CMS Settles Class Action Reversing Improvement Standard

It is being reported that the Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc. has settled its class action suit with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services regarding the “improvement standard” that CMS has historically required in order to continue Medicare reimbursement for patients in nursing homes, home health, rehabilitation hospitals, and certain other care settings. The “improvement standard” resulted in Medicare coverage being denied in cases where a patient’s condition was found to be stable, chronic, not improving, or for “maintenance only.”

The proposed settlement agreement will require CMS to revise relevant portions of its Medicare Benefit Policy Manual to clarify coverage standards for skilled nursing facilities, home health, and outpatient therapy benefits when a patient has not restoration or improvement potential but still needs the services that are provided by those types of providers. CMS is also required to clarify similar coverage standards that are applicable to inpatient rehabilitation facilities. The settlement agreement provides for input by counsel representing the class into the process of developing new manual provisions that conform with the settlement. The class action suit has alleged that Medicare routinely denied coverage based on the improvement standard. The settlement will require CMS to clarify that the improvement standard will no longer be applied to deny coverage. The people most affected by this barrier include people living with a range of conditions including multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), spinal cord injuries, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, hypertension, arthritis, heart disease, and stroke.

Many of these individuals who were not showing progress but still require care, and the institutions that serve them, will now be able to obtain reimbursement for services that they require.

Center for Medicare Advocacy Link

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