Budget Deal Alters Reimbursement to Off-Campus Hospital-Owned Facilities
On November 2, 2015, President Obama signed into law H.R. 1314, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (the "Act"), which significantly changes Medicare reimbursement for off-campus hospital services. The Act, which Congress passed late last week, will alter Medicare reimbursement for new off-campus hospital-owned facilities that have heretofore been treated as "hospital-based." Off-campus facilities for which a hospital was not billing as "hospital-based" as of the date of the enactment of the Act will not be treated as "hospital-based," and the physician or other provider's fee schedule rate, instead of the hospital outpatient rate, will apply.
Prior to the Act, covered out-patient department ("OPD") services included services provided by facilities meeting the complex hospital-based rules, even if the facility was not physically-located on the campus of the hospital. Subject to the grandfather provision discussed below, the Act adds a specific exclusion to the definition of covered OPD services, making services furnished by an off-campus outpatient department of a hospital ineligible. The Act provides that a facility is "off-campus" if it is not within 250 yards of the hospital's main buildings (including for this purpose, a "remote location of a hospital," meaning a separate in-patient campus of the hospital, which is a helpful clarification in an otherwise problematic law). Facilities deemed "off-campus" are ineligible for Medicare reimbursement at the hospital outpatient rate.
The inclusion of a grandfather provision will mitigate some of the Act's impact, as facilities currently treated as "hospital-based" will not be impacted by the change in law. Only facilities that are not billing as "hospital-based" as of the date of enactment will be ineligible for reimbursement at the hospital outpatient rate. It is unclear whether a conveyance of an off-campus grandfathered facility would eliminate the grandfathered status and the ability of the buyer to bill for the services as "hospital-based." The Congressional Budget Office ("CBO") forecasts that the government will reap significant cost savings from the lower rates that will apply; an October 28, 2015 analysis from the CBO projects that the change in reimbursement policy will provide $9.3 billion in relief by 2025.