January 22, 2020

MedPAC Recommends Updated Medicare Base Payment Rates for Hospitals and Physicians

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) recommended at its Jan. 16–17 meeting that Congress consider updating Medicare payment rates for acute care hospitals, physicians and other health professionals next year.

The Commission voted to recommend that for 2021 Congress should update the 2020 Medicare base payment rates for acute care hospitals by two percent and provide hospitals with an amount equal to the difference between the update recommendation and the amount specified in current law through the Commission’s recommended hospital value incentive program.

The Commission voted to recommend that for calendar year 2021 Congress should update the 2020 Medicare payment rates for physician and other health professional services by the amount determined under current law. These recommendations will appear in MedPAC’s March 2020 Report to the Congress.

The Commission also discussed Accountable Care Organization (ACO) beneficiary assignment. Commission staff was presented findings on retrospective versus prospective assignment as well as defining an ACO as a collection of Taxpayer Identification Numbers.

There was general agreement among the commissioners that identifying ACOs through National Provider Identifiers would improve assignment. The Commission will likely make this recommendation in the spring. For prospective versus retrospective assignment, the Commission determined it needs more information before formulating a recommendation for Congress.

The MedPAC Commission is required to review Medicare payment policies and make recommendations to Congress each year. It will meet again in March.