42 CFR § 409.35 - Criteria for “practical matter”.
(a) General considerations. In making a “practical matter” determination, as required by § 409.31(b)(3), consideration must be given to the patient's condition and to the availability and feasibility of using more economical alternative facilities and services. However, in making that determination, the availability of Medicare payment for those services may not be a factor. Example: The beneficiary can obtain daily physical therapy from a physical therapist in independent practice. However, Medicare pays only the appropriate portion (after deduction of applicable deductible and coinsurance amounts) of the first $500 of services furnished by such a practitioner in a year. This limitation on payment may not be a basis for finding that the needed care can only be provided in a SNF.
(b) Examples of circumstances that meet practical matter criteria -
(1) Beneficiary's condition. Inpatient care would be required “as a practical matter” if transporting the beneficiary to and from the nearest facility that furnishes the required daily skilled services would be an excessive physical hardship.
(2) Economy and efficiency. Even if the beneficiary's condition does not preclude transportation, inpatient care might be more efficient and less costly if, for instance, the only alternative is daily transportation by ambulance.