Bipartisan Legislation Would Ensure Adequate Medicare Reimbursement for Long-Term Care Hospitals

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) today announced the introduction of legislation to ensure adequate Medicare reimbursements to long-term care hospitals that care for people with severe wounds.

The legislation offered by the Mississippi Senators would halt pending reductions in Medicare reimbursements now provided to long-term care hospitals that provide specialized care and long-hospital stays for patients with complex conditions and non-healing wounds. These patients are best served with skilled clinical staff, equipment and medical resources that are not typically available in other settings.

“The importance of long-term care hospitals can’t be overstated. In many cases, they are the only type of medical facility with the specialized skills required to treat chronic, debilitating illnesses and injuries,” Cochran said. “The bipartisan support for this legislation shows its importance for the medical community and the patients served by these hospitals.”

“Long-term care hospitals in Mississippi treat patients suffering from some of the most complex medical conditions,” Wicker said. “Without these facilities, many of our state’s vulnerable patients would not have access to the intensive treatment they need. This legislation would delay harmful cuts, allowing providers to continue to serve their patients and communities with high-quality care.”

Beginning in October 2015, current Medicare reimbursement rates for long-term care hospitals will be limited to only patients with at least three or more intensive care unit days immediately preceding their long-term care hospital stay or to those who need at least 96 hours of ventilator care. All other cases will be paid at a lower rate regardless of the severity of illness or the intensity of care needed, potentially risking the economic viability of the more than 400 long-term care hospitals nationwide.

The Cochran-Wicker bill would delay the new criteria for two years, and maintain current reimbursement levels for the treatment of severe wounds in specific cases. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would also be required to study the post-acute care treatment of severe wounds and report to Congress by Oct. 1, 2016 on the appropriate reimbursement for these wounds.

Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) have cosponsored the Cochran-Wicker legislation. In the House, U.S. Representatives Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) and Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) have introduced companion legislation (HR.1250).