The Innovation Center’s hospice benefit component, which tests allowing MA enrollees to access the Medicare hospice benefit through their MA plan beginning January 1, 2021, is the next step in CMS’ multi-pronged strategy to improve care for beneficiaries with serious illness. By fostering partnerships between hospice providers and MA organizations to deliver care for Medicare beneficiaries through the VBID Model, CMS is testing the impact of putting an end to the fragmentation in care and diluted financial responsibility that exists today in order to improve the quality of care that beneficiaries receive. Overall, by reducing fragmentation and coordinating care and financial accountability, CMS is enabling MA organizations to better coordinate palliative and hospice care for enrollees that choose MA. If beneficiaries elect the hospice benefit, they will maintain the broad access they have today to the complete Medicare hospice benefit, as well as additional access to palliative care services, transitional concurrent care services, and hospice-specific supplemental benefits to improve the quality of care beneficiaries receive as well as their quality of life. For additional information, please visit the Model’s website at: https://innovation.cms.gov/initiatives/vbid/. The Request for Applications (RFA) can be found at: https://innovation.cms.gov/Files/x/vbid-hospice-rfa2021.pdf. Registration details for upcoming model overview webinars will be posted on the website.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule (CMS-1714-F) that updates the Medicare hospice wage index, payment rates, and cap amount for fiscal year (FY) 2020. This rule also rebases the continuous home care, general inpatient care, and the inpatient respite care per diem payment rates in a budget-neutral manner to more accurately align Medicare payments with the costs of providing care. CMS also finalized the proposal to use the current year’s hospital wage index data to establish the hospice wage index. In addition, this rule modifies the election statement content requirements to include additional information aimed at increasing coverage transparency for patient under a hospice election. As finalized, hospices will see an estimated 2.6 percent ($520 million) increase in Medicare payments for FY 2020. Finally, this rule finalizes changes to the Hospice Quality Reporting Program.
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