CMS rule would lower hospice payment rates by $80 million

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced a proposed rule that would lower Medicare payment rates for hospices by $80 million in fiscal year 2012.
The proposal, called the Hospice Wage Index for Fiscal Year 2012, also begins the implementation of a quality reporting program for hospices, the Bureau of National Affairs reported.

The agency announced it would keep phasing out the wage index budget-neutrality adjustment factor with an additional 15% BNAF reduction, for a total BNAF reduction in FY 2012 of 40%. The BNAF phase-out, according to BNA, will continue with successive 15% reductions from FY 2013 through FY 2016. Finally, the proposed rule revises the agency's mandated face-to-face visit between each hospice patient and their caregiver to recertify a patient's terminal illness. 

“The proposals set forth by CMS for 2012 hospice care are an encouraging first step toward improving access to the valuable care that millions of Americans depend on," said Val J. Halamandaris, National Association Home Care & Hospice president. “In addition, by allowing for some flexibility and clarification within the face-to-face encounter rule for hospice care, caregivers and patients can better work together to meet the requirement with as little disruption to care as possible.

The rule can be viewed at The Office of the Federal Register's Public Inspection Desk under “special filings.” The comment period for the rule ends on June 27, 2011.