CMS Delays MDS 3.0 Implementation

MacKenzie Kimball, for PPS Alert for Long-Term Care, March 5, 2009

During the Ohio Healthcare Annual Legislative Conference yesterday, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) informed an audience of 180 people that the implementation of the MDS 3.0, originally set for October 1, 2009, has been delayed for one year. An official announcement regarding the delay is expected to be made during today's open door forum, which will take place at 2 p.m. EST.

The implementation delay stems from concerns that the original start date did not provide enough time for software vendors, state agencies, and other systems to properly prepare for the MDS 3.0. The MDS is a tool used by skilled nursing facilities to assess residents and determine Medicare payments.

"The delay until October 2010 is a positive thing – this gives the states, software vendors, and other stakeholders the time they need to prepare for implementation," says Rena R. Shephard, MHA, RN, RAC-MT, C-NE, founding chair and executive editor of the American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordinators and president of RRS Healthcare Consulting Services in San Diego. "But this is also a positive for providers–it gives them they time they will need to develop and carry out a plan for training and implementation. I hope they will use it well–this advance preparation can be very important to successful implementation."

Although professionally disappointed by the delay, Maureen Wern, president of Wern and Associates in Warren, OH and participant in yesterday's call, believes CMS' decision was very responsible.

"I feel that many in the industry, particularly the frontline people, were prepared to move forward. However, I certainly understand the need for the delay. If everyone isn't prepared to do something right it's appropriate to delay it. It was a very thoughtful decision on the part of CMS, and I'm sure it'll prove to be the right one," Wern says.

Long-term care professionals across the nation consider CMS' decision to delay the implementation of the MDS 3.0 to be positive news.

"When an overhaul of such an instrumental document is being performed, it is best to ensure that it is as complete and tested as possible. This delay shows CMS is taking the process seriously and making the time to fine tune the instrument prior to implementation," says Kate Brewer, PT, MBA, GCS, vice president of Greenfield Rehabilitation Agency, Inc., in Greenfield, WI.

This story first appeared as a breaking news item from the editors of PPS Alert for Long-Term Care, a monthly publication from HCPro, Inc.
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