Category Archives: Medicare

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Medicare Advantage Insurers May See Positive Growth in 2016 Despite CMS’ 0.95% Payment Rate Cut Announcement

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed a 0.95 percent decrease in Medicare Advantage payment rates for 2016 in its Advance Notice and Draft Call Letter released on February 20, 2015.[1] Medicare Advantage Plans, sometimes called “Part C” or “MA Plans,” are offered by private companies approved by Medicare. Unlike “original Medicare,” in … Continue Reading

HHS Launches New Payment and Delivery Model to Improve Oncology Care

Cancer care is notoriously complex, intensive and costly. With more than 1.6 million people diagnosed with cancer each year, there is a strong impetus towards reforming service delivery. Accordingly, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is launching a new payment and care delivery model for Medicare beneficiaries undergoing chemotherapy treatment.[1]… Continue Reading

Task Force of Healthcare Providers and Insurers are Shifting to Incentive Based Contracts

Some of the largest healthcare providers and insurers in the country have joined to form the Healthcare Transformation Task Force in an effort to change healthcare industry payment models.  The announcement of the task force and its efforts come shortly after the Department of Health and Human Services announced plans to overhaul Medicare’s fee-for-service program … Continue Reading

HHS Aims to Tie Most Medicare Reimbursements to Quality by 2018

On January 26, 2015, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced specific goals and a timeline for shifting Medicare reimbursements from the traditional fee-for-service (FFS) model, to a quality or value-based model.[1] This is the first time in Medicare’s history that HHS is setting specific goals for such a shift. Secretary Burwell … Continue Reading

Effects of the New Federal Spending Package on the Health Sector

In mid-December, President Obama signed into law a $1.1 trillion spending bill known as the “Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015” or “Cromnibus.”[1] This post explores provisions that relate to the health sector and Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation.… Continue Reading

Final Meaningful Use Rule: CMS Loosens its Grip

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) finalized a rule on August 29th which should give providers some breathing room in complying with meaningful use requirements for the Electronic Health Record (“EHR”) Incentive Program (the “Final Rule”).  The EHR Incentive Program was developed by CMS to motivate health care providers to use and implement EHR … Continue Reading

A (Second) Lawsuit Seeks to Compel Statutory Timeframe for Administrative Law Judge Review of Medicare Claims Appeals

On August 26th, the Center for Medicare Advocacy filed a nationwide class action lawsuit against the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The complaint alleges that, as implemented, the Medicare administrative review process is in violation of Medicare statutory obligations and the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause.[1]… Continue Reading

$95 Billion Savings for Medicare – A New Forecast?

The New York Times in an August 27, 2014 article noted big changes to estimated Medicare spending in the latest Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report published last week.  The estimated Medicare budget for 2019 in this year’s report has declined by approximately $95 billion from the 2019 Medicare estimate published by the CBO four years … Continue Reading

Quantifying and addressing improper payments for Medicare evaluation and management services

A review of Medicare Part B claims for evaluation and management (E/M) services conducted by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has found that the program paid $6.7 billion in improper payments in 2010.[1] This figure represents 21 percent of all E/M payments for the year; E/M payments, generally, accounted for nearly 30 percent … Continue Reading

The push for greater transparency in healthcare continues

Recently, CMS released the proposed fiscal year 2015 Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) rule for inpatient stays in long-term and general acute care hospitals.[1] Included among the regular updates to Medicare payment policies and rates are guidelines for compliance with the Affordable Care Act’s hospital charges transparency requirement.… Continue Reading

Enforcement of the Two-Midnight Rule Delayed Again

Last week President Obama signed into law a measure to extend Medicare physician pay rates for one year and to extend the enforcement delay of the “Two-Midnight” rule through March 2015.  Medicare Recovery Audit Contractors (RACs) are prohibited from auditing inpatient hospital claims for compliance with the rule from October 1, 2013, through March 31, … Continue Reading

New Approaches – and Increasing Oversight – for Medicaid Managed Long Term Services and Support

Approximately one-third of Medicaid spending, $136 billion, is on long-term services and supports (LTSS).  While the majority of Medicaid LTSS takes place in institutional settings, such as nursing facilities and mental health facilities, there is an ongoing emphasis on the role of non-institutional facilities. A growing number of states, from 8 in 2004 to 16 … Continue Reading

Ambulatory Surgery Centers Finally Get Some Relief

By Aleah Yung On Saturday, September 22, 2012, Governor Brown signed SB 1095, which clarifies ambulatory surgery center (“ASC”) pharmacy licensure eligibility. This is great news for ASCs which have struggled since a controversial 2007 court decision had unintended consequences that effected the ability of ASCs to obtain pharmacy licenses.… Continue Reading

New Medicare Advantage Audits Likely to be Challenging for and Challenged by Providers and Plans

By Karie Rego Since the 2006 payment year, CMS has conducted Risk Adjustment Data Validation (RADV) audits on Medicare Advantage (MA) plans’ risk adjustment payments. However, CMS has been hindered by the lack of a methodology to extrapolate audit results. On February 23, 2012, CMS posted its final error calculation methodology. This methodology, if implemented, … Continue Reading

Medicare Issues Final Rule for the End-Stage Renal Disease Prospective Payment System

By Lynsey Mitchel The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) released a final rule on November 1, 2011, that will update Medicare policies and payment rates for dialysis facilities. According to CMS these provisions will strengthen “incentives for improved quality of care and better outcomes for beneficiaries diagnosed with End-stage Renal Disease (“ESRD”). The … Continue Reading

Termination from Medicare and Medicaid Programs Due to Confusion Over Standards

By Karie Rego It is important for home health agencies and other providers that serve both Medicare and Medicaid populations to be aware of the differences in requirements. With the reductions in staffing, surveyors may be reviewing more than one program. We recommend a review of the different legal requirements and keeping information on hand … Continue Reading

Insurer to Purchase Vertically Integrated Medicare Advantage Plan/Provider

By Eric Klein and Aytan Dahukey WellPoint, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, has agreed to buy CareMore for approximately $800 million. WellPoint, which holds the license for Blue Cross in California and for Blue Cross Blue Shield in several other states, is the largest American health insurer in terms of patients covered, with one in … Continue Reading

Finding and Fixing Provider-Based Criteria Problems

By Karie Rego The Medicare provider based criteria have been around for over 10 years but still raise cause for concern. Basically on or off campus patient care locations that meet the criteria get to bill at higher hospital rates. Because the implications of not meeting the provider based rules are great (the assessment of … Continue Reading