CMS Proposes Policies to Advance Health Equity & Maternal Health, Support Hospitals

On April 18, CMS issued a proposed rule for inpatient and long-term hospitals that builds on the Biden-Harris Administration’s key priorities to advance health equity and improve maternal health outcomes. In addition to annual policies that promote Medicare payment accuracy and hospital stability, the fiscal year (FY) 2023 Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) and Long-Term Care Hospital (LTCH) Prospective Payment System (PPS) rule includes measures that will encourage hospitals to build health equity into their core functions, thereby improving care for people and communities who are disadvantaged and/or underserved by the health care system. The rule includes 3 health equity-focused measures in hospital quality programs, seeks stakeholder input related to documenting social determinants of health in inpatient claims data, and proposes a “Birthing-Friendly” hospital designation.

For acute care hospitals paid under the IPPS that successfully participate in the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting Program and are meaningful electronic health record users, the proposed increase in operating payment rates is projected to be 3.2%. This reflects a FY 2023 projected hospital market basket update of 3.1% reduced by a projected 0.4 percentage point productivity adjustment and increased by a 0.5 percentage point adjustment required by statute. Under the LTCH PPS, CMS expects payments to increase by approximately 0.8% or $25 million.

Additional items in the proposed rule related to payment stability for hospitals include a policy that smooths out significant year-to-year changes in hospitals’ wage indexes and a solicitation for comments on payment adjustments for purchasing domestically made surgical N95 respirators. Specifically, CMS is proposing to apply a 5% cap on any decrease to a hospital’s wage index from its wage index in the prior FY; and is considering the appropriateness of payment adjustments accounting for additional costs of purchasing surgical N95 respirators made in the U.S.

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