A federal unified payment system for post-acute providers should not be rushed or haphazard, skilled nursing industry advocates said this week.

Health and Human Services officials are now working with an outside vendor to build a unified post-acute care payment model, with plans to submit it to Congress by 2022. The American Hospital Association on Tuesday called its creation an “unprecedented and exceedingly complex policy development endeavor,” giving several recommendations, and urging the government not to create more administrative burdens for providers.

LTCN February 2019, page 4, Aaron Tripp
LeadingAge’s Aaron Tripp

Along with the AHA, LeadingAge has served as one of the technical experts on creating a unified payment system across skilled nursing facilities, home health, long-term care hospitals and inpatient rehab facilities.  Aaron Tripp, the organization’s VP of reimbursement and financing policy, said it welcomes the opportunity to improve care integration for older adults, but believes that caution is needed.

“Given the complexities of multiple settings, provider types, regulations, in addition to the clinical complexities of the Medicare beneficiaries needing post-acute services, it is not a process that should be rushed to merely reduce variation across Medicare post-acute care spending,” Tripp told McKnight’s.

Tripp said that LeadingAge is urging for a smaller-scale demonstration and evaluation of any new and redesigned payment system, prior to nationwide implementation of the model.

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission has previously advocated for implementation in 2021 of a unified payment system, a timeline Tripp said was not feasible.

Mike Cheek
AHCA’s Mike Cheek

The American Health Care Association also continues to participate in Health and Human Services’ expert panels, said Mike Cheek, senior VP of reimbursement policy. AHCA supports payment transformation that ensures adequate and appropriate payment for post-acute services, he told McKnight’s.

“Any new payment model considered by Congress should protect access to quality post-acute and long-term care for the millions of vulnerable Americans who rely on it,” Cheek said. “AHCA remains committed to delivering solutions for quality care and will continue to work with MedPAC to address weaknesses in the current Medicare payment system,” he added.