Most Medicare Advantage (“MA”) beneficiaries rely on agents and brokers to help them navigate the complex process of selecting a health plan that will meet their needs. In exchange, brokers and agents received certain fixed payments set by Medicare, as well as, in some cases, significant additional payments from health plans. Concerned over the potential for abuse, these arrangements have been the subject of Congressional scrutiny and an enforcement priority for both the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (“HHS OIG”). The Biden Administration and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) are tackling this issue head-on in a recently published final rule that addresses both marketing tactics and compensation methodologies used by Medicare Advantage organizations (“MAOs”) to pay MA agents or brokers.[1]Continue Reading Increased Scrutiny into Agents & Brokers in the Medicare Advantage Space

On April 4, 2024, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) issued the contract year 2025 (CY2025) Medicare Advantage and Part D final rule (the “Final Rule”). In addition to finalizing its CY2025 proposed rule, CMS also addressed several key provisions that remained from the CY2024 proposed rule. According to CMS’ Fact Sheet, the Final Rule builds on existing Biden-Harris Administration policies to strengthen protections and guardrails, promote healthy competition, and ensure Medicare Advantage and Part D plans best meet the needs of enrollees. The Final Rule also promotes access to behavioral health care providers, promote equity in coverage, and improve supplemental benefits.Continue Reading CMS Issues CY2025 Medicare Advantage and Part D Final Rule

On April 1st, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) announced its Medicare Advantage (“MA”) Capitation Rates and Part C and Part D Payment Policies for Calendar Year (“CY”) 2025. This announcement builds on the Advanced Notice of Methodological Changes for CY 2025 for MA Capitation Rates and Part C and Part D Payment Policies (“Advanced Notice”) that CMS released on January 31, 2024. Continue Reading CMS Announces Medicare Advantage and Part D Rates for CY 2025

At the first day of the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, “[T]he answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42.” Recognize that famous line? No, it’s not something from ChatGPT, it’s Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy of Healthcare.” Well, not healthcare…for that you have to be here in San Francisco for the 42nd edition of this conference. It was indeed an intriguing day, for even without major announcements, there were very clear signs and portents of our coming year in the healthcare industry.Continue Reading Day 1 Notes from the 42nd Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) released the final rule on risk adjustment data validation (“RADV”) audits of Medicare Advantage (“MA”) organizations (the “Final Rule”) on January 30, 2023. Among other changes, this Final Rule will allow CMS to audit a sample of an MA organization’s (“MAO”) diagnoses reported for risk adjustment purposes (from 2018 and later) and then use the audit findings to calculate an extrapolated improper payment amount for the MAO’s contract. This extrapolation technique is controversial for a number of reasons, including whether CMS has the authority to use it in the manner proposed in the Final Rule, and whether it is an actuarially sound method of auditing. As we predicted in February, this Final Rule is now being challenged in court.Continue Reading Medicare Advantage RADV Audit Final Rule Challenged in Court

On January 30, 2023, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) released the long-delayed final rule on risk adjustment data validation (“RADV”) audits of Medicare Advantage (“MA”) organizations (the “Final Rule”). CMS promotes the Final Rule as improving program integrity and payment accuracy as well as transparency and certainty. One thing that is certain, CMS can expect further challenges to its RADV audit methodology.Continue Reading CMS Issues Long-Awaited Medicare Advantage RADV Final Rule

Just in time for the holidays, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) issued the Contract Year 2024 Proposed Rule for Medicare Advantage organizations (“MAOs”) and Part D sponsors (the “Proposed Rule”). The Proposed Rule includes changes on an array of topics including: Star Ratings, medication therapy management, marketing and communications, health equity, provider directories, coverage criteria, prior authorization, behavioral health services, identification of overpayments, requirements for valid contract applications, and formulary changes. Continue Reading CMS Issues CY2024 Proposed Rule for Medicare Advantage Organizations and Part D Sponsors

On Monday, we discussed that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) has heightened oversight of Medicare Advantage (“MA”) organizations’ and Part D sponsors’ marketing practices. We also noted that the United States Senate Committee on Finance (the “Committee”) sent letters to 15 state insurance commissioners and state health insurance assistance programs, requesting data and information on MA marketing complaints in August 2022. Yesterday, the Committee, chaired by Ron Wyden, released a report entitled Deceptive Marketing Practices Flourish in Medicare Advantage (“the Report”).Continue Reading Senate Committee Issues Report On Deceptive Marketing Practices in Medicare Programs

On January 6, 2022, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) issued the proposed rule on Contract Year 2023 Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Programs (the “Proposed Rule”). Per CMS, the Proposed Rule will reduce out-of-pocket prescription drug costs, improve price transparency and market competition under the Part D program, strengthen consumer protections to ensure Medicare Advantage (“MA”) and Part D beneficiaries have accurate and accessible information about their health plan choices and benefits, strengthen CMS oversight of MA and Part D plans, and improve the integration of Medicare and Medicaid programs for individuals enrolled in dual eligible special needs plans (“D-SNPs”). CMS failed to mention that the Proposed Rule will also result in additional administrative burdens and increased costs for MA organizations (“MAOs”) and Part D sponsors.
Continue Reading CMS’s Contract Year 2023 Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Programs

A major California-based health care system, Sutter Health, and several of its medical practice foundation affiliates have agreed to pay a total of $90 million to settle allegations that they violated the False Claims Act (“FCA”) by knowingly submitting inaccurate information about the health status of beneficiaries enrolled in Sutter Health’s contracted Medicare Advantage (“MA”) Plans.[1]  The Sutter Health settlement is the largest FCA settlement ever paid by a health care provider for alleged MA fraud.
Continue Reading Sutter Health Settles Medicare Fraud Case For $90 Million: The Largest Settlement For Medicare Advantage Fraud

On August 13, 2021, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court opinion vacating CMS’ Overpayment Rule, 42 C.F.R. 422.326, for Medicare Advantage organizations (“MAOs”).  UnitedHealthcare Insurance Co. et al. v. Becerra et al., case number 18-5326.  As a result of this decision, CMS can once again rely on the Overpayment Rule to impose voluntary refund obligations for MAOs.  MAOs – already subject to significant government enforcement related to their risk adjustment coding practices – should carefully consider the implications of this decision for their coding and auditing practices.
Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Gives New Life to CMS Overpayment Rule