The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services disclosed Friday that it has posted a new draft version of the 2020 MDS item sets (v1.18.0), taking many providers by surprise.

The agency noted in its unveiling that Section G “has been removed from all Federal item sets.” While at least one close observer noted there were rumors that the section might have been eliminated by this year, others said they didn’t expect it to be erased even in the coming regulatory year, which starts Oct. 1, 2020.

Section G notably is used to calculate quality measures, including those related to function (short-stay function) and Percent of Residents Whose Ability to Move Independently Worsened (long-stay). (Section GG, which was enacted last Oct. 1 with the onset of the Patient Driven Payment Model, is used only for Medicare Part A residents.)

The timing of Friday’s announcement also caught some observers off-guard as they considered it “early” for such a notice. In fact, many more changes are expected before a final set becomes effective Oct. 1.

The pertinent new CMS files can be found in the Downloads section of the MDS 3.0 Technical Information webpage. The agency said Friday morning that the MDS 3.0 Item Set Change History for the October 2020 report also will be posted to this site “shortly.”