October 29, 2015, CMS released a Proposed Rule that would revise discharge planning requirements for hospitals.  CMS released the proposed revisions in an effort to modernize the discharge planning requirements by bringing them into closer alignment with current practices, improve patient care, and reduce avoidable complications, adverse events, and readmissions.  Comments on the Proposed Rule are due by January 4, 2016.

The Proposed Rule would implement the discharge planning requirements outlined in the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014 (IMPACT Act).  Those changes are aimed to improve transparency and beneficiary experience during the discharge planning process.  Specifically, the IMPACT Act requires providers to employ data regarding quality and resource use measures to assist patients during the discharge planning process, while taking into account the beneficiary’s goals and preferences. 

The Proposed Rule would require providers—including hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation facilities and long-term care hospitals, critical access hospitals, and home health agencies—to develop a discharge plan for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries within 24 hours of the patient’s admission or registration, and to complete the discharge plan before the patient is discharged or transferred to another facility.  The requirements would apply to all inpatients and certain categories of outpatients, including beneficiaries receiving observation services, patients who are undergoing surgery or other same-day procedures where anesthesia or moderate sedation is used, and certain emergency department patients that require discharge planning.

A pre-publication version of the Proposed Rule is available here, and the CMS Press Release is available here.  The Proposed Rule is scheduled to be published in the November 3, 2015 edition of the Federal Register.