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Category Archives: Current Affairs

CMS Finalizes 2018 Payment and Policy Updates for Medicare Hospital Admissions

August 2, 2017

CMS NEWS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 2, 2017

Contact: CMS Media Relations

(202) 690-6145  CMS Media Inquiries

CMS finalizes 2018 payment and policy updates for Medicare hospital admissions

Final rule supports transparency, flexibility, program simplification and innovation in the Medicare program

Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the fiscal year 2018 Medicare Inpatient Prospective Payment System and Long-Term Care Hospital Prospective Payment System final rule, which updates 2018 Medicare payment and policies when patients are discharged from hospitals. The final rule relieves regulatory burdens for providers, supports the patient-doctor relationship in healthcare, and promotes 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 the final rule, CMS is increasing the amount of uncompensated care payments made to acute care hospitals by $800 million to approximately $6.8 billion for fiscal year 2018. Uncompensated care represents healthcare services provided by hospitals or providers for which they don’t get reimbursed. Often uncompensated care arises when people don’t have insurance and cannot afford to pay the cost of care. CMS is also providing further clarification about discounts given to uninsured patients who meet the hospital’s charity care policy.

In relieving providers of administrative burdens and encouraging patient choice, CMS is finalizing a one-year regulatory moratorium on the payment reduction threshold for patient admissions in long-term care hospitals. CMS continues to evaluate this policy. CMS is also finalizing provisions that reduce clinical quality measure reporting requirements for hospitals that have implemented electronic health records.

Due to the combination of payment rate increases and other policies and payment adjustments, particularly in changes in uncompensated care payments, acute care hospitals will see a total increase in Medicare spending on inpatient hospital payments of $2.4 billion in fiscal year 2018. Based in part on the changes included in the final rule, overall payments to long-term care hospitals will decrease by $110 million in fiscal year 2018.

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 and implements the statutory extension of the Rural Community Hospital Demonstration.

CMS also today issued a notice with comment period updating 2018 Medicare payment policies and rates for inpatient psychiatric facilities. CMS estimates that Medicare payments to inpatient psychiatric facilities will increase by $45 million, or nearly one percent, in fiscal year 2018.

For a fact sheet on the fiscal year 2018 Medicare Inpatient Prospective Payment System and Long-Term Care Hospital Prospective Payment System final rule, please visit: https://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Fact-sheets/2017-Fact-Sheet-items/2017-08-02.html

For a fact sheet on the fiscal year 2018 Medicare Inpatient Psychiatric Prospective Payment System notice with comment period, please visit: https://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Fact-sheets/2017-Fact-Sheet-items/2017-08-02-2.html

The fiscal year 2018 Medicare Inpatient Prospective Payment System and Long-Term Care Hospital Prospective Payment System final rule (CMS-1677-F) and the fiscal year 2018 Medicare Inpatient Psychiatric Prospective Payment System notice with comment period (CMS-1673-NC) can be downloaded from the Federal Register at: https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection

Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

August 3, 2017

What’s New

Report to President on Opioid Crisis.  On Monday, the Office of National Drug Control Policy convened a public meeting to review a draft report on the opioid epidemic.  The report summarizes initial findings of an investigation by the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and makes recommendations for executive-level action steps in policy and funding to increase treatment capacity, expand medication-assisted treatment options and enforce the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.  Recently, the Association of American Medical Colleges acknowledged the rural upsurge of opioid use disorder and made recommendations for outreach and training for physicians on the front line.

American Indian/Alaska Native Health Study.   The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) joins the HHS Office of Minority Health (OMH) to ask for participation in a survey of health-related behaviors in American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities.  Using the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, the effort aims to learn more about behaviors that impact health outcomes such as eating habits, tobacco use and physical activity.  The project is an opportunity to better understand health needs of AI/AN communities, identify health disparities, and find culturally-appropriate ways to address them.   Visit the Rural Health Information Hub for background on the importance of research and needs assessments in rural areas, particularly community-based participatory research in tribal communities.

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Rural Health Information Hub

July 26, 2017

View the Rural Health Information Hub updates.

Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

July 26, 2017

What’s New

National Strategy for the Opioid Epidemic.  When approving a drug for use, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should go beyond determining its effectiveness and safety, and consider how disuse could impact individual and public health.  That’s the key recommendation in a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine requested by the FDA to address the epidemic.  The report’s authors concluded that “years of sustained and coordinated efforts will be required by federal, state and local governments and health-related organizations.” The latest data from the CDC reports more than 90 opioid overdose deaths per day.  Rural communities are hit particularly hard with higher prescription rates for chronic pain and illness and limited resources for response and treatment.

Feeding the Elderly. In the first of two reports authorized by the Older Americans Act, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) evaluates how nutrition services programs affect elders’ diet and social connectedness. Compared to those participating in congregate meal programs, ACL finds that elders receiving home-delivered meals are more likely to be older, underweight, and have income below the poverty line. Congregate meal programs are more likely to serve rural elders than home-delivered programs, perhaps given the challenges of transporting hot meals across long distances. The second part of the evaluation, expected in 2018, highlights longer-term health outcomes and the avoidance of institutionalization.

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USDA Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) – Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program for FY 2017

July 26, 2017

Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA)

Rural Utilities Service, USDA

 Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program for FY 2017.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development announced this week that USDA is accepting applications for the Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program for FY 2017.  Applications will be accepted until September 30, 2017 under this window.

The Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program furnishes loans and loan guarantees to provide funds for the costs of construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide service at the broadband lending speed as outlined in the Federal Register.

Applicants are encouraged to review the FY 2017 application guide that is available online at: https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/farm-bill-broadband-loans-loan-guarantees and as found in the Code of Federal Regulations, 7 CFR part 1738.

More information on how to apply for funding is available on page 34473 of the July 25th Federal Register.

Rural PREP Microresearch webinar announcement

July 26, 2017

View the information.

Rural Health Research & Policy Centers

July 26, 2017

View the Research Alert.