundled payments and ACOs. But ACOs and similar systems will take a long time to fully implement, while more basic site-neutral payments, readmission penalties and rebased SNF payments are workable short-term actions, Miller stated in his written testimony. 

With respect to readmissions, Parkinson touted AHCA’s efforts. Nearly 25% of AHCA members reduced 30-day hospital readmissions by 15% in 2012. 

Click here to access a video of the hearing.