The MedPAC Blog

  • The hospital readmission penalty: How well is it working?

    by MedPAC Staff | Mar 24, 2015
    The hospital readmission reduction program (HRRP), established under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, has helped to reduce hospital readmissions. Since the introduction of the HRRP, readmission rates have fallen for Medicare beneficiaries across all types of hospitals, including those seeing higher shares of poor patients.
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  • MedPAC releases March 2015 Report to Congress

    by MedPAC Staff | Mar 13, 2015
    Today, MedPAC releases its March 2015 Report to the Congress: Medicare Payment Policy. The report includes MedPAC’s analyses of payment adequacy in fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare and provides a review of Medicare Advantage (MA) and the prescription drug benefit, Part D.
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  • Comment letter on the Medicare Shared Savings Program

    by MedPAC Staff | Feb 02, 2015
    Today MedPAC submitted a comment letter on CMS’s proposed rule regarding the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP). The MSSP and the Pioneer Program are two options for Accountable Care Organizations to have the opportunity to share in savings with the Medicare program if they achieve spending below a target and meet certain quality metrics. This post highlights a key issue discussed in the letter: how the benchmarks for ACOs are determined.
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  • Comment Letter on Quality Measurement in Medicare

    by MedPAC Staff | Jan 13, 2015
    Today MedPAC posted a comment letter to CMS on the list of Medicare quality measures under consideration for use in Medicare’s quality reporting or value-based purchasing programs. This year’s “list of measures under consideration” is a 329-page document listing hundreds of quality and resource use measures. Under the statute, CMS may consider including any of these measures during upcoming rule-making for its quality program. The list does not include the dozens of measures already adopted for Medicare’s quality programs, only potential new measures.
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  • New report: Need for skilled nursing facility payment reform is urgent

    by MedPAC Staff | Jan 13, 2015
    The Commission released a report today finding that Medicare’s payments to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) for therapy and nontherapy ancillary services are the least accurate they have been since 2006, despite Medicare’s numerous revisions to the payment system during this period.
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  • New data book on beneficiaries dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid

    by MedPAC Staff | Jan 09, 2015
    Today, MedPAC and the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) jointly released a data book: Beneficiaries Dually Eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. This is the second edition of this book, updated with 2010 data and new displays of 2007-2010 trends in the dually eligible population’s composition, service use, and spending.
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  • New Report on Medicare Home Health Payment Rebasing

    by MedPAC Staff | Dec 22, 2014
    Today, the Commission released a report to the Congress assessing the impact of Medicare’s home healthcare payment rebasing on beneficiary access and quality. The report was mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which also created the rebasing policy. The report’s primary finding is that rebasing – in other words, reducing the base payment rate for home healthcare – will not threaten beneficiary access to home health services or compromise quality of care.
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  • Hospital Costs: What to Make of Them

    by MedPAC Staff | Dec 11, 2014
    Each year during its update process (read this post for more on that), the Commission examines Medicare’s payments to hospitals for inpatient and outpatient care. As part of this analysis, MedPAC compares Medicare’s payments to hospitals’ costs to determine a Medicare “margin.” For several years, these margins have been negative, indicating that on average, Medicare’s payments are less than hospitals’ costs. Some would argue that negative margins are an indication that Medicare needs to increase its payments to cover hospital costs. A different way to think about the issue is to ask whether hospitals’ costs have to be as high as they are and whether hospitals have the ability to control costs. Said differently, we wondered, “Are hospital costs immutable?”
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  • Upcoming: MedPAC's Annual Payment Updates

    by MedPAC Staff | Dec 02, 2014
    At our November meeting, we had a session on beneficiary access to hospital services, which was the first part of MedPAC's yearly work on payment updates. Here’s an explainer on why we do this work and what it entails...
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  • Opioid use among Medicare Part D enrollees

    by MedPAC Staff | Oct 22, 2014
    At MedPAC’s October public meeting, the Commission discussed patterns of potentially inappropriate opioid use in Medicare’s prescription drug benefit, Part D. In 2011, 10 million beneficiaries, or about 32 percent of Part D enrollees filled at least one prescription for an opioid. The share of Part D enrollees who use opioids in varies considerably across states.
    Full post

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