Both houses of Congress now have passed a bill that ties skilled nursing facility Medicare reimbursements to hospital readmissions, starting in 2018. The Senate approved the “Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014” in a 64 to 35 vote Monday evening. The measure, will also postpone the transition to the ICD-10 code set by one year and prevent scheduled physician pay cuts, is expected to be swiftly signed by President Barack Obama.
Long-term care providers frequently have seen their reimbursements reduced to help offset the costs of constantly postponing doctors’ payment cuts. Under the “Protecting Access” bill, SNFs would not experience an across-the-board cut to help pay for the one-year “doc fix.” However, they would have 2% of their Medicare reimbursements withheld upfront starting in October 2018; 70% of this money then would be distributed to providers that improve their rate of hospital readmissions.
The Senate vote came after the bill passed the House in a controversial voice vote Thursday.