April 23, 2019
Photo: NHPCO President and CEO Edo Banach. On Friday, April 19, 2019, CMS released the FY2020 Hospice Wage Index Proposed Rule. NHPCO’s regulatory experts are analyzing the rule and will provide a detailed regulatory alert that will be posted to the NHPCO website tomorrow, April 23. We are concerned that CMS has proposed reducing Routine Home Care rates by 2.7 percent to account for an increase in less utilized and more intensive and expensive care settings. Instead of continuing to rebase and cut rates based on antiquated assumptions and outdated distinctions, we believe that person-centered care demands value-based approaches to payment and more flexible benefit structures. Further, we believe the $17.9 billion spent on care for the dying is an appropriate expenditure to provide necessary and compassionate service that all individuals deserve at the end of life and should be a priority in our nation’s health care delivery system. The vast majority of care provided by hospices across the country is delivered at the Routine Home Care level. Reducing payment for the highest utilized level of care will hurt hospice organizations and their ability to provide care to persons and families facing serious and life-limiting illness. Increased payment percentages for continuous home care, inpatient respite care, and general inpatient care will not close this gap. As CMS continues to announce demonstrations in Fee-for-Service and Managed Care that provide payment and benefit flexibility, it is disappointing that CMS continues to reinforce existing deficiencies in hospice payment and benefit structures. NHPCO is committed to working with CMS and Congress to update and enhance patient-centered, interdisciplinary care, including hospice and palliative care, that focuses on adequately meeting patient and family needs and providing valuable end-of-life services. -###- Read the CMS press release (04/19/19).