Back to the Drawing Board: Next Occupational Mix Survey by IPPS Hospitals Due July 3, 2017

The expression “Back to the drawing board” is associated with failure of a plan or design and the need to start fresh. The phrase actually originated as the caption to a cartoon in a 1941 New Yorker magazine. The cartoon shows military men racing toward a crashed plane and a man, with a roll of plans under his arm, walking away saying “Well, back to the old drawing board!”

CMS often takes this approach in determining how to reimburse providers for Medicare services, including how wage data is handled for Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) hospitals.

The reporting of wage index data in one form or another has been required since the implementation of DRGs and the IPPS in 1983. Initially, CMS collected the data every few years, but in 1989 Congress passed legislation directing CMS to update the index annually. The first Medicare wage data was from 1990 cost reports and was used to adjust 1994 IPPS rates. This four-year lag continues today due to the length of the cost reporting cycle and the need to allow time for review and correction.

An occupational mix adjustment was introduced also, but was not implemented for various reasons until 1990 with the passage of the Benefits Improvement and Protection Act (BIPA). BIPA mandated the collection of data on the occupational mix of employees’ data via a survey every three years.

Tip #34:

The next occupational mix survey is due July 3, 2017. Hospitals paid under IPPS must submit wage and hour data for full-time, part-time, contracted employees, and Home Office allocated salaries.

Further guidance can be found on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) website:

CMS Occupational Mix Survey

Questions? Please contact Marie White at 612.253.6546 or mewhite@eidebailly.com.

 

Wage Index: Defining It and Understanding Yours

Most everyone knows the saying, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” In the world of health care, we don’t really have enemies per se, but we definitely have competitors. It is important to stay in touch with competitors for various reasons, such as:

  • You may benefit from understanding their perspective and/or ideas on a subject
  • You may need to work together someday
  • You may have shared interests if you dig deep enough

A practical application of this concept is the wage index. The index is an adjustment for differences in hospital wage rates among labor markets. It is computed using individual hospital data that is then compared to metropolitan statistical area (MSA) or statewide rural area to the nationwide average.

Since the inception of a Prospective Payment System (PPS) for Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF), hospital wage data has been used to develop a wage index to be applied to SNFs. The SNF PPS wage index values for any fiscal year are calculated from the same data used to compute that fiscal year’s acute care hospital inpatient wage index data.

Tip #8:

Educate yourself on what your own wage index ratio is and how it compares to your marketplace, your state and the national average.

You should also consider establishing a task force among the hospitals and SNFs in your area to analyze how each other are reporting their wage data and if there are ways you can enact change that would result in an improved index.

Guidance is available on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) website:

Medicare Wage Index home page

Questions? Please contact Marie White at 612.253.6546 or mewhite@eidebailly.com.