CMS Cancels Bundled Payment Programs, Continuing Shift Toward Voluntary Models

Jack O'Brien, December 1, 2017

Agency intends to increase flexibility and test innovative in-patient and post-acute care measures.

In another blow to mandatory Obama-era programs, the Trump administration has cancelled two bundled payment models that were set to take effect next month.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced an interim final rule Thursday that cancels the mandatory hip fracture and cardiac bundled payment models, which the agency says were not operating “in the best interest” of CMS and its providers.

“We anticipate announcing new voluntary payment bundles soon,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma in a statement.

The agency said it intends to increase flexibility and test innovative in-patient and post-acute care measures, and it noted that hospitals are still involved in other episode payment models (EPMs).

The interim final rule also changes the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) model, affecting about half of the geographic-area hospitals currently participating in the mandatory CJR model.

The American Physical Therapy Association describes the CJR model as an exclusive operation administered by CMS for Medicare patients in designated geographic areas. The program provides comprehensive coverage for total hip and knee replacement procedures, including the rehabilitation process.

In addition to the proposed voluntary participation policy, which was first introduced in August, this rule will also apply to the involvement of low-volume providers in rural locations across the country. It is expected to assist rural hospitals by affording them the chance to evaluate what works best for their financial situation.

Jack O'Brien

Jack O'Brien is an associate editor at HealthLeaders Media. 

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