Final Wage Index Set for Medicare Hospice Benefit
Hospices serving Medicare beneficiaries will see a 1.4 percent payment increase for fiscal year 2010 as a result of a 2.1 percent increase in the “hospital market basket.” The hospital market basket indicates an input price increase offset by a 0.7 percent decrease in payments to hospices due to the revised policy to phase-out the wage index budget neutrality factor.
The final rule specifically revises the phase-out of the wage index budget neutrality adjustment factor, which was made final in the 2009 final rule, to now occur over seven years. Under the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS’) final policy, the budget neutrality adjustment will be reduced by 10 percent for 2010 and 15 percent each year from 2011 through 2016.
This rule also makes final a change to the physician certification process, which adopts a Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) recommendation requiring physicians to submit a brief narrative supporting a patient’s life expectancy of six months or less.
The final rule and accompanying documents are available at the Federal Register.