HCFA contemplates adding short-stay MDS

The possibility of a short-stay Minimum Data Set (MDS) that includes a subacute component is likely to be considered for implementation by the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA). The MDS, which is used to gather data for Medicare patients and forwarded to HCFA, could become a vital reimbursement component for subacute providers.

The MDS needs to be tailored to fit the needs of subacute patients whose average length of stay is much shorter than that of traditional nursing home stays, argue leaders in the subacute industry. HCFA agreed to develop a short-stay MDS because of the changing long-term care patient group.

An option under consideration is the development of a "skip pattern" approach to the short-term MDS. Certain core elements of the MDS would apply to all patients, while other elements could be skipped for short-term patients.