Hospices get higher-than-expected Medicare pay hike

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Hospice providers will receive a 3.1% Medicare payment increase next fiscal year under a final rule the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued Friday.

That’s higher than the 2.8% reimbursement increase CMS proposed in a draft regulation published in March. The final rate for fiscal 2024 is the product of a 3.3% market basket increase adjusted for productivity. Beginning next year, hospice providers that fail to meet quality reporting requirements will be subject to a four-percentage-point penalty. The final rule raises the aggregate amount hospices can be paid per patient per year by 3.1% to $33,491.

CMS also touted the regulation as a tool to crack down on waste and fraud in the hospice sector. For example, the final rule requires that physicians who admit patients to hospice be Medicare providers or have opted out of the program during the quarter in which the admission occurs.

LeadingAge, a trade association for nonprofit hospice agencies, characterized the reimbursement hike as inadequate amid inflation.

“Even with this increase, conditions on the ground require more support: workforce costs are higher than ever; nurses and aides are scarce; and costs for supplies, drugs, gas and other expenses are all inflated,” LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan said in a statement.

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