Monday, December 12, 2016

MedPAC – December 2016

It’s that time of year again, everyone! The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, or MedPAC, held its December meeting last week, and started hearing a series of reports that will ultimately inform the annual March Report to Congress. Among the reports the Commission heard was “Assessing payment adequacy and updating payments: hospice services.” In this report, MedPAC staff provided an overview of the Medicare Hospice Benefit and recent changes to end-of-life care (like the Medicare Care Choice Model demonstration). The staff also presented data on the average length of stay  and live discharge rates by different beneficiary characteristics and provider types. You can view the slides and transcript from the hospice session on the MedPAC website.

Each report ends with a Chairman’s recommendation. For hospice, the recommendation is:
“The Congress should eliminate the update to the hospice payment rates for fiscal year 2018.”
MedPAC has made this same payment update recommendation to Congress for the past 4 years, at minimum. There is one important thing to remember about MedPAC, however. As its name indicates, MedPAC is an advisory commission to Congress. Congress must take proactive steps to implement MedPAC recommendations, and it has not done so with regard to the payment update recommendation in recent years.
However, Congress does read the reports and once policy proposals are made, they live forever. You can never rule out Congress acting on recommendations now or in the future. Keep an eye out for more updates from MedPAC as the release of their annual report approaches.

By Karen Davis, MA
Manager, Health Policy Analysis

Follow the Hospice Action Network blog for additional articles of interest. 

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