CMS’ FY 2020 SNF PPS Final Rule Released

Yesterday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the FY 2020 Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) Prospective Payment System (PPS) Final Rule, which will take effect on October 1, 2019. 

This final rule updates the payment rates used under the prospective payment system (PPS) for skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) for fiscal year (FY) 2020. CMS has also made minor revisions to the regulation text to reflect the revised assessment schedule under the Patient Driven Payment Model (PDPM). Additionally, CMS revised the definition of group therapy under the SNF PPS, and implemented a subregulatory process for updating the code lists ICD-10 used under PDPM. Finally, the final rule updated requirements for the SNF Quality Reporting Program (QRP) and the SNF Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) Program.

Below are a few highlights from the final rule: 

  • The federal rates in this final rule reflect an update to the rates that CMS published in the FY 2019 SNF PPS final rule, which reflects the SNF market basket update, as adjusted by the multifactor productivity (MFP) adjustment, for FY 2020.
  • The SNF market basket percentage is 2.4 percent for FY 2020, which is an increase in payments of $851 million compared to FY 2019. This estimated increase is attributable to a 2.8 percent market basket increase factor with a 0.4 percentage point reduction for the multifactor productivity adjustment. This is a decrease from the proposed update of 2.5 percent and $887 million.
  • Effective October 1, 2019, group therapy will be defined as “a qualified rehabilitation therapist or therapy assistant treating two to six patients at the same time who are performing the same or similar activities.”
  • CMS is not finalizing its proposal to expand data collection for SNF QRP quality measures to all SNF residents, regardless of their payer. 
  • CMS is finalizing as proposed, without modification, the process for updating the ICD-10 code mappings and lists associated with PDPM. As proposed, the subregulatory process for updating the ICD-10 codes used under PDPM will take effect beginning with the updates for FY 2020.   
  • The Final Rule updates requirements for the SNF QRP, including the adoption of two Transfer of Health Information quality measures and standardized patient assessment data elements that SNFs would be required to begin reporting with respect to admissions and discharges that occur on or after October 1, 2020. 
  • CMS is finalizing its proposal to exclude baseline nursing home residents from the Discharge to Community Measure.
  • CMS is finalizing its proposal to publicly display the quality measure, Drug Regimen Review Conducted with Follow-Up for Identified Issues, under the SNF Quality Reporting Program.
  • CMS is replacing the terminology for the “5-Day Assessment” with “Initial Medicare Assessment”.

CMS Improvements to Recovery Audit Process

The size of the Medicare program is astronomical – the system processes over one billion claims a year. CMS uses several types of contractors to verify that Medicare Fee for Service (FFS) claims are paid based on Medicare requirements. One type of contractor is a Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC). The Medicare FFS RAC Program is one of many tools used to prevent and reduce improper payments. RACs identify and correct overpayments made on claims for health care services provided to beneficiaries, identify underpayments to providers, and provide information that allows CMS to prevent future improper payments.

However, in the past there were numerous complaints about the RAC program. Providers found the audits time-consuming, necessitating high administrative expenses, and often requiring lengthy appeals. CMS listened to what providers were telling them and made meaningful changes. That input informed their thinking as they re-examined all aspects of the RAC process. They identified areas where they could reduce provider burden and appeals, and increase program transparency, while enhancing program oversight and effectiveness.

On May 3rd, CMS Administrator Seema Verma, outlined the key improvements and enhancements that were made to the program including:

  • Better Oversite of RACs:
    • Accountable for maintaining a 95% accuracy score.
    • Maintain an overturn rate of less than 10%.
    • Contingency fee will be delayed until after the second level of appeal is exhausted.
  • Reducing Provider Burden and Appeals:
    • Must audit proportionally to the types of claims a provider submits.
    • Conduct fewer audits for providers with low claims denial rates.
    • Allow more time to submit additional documentation before needing to repay a claim.
  • Increasing Program Transparency:
    • Regularly seeking public comment on proposed RAC areas for review.
    • Required enhancements to provider portals for claim status understanding.

While the audits can become cumbersome and overwhelming at times, ensuring that the care being provided is the most appropriate for each individual patient will only continue to assist in getting the health system where it needs to be. The improvements outlined above have helped and will to continue to help make patient care, not paperwork compliance, the main focus of providers.

CMS’ blog regarding recovery audit improvements:

https://www.cms.gov/blog/recovery-audits-improvements-protect-taxpayer-dollars-and-put-patients-over- paperwork

More information on the Medicare FFS Recovery Audit Program can be found at: https://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Monitoring-Programs/Medicare-FFS- Compliance-Programs/Recovery-Audit-Program/

FY2020 Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) PPS Proposed Rule

On Friday, April 19, 2019, CMS released the FY2020 skilled nursing facility (SNF) proposed rule for public inspection and comment.

There is estimated to be a 2.5% market basket increase for FY2020 aggregate payments as calculated through a 3.0% market basket increase and a 0.5% multifactor productivity adjustment resulting in an $887 million annual increase.

The proposed rule includes three proposed changes related to the Patient Driven Payment Model (PDPM). First, CMS proposes changing the definition of group therapy in a SNF setting to match the definition in the IRF setting. Specifically, CMS proposes defining group therapy in the SNF Part A setting as “a qualified rehabilitation therapist or therapy assistant treating two to six patients at the same time who are performing the same or similar activities.”

Second, CMS proposes using a subregulatory process to provide non-substantive updates to ICD-10 codes used in PDPM through the PDPM website, while substantive changes will still be made through the traditional notice and rulemaking process. Non-substantive updates are those made to maintain consistency with the most recent ICD-10 code set. CMS is proposing that this take effect with the start of PDPM on October 1, 2019.

The third and final proposed change is to update the regulation text to reflect changes in the assessment schedule under PDPM which were already finalized in the FY2019 final rule. These changes are to reflect the policy taking effect under PDPM on October 1, 2019. For the initial patient assessment, the proposed regulation changes would state that “the assessment schedule must include performance of an initial patient assessment no later than the 8th day of post-hospital SNF care.” Additional proposed changes to regulation text would reflect the optional interim payment assessment.

SNF Quality Reporting Program

This rule proposes to update the SNF QRP effective October 1, 2020 to include:

  • Expansion of data collection for the SNF QRP quality measures to all skilled nursing facility residents, regardless of their payer.
  • The addition of two Transfer of Health Information quality measures.
  • Exclusion of baseline nursing home residents from the Discharge to Community Measure.
  • Public display of the quality measure, Drug Regimen Review Conducted with Follow-Up for Identified Issues.

Request for information (RFI) on the importance, relevance, appropriateness, and applicability measures of standardized patient assessment data elements (SPADEs) for future years in the SNF QRP.

SNF Value Based Purchasing Program

The SNF VBP Program is proposing to change the name of the program’s measure to the “Skilled Nursing Facility Potentially Preventable Readmissions after Hospital Discharge” measure. The measure will retain its previous abbreviation (SNFPPR).

The proposed rule also includes an update to the public reporting requirements to ensure that CMS publishes accurate performance information for low-volume SNFs.

CMS encourages comments from stakeholders. The comment period is open until June 18, 2019.

Download the proposed rule from the Federal Register. Download the CMS fact sheet.

To learn more about Reliant’s preparedness for PDPM, visit our website today.

Changes to Nursing Home Compare in April 2019

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced updates coming next month to Nursing Home Compare and the Five-Star Quality Rating System including:

  • Lifting the “freeze” on the health inspection star ratings
  • Automatically give one-star staffing ratings to nursing facilities that have four or more days per quarter with no registered nurse (RN) on site, down from the current threshold of seven or more.
  • Establishing separate quality ratings for short-stay and long-stay residents and revising the rating thresholds to better identify the differences in quality among nursing homes making it easier for consumers to find the right information needed to make decisions.

Read on for more information or visit the CMS Nursing Home Compare site.

Skilled Nursing Facility Open Door Forum Call

CMS held the first skilled nursing facility (SNF) open door forum (ODF) call for this year on February 14, 2019. The call included updates on CMS’ PDPM website, the SNF Quality Reporting Program (QRP), and Payroll-Based Journaling (PBJ).

SNF QRP Update:

  • CMS announced they are contracting with RTI international to develop and maintain additional SNF QRP quality measures.
  • RTI is convening a Technical Expert Panel (TEP) to inform the direction and development of a claims-based measure of healthcare-associated infections in SNF. For information on this project and nomination steps visit the SNF QRP website.

PBJ Update:

  • Fourth quarter (10/1/18-12/31/18) PBJ staffing data will be considered timely if it was submitted by 2/14/19 and will be posted on Nursing Home Compare.

CMS provided separate emails for questions concerning technical aspects and policy related issues.

Skilled Nursing Facility Provider Review Reports

Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) Provider Preview Reports have been updated and are now available. Providers have until March 4, 2019 to review their performance data prior to the April 2019 Nursing Home Compare site refresh, during which this data will be publicly displayed. Corrections to the underlying data will not be permitted during this time; however, providers can request CMS review of their data during the preview period if they believe the quality measure scores that are displayed within their Preview Reports are inaccurate. 

To view the full memo and data contained within the report click here.

Targeted Prove and Educate Trends

As we move into 2019, our focus is honed on the new payment model going into effect in October, PDPM. However, CMS continues to review current trends and initiate audits without a break in sight. With the continuation of Targeted Probe and Education (TPE) audits on the rise, strong supporting documentation, accurate billing practices and managing patient stays appropriately must be the focus of our treatment each and every day.
Read article here .

CMS Chief Indicates New Set of Quality Measures in the Future

This week, Baltimore hosted CMS’ Quality Conference. McKnight’s Long Term Care News featured a recap of CMS administrator, Seema Verma’s “fiery speech” in which she indicated the Patient Driven Payment Model is the first step to move SNFs toward an “outcomes-based system.” She acknowledged continued focus on meaningful measures and offered insight into the future for CMS’s new app eMedicare and quality measure ratings.
Read full McKnight’s article .

New Medicare Card Mailing Complete

CMS has finished mailing the new Medicare cards to beneficiaries across the United States.
CMS states Medicare fee-for-service health care providers submitted 58% of claims with new Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers (MBIs) indicating some success with integration. They encourage providers to utilize the new MBIs for all Medicare transactions even though the former Social Security Number-based health insurance claim numbers are permissible during the transition period.
Old cards may be used through December 2019. If a Medicare beneficiary states they have not yet received a new card, instructions are providedhere .

CMS’ Calendar Year 2019 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule

On November 1, 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule that includes updates to payment policies, payment rates, and quality provisions for services furnished under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) on or after January 1, 2019.

Reliant’s Real Time Memo, which summarizes the final rule, can be downloaded here. The following is included in the summary:

  • Conversion factor update
  • Discontinuation of functional status reporting (G-code) requirements for outpatient
  • Update on outpatient physical therapy and occupational therapy services furnished by assistants
  • KX modifier attestation amount
  • Medicare telehealth services update

Payment provisions

Nursing Facility Case-Mix Payment Changes October 1, 2019

CMS issued an informational bulletin earlier this month notifying providers of changes that will impact states’ payments for Medicaid beneficiaries in the nursing home setting.

The bulletin indicates with the implementation of PDPM in October 2019 a new optional assessment, specific for states that rely on RUG-III and RUG-IV assessment schedule, will be available. The assessment will be active from 10/1/2019 through 9/30/2020, at which time states will have to determine an alternate calculation system for Medicaid payment. Additional detail was provided in the December 11th MLN call. Read full bulletin here.

Updated Rankings Available for SNFs Participating in Value Based Purchasing Program

CMS is providing updated rankings for all SNFs included in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 VBP program year.

A list of each SNF’s incentive payment multiplier and updated ranking can be found on the SNF VBP website . The incentive payment multiplier applicable to each SNF is unchanged from the multiplier that CMS previously included in the SNF’s FY 2019 Annual Performance Score Report.That multiplier will be used to adjust the federal per diem rate otherwise applicable to the SNF for services furnished from October 1, 2018 through September 30, 2019. 

CMS Released Proposed Rule to Promote Program Efficiency

On September 20, 2018 CMS released a proposed rule titled “Regulatory Provisions to Promote Program Efficiency, Transparency, and Burden Reduction”. AHCA notes this proposed rule impacts regulations for 12 different types of healthcare providers and suppliers impacted by CMS requirements for emergency preparedness and hospice.

Comments are open through November 19, 2018. View proposed rule here.