The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has published its final fiscal year (FY) 2020 Medicare hospice payment rule.  CMS forecasts that the final rule will result in an estimated $520 million increase in FY 2020 payments to hospices due to the final hospice payment update percentage of 2.6%. The final FY 2020 hospice cap is $29,964.78, compared with the FY 2019 cap amount of $29,205.44.

The rule makes a number of modifications to the requirements for hospice election statement content, to provide additional transparency for patients regarding the scope of hospice benefits and their potential financial liability, effective for hospice elections beginning October 1, 2020.  Specifically, the hospice must provide notification of the individual’s (or representative’s) right to receive an election statement “addendum” if there are conditions, items, services, and drugs the hospice has determined to be unrelated to the individual’s terminal illness and related conditions and would not be covered by the hospice.  CMS sets forth detailed requirement for: content of the addendum, including a list and understandable rationale for such unrelated items; timelines for delivery of the addendum; and notification of the right for advocacy through a Medicare Beneficiary and Family Centered Care-Quality Improvement Organization (BFCC–QIO) if the individual disagrees with the hospice’s determination.

Among other things, the final rule also:

  • Rebases the continuous home care, general inpatient care, and inpatient respite care per diem payment rates, with a reduction in routine home care rates to maintain budget neutrality.
  • Uses the current year’s hospital wage data (rather than data from the prior year) to establish the hospice wage index.
  • Revises various Hospice Quality Reporting Program requirements.