U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
The indirect medical education (IME) and disproportionate share hospital (DSH) adjustments to Medicare’s prospective payment rates for inpatient services are generally intended to compensate hospitals for patient care costs related to teaching activities and care of low income populations.
These adjustments were originally established based on the statistical relationships between IME and DSH and hospital costs. Due to a variety of policy considerations, the legislated levels of these adjustments may have deviated over time from these “empirically justified levels,” or simply, “empirical levels.” In this paper, we estimate the empirical levels of IME and DSH using 2006 hospital data and 2009 Medicare final payment rules.
Our analyses suggest that the empirical level for IME would be much smaller than under current law—about one-third to one-half. Our analyses also support the DSH adjustment prescribed by the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA)—about one-quarter of the pre-ACA level. For IME, the estimates imply an increase in costs of 1.88% for each 10% increase in teaching intensity. For DSH, the estimates imply that costs would rise by 0.52% for each 10% increase in the low-income patient share for large urban hospitals.