Proposed pay cut to LTC hospitals could raise skilled nursing census

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A proposal by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to cut Medicare payments to long-term care hospitals could lead to a boost in residents at skilled nursing facilities this summer.

CMS proposes cutting Medicare payments to long-term care hospitals by 11% beginning July 1. Today is the last day the agency is accepting comments on the proposed rule. Last week, Nancy Johnson (R-CT), chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, expressed concerns about the proposal, saying it would target one-sixth of the LTC hospital population with the shortest stays.

The payment reductions could save about $440 million over 12 months beginning in July, CMS says. Many short stay outliers do not need the more costly care offered in these hospitals and could instead receive care in less expensive acute care hospitals or skilled nursing facilities, CMS asserts.