Regulators delaying new MDS 3.0 nursing home payment system to 'minimize confusion'

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Keeping record
Keeping record
Federal healthcare regulators on Thursday announced a sweeping round of delays for an updated tool to enhance the nursing home payment system. The rollout of MDS 3.0 is now targeted for October 2010 and other intermediary steps are being pushed back, officials with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said.

A revised timeline is being reviewed and could be issued within the next month, said Tom Dudley, MDS 3.0 Project Officer for CMS.

"The data specs and item sets due to be published this month will likely not be published until October ... so we can release a 'final' version," he added in comments to 600 participants in a SNF Open Door Forum conference call. MDS 3.0 was slated to be released in October of this year.

Dudley said the postponements are being made "hopefully to minimize confusion."

He also cautioned providers about pursuing MDS 3.0 training too aggressively, saying "everything out there is still in draft form and likely to be changed."

Additionally, new payment rule information can be expected in May, according to Sheila Lambowitz, division director of the Chronic Care policy group at CMS.

"We are working very hard and very carefully," she said, addressing the MDS 3.0 delays, which many industry observers had expected. "(We're) making sure all of the needs of our stakeholders and programs and systems that rely on the MDS can be updated to work efficiently with the MDS 3.0. Rather than rush into it, we are stepping back and taking a little more time to work on it."

The most current discussion and a Q & A with national experts on the MDS 3.0 will take place at 1 p.m. ET March 26 at a special McKnight's webcast. There is no cost to attend, or earn the CE unit attached to the online event. Free registration is now underway at