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. 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
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
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 for inspection, and is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on February 18, 2020. Comments are due April 6, 2020.
Continue Reading CMS Proposes Changes to the Medicare Advantage and Part D Programs for CY 2021 and 2022
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 on CMS’s Hospital Compare website. The Star Ratings rate hospitals on a quality scale of one to five, summarizing a variety of measures reflecting common conditions hospitals treat. According to CMS Administrator Seema Verma, the goal of the changes is to empower patients to “make informed health care decisions, leading providers to compete on the basis of cost and quality.”
Continue Reading CMS Plans Updates to Star Ratings
On Friday, April 5, 2019, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) announced that it had finalized policies allowing Medicare Advantage plans (“MA Plans”) to include additional telehealth benefits in their basic benefit packages starting in 2020. The final rule implementing the changes (the “Final Rule”) will be published in the Federal Register on April 16, 2019. An advance copy of the Final Rule is available here.
Continue Reading CMS Expands Telehealth Benefits under Medicare Advantage