Slash PaymentsThe Medicare Payment Advisory Commission on April 5 approved a recommendation to slash payments for a number of standalone emergency departments across the country, according to an American Hospital Association report.

MedPAC proposed the reduction in its March report to Congress. The commission specifically recommended a 30 percent payment rate reduction for off-campus standalone EDs that are no more than six miles from an on-campus hospital ED, according to the AHA.

The AHA came out against the recommendation in a March 29 letter, saying reducing the ED payment rates “is unfounded and arbitrary,” partially because the recommendation is based on data from only Maryland, Texas and Colorado “that are not representative” of the entire U.S. The AHA also stated the recommendation does not include examination of Medicare enrollees, Medicare costs or Medicare payments and contended the proposal “would make the already-record Medicare underpayment of outpatient departments and hospitals even worse.” The AHA cited outpatient Medicare margins it argued were a record-low negative 14.8 percent in 2016, among other data. The organization said overall Medicare margins will reach a new record low of negative 11 percent this year.

According to the AHA, MedPAC has also recommended allowing isolated rural hospitals that are more than 35 miles from another ED to convert to standalone EDs that could receive payment under the outpatient prospective payment system. The AHA has supported this recommendation and urged MedPAC to also include EDs in vulnerable urban areas.

AHA expresses concern with the Commission’s draft recommendation to substantially slash payments for off-campus stand-alone emergency departments that are within 6 miles of an on-campus hospital ED. Click HERE and discuss how BHM prepares your organization for the future.