CMS issues proposed home health cuts

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposes a net decrease of 0.86% in Medicare payments for home health agencies in calendar year 2010. This includes a 2.2% market basket update, which would be decreased by 2.75% as part of a 4-year series of cuts that adjust for coding changes between 1999 and 2005.

The rule also warns that CMS is considering additional coding reductions that are based on further analysis of case mix change. These reductions could lower 2010 payments by 4.9%. The proposed rule would also cap outlier payments at 10% per agency and limit total outlier payments to 2.5% of total HH PPS payments. The rule was published in the Aug. 6 Federal Register and comments will be accepted through September 28.

ACIP targets high-risk groups for H1N1 vaccine

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that five groups be targeted for initial vaccination against H1N1 flu. The groups, which total an estimated 159 million people, are: pregnant women; people who live with or care for children under 6 months old; health care and emergency services personnel; children and young adults aged 6 months through 24; and adults aged 25-64 with chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems. If the initial supply of H1N1 vaccine is very limited, the committee recommends that the following groups receive the vaccine first: pregnant women; people who live with or care for children under 6 months old; health care and emergency services personnel with direct patient contact; children aged 6 months through 4; and children aged 5-18 who have chronic medical conditions. Adults aged 65 and over currently face the least risk from the H1N1 virus, but should receive the seasonal flu vaccine as soon as it's available, the panel recommends.