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  • Washington Highlights

    MedPAC Releases March 2019 Report to Congress, Recommends Payment Updates for Medicare’s Payment Systems

    Andrew Amari, Hospital Policy and Regulatory Specialist

    The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) March 15 released its March 2019 Report to Congress. The report recommends payment updates for Medicare’s payment systems, including a 2% update for hospital inpatient and outpatient services.

    The 2% payment update would come as part of MedPAC’s combined recommendation to replace Medicare’s current hospital quality programs with the new hospital value incentive program (HVIP). The difference between the current law fiscal year (FY) 2020 update (projected to be 2.8%) and the Commission’s recommended 2% update would be used to fund the HVIP.

    In addition, MedPAC recommends that Congress update the payment rates for physician and other health professional services by the amount specified in current law. MedPAC determined that current physician payment rates remain adequate, and no update is required. Under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA, P.L. 114-10), there will be no statutory update to payment rates for physicians and other health professional services in FY 2020.

    Finally, MedPAC provides updates on both the Medicare Advantage (MA) and Medicare Part D programs. The Commission also includes a report on opioids and alternatives in the hospital setting, as mandated by the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act of 2018 (SUPPORT Act, P.L. 115-271).