CMS to Increase Hospice Payments by 2% in 2017

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed increasing Medicare payments for hospices by $330 million for the fiscal year 2017.

The total increase is 2%, but also comes with additional quality measures and reporting requirements for hospices serving Medicare beneficiaries. CMS also proposed increasing payments for skilled nursing facilities and inpatient rehabilitation facilities for 2017. The payment increase is based on an adjusted 2.8% inpatient hospital market update.

The new reporting requirements include two new quality measures: Hospice Visits When Death is Imminent and Hospice and Palliative Care Composite Process Measure. The first will assess hospice staff visits to patients and caregivers in the last week of a patient’s life. The palliative care measure will asses the percentage of hospice patients who received care processes consistent with current guidelines.

Many of the new quality reporting programs (QRP) that are being implemented stem from the implementation of the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation (IMPACT) Act, which was passed in 2014. CMS will continue to increase reporting requirements for post-acute providers over the next several years as outlined by the legislation.

The $330 million will update the hospice cap, payment rates and the hospice wage index. Since 2014, hospices that fail to meet new quality reporting requirements will see their payments drop 2%.The proposal increases the hospice cap to $28,377.17 in 2017, up from $27,820.75 in 2016. The new payment cap would begin October 1, 2016 and end September 20, 2017.

Another important part of the proposal includes a description of the Hospice Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) Experience of Care Survey, another component of the quality reporting measures outline in the the IMPACT Act. The survey is designed to measure and assess the experiences of patients who died while receiving hospice care and the experiences of their informal primary caregivers, according to CMS. Hospices must begin collecting data for the survey on an ongoing basis from January to December 2017. The data of the surveys will eventually be put o public display.

The wage index and payment update proposal was issued on the Federal Register April 21, and will be available for public comments until June 20, 2016.

The 2% increase follows recent data that revealed hospice utilization declined in 2014 for the first time in a decade.

CMS proposed to raise hospice payments 1.1% for 2016 and 1.3% for 2015.

Written by Amy Baxter