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 CMS Issues Final Rule, Updates 2018 Payments and Policies for Medicare Hospital Admissions

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Aug. 2 issued its final rule (CMS-1677-F) for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Medicare Inpatient Prospective Payment System and Long Term Acute Care Hospital (LTCH) Prospective Payment System, updating Medicare payment and policies when patients are discharged from hospitals.

Overall payments to LTCHs will decrease by $110 million, or 2.4 percent, in FY 2018, based in part on the changes included in the final rule. The decrease is due in large part to the continued phase-in of the dual payment rate system, CMS says.

Acute care hospitals will see a total increase in Medicare spending on inpatient hospital payments of $2.4 billion in FY 2018 due to a combination of payment rate increases and other policies and payment adjustments, particularly in changes to uncompensated care payments, the agency says.
According to CMS, the final rule will relieve regulatory burdens for providers and promote transparency, flexibility, and innovation in the delivery of care for Medicare patients.
“This final rule will help provide flexibility for acute and long term care hospitals as they care for Medicare’s sickest patients,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “Burden reduction and payment rate increases for acute care hospitals and long term care hospitals will help ensure those suffering from severe injuries and illnesses have access to the care they need.”
In addition to the payment and policy updates for Medicare hospital admissions, the final rule addresses changes to how the public is notified of Medicare terminations of certain providers by eliminating newspaper notices, “in order to be consistent with the regulatory language for other provider and suppliers’ public notification requirements,” according to a CMS Fact Sheet.
The final rule also implements a statutory five-year extension of the Rural Community Hospital Demonstration.
The rule applies to hospital discharges from Oct. 1, 2017 to Sept. 30, 2018. The changes will affect approximately 3,330 acute care hospitals and 420 LTCHs.
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