Judge issues ruling in $1 billion nursing home case, says IL governor's firm not responsible

Medicare would increase skilled nursing facility reimbursements by $750 million in 2015 under an updated payment rate proposed Thursday. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services pegs each year’s payment rate to the SNF market basket, which represents the costs of goods and services needed to provide care when considering inflation. The 2015 rate would be a 2% increase from current levels, and would derive from a 2.4% market basket update reduced by 0.4% after required adjustments, CMS explained in a proposed rule.

The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, the nation’s largest long-term care provider association, said its membership is “pleased” with the update.

“These centers have shared in the sacrifice plenty through multiple government reductions over recent years,” noted AHCA President and CEO Mark Parkinson.

This year’s proposed update is higher than last year’s 2.3% proposed update.Last year’s proposal also came with bigger mandated downward adjustments, which meant providers realized only a 1.4% net increase.

CMS also will begin tying reimbursements to new statistical area designations set by the Office of Management and Budget in February 2013, the agency stated. Certain providers will go from rural to urban status, and vice-versa. This would result in an estimated 22% of providers experiencing a wage index decrease. To ease the transition, CMS has proposed a one-year period in which it utilizes a “blended wage index” for all providers, in which each provider’s index would be a 50/50 split of its current and new designation.

A potential therapy-related change also is floated in the proposed rule. It would adjust the Change of Therapy Other Medicare Required Assessment policy to allow providers to classify certain residents into a therapy RUG from a non-therapy RUG, in “limited circumstances.”

The proposed rule is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on May 6, with a public comment period running through June 30. Click here to access a pre-publication version of the document.