Hospitals receive Medicare cut, long term care gets hike

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The nation’s hospitals will lose $142 million from Medicare cuts for the next fiscal year, a figure that represents about 0.1 percent of the hospital and acute-care budget for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The new reimbursement rate does not yet include hospital-related provisions of health care reform. CMS officials said they will adjust reimbursement rates for provisions that go into effect in 2011or “in the near future.”

The cut comes after a 2.4 percent increase for inflation and then a 2.9 percent decrease to recoup excess spending from 2008 and 2009 because of changes in hospital coding practices that did not reflect patients’ illnesses.

The government agency also is proposing an increase of $41 million in payments to long-term care facilities.

The two proposals improve accuracy of Medicare patients for in-patient hospital stays, said Jonathan Blum, deputy administrator and director for the center for Medicare.

The new payment plans apply to about 3,500 acute care hospitals and 420 long-term care hospitals and will start Oct. 1.

Under current law, hospitals that successfully report quality measures (about 96 percent of participating hospitals)  will receive the full update.

Hospitals that do not report their quality measures will receive 2 percent less.