Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ("CMS")

On July 13, 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) released a Proposed Rule that proposes to amend certain regulations implementing the Physician Self-Referral Law, otherwise known as the “Stark Law”. The Proposed Rule proposes to revise once again the definition of “indirect compensation arrangement” (ICA), effectively to revert the meaning of the definition back – for the vast majority of indirect financial relationships between DHS entities and referring physicians – to the definition of that term as it was in place prior to the latest Stark Law rulemaking, “Modernizing and Clarifying the Physician Self-Referral Regulations” (the “MCR Final Rule”), published on December 2, 2020.[1]  The Proposed Rule also proposes to define the term “unit” and the phrase “services that are personally performed”, both for purposes of the ICA definition.

Continue Reading CMS Proposes to Revise, Again, the Stark Law’s Definition of “Indirect Compensation Arrangement”: What Was Old is New Again

On April 27, 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) released the Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment System (“IPPS”) and Long-Term Care Hospital (“LTCH”) unpublished Proposed Rule for 2022 (“Proposed Rule”). The Proposed Rule, if enacted, would eliminate the requirement from the Hospital IPPS and LTCH Final Rule for 2021 (“IPPS Final Rule for 2021”), as discussed in our September 11, 2020 blog post, that hospitals report the median payer-specific negotiated charge with Medicare Advantage (“MA”) payers, by MS-DRG, on its Medicare cost reports for cost reporting periods ending on or after January 1, 2021. CMS estimates that this will reduce the administrative burden on hospitals by approximately 64,000 hours.
Continue Reading CMS Proposes Repeal of Certain Cost Reporting Requirements from the IPPS Final Rule for 2021

On January 13, 2021, Brad Smith, the current (and fourth) director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (the “Center”), published an article[1] in the New England Journal of Medicine in which he evaluates the Center’s performance over its decade-long history against the Center’s stated goals – to decrease health care spending and improve health care quality.  Smith describes an underwhelming showing from the Center and puts forward several key lessons from the Center’s past performance as a way to inform and improve future performance.
Continue Reading Evaluation of Innovation Center Models

Over the last year, we have seen volatility in the healthcare industry overall, and Medicare Advantage (“MA”) and Medicare Part D plans (together, “Plans”) have not been immune. Particularly because of their risk adjustment payment models, and metrics by which they are measured, it was unclear how the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) would respond.
Continue Reading CMS to the Rescue for MA and Part D Plans – Rate Announcement Includes Significant Increase in Plan Payments for 2022

As part of the “CY 2021 Medicare Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System and Ambulatory Surgical Center Payment System Final Rule” (the “Final Rule”) published on December 2, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) finalized policies designed to overhaul the methodology used to calculate the Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating effective 2021.
Continue Reading New Criteria Established for the Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating

On December 3, 2020, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) announced key details concerning a new value-based reimbursement and patient care model – the Geographic Direct Contracting Model (the “Model” or “Geo”). Geo is a geographic-based approach to value-based Medicare reimbursement and patient care that focuses on improving health outcomes and decreasing the cost of care across an entire geographic region. Direct contracting entities (“DCEs”) participating in the Model will be taking responsibility for the total cost of care of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries in their region.  Accountable care organizations (ACOs), health systems, health care provider groups, health plans, and other potential applicants will be permitted to participate in the Model as DCEs.  The Model intends to encourage care coordination across a physical, geographic area and to deliver care that considers a region’s particular local needs.[1]
Continue Reading CMS Announces New Geographic Direct Contracting Model: Letters of Interest Due by December 21, 2020

The Physician Payment Sunshine Act (the “Sunshine Act”) – a federal law first adopted as Section 6002 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (“PPACA”) – requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) to collect and display information reported by applicable manufacturers and group purchasing organizations about the payments and other transfers of value these organizations have made to physicians and teaching hospitals. Currently, CMS fulfills its Sunshine Act obligations to collect and report data to the public through the “Open Payments” program.
Continue Reading On Your Mark, Get Set, Go: Life Science Companies Face A Challenging Year For Compliance With New Open Payment Program Data Collection And Reporting Requirements

As highlighted in a May 2020 Milbank Memorial Fund white paper titled, “How Payment Reform Could Enable Primary Care to Respond to COVID-19,” the COVID-19 public health emergency has driven transformation in the provision of primary care services across the country.  Whether it’s the use of telehealth technology to facilitate “virtual visits” or the development of new treatment protocols to identify and treat patients who need behavioral health support to manage the emotional challenges endemic to the public health emergency, changes in primary care delivery have drawn increased attention to the need for concomitant changes in the way primary care is financed.
Continue Reading Primary Care First: CMS’s New Value-Based Approach to Primary Care

On September 14, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) issued the Advance Notice of Methodological Changes for Calendar Year (CY) 2022 for Medicare Advantage (MA) Capitation Rates and Part C and Part D Payment Policies – Part I, CMS-HCC Risk Adjustment Model (the “Advance Notice”).  CMS is issuing the Advance Notice in two parts: Part I includes key information about the Medicare Advantage CMS-Hierarchical Condition Categories (“HCC”) risk adjustment model and the use of encounter data for CY2022.  Part II, which will include other changes to the CY2022 payment methodologies, will be issued later this Fall.   CMS will announce the CY2022 MA capitation rates and final payment policies no later than Monday, April 5, 2021.
Continue Reading CMS Issues the 2022 Medicare Advantage Advance Notice Part I – Risk Adjustment

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (the “OIG”) released a report highlighting concerns about the extent to which Medicare Advantage Organizations (“MAOs”) are using health risk assessments (“HRAs”) to improve care and health outcomes under the Medicare Advantage Program (“MA”), as intended, and about the sufficiency of oversight by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”).
Continue Reading HHS OIG Issues Report Critical of Medicare Advantage Risk Adjustment Practices

As we discussed in our April 27, 2020 blog post, nursing homes have become the focus of significant attention during the COVID-19 crisis.  In many respects, the attention is well deserved:

  1. Nursing homes traditionally serve seniors who often struggle with chronic health conditions. As a result, nursing home residents are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus infection due to both their age and health status;
  2. Nursing homes residents are highly interactive with each other. The close proximity of nursing home rooms/beds and the personal relationships often formed among nursing home residents make social distancing hard to maintain;
  3. In order to relieve pressure on hospitals that need to reserve their beds for the most acute COVID-19 patients, nursing homes are under significant pressure to accept COVID-19 patients who have been discharged from hospitals because they no longer require an acute level of care but still may be symptomatic and require isolation and treatment; and
  4. Most importantly, the above three factors and others have turned many nursing homes across the country into hot spots for coronavirus infection and, in some cases, COVID-19 fatalities. Overwhelming data as to the dangers found in nursing homes is highlighted in the blog article referenced above.


Continue Reading Nursing Home Liability Waivers and Nursing Home Investigations and Enforcement: A Delicate Balance During the COVID-19 Pandemic