The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has finalized its FY 2019 update to Medicare hospice rates and policies.  As forecast in the May 8, 2018 proposed rule, CMS is increasing FY 2019 hospice rates by 1.8% ($340 million), based on a 2.9% inpatient hospital market basket update that is reduced by both a 0.8 percentage point multifactor productivity adjustment and a 0.3 percentage point statutory adjustment.  The annual update is reduced by 2 percentage points for hospices that fail to report required quality data.  The final FY 2019 hospice cap is $29,205.44, an increase of 1.8% over the 2018 level.

The final rule codifies a Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 provision that expands the definition of attending physician to include physician assistants.  CMS also updates Hospice Quality Reporting Program (HQRP) procedural policies, changes how hospice quality results are displayed on Hospice Compare, and adds a new HQRP measure “removal factor” that considers whether the costs associated with a measure outweigh the benefit of its continued use, among other HQRP provisions.