The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released its proposed rule to update the Medicare end-stage renal disease (ESRD) prospective payment system (PPS) for calendar year (CY) 2019.  CMS proposes to increase the ESRD PPS base rate from $232.37 in 2018 to $235.82 in 2019 as a result of a proposed 1.5% market basket increase and a proposed wage index budget-neutrality adjustment factor of 0.999833.  CMS also expects to increase payments by $30 million as a result of updates to the outlier threshold amounts.  Overall, CMS estimates that its proposed ESRD PPS policies would increase payments to ESRD facilities by approximately $220 million in CY 2019.

The proposed rule also would, among other things: update the drug designation process for new renal dialysis drugs and biologicals and change the basis for determining transitional drug add-on payment adjustments; update the wage index; revise the low-volume payment adjustment regulations; update the acute kidney injury dialysis rate (which would be the same as the ESRD PPS base rate); and modify ESRD Quality Incentive Program (QIP) reporting requirements and measures.  CMS also includes requests for information on (1) promoting interoperability and electronic healthcare information exchange through possible revisions to patient health and safety requirements; and (2) price transparency/improving beneficiary access to provider and supplier charge information.  Furthermore, as part of this rulemaking, CMS is proposing a number of changes to Medicare policies related to rate setting for durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies, which we will address in a separate post. CMS will accept comments on the proposed rule until September 10, 2018.