April 21, 2020
CMS proposes 2.3% Medicare hike in 2021 

Nursing homes to see $784M increase in Medicare payments

Here’s the full scoop on prospective rate changes in 2021 
 
On Friday, April 10​th​, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced a hefty boost in nursing home Medicare payments for fiscal year 2021. Across the board, long-term care providers, senior advocates and healthcare workers commended the move, which will increase the current payment rate by 2.3%.
 
The proposal includes changes to case-mix classification code mappings under the Skilled Nursing Facility Prospective Payment System and revises rules for identifying facilities’ urban/rural status, among other recommendations.CMS will accept comments and concerns related to ​the proposed rule up until June 9​th​. If it passes, changes will be implemented starting October 1, 2020—the official start of fiscal year 2021.
 
While ‘bring-your-own’ is better than nothing, employers still want to ensure workers are adequately protected. Now, as an endless March turns into April, facilities will finally get some reprieve. The Department of Justice just announced that over half a million PPE and other supplies will be available to LTC operators aſter a massive confiscation mission.


 
Cash for care: closing the gap   
The latest CMS proposal offers facilities additional financial support as they deal with COVID-19-related challenges. Over the past few weeks, the Trump Administration has worked to bolster the long-term care industry by focusing on flexibility.
 
“The health and safety of America’s patients and provider workforce in the face of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 outbreak is [our] top priority,” reads the report.“CMSissuedan unprecedented array of temporary regulatory waivers and new rules to equip the American healthcare system to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including waiving the SNF benefit’s 3-day qualifying inpatient hospital stay requirement.” 
 
The Medicare increase is sure to benefit facilities as they strive to overcome existing industry challenges, including ongoing staff shortages. Still, skilled nursing advocates say federal leaders need to step up their support if they want to enact real industry change. 
 
“The proposed rule, combined with the PDPM implemented last year, helps us continue our work to provide the highest quality care possible,” said Mark Parkinson, CEO of AHCA​. “With an all-in margin of -0.3%, there are still real challenges for skilled nursing providers. However, this increase gets us headed in the right direction. We thank Administrator Verma and the administration for this action.”
 
Medicare participants are encouraged to review the proposed rule before its June 9​th finalization. While the document will not be available in its entirety until April 15​th​, a truncated fact sheet has been published on the ​Federal Register​ for early public perusal.