By Jack Ahern, MBA
It was with great interest that I recently reviewed the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission’s 2012 “Report to the Congress, Medicare Payment Policy.” MedPAC makes recommendations, but only Congress makes national law.
MedPAC’s recommendations are not legislative in nature. Nonetheless, MedPAC’s recommendations carry significant weight with lawmakers and provide both insight and guidance with respect to the future of Medicare reimbursement. As you might imagine in this election year, statements made by MedPAC are solid informational ammunition, used by both Republicans and Democrats, in political debates about the adequacy and future of Medicare.
Regarding end-stage renal disease (ESRD) payment, MedPAC’s March report contained only one recommendation, “The Congress should update the outpatient dialysis payment rate by 1 percent in calendar year 2013.”
The above recommendation is not news to many of us, but what may not be so commonly known is the rationale for MedPAC’s recommendation. Rather than paraphrase, I would like to present the exact words of MedPAC:
Are Medicare Payments Adequate in 2012?
Assessment of payment adequacy Our payment adequacy indicators for outpatient dialysis services are generally positive.
Beneficiaries’ access to care
Measures include examining the capacity and supply of providers, beneficiaries’ ability to obtain care and changes in the volume of services.
Capacity and supply of providers Dialysis facilities appear to have the capacity to meet demand. Growth in the number of dialysis treatment stations has generally kept pace with growth in the number of dialysis patients.