On July 2, CMS issued a proposed rule relating to outpatient hospital payments, in addition to covering the implementation of various provisions of Public Law 111-148. Specifically, the rule would increase payments to more than 4,000 outpatient hospital facilities by 2.2 percent – paying such facilities an estimated $40 billion in 2011. CMS also proposed adding six quality measures to those that must currently be reported by outpatient hospitals, bringing the total 17. Such measures include claims-based imaging efficiency measures, an emergency department measure and a measure based on health information technology.
With regard to graduate medical education (GME), the proposed rule would implement the provisions in the new healthcare law that require the redistribution of unused residency slots to certain hospitals with qualified residency programs, in a manner that emphasizes an increase in primary care physicians. Further, the proposed rule also touches on the physician self-referral provisions of the healthcare law – notably by limiting the expansion of current physician-owned hospitals and narrowing other rules relating to such facilities.
Comments on the proposed rule are due by the end of August, and CMS is expected to issue a final rule by November 1.