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February 27, 2012 (Cleveland)

Reimbursement Forum Apprised of Continued Wage Index Debate



Changes may be on the horizon for Medicare wage index. After years of rumblings about the numerous inconsistencies and exceptions that occur with wage index each year, the Secretary of Health and Human Services is poised to make recommendations to Congress to change it. But before making recommendations, Secretary Sebelius is awaiting recommendations from an American Hospital Association task force. Thanks to a member of this task force from the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council, who is determined to keep other hospital associations in the loop, The Center for Health Affairs has been able to provide regular updates to its Reimbursement Forum members.

The latest task force discussions, which occurred at the end of January, centered on the source data used for determining wage index and the plusses and minuses of the two most likely options: cost reports or Bureau of Labor Statistics All Health Care Survey data. Cost reports, the group agreed, capture more hospital-specific data and finer detail but result in numerous exceptions and inconsistences. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is more consistent and reliable but includes the entire healthcare sector, not just hospitals, and does not include benefit information or data on contract labor. The group did not come to a final decision at its last meeting but plans to meet again in the coming weeks.

If you would like to receive a copy of these wage index updates or if you would like additional information, contact Deanna Moore at 216.255.3614 or dmoore@chanet.org.

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