Skilled Nursing Facilities:

Providers Have Responded to Medicare Payment System By Changing Practices

GAO-02-841: Published: Aug 23, 2002. Publicly Released: Aug 23, 2002.

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In 1998, the Health Care Financing Administration implemented a prospective payment system (PPS) for skilled nursing facility (SNF) services provided to Medicare beneficiaries. PPS is intended to control the growth in Medicare spending for skilled nursing and rehabilitative services that SNFs provide. Two years after the implementation of PPS, the mix of patients across the categories of payment groups has shifted, as determined by the patients' initial minimum data set assessments. Although the overall share of patients classified into rehabilitation payment group categories based on their initial assessments remained about the same, more patients were classified into the high and medium rehabilitation payment group categories, and fewer were initially classified into the most intensive (highest paying) and least intensive (lowest paying) rehabilitation payment group categories. Two years after PPS was implemented the majority of patients in rehabilitation payment groups received less therapy than was provided in 1999. This was true even for patients within the same rehabilitation payment group categories. Across all rehabilitation payment group categories, fewer patients received the highest amounts of therapy associated with each payment group.

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