CMS Releases Final FY 2017 Payment and Policy Changes for Medicare Hospice Benefit
Visiting Nurse Associations of America
Monday, August 1, 2016
by: Visiting Nurse Associations of America

Section: Public Policy and Advocacy

On July 29, CMS issued a final rule outlining fiscal year (FY) 2017 Medicare payment rates and wage index and the Hospice Quality Reporting Program (QRP) for hospices serving Medicare beneficiaries. It includes a positive increase in hospice payments from what was proposed. VNAA applauds CMS for recognizing the important role hospice plays in the care continuum and that appropriate reimbursement is necessary. 

CMS finalized the rest of the rule largely as proposed. Key provisions are listed below.

Further stakeholder input will be necessary on the development of two future initiatives: a standardized patient assessment tool and the public reporting of hospice data. VNAA was pleased to see consideration by CMS of our proposed recommendations and concern; however, a strong and active role will be needed in the future to ensure that CMS implements programs that maintain patient access to high quality hospice services. 
CMS proposed a hospice payment update percentage for FY 2017 of 2%. 
They finalized a hospice payment update of 2.1%, a slight increase in the total update. 
Hospices that report all required data will receive the full 2.1% update. Those hospices that do not report the data will receive a .1% update. The policy is finalized as proposed but reflects the 2.1% total increase. 
The hospice cap is finalized as proposed, but reflects the 2.1% total increase. 
The quality measures have been finalized without change and will include two new measures as proposed: 
  • Hospice Visits when Death is Imminent Measure Pair; and 
  • Hospice and Palliative Care Composite Measure-Comprehensive Assessment at Admission.
Data Reporting timing and process have been finalized without change. 
CMS will continue to consider the development of a patient assessment tool and will seek public input and comment.
CMS will continue the development of the public hospice quality reporting and will seek public input and stakeholder comment. 

Policy on hospice payment rates and the wage index standardization are finalized without change. 

This final rule updates the hospice wage index, payment rates and cap amount for FY 2017. In addition, this rule finalizes changes to the hospice quality reporting program, including the addition of two new quality measures. 
The final rule also describes a potential future enhanced data collection instrument, as well as plans to publicly display quality measures and other hospice data beginning in calendar year (CY) 2017.

The final rule will be published August 5, 2016.
Read the rule.
VNAA will be providing further detail in the coming days.
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