Providers criticize MedPAC payment recommendations

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Providers sharply criticized the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission's recommendation to not give an inflation adjustment in Medicare funding for skilled-nursing facilities. MedPAC last week released several draft recommendations for payment updates for fiscal year 2007.

The American Health Care Association and the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care said that not giving a market basket increase to SNFs is especially harmful because, in addition to coping with escalating costs, skilled nursing providers must also grapple with shortfalls in Medicaid payments. 

The recommendation also could lead "to devastating cuts in funding for Medicare patients at skilled nursing facilities," said Keith Weikel, Chairman of the Alliance.

MedPAC has made a similar recommendation for the past several years, and Congress has essentially overridden it.

The draft MedPAC recommendations, which still must be finalized by the panel, a non-binding advisory committee to Congress, include an increase of hospital inpatient Medicare payments in FY 2007 by about 0.45 percentage points less than the market basket (inflation increase) in the projected costs of hospital inpatient care.