• Release of Updated MDS With New Standardized SPADEs (and Supporting Training) Delayed Due to COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (5/20)

    Wednesday, May 13, 2020 | CMS

    CMS is delaying the release of the updated versions of the Minimum Data Set (MDS) needed to support the Transfer of Health (TOH) Information Quality Measures and new or revised Standardized Patient Assessment Data Elements (SPADEs) in order to provide maximum flexibilities for providers of Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) to respond to the COVID-19 Pubic Health Emergency (PHE).

    The release of updated versions of the MDS will be delayed until October 1st of the year that is at least 2 full fiscal years after the end of the COVID-19 PHE. For example, if the COVID-19 PHE ends on September, 20, 2020, SNFs will be required to begin collecting data using the updated versions of the item sets beginning with patients discharged on October 1, 2022.

    Following the PHE, CMS will announce training opportunities for providers via this webpage and announcements sent out via email distribution lists and posted on the Medicare Learning Network.

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  • FY 2021 SNF PPS Proposed Rule Released (4/20)

    Monday, April 13, 2020 | CMS

    Fiscal Year 2021 Proposed Medicare Payment and Policy Changes for Skilled Nursing Facilities (CMS-1737-P)

     

    On April 10, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule [CMS-1737-P] for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 that updates the Medicare payment rates and the quality programs for skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). CMS is publishing this proposed rule consistent with the legal requirements to update Medicare payment policies for skilled nursing facilities on an annual basis.  CMS recognizes that the entire healthcare system is focused on responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency. As a result, the proposed rule includes proposals required by statute and that affect Medicare payment to SNFs, as well as proposals that reduce provider burden and may help providers in the COVID-19 response.

    These updates include routine technical rate-setting updates to the SNF PPS payment rates, as well as a proposal to adopt the most recent Office of Management and Budget (OMB) statistical area delineations and apply a 5 percent cap on wage index decreases from FY 2020 to FY 2021. We are also proposing changes to the ICD-10 code mappings that would be effective beginning in FY 2021, in response to stakeholder feedback. Finally, this rule includes minor administrative proposals related to the SNF Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) Program, further described below.

    2019 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak:

    The health and safety of America’s patients and provider workforce in the face of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak is the top priority of the Trump Administration and CMS. We are working around the clock to equip the American healthcare system with maximum flexibility to respond to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Recently, at President Trump’s direction, CMS issued an unprecedented array of temporary regulatory waivers and new rules to equip the American healthcare system with maximum flexibility to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including waiving the SNF benefit’s 3-day qualifying inpatient hospital stay requirement (pursuant to section 1812(f) of the Social Security Act), which allows SNF patients to be admitted without the typically required 3-day inpatient hospital stay and additional flexibility in relation to how beneficiaries may access a new SNF benefit period without the typical 60-day “wellness” period.

    To keep up with the important work the Task Force is doing in response to COVID-19, go to Coronavirus.gov.  For information specific to CMS, please visit the Current Emergencies Website.

    While CMS is focused on helping the healthcare system respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are releasing the annual Medicare payment rules as required by law to ensure providers are informed on the 2021 payment updates. This fact sheet discusses several major provisions of the proposed rule: the proposed changes to SNF payment policy under the SNF Prospective Payment System (PPS) and the SNF Value-Based Purchasing Program (VBP). This proposed rule includes proposals that would continue a commitment to shift Medicare payments from volume to value, with the continued implementation of the Patient Driven Payment Model (PDPM) and the SNF VBP, to improve program interoperability, operational quality and safety.

    CMS encourages comments on this proposed rule and will accept comments until June 9, 2020.  The proposed rule [CMS-1737-P] can be downloaded from the Federal Register at: https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection                                                                                                  

    Strengthening Medicare

    CMS projects aggregate payments to SNFs will increase by $784 million, or 2.3 percent, for FY 2021 compared to FY 2020. This estimated increase is attributable to a 2.7 percent market basket increase factor with a 0.4 percentage point reduction for multifactor productivity adjustment. 

    As amended by section 4432 of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (BBA 1997) (Pub. L. 105-33, enacted on August 5, 1997), section 1888(e) of the Social Security Act (the Act) provides for the implementation of a PPS for SNFs.  This methodology uses prospective, case-mix adjusted per diem payment rates applicable to all covered SNF services defined in section 1888(e)(2)(A) of the Social Security Act.  The SNF PPS is effective for cost reporting periods beginning on or after July 1, 1998, and covers all costs of furnishing covered SNF services (routine, ancillary, and capital related costs) other than costs excluded under the statute, such as costs associated with approved educational activities and bad debts.

    Changes in SNF PPS Wage Index

    Under section 1888(e)(4)(G)(ii) of the Act, we adjust the federal rates to account for differences in area wage levels. We proposed to adopt revised geographic delineations provided by the Office of Management and Budget, which are used to identify a provider’s status as an urban or rural facility and to calculate the wage index and apply a 5 percent cap to wage index decreases.

    Updates to PDPM Clinical Diagnosis Mappings

    CMS’ Patient Driven Payment Model (PDPM) is an innovative and historic change in how we pay for care that is more focused on patient characteristics, rather than volume, under the SNF PPS and is used for classifying patients in a covered Medicare Part A SNF stay into case-mix groups.  Implemented on October 1, 2019, PDPM utilizes International Classification of Diseases, Version 10 (ICD-10) codes to classify SNF patients into payment groups. Each year, CMS considers recommendations from stakeholders on changes to the ICD-10 code mappings used under the PDPM. In this proposed rule, we are proposing changes to the ICD-10 code mappings that would be effective beginning in FY 2021, in response to these stakeholder recommendations. We encourage stakeholders to continue to provide this essential feedback on the ICD-10 code mappings, so that we may continue to improve and refine our payment methodology.

    SNF Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) Program

    The SNF VBP Program began distributing SNFs with incentive payments on October 1, 2018.  The SNF VBP Program scores SNFs on a single all-cause claims-based measure of hospital readmissions, as required by law, and adjusts Medicare Part A fee-for-service (FFS) payments under the SNF Prospective Payment System (PPS).  The Program aims to improve quality of care by incentivizing SNFs to reduce unplanned hospital readmissions. The law requires that CMS reduce SNFs’ Medicare Part A FFS payments by 2 percent, then redistribute between 50 to 70 percent of that reduction to SNFs as incentive payments.  Because of this legislative requirement, the Program results in Medicare savings. 

    In the FY 2021 SNF PPS proposed rule, CMS is proposing to align the SNF VBP Program regulation text at 42 CFR § 413.338 with previously finalized policies, to apply the 30-day Phase One Review and Correction deadline to the baseline period quality measure quarterly report, and to establish performance periods and performance standards for upcoming program years.  CMS is not proposing to make any changes to the measures, SNF VBP scoring policies, or payment policies.

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  • FY 2020 SNF PPS Final Rule Link and Fact Sheet (7/19)

    Tuesday, July 30, 2019 | CMS

    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule [CMS-1718-F] for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Medicare payment rates and quality programs for skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). This final rule is part of the agency’s continuing efforts to strengthen the Medicare program by better aligning payment rates for these facilities with the costs of providing care and increasing transparency so that patients are able to make informed choices. The final rule [CMS-1718-F] can be downloaded from the Federal Register at: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/08/07/2019-16485/medicare-program-prospective-payment-system-and-consolidated-billing-for-skilled-nursing-facilities.

    OVERVIEW

    This fact sheet discusses three major provisions of the final rule:

    ·        SNF payment policy under the SNF Prospective Payment System (PPS)

    ·        SNF Value-Based Purchasing Program (VBP)

    ·        SNF Quality Reporting Program (QRP). 

    This final rule includes policies that continue to move forward agency commitments to shift Medicare payments from volume to value, with the continued implementation of the SNF VBP and SNF QRP to improve program interoperability, operational quality and safety.

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  • 7 Ways the DNS Can Lead the Charge for PDPM

    Tuesday, February 12, 2019 | Caralyn Davis, Staff Writer

    Many directors of nursing services (DNSs) have a hands-off approach when it comes to fee-for-service Medicare Part A and the MDS process, says Suzy Harvey, RN-BC, RAC-CT, managing consultant at BKD in Springfield, MO. “DNSs attend morning meetings and sometimes attend Medicare meetings, but they don’t really get involved because they count on their MDS staff to handle those processes.”

     

    That approach works for the RUG-IV case-mix classification system, but when the Skilled Nursing Facility Prospective Payment System (SNF PPS) switches to the Patient-Driven Payment Model (PDPM) on Oct. 1, rehabilitation therapy will no longer drive Part A skilled care, says Harvey. “With PDPM focused on patient characteristics and skilled nursing services instead of therapy volume, nursing will become key to facility success in this new system, and as the supervisor of the nursing staff, the DNS will need to help lead the way.”

     

    It’s important to note that working on PDPM isn’t just another task to add to the DNS’s plate, adds Harvey. “Getting paid appropriately is the focus of PDPM, but it ties back into quality of care. Much of what you will need to work on for PDPM will also benefit you on survey and your quality measures as well.”

     

    Here are seven key steps a DNS can take to get out in front of PDPM:

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  • PDPM Prep and Skilled Nursing: Secure Skilled Coverage Starting Day One

    Wednesday, January 16, 2019 | Caralyn Davis, Staff Writer

    When the Patient-Driven Payment Model (PDPM) replaces RUG-IV as the case-mix classification system for the Skilled Nursing Facility Prospective Payment System (SNF PPS) effective Oct. 1, 2019, some SNFs may see their Part A length of stay temporarily increase, says Maureen McCarthy, BS, RN, RAC-MT, QCP-MT, DNS-MT, RAC-CTA, president/CEO of Celtic Consulting in Torrington, CT.

     

    “The skilled coverage rules for Medicare won’t change just because we are changing payment systems. However, 95 percent of SNF days are in rehab categories, and many providers have been so focused on obtaining the best rehab RUG score that they have lost sight of what the skilled coverage is,” notes McCarthy. “So length of stay may go up for a period of time as SNFs re-learn how to skill patients for nursing services and become comfortable with understanding when the need for skilled care ends if rehab is not involved.”

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  • CMS Warns Against Payment-Driven Therapy Under PDPM

    Tuesday, December 18, 2018 | Caralyn Davis, Staff Writer
    The fundamental reason that the new Patient-Driven Payment Model (PDPM) will replace RUG-IV as the case-mix classification system for traditional Medicare Part A residents under the Skilled Nursing Facility Prospective Payment System (SNF PPS) on Oct. 1, 2019, is that “therapy payments under the SNF PPS are based almost entirely on merely the amount of therapy the patient receives,” said officials with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) during the Dec. 11 SNF PPS: PDPM National Provider Call. Note: Access the call slides, as well as a transcript and recording when available, here.
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