MedPAC members on board with incremental shift to new pay model starting in 2019

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Under the transition the new pay model would be fully in place by 2021.
Under the transition the new pay model would be fully in place by 2021.

Medicare Payment Advisory Commission members reportedly expressed unanimous support for a plan to transition to a new post-acute payment system beginning in 2019 at a meeting last week.

MedPAC members suggested a 2-year, incremental transition plan last month that would “blend” the current payment rates with those in the group's recommended unified post-acute payment system. Easing providers into the new rates could give them more time to adjust to the new payment method, crease the equity of payments across conditions and help correct current biases in the payment system, commissioners said at the time.

That two-year transition beginning 2019 won unanimous approval from MedPAC members during a meeting held Thursday, according to Bloomberg BNA. Pay rates would be blended in 2019 and 2020, with a complete move to the new system slated for 2021.

The incremental shift would reduce “disparities in Medicare margins across providers” and give the long-term care sector less incentive to be selective about the beneficiaries they admit, commissioners said.

The group is expected to vote on the transition plan during its January meeting, Bloomberg reported.

A skilled nursing-specific presentation shared at Thursday's meeting noted that Medicare payments to providers should be changed for 2019 as they currently remain “too high.” MedPAC has been critical of current post-acute payment rates in the past, chastising lawmakers over possible savings that were missed by not implementing the group's recommendations for pay cuts.

Thursday's meeting was the first under new MedPAC Executive Director James Mathews, Ph.D., who took over after former director Mark E. Miller left at the end of November.