Medicare’s new reimbursement system for skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), called Patient-Driven Payment Model (PDPM),changed reimbursement rules and the financial incentives for SNFs, effective October 1, 2019.  As a result, nursing home skilled nursing residents who are receiving rehabilitation care may be receiving less therapy than prior to October 1, 2019.

Prior to Oct. 1, 2019, Medicare reimbursed nursing homes for therapy based on the number of minutes provided to each patient, up to 720 minutes a week. The goal is to help patients regain mobility and the ability to perform daily tasks, so that they can safely return home.

The new approach, called the Patient-Driven Payment Model, was suppose to eliminate the nursing homes’ incentives to frequently provided the maximum number of minutes of therapy, regardless of whether patients needed that much treatment.  Now, facilities are paid based on patients’ diagnoses and characteristics.   

Additionally, Medicare now allows up to 25 percent of patients’ therapy to take place in groups, instead of one on one therapy.  As a result, nationally, the new Medicare policy has prompted some nursing home chains and rehab companies to scale back the treatment they provide to patients, and to lay off therapists or switch them to part-time status.