House, Senate Leaders Introduce Bill to Change Post-Acute Care System

Change may be coming to Medicare’s post-acute care system, but it may take a decade for it to arrive. Leaders of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees June 26 introduced bipartisan legislation they said would strengthen and improve Medicare's post-acute care system.

The Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014 would require data standardization to allow Medicare to compare quality across different post-acute care settings and improve hospital and post-acute care discharge planning, according to a joint committee release

This information would then be used to alter the post-acute payment system via a new site-neutral or bundled payment system, or other changes, the release said. “Without the comparable data required under the legislation, policymakers and providers cannot determine whether patients treated and the care provided in different settings is, in fact, the same or whether one [post-acute care] setting is more appropriate. Absent this information, it is difficult to move forward with [post-acute care] payment reforms,” it added.

Under the bill, HHS and MedPAC are to report to Congress on possible new payment systems by 2022. So, a decade or more may have passed before a new system is implemented.

Post-acute care includes long-term care hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, skilled nursing facilities and home health agencies.