Medicare Proposes Changes In Pain Questions, Cuts In Payments To Hospitals’ Off-Site Facilities

The changes are part of the proposed hospital payment rule, which was released Wednesday. Also in Medicare news, a House committee is calling for funding for a consumer assistance program that a Senate committee rejected, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, questions plans for possible changes in cancer drug payments and some Medigap rates are rising in Michigan.

Modern Healthcare:
CMS Angers Hospitals With Plans For Site-Neutral Rates In Outpatient Payment Rule

The CMS has responded to calls to eliminate patient satisfaction on pain management from Medicare’s value-based purchasing program. The agency angered hospitals, however, with plans to stop paying their off-campus facilities the same as hospital-based outpatient departments. Both policies are included in the proposed rule for the 2017 Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System issued Wednesday.
(Dickson, 7/6)

Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal:
Proposal Saves Medicare Counseling Program

Federal funding for free local counseling on annual Medicare options may be preserved for fiscal 2016-17 after all. The U.S. House Appropriations Committee’s draft bill for education, health and human services and labor, released Wednesday, includes $52 million for the State Health Insurance Information Plan — the same amount in the current federal budget. The $52 million was stripped in June from the budgets of the same three agencies by the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee in a 29-1 vote. (Craver, 7/7)

Iowa Public Radio:
Grassley Implores Federal Government To Not Change Medicare Policy

Sen. Chuck Grassley has sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, urging the agency to keep a policy in place that requires private Medicare insurers to cover all antidepressant medications and all immuno-suppressant drugs used for transplant patients. CMS is considering changing this rule. In a report last month, the agency reasons that medications in these categories include a number of generic options. (Boden, 7/5)

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