VNAA Comments on FY17 Proposed Rule Updating Hospice Wage Index, Payment Rates and Cap Amount
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
by: Visiting Nurse Associations of America

Section: Public Policy and Advocacy

On June 20, VNAA submitted comments on the FY2017 proposed rule updating the hospice wage index, payment rates and cap amount. VNAA supports the positive payment rate increase; however the rate of increase is not sufficient to account for the dramatic increase in the costs of providing high-quality hospice services.

In addition, the rule proposes changes to the hospice quality-reporting program, including two new quality measures. While these proposals will increase data collection and improve transparency, VNAA urged CMS to work with stakeholders to ensure a seamless implementation.

VNAA thanked CMS for pursuing policy that more appropriately allocates payment to hospice resource utilization. The changes finalized in the FY2016 final rule take an important step toward more accurate reimbursement for complex patients and care in the last days of life, while removing incentives for hospices to enroll only more profitable or longer-stay patients. 
VNAA continues to support policies that will ensure that scarce resources are targeted at the patients who need them the most—and the providers who serve them. At the same time, VNAA reiterated its unwavering support for program integrity measures within the Medicare hospice benefit. VNAA strongly supports CMS’ efforts to identify and target providers who engage in fraudulent or wasteful practices and to remove them from the program.

VNAA is committed to evolving and improving end-of-life care, including hospice, as a stable part of health care and the post-acute care continuum. In order to innovate and transform care, CMS and the hospice industry must collaboratively review data on end-of-life care. VNAA strongly encouraged CMS to pursue additional data-driven payment reforms and program integrity measures to ensure the appropriate use of Medicare resources.

Read the entire comment letter.
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