The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has published its final rule updating the Medicare skilled nursing facility (SNF) prospective payment system (PPS) for fiscal year (FY) 2020, which begins October 1, 2019.  CMS expects SNF PPS payments to increase by 2.4%, or $851 million, in FY 2020, down from the $887 million increase forecasted in the proposed rule.  The final update is based on a 2.8% market basket increase offset by a 0.4 percentage point multifactor productivity adjustment.

In the final rule, CMS discusses the October 1, 2019 implementation of the new SNF Patient-Driven Payment Model (PDPM), which focuses on a resident’s clinical condition and care needs rather than the volume of care provided.  CMS previously established a limit on group and concurrent therapy, which provides that for each therapy discipline (i.e., physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology), no more than 25% of the therapy services furnished to a SNF resident during a covered Medicare Part A stay may be in a group or concurrent setting.  While CMS initially defined group therapy for PDPM purposes as exactly four patients, CMS has adopted its proposal to modify the definition to align with the definition used under the Medicare Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility (IRF) PPS.  Specifically, under the final rule, group therapy under the SNF PDPM means treating two to six patients at the same time who are performing the same or similar activities.  CMS plans to monitor the usage of group and concurrent therapy and review clinical outcomes, noting that “[i]f the results of our monitoring efforts indicate substantial non-compliance with the 25 percent limit, we may consider taking additional action in future rulemaking.”  However, CMS expects “providers will pay close attention to the warning provided on their validation reports and be aware that we are monitoring their use of group and concurrent therapy as well.”

The final rule also, among other things, implements a subregulatory process for updating ICD-10 code lists used under the PDPM and updates various SNF Quality Reporting Program (QRP) and SNF Value-Based Purchasing Program requirements.  CMS discusses a previous request for comments on expanding data collection for SNF QRP quality measures to all SNF residents regardless of payer beginning with the FY 2022 program year; however, CMS is not finalizing such a proposal at this time.