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IMPACT Act Aims to Enhance Post-Acute Care for Medicare Beneficiaries

Bipartisan legislation (HR 4994/S 2553) introduced on June 26 aims to standardize data used across post-acute settings. Postacute care includes services in long-term care hospitals (LTCHs), inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs), skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), and home health agencies (HHAs).

A news release from the Committee on Ways and Means reports that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, (D-Ore), Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich), and Ranking Member Sandy Levin (D-Mich) introduced the legislation.

The release reports that the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014 (IMPACT Act) aims to further a long-standing policy goal centered on gathering standardized data from Medicare post-acute care (PAC) providers. The bill is intended to pave the way for aligning Medicare PAC providers and for a more accountable, quality-driven PAC benefit.

As stated in the release, the IMPACT Act requires data standardization in order to enable Medicare to compare quality across different PAC settings, as well as improve hospital and PAC discharge planning. The legislation also requires data standardization to enable Medicare to use this information to reform PAC payments (through site neutral or bundled payments or other reform) while ensuring continued beneficiary access to the most appropriate setting of care.

This information is intended to allow future payment reforms to be facilitated by quality and efficiency, while also protecting beneficiary access to appropriate services.

According to the release, the legislation comes on the heels of a released discussion draft in March, largely based upon input the lawmakers received from the post-acute care community. Lawmakers reportedly invited interested stakeholders last year to submit ideas targeting how post-acute care might be strengthened.

To this end, the release notes that the IMPACT Act is based upon the policy and legislative recommendations of more than 70 stakeholders in the healthcare community, and is designed to make way for the modernization of PAC services within Medicare to ensure the program works better for both beneficiaries and taxpayers.

The release states that without comparable data required under the legislation, policymakers and providers cannot determine whether patients treated and the care provided in different settings is the same, or if one PAC setting is more appropriate.

In the release, lawmakers maintain the these changes will assist Medicare patients in receiving the appropriate high-quality post-acute care, in the appropriate setting and at the right time.

For more information, read a summary of the legislation draft and a detailed section-by-section version

[Source: Committee on Ways and Means]