During the newly extended transition period, short-term hospital admissions will be reviewed under the new rule's guidelines, but reimbursements will not change. "Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) will continue to select claims for review with dates of admission between March 31, 2014 and September 30, 2014," Friday's CMS announcement states, adding, "Generally, Recovery Auditors and other Medicare review contractors will not conduct post-payment patient status reviews of inpatient hospital claims with dates of admission on or after October 1, 2013, through October 1, 2014."
CMS officials did not return a request for comment.
Officials at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina said delaying implementation of the two midnights rule is a positive development but only the first step in process necessary to fix or drop the new guidelines. The 885-bed teaching hospital in Winston-Salem is among four healthcare providers that have appealed CMS's plan to reduce Medicare reimbursements by 0.2 percent to help pay the agency's costs linked to implementing the two-midnight rule.
"We appreciate CMS's announcement delaying the enforcement of the two midnight rule until October 1, 2014," said Joanne Ruhland, WFBMC's vice president of government relations. "However, the rule is still CMS policy, which we will continue to oppose through the legislative and judicial process."