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Effect of Site‐Neutral Payment Policy on Long‐Term Acute Care Hospital Use

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To assess the projected effect of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services new site-neutral payment policy, which aims to decrease unnecessary long-term acute care hospital (LTACH) admissions by reducing reimbursements for less-ill individuals by 2020.




National 5% Medicare data (2011-12).


We examined the proportion of site-neutral LTACH admissions. Regional LTACH market supply was defined as LTACH beds per 100,000 residents, categorized according to tertile. We conducted a hospital-level analysis to compare the projected effect of site-neutral payment on "propensity score" matched high- and low-LTACH-use hospitals.


Forty-one percent of LTACH admissions would be subjected to site-neutral payment. The proportion of site-neutral admissions was large, varied considerably according to LTACH (median 40%, interquartile range 22-60%), and was only modestly greater with greater market supply (Pearson correlation coefficient=0.23, p<.001; coefficient of determination=0.10). The site-neutral payment policy would affect 47% of admissions from the highest-supply regions, versus 30% from the lowest-supply regions (p<.001); and 43% from high-use hospitals versus 36% from propensity score-matched low-use hospitals (p<.001).


A considerable proportion of LTACH admissions will be subjected to lower site-neutral payments. Although the policy will disproportionately affect high-use regions and hospitals, it will also affect nearly one-third of the current LTACH population from low-use hospitals and regions. As such, the site-neutral payment policy may limit LTACH access in existing LTAC-scarce markets, with potential adverse implications for recovery of hospitalized older adults. J Am Geriatr Soc 66:2104-2111, 2018.

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