Medicare Chief: Hospitals to Get $5B

Hospitals will receive $5 billion more in Medicare (search) payments next year, including a small bonus for reporting quality data to the government, Medicare chief Mark McClellan (searchsaid Monday.

Payments to urban hospitals will average 5.7 percent more next year. Rural hospitals will see an average increase of 6.2 percent, under provisions of last year's Medicare law designed to boost spending on rural health care. Hospital payments are expected to total $105 billion in the government spending year that begins in October.

The changes were contained in regulations issued Monday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The Medicare overhaul for the first time tied payments to hospitals' willingness to submit quality measures to the government.

"Virtually all are submitting data to us in order to get the full update," McClellan said.

Through the regulations, Medicare also is trying to get a handle on the rapidly increasing payments to long-term-care hospitals, in which patients have an average length of stay greater than 25 days.

Spending on those facilities, which often are contained within an acute-care hospital, has jumped more than 40 percent in three years, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.

Medicare is phasing in payment limits over four years, McClellan said.

The government also is boosting reimbursements for several high-tech procedures, including implanting a neurostimulator in the brain to treat Parkinson's disease.