In early March, KRS leadership – including its medical advisory board – went to Washington to advocate for inpatient rehabilitation.

The KRS delegation visited several Congressional offices to discuss the important role of inpatient rehabilitation in acute care and to discuss key issues such as Medicare Advantage’s too-frequent denials of inpatient rehabilitation claims, and consideration of future cuts to Medicare spending on inpatient rehab.

KRS leaders were joined by more than a dozen physicians who work as medical directors for Kindred Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities (IRFs) and Acute Rehabilitation Units (ARUs) across the country and serve on the company’s medical advisory board. Dr. Sally Brooks, KRS’s Chief Medical Officer and a member of the medical advisory board, said the meetings were an important opportunity to share insights from medical practitioners with Congressional leadership and staff members.

Khrs-Advocate-for-Inpatient-Rehabilitation

“It is imperative that physicians advocate on behalf of their patients with policymakers to assure access to acute rehabilitation settings,” said Dr. Brooks. “The outcomes are clearly superior for appropriate patents, such as those who have suffered a stroke. Inpatient rehabilitation is an important asset in the continuum of care and all patients with appropriate conditions should have access.”

Because of its importance, one of the key topics discussed was the need to protect Medicare Advantage beneficiaries’ access to inpatient rehabilitation care. The sharp rise in Medicare Advantage use – nearly 38% of Medicare beneficiaries were enrolled in Medicare Advantage in early 2019 – has brought with it an arbitrary rise in denials of MA coverage of inpatient rehabilitation hospital care.

The impact of this practice often diverts clinically appropriate patients who qualify for IRFs to clinically inappropriate lower-acuity settings. Patient choice and physician direction are being eroded, as is the likelihood that these diverted patients will reach their full potential for recovery.

While KRS has been extremely effective in reversing denials via the lengthy appeals process, the visit to Washington gave KRS an opportunity to educate lawmakers on the issue and garner their support in getting MA plans to once again utilize the more uniform eligibility standards established by CMS and Congress.

The visit was organized by Kindred’s Public Policy and Government Affairs group, which is active year-round in working with lawmakers, government agencies, trade groups and other constituents to advocate for policies that help post-acute providers deliver the best possible care and outcomes to patients.