April 20, 2017 | Net Health

2 min read

2017 Regulatory Changes for Skilled Nursing Facilities

2017 is shaping up to be one of the most eventful years skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) have seen in quite some time, as several regulatory changes for SNFs are in motion. These changes will affect both in-house and contract therapy providers, which means you should probably start panicking. JUST KIDDING! When it comes to healthcare regulations and compliance, consider this your cup of calming tea. We’re breaking down the most important regulations to know about now.

Legislation to pay attention to now

Many regulations introduced in 2016 appear to be moving forward, however they’re subject to change as we wait to see if / how they’re affected by other legislative changes, including the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Below is a summary of the major regulatory issues you should be aware of now and continue to follow, since more changes are likely to occur.

American Health Care Act: When President Trump took office, he was focused on fulfilling his campaign promise to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which he initiated by introducing the AHCA. This effort has cooled since the AHCA was pulled from the House floor on March 24, 2017, but just because it won’t move forward in its current form doesn’t mean it won’t have an impact at all. On April 6, Congressman Gary Palmer (R-AL) and Congressman David Schweikert (R-AZ) proposed an amendment to the AHCA that provides increased funding for high risk pools. The House won’t vote on any ACA legislation until their recess ends on April 24, so the exact effects on therapy providers remain to be seen.

Medicare Therapy Cap: On February 1, 2017, Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) introduced the Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act of 2017 bill to Congress, which calls for a repeal of the Medicare outpatient rehabilitation therapy cap imposed on physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech-language pathology services. The goal of the repeal is to safeguard access to care for at-risk Medicare beneficiary groups. A repeal of the cap has garnered bipartisan support, as well as support from industry associations, including APTA.

Payment Reform: Therapy services have been under scrutiny for several years. In the SNFs, we’ve seen several payment changes including the reformulation of reimbursement for treatment mode minutes, concurrent therapy and group therapy, the implementation of COTs and the implementation of PUF reports. Recently, CMS and the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) have recommended alternative payment systems. What does this mean for therapy payment reform? Stay tuned.

Resources to prepare for the future

In addition to these regulations, there are several other pieces of legislation worth paying attention to, including the Impact Act, MACRA and the Medicare and Medicaid Programs: Reform of Requirements for Long-Term Care Facilities. Download our free white paper, Therapy in the Trump Era, to learn how these could affect your therapy business.

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We’ll also be keeping you updated on important regulatory changes for SNFs (and serving hot cups of calm) all year long via this blog, so keep coming back!

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