May 04, 2009 | | Comments 0
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CDI implications included in IPPS proposed rule

The long-awaited fiscal year (FY) 2010 Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) proposed rule is out, and with it comes good and bad news for hospitals. Hospitals will see historically low payment updates with a phased-in documentation and coding adjustment (DCA) to take place over time.

The proposed update for acute care hospitals means an update of 2.1% for inflation minus a DCA of 1.9 percentage points. Long-term care hospitals will see a proposed update of 2.4% for inflation minus a DCA of 1.8 percentage points. These DCA adjustments reflect the differences between the changes in documentation and coding that do not reflect real changes in case-mix for discharges occurring during FY 2008, according to CMS.

These low rates won’t help hospitals struggling to keep their doors open in the midst of a worsening economy. “Hospitals that are counting on some sort of increase won’t really see anything this year,” says Kimberly Hoy, JD, CPC, director of Medicare compliance for HCPro, Inc. in Marblehead, MA. “Payments are going to stay flat, and that’s going to be tough for a lot of hospitals.”

Clinical documentation improvement programs as well as more diligent efforts by HIM are most likely the reasons behind more accurate coding that led to higher payments, agrees Shannon McCall, RHIA, CCS, CCS-P, CPC-I, director of HIM and coding for HCPro, Inc. in Marblehead, MA.

“CMS may have underestimated that facilities would create such effective clinical documentation improvement programs,” she says. “I think those programs were an integral part of all of this.”

And in light of decreased payment updates, hospitals that don’t currently have a clinical documentation program will need to think seriously about implementing one, says Gloryanne Bryant, RHIA, CCS, CHW senior director of corporate coding and HIM compliance in San Francisco.

“Hospitals will need to assess their current efforts to capture patient severity and acuity through documentation and coding to see if opportunities remain,” she says.

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Melissa Varnavas About the Author: Melissa Varnavas, is the Associate Director of the Association of Clinical Documentation Improvement Specialists (ACDIS). ACDIS is a community in which CDI professionals share the latest tested tips, tools, and strategies to implement successful CDI programs and achieve professional growth. With more than 5,000 members, its mission is to bring CDI specialists together. To learn more about ACDIS, go to or call HCPro customer service at 800-650-6787.

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