Medicare Hospice Payments to Increase by $350 Million in 2017

Hospice providers will receive a 2.1% Medicare payment rate increase for calendar year 2017, representing a total increase of about $350 million, according to a final rule issued Friday by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

The final amount is slightly higher than the increase of 2%, or $330 million overall, which CMS proposed in April.

CMS set forth an estimated 2.7% market basket increase, then knocked that down with a 0.3 percentage point productivity adjustment and a 0.3 percentage point adjustment required by law.

The hospice cap for 2017 will be $28,404.99, CMS stated in the final rule. That is equal to the 2016 cap, updated by the 2017 payment rate update of 2.1%. Under the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation (IMPACT) Act of 2014, the hospice cap is pegged to the payment rate update rather than the consumer price index for urban consumers. The 2017 cap year starts Oct. 1, 2016, and ends Sept. 30, 2017.

Two new quality measures also are finalized in the rule: hospice visits when death is imminent, and the hospice and palliative care composite process measure.

Public reporting of hospice quality data via “Compare” website is slated for calendar year 2017, CMS reiterated in the final rule.

Enhanced data collection and details about the hospice CAHPS survey also are included in the final rule.

“CMS is considering enhancing the current Hospice Item Set (HIS) data collection instrument to be more in line with other post-acute care settings,” the agency stated in announcing the final rule. “This revised data collection instrument would be a comprehensive patient assessment instrument, rather than the current chart abstraction tool.”

The final rule is set to be published in the Aug. 5 edition of the Federal Register and become effective Oct. 1, 2016.

Written by Tim Mullaney