Cheryl Phillips, M.D.

A Medicare payment rate update will increase aggregate skilled nursing facility reimbursements by $470 million during fiscal year 2014, according to a final rule issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The final rule projects a payment increase less than the $500 million estimated in the proposed version of the rule, which CMS issued in May. The final rule altered the “multifactor productivity adjustment,” a measure determined by the economic forecasting firm IGI. CMS relied on more recent data from IGI in calculating the adjustment in the final rule.

Long-term care advocates described the final rule as fair.

“While AHCA voiced some concerns about CMS data analysis, the skilled nursing profession appreciates the agency’s even-handed final rule,” said Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living.

AHCA expressed its concerns in a July 1 letter. CMS responded in comments within the final rule itself.

CMS has taken a “reasonable approach” in this update, according to Cheryl Phillips, M.D., LeadingAge senior vice president, public policy and advocacy.

However, providers should keep in mind that sequestration cuts will continue to affect Medicare reimbursement unless Congress acts, Phillips noted.

The final rule also includes a new Minimum Data Set item for reporting the distinct number of therapy days.

The rule will be published in the Federal Register on Aug. 6. Click here to access the document.