October 31, 2018

CMS Finalizes PDGM and $420 Million Increase for 2019 Medicare Payments

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Home Health Care News

Despite industry concerns, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has finalized the Patient-Driven Groupings Model (PDGM) planned to start in 2020. The agency has also finalized several other changes to how home health providers are reimbursed for their services starting in 2019, tweaking remote patient monitoring rules and refining the Value-Based Purchasing Model (VBPM).

CMS projects that Medicare payments to home health agencies in calendar year 2019 will be increased by 2.2% — or $420 million — based on its finalized policies, announced Wednesday.

The reimbursement rate increase is the first the home health industry has received in a decade — and slightly more than what CMS initially suggested in July’s proposed payment rule. The agency originally projected that home health payment changes would increase Medicare payments to home health agencies by $400 million.

Among its provisions, PDGM is designed to remove current incentives to over-provide therapy services by more strongly weighting clinical characteristics and other patient information, according to CMS. PDGM would also mean that the traditional 60-day unit of payment would be halved to 30 days.

PDGM — mandated to be budget neutral by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 — takes into account certain behavioral changes that policymakers expect home health providers to make after the model is implemented. In particular, they include assumed changes to clinical and co-morbidity coding behavior, along with how Low Utilization Payment Adjustment (LUPA) claims are handled.

If no behavioral assumptions are made, CMS estimates that the 30-day payment amount needed to achieve budget neutrality would be $1,873.91. With the behavioral assumptions, that amount drops to $1,753.68 — a 6.42% decrease.

Home health stakeholders have widely criticized the behavioral assumptions, even teaming up with several members of Congress to get them changed or removed in PDGM via multiple pieces of legislation — S. 3545, S. 3458 and H.R. 6932.

“While we had hoped CMS would consider modifications outlined by the home health provider sector when finalizing this rule, this announcement reinforces the need for the industry to continue our advocacy to get the new home health payment system right,” LHC Group (Nasdaq: LHCG) CEO and Chairman of the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare Keith Myers said in a statement. “We will continue to work collaboratively with CMS and lawmakers in Congress to refine this new payment system to ensure it is based on a data-driven approach and will support the delivery of uninterrupted, high quality home healthcare to older Americans.”

Click here to see the full article on the Home Health Care News website.