The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services yesterday issued a final rule updating Medicare’s hospice payment rates, wage index and quality reporting requirements for fiscal year 2019. Like the proposed rule, the final rule will increase both aggregate hospice payments and the statutory annual cap by 1.8% ($340 million) from FY 2018 levels, based on a hospital market-basket update of 2.9%, minus a 0.8 percentage point productivity adjustment and 0.3 percentage point adjustment required by law. In addition, the rule implements a Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 provision recognizing physician assistants as attending physicians for hospice beneficiaries. With respect to quality reporting, the rule finalizes a measures removal factor that takes into consideration whether the costs and burden associated with a measure outweighs the benefit of its continued use in the program, as well as several public reporting policies and procedures. For more information, see the CMS factsheet.

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