CMS published a proposed rule on May 10, 2013 that would increase Medicare hospice reimbursement by 1.1% -- or $180 million -- in FY 2014. Specifically, CMS would update the hospice per diem rates by 1.8% (reflecting a 2.5% market basket increase that is reduced by 0.7 percentage points for adjustments mandated by the ACA), but this update is partially offset by a 0.7 percentage point cut resulting from the use of updated wage data and CMS’s continued phase-out of its wage index budget neutrality adjustment factor (as set forth in prior rulemaking).

The proposed rule also would clarify ICD–9–CM coding guidelines and CMS’s expectations for diagnosis reporting on hospice claims, especially regarding the use of nonspecific symptom diagnoses. CMS restates its expectation that hospice providers will “code the most definitive, contributory terminal illness in the principal diagnosis field with all other related conditions in the additional diagnoses fields for hospice claims reporting.” For instance, CMS clarifies that “debility” and “adult failure to thrive” would not be used as principal hospice diagnoses on the hospice claim form. CMS specifically solicits comments on its coding guideline clarifications.

CMS also proposes revisions to its hospice quality reporting requirements. By way of background, under the ACA, hospices that fail to meet quality reporting requirements will receive a 2 percentage point reduction to their market basket update beginning in FY 2014. In 2013, hospices began reporting data on two quality measures (a pain management measure and a structural measure on participation in a Quality Assessment and Performance Improvement Program) for the FY 2014 payment determination. Beginning with the 2016 payment determination, CMS is proposing to replace these two measures with a standardized patient-level data collection instrument called the Hospice Item Set (HIS). The proposed rule also discusses, among other things, CMS’s plans to require the use of a Hospice Experience of Care Survey beginning in 2015 for the FY 2017 payment determination, and its efforts to reform the hospice payment framework. Comments will be accepted until June 28, 2013.