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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services must consider the pandemic’s broad impact on skilled nursing patients and resulting Medicare payments before toying with Patient Driven Payment Model rates, a June Avalere Health analysis asserted.

The report found there was a higher proportion of SNF residents diagnosed with respiratory illnesses for fiscal year 2020 when compared to 2019 and 2018. Investigators also found increases in speech-language pathology and nursing case-mix indices for both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19  patients. 

“Our results indicate that it is hard to disentangle the impacts of the transition to the new payment system and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” co-author Melissa Morley told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News. She stressed the need “to consider the impact of the pandemic on the non-COVID patient population as CMS evaluates the transition to PDPM.”

CMS was expected to issue updated guidance, likely in time for the Oct. 1 start of the new fiscal year.