HHS Delays Medicare Bundled Payment Programs

Through a Federal Register notice published as an Interim Final Rule (IFR), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is further delaying two Medicare bundled payment programs from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Innovation Center (CMMI).  The two bundled payment programs included under this rule are the Cardiac Rehabilitation Incentive Payment Model and the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) Model.  

The notice postpones the expansion of the CMMI bundled payment programs for knee and hip replacement and the start of a stroke and heart attack program from March 21 until May 20.  This rule also delays the applicability date of some of the regulatory provisions that were to be applicable on July 1 to October 1, 2017, and delays the effective date of conforming changes to CJR Model provisions that were to be effective July 1 to October 1, 2017. With this additional three-month delay, the new HHS leadership will be able to review the two bundled payments programs and seek comment about possibly delaying the start of these programs all the way until January 1, 2018.

CMS also stated that this additional time will ensure that the agency has adequate time to undertake notice and comment rulemaking to modify the policy if further modifications are warranted, and guarantee that participants have a clear understanding of the governing rules and are not required to take needless compliance steps due to the rule taking effect for a short duration before any potential modifications are implemented.