Category Archives: Medicare

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MACRA Quality Payment Program Final Rule: Implications for 2018 and Beyond

On November 2, 2017, CMS published its final rule (the “Final Rule”) on the 2018 Quality Payment Program (“QPP”), authorized by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (“MACRA”). This final rule adopted many of the proposals put forward by CMS in its June 2017 proposed rule, summarized here. But the final rule … Continue Reading

The 340B Drug Pricing Program: New CMS Final Rule Draws a Motion for Preliminary Injunction from Hospital Groups

On November 13, 2017, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the final rule, “Medicare Program: Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment and Ambulatory Surgical Center Payment Systems and Quality Reporting Programs” (“Final Rule”). The Final Rule, in addition to the usual collection of annual Medicare payment updates and adjustments for the coming year, includes … Continue Reading

Alert: In a Surprise Decision Issued on October 5, 2017, Honorable John Walter, United States District Judge, Dismissed a Medicare Advantage Risk Adjustment Fraud Suit Against UnitedHealthcare

On October 5, 2017, the Honorable Judge John Walter of the United States District Court, Central District of California, granted the Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss the Medicare Advantage (“MA”) Federal False Claims Act (“FCA”) case of United States of America ex rel. Swoben v. Scan Health Plan, et al. (CV 09-5013-JFW (JEMx)) (the “Swoben Case”) … Continue Reading

CMS Aims to Nix Obama-Era Payment Models

In a proposed rule published Tuesday, August 15, 2017, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced its intention to roll back a handful of payment models introduced under the Obama Administration. If implemented, the rule would cancel the Episode Payment Models (EPMs) and Cardiac Rehabilitation (CR) Incentive Payment Model, each currently set to … Continue Reading

The Enforcement Risks for Medicare Advantage Plans Continue: A New False Claims Act Settlement in Florida

Recent activities of the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and Qui Tam whistleblowers reveal that Medicare Advantage Plans remain at the forefront of investigations for violations of the federal False Claim Act (“FCA”) for allegedly engaging in improper risk adjustment practices and other improper or fraudulent practices. In addition to the pending FCA enforcement cases in … Continue Reading

Medicare Advantage Plans Under Fire: The Department of Justice Files Complaints-in-Intervention

As reported in earlier blogs, the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) has been actively looking into potential abuses by Medicare Advantage (MA) Organizations as to allegedly improper risk adjustment claims submissions and practices. Earlier this month, and as had been anticipated, the DOJ filed complaints-in-intervention against UnitedHealth Group, Inc., and related Medicare Advantage entities, in … Continue Reading

The Opportunities and Challenges of Freestanding Emergency Departments

Following our blog post regarding the retail clinic movement, “Patient Check-Ups Before Checking Out: Partnering to Bring Health Care into the ‘One-Stop Shopping’ Sector” (April 19, 2017), we continue our examination of alternative healthcare providers by examining the regulatory landscape that shapes the opportunities and challenges of freestanding emergency departments (“FSEDs”).… Continue Reading

Notes on Day 4 of the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference

Some interesting presentations on the last day of the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference that concentrated on common themes – the increasing importance of ancillary business line to bolster core business revenue and of filling in holes to achieve scale and full-service offerings. Genesis Healthcare – The largest U.S. skilled nursing facility (SNF) provider, which also is … Continue Reading

Food for Thought (and Health): Day 2 Notes from the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference

Addressing the Social Determinants of Health:  Is the healthcare industry pushing a rock up a hill?  We collectively are trying to provide healthcare with improved quality and reduced cost, but the structure of the nation’s healthcare system remains heavily siloed with the social determinants of health often falling wholly or partly outside the mandate and … Continue Reading

Looking Forward/Looking Backward – Day 1 Notes from the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference

A large amount of wind, much discussion about the U.S healthcare, and the public getting soaked again – if you were thinking about Washington, DC and the new Congress, you’re 3,000 miles away from the action. This is the week of the annual JP Morgan Healthcare conference in San Francisco, with many thousands of healthcare … Continue Reading

House Republicans Push Back on Medicare’s New Mandatory Bundled Payment Models

On July 25, 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a proposed rule that promises to deliver coordinated, high-quality care for Medicare beneficiaries. The proposed rule (effective July 1, 2017) establishes a mandatory bundled payment program for cardiac care and expands the existing hip and knee bundled payment initiative that launched earlier … Continue Reading

The MACRA Final Rule: The Art of the Transition

On Friday, October 14, 2016, CMS released the much-anticipated final rule (the “Final Rule”) implementing the Quality Payment Program (QPP), mandated by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA).  Pursuant to MACRA and the Final Rule, most clinicians will be required to participate in either a new Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) … Continue Reading

CMS says to physicians: Pick your pace for MACRA implementation. Physicians say to CMS: Thank you for hearing us.

On April 27, 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued proposed regulations (Proposed Regs.) as a first step in the implementation of the Quality Payment Program (QPP) provisions of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA).  In response to public comments regarding the Proposed Regs., CMS announced on September … Continue Reading

CMS Releases 2017 Medicare Hospital Payment Rates, Penalties for Poor Performers

Earlier this month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule (Final Rule) modifying the Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) and Long Term Acute Care Hospital (LTCH) Prospective Payment System (PPS) for fiscal year (FY) 2017. CMS pays acute-care hospitals for services provided to Medicare beneficiaries under the IPPS and … Continue Reading

New Study Finds Medicare Advantage Plans Pay Lower Prices Than Traditional Medicare

A new study by Stanford University researchers finds that Medicare Advantage plans pay lower prices than traditional fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare for most types of hospital admissions. According to the study—published earlier this month in Health Affairs—Medicare Advantage plans pay hospitals about 8% less than FFS Medicare for the same services. These findings may come as … Continue Reading

The Overpayment Rule and the Implied False Claims Theory: “What You Don’t Know Can Still Hurt You”

In 2010, the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) enacted new rules governing overpayments made by the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Under these rules, providers have 60 days from the date that the overpayment has been identified to return the overpayment or face penalties and treble damages under the False Claims Act (“FCA”).  As described below, recent … Continue Reading

CMS Proposes to Limit Site Neutral Payment Exceptions Applicable to Certain Off-Campus Hospital Departments Following Relocation, Service Expansion, or Certain Ownership Changes

On July 6, 2016, CMS released the 2017 Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) Proposed Rule which, among other things, implements Section 603 of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.  Despite extensive lobbying efforts by the hospital industry, CMS’ proposed rule would effectively preclude the relocation or the expansion of service lines of existing off-campus provider-based … Continue Reading

Medicare Board of Trustees Releases 2016 Annual Report: Hospital Trust Fund Insolvency Projected by 2028

The Medicare Board of Trustees is calling for urgent legislative action to address the impending financial insolvency of the Medicare hospital benefit program. The Board’s 2016 report reveals the trust fund that pays for hospital services under Medicare Part A will be depleted by year 2028. At that time, the report indicates Medicare revenue will … Continue Reading

CMS 2017 Proposal Reduces Home Health Reimbursements by $180 Million

On June 27, CMS issued a proposal for the 2017 Medicare home health prospective payment system (HH PPS). CMS is proposing a $180 million reduction in 2017. This equates to a 1% drop in reimbursements for home health agencies caring for Medicare beneficiaries. This cut is the next in a series of reductions mandated by … Continue Reading

Medicare Makes Changes to the Shared Savings Program to Strengthen Incentives for ACO Care Coordination

On June 6th, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a final rule shifting how Medicare pays Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) in the Medicare Shared Savings Program.  CMS said the final rule aims to help more ACOs participate in the Medicare Shared Savings Program by improving the payment methodology and providing them with … Continue Reading

CMS Grants Extension to Apply for 2015 Meaningful Use Hardship Exemption

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) continues to work to ensure it is responsive to providers who tried to meet meaningful use standards in 2015 but faced hardships in their efforts. Eligible professionals, eligible hospitals & critical access hospitals (“CAH”) now have until July 1, 2016 to apply to CMS for the Medicare … Continue Reading
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