Category Archives: Medicare

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HHS OIG Issues Report Critical of Medicare Advantage Risk Adjustment Practices

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 … Continue Reading

CMS Finalizes Medicare Advantage Price Transparency Requirements, Despite Industry Criticism

On September 2, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) filed the unpublished version of the forthcoming Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems (“IPPS”) Final Rule for 2021. One of the more controversial provisions in the IPPS Final Rule finalizes CMS’ proposal, with modification, to require hospitals to report certain market-based payment rate information on … Continue Reading

CMS’ Proposed Rule Promoting Value-Based Purchasing for Medicaid-Covered Drugs: The Comments are In!

On June 19, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) issued a proposed rule, “Medicaid Program; Establishing Minimum Standards in Medicaid State Drug Utilization Review (DUR) and Supporting Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) for Drugs Covered in Medicaid, Revising Medicaid Drug Rebate and Third Party Liability (TPL) Requirements” (the “Proposed Rule”).  The Proposed Rule is … Continue Reading

It’s Official: Telehealth Benefits Have Been Expanded For Medicare Beneficiaries

On August 3, 2020, President Trump signed Executive Order 13941 (the “Executive Order”) which expands access to certain telehealth services post-pandemic.  The Executive Order focuses on telehealth access for individuals living in rural areas and implements the following mechanisms:… Continue Reading

CMS Launches New ACO Toolkit Highlighting Effective Strategies For Achieving Provider Engagement

In July 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) released part three of its ongoing Accountable Care Organization (“ACO”) Learning System and Toolkit Series: Provider Engagement Toolkit (the “Toolkit”), focusing on strategies to effectively engage healthcare providers in the ACO and in quality improvement activities.  In particular, the Toolkit showcases the various effective … Continue Reading

A Shot Across the Bow of the Pharmaceutical Industry: President Trump Issues a Quartet of Executive Orders on Drug Pricing that Might Eventually (OR NEVER?) Take Effect

On Friday, President Trump announced four executive orders directed at decreasing prescription drug prices by ordering certain actions by the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”).  One order – which has received the most negative reaction from the pharmaceutical industry – would create a “most-favored nation” policy to limit the price Medicare Part B … Continue Reading

Site-Neutral Payments Stand: D.C. Court of Appeals Overturns Ruling and Allows Lower Payments to Off-Campus Provider-Based Departments

On July 17, 2020, in a blow to health care providers, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit overturned a lower court’s more favorable ruling and held that the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) “site-neutral payment” policy may stand.… Continue Reading

CMS Issues Proposed Home Health Agency Rule On Making Certain Telehealth Flexibilities Permanent, Increasing Medicare Payment Rates And Home Infusion Therapy Service Payment Rates For CY 2021

On June 25, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) announced its proposed Home Health Prospective Payment System Rule, for calendar year 2021 (the “Rule”), which aims to increase home health agency Medicare payment rates.  This Rule also includes a provision to make permanent the regulatory changes related to telecommunication technologies in providing … Continue Reading

Balancing Provider Pricing Transparency and Anti-Competitive Behavior

On November 15, 2019, CMS issued a final rule that requires hospitals to disclose to patients the hospital’s “standard charges,” which include the reimbursement rates the hospitals negotiate privately with insurers.  This rule is in line with President Trump’s Executive Order, dated June 24, 2019, which focused on increasing price and quality transparency for American … Continue Reading

CMS Updates Waivers, Provides More Flexibility for Providers Responding to COVID-19

As the COVID-19 emergency continues to heavily impact the U.S. and its health care system, CMS has issued additional flexibilities for providers and payors seeking to respond to the pandemic.  These new flexibilities are described both in revisions to CMS’ blanket waivers and in a new Interim Final Rule with comment period, both issued on … Continue Reading

CMS Proposes Changes to the Medicare Advantage and Part D Programs for CY 2021 and 2022

In an evening email that is sure to ruin the weekend for many, CMS announced on February 5, 2020, that it is proposing changes to the Medicare Advantage and Part D Programs for CY 2021 and 2022. CMS will not issue a Call Letter for CY2021. The unpublished version of the proposed rule is available … Continue Reading

340B Program-Participating Hospitals Object to CMS’s Proposed Cuts to 340B Program Reimbursement: CMS’s Recent Information Collection Request

Information Collection Request. On November 27, 2019, 340B Health, a nonprofit membership organization comprised of hospitals and health systems that participate in the federal 340B drug pricing program (“340B Program”), submitted comments (“340B Comments”) to Seema Verma, the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”), objecting to an announcement by CMS on … Continue Reading

Global and Professional Options Direct Contracting Model RFA and LOI Now Active

On April 21, 2019, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (“CMMI”) announced the CMS Primary Cares Initiative – a voluntary, risk-based initiative to transform the Medicare program’s reimbursement of primary care services from a fee-for-service payment system to a value-based system that rewards physicians who keep patients healthy and out of the hospital. The … Continue Reading

Legislation Re-Introduced to Expand Access to Telehealth Under Medicare

A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation on October 30th designed to expand Medicare beneficiaries’ access to telehealth services. The bill is called the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies for Health Act of 2019 (hereinafter, the “CONNECT Act” or the “Act”). In order to understand what the Act seeks to accomplish, … Continue Reading

D.C. District Court Vacates CMS Final Rule, Finds that CMS’ Lesser Reimbursement of Services Provided at Grandfathered Off-Campus Provider-Based Departments Was Improper

On September 17, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled against the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”), vacating CMS’ 2018 Final OPPS Rule, which cut Medicare reimbursement rates for certain outpatient hospital services provided at certain off-campus provider-based departments (“PBDs”).… Continue Reading

CMS Finalizes Rule Expanding its Authority to Deny and Revoke Medicare Program Enrollment, Among Other Changes

On September 5, 2019, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) released a final rule with comment period entitled, “Program Integrity Enhancements to the Provider Enrollment Process” (the “Final Rule”). The Final Rule, aiming to “address various program integrity issues and vulnerabilities by enabling CMS to take action against unqualified and potentially fraudulent entities … Continue Reading

CMS Plans Updates to Star Ratings

On August 19, 2019, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) announced plans for two updates to its Overall Hospital Quality Star Ratings (“Star Ratings”). The first, in early 2020, to “refresh” the Star Ratings using the current methodology and the second, in 2021, to update the quality measurement methodology of the Star Ratings … Continue Reading

Proposed and Expanded Disclosure Obligations for Hospitals Regarding not Only Gross Charges, but Third Party Payor Pricing as Well

On July 29, 2019, CMS released its proposed outpatient prospective payment system (“OPPS”) rule outlining a variety of changes it may implement for calendar year 2020. One proposal that has inspired immediate reactions from industry members would require hospitals to disclose certain additional pricing information, including some prices negotiated with third party payors, to the … Continue Reading

Is Prescription Drug Pricing The Cure For Partisanship?

In a rare act of bipartisanship, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., introduced on July 23rd a chairman’s mark, the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act (PDPRA) of 2019 (the “PDPRA” or “Mark”), to lower the price of prescription drugs for Americans. According to the Committee, the Congressional Budget … Continue Reading

SPOTLIGHT ON INNOVATION: Improving best practices for infection control at skilled nursing facilities

Skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) operate in a changing and challenging environment. The upcoming implementation by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) of a Patient Driven Payment Model will shift the reimbursement paradigm for SNFs from a focus on the volume of services provided to a focus on specific, clinically-relevant patient characteristics. Combining this … Continue Reading

CMS Proposes New Home Health Agency Rule Including Potential Changes to Reimbursement, Coverage, Quality, and More: CMS Accepting Comments until September 9, 2019

On July 11, 2019, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) announced a proposed rule for home health agency Medicare reimbursement that would increase payments by an aggregate 1.3% for 2020, amounting to $250 million. In doing so, CMS would begin a transition to payments that are value-based, implementing the Patient-Driven Groupings Model (“PDGM”), … Continue Reading

CMS Proposes Changes to Medicare Wage Index that Would Increase Reimbursement Rates to Rural Hospitals at the Expense of Urban Hospitals

On May 3, 2019, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) published a comprehensive proposed rule (“Proposed Rule”) to revise the Medicare payment structure for inpatient prospective payment systems (“IPPS”) hospitals. According to the preamble of the Proposed Rule, the purpose of the Proposed Rule is to bump up Medicare’s reimbursements to rural hospitals, … Continue Reading

SCOTUS Rejects CMS DSH Policy, Calls CMS Guidance Practices Into Question

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court upheld a D.C. Circuit Court decision vacating a policy of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) that would have “dramatically – and retroactively – reduced payments to hospitals serving low-income patients.” Azar v. Allina Health Services, 587 U.S. __ at 1 (2019). The Supreme Court’s Allina opinion … Continue Reading

Recent Activity in Medicare Audit Programs: CMS Announces Increase in Audit Contractor Oversight

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) healthcare audit programs – including the Unified Program Integrity Contractors (“UPICs”) audit program, the Recovery Audit Contractor (“RAC”) program, the Comprehensive Error Rate Testing (“CERT”) program, etc. – have been the subject of regular complaints and calls-for-action by the Medicare/Medicaid provider community for many years.… Continue Reading
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