Mark Lennihan / AP

Medicare's final 2018 hospital payment rule set in stone a spate of policies — ranging from a withdrawn proposal that would have required accrediting bodies to make confidential hospital inspections public to a new (and unpopular) system for calculating hospitals' uncompensated care.

But a handful of other payment policy changes also will go into effect next year, pleasing the various companies and industries that lobbied the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Smaller payment cut for heart devices: Medicare proposed updating its payment system based on new medical coding data, and payments for the "other heart assist system implant" reimbursement code would have been slashed by almost 35%. The cut would have especially affected Abiomed, a company that makes heart devices.

Hospitals using that code and Abiomed's heart device are currently paid about $96,000 per treatment, and it would have been reduced to about $63,000. Abiomed lobbied Medicare officials in July to blunt the cut. Medicare agreed, and now the payment will reduced by a lower 19% rate for 2018.

Here are other nuggets embedded within Medicare's final inpatient rule, the first under Department of Health and Human Services secretary (and orthopedic surgeon) Tom Price:

  • Big Ankle: Medicare officially will pay more for total ankle replacements. This will benefit ankle surgeons and medical device companies that make ankle implants.
  • More on heart devices: Medicare approved add-on payments for two heart valve devices — one made by Edwards Lifesciences and the other by LivaNova. Each hospital case that uses the devices will get an additional $6,100, which could incentivize hospitals to use those devices.
  • J&J drug: Hospitals that use Johnson & Johnson's new IV drug, Stelara, for patients with Crohn's disease will receive an add-on payment of $2,400 per case.
  • Merck drug: Hospitals that use Merck's new anti-infective drug, Zinplava, for patients with an infection called Clostridium difficile will get an additional $1,900 per case.
  • Newspaper notices: Ambulatory surgery centers and clinics will no longer have to put a notice in a print newspaper if they get terminated from the Medicare program, but will still have to alert the public through websites or other media.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:45 p.m. ET: 19,282,972 — Total deaths: 718,851 — Total recoveries — 11,671,491Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:45 p.m. ET: 4,937,441 — Total deaths: 161,248 — Total recoveries: 1,623,870 — Total tests: 60,415,558Map.
  3. Politics: Trump says he's prepared to sign executive orders on coronavirus aid.
  4. Education: Cuomo says all New York schools can reopen for in-person learning.
  5. Public health: Surgeon general urges flu shots to prevent "double whammy" with coronavirus — Massachusetts pauses reopening after uptick in coronavirus cases.
  6. World: Africa records over 1 million coronavirus cases — Gates Foundation puts $150 million behind coronavirus vaccine production.

Warren and Clinton to speak on same night of Democratic convention

(Photos: Abdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images, Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton both are slated to speak on the Wednesday of the Democratic convention — Aug. 19 — four sources familiar with the planning told Axios.

Why it matters: That's the same night Joe Biden's running mate (to be revealed next week) will address the nation. Clinton and Warren represent two of the most influential wise-women of Democratic politics with the potential to turn out millions of establishment and progressive voters in November.

Trump considering order on pre-existing condition protections, which already exist

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump announced on Friday he will pursue an executive order requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, something that is already law.

Why it matters: The Affordable Care Act already requires insurers to cover pre-existing conditions. The Trump administration is currently arguing in a case before the Supreme Court to strike down that very law — including its pre-existing condition protections.