New paper states that long-term care hospitals should be paid the same as skilled nursing facilities

Long-term care hospitals are paid too much for the care they provide, and should be stripped of their special reimbursement schedules under Medicare, a new study says.

Academics from the University of Chicago, Stanford University, and MIT in the joint study say most patients in long-term care hospitals would get the same or better care at less-costly skilled nursing facilities.

The study, released as a National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper, estimates that Medicare could save $4.6 billion a year—with no harm to patients—by eliminating reimbursement schedules for long-term care hospitals, and instead paying them the same as skilled nursing facilities, according to HealthLeaders Media.

The paper has brought on the ire of the National Association of Long Term Care Hospitals, which said the analysts failed recognize that long-term care hospital are also acute care hospitals.

"As a result, they can and do treat patients that a SNF (which are sub-acute providers and that do not have the clinical infrastructure or staffing of a hospital) would not and should not," Lane Koenig, NALTCH's director of research and policy, said in an email to HealthLeaders.

"Because of this failure to recognize these differences, they mischaracterize the findings of their study in the abstract, introduction, and elsewhere in the paper," Koenig said.

The study calls for the elimination of a carve out for LTC hospitals that Congress created in the early 1980s that exempted them from payment reforms. As a result, LTC hospitals receive a substantially higher reimbursement than traditional hospitals, the study says.

Read the full story at HealthLeaders Media.

Topics: Medicare/Medicaid , Uncategorized