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

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 The unpublished version of the proposed rule is available for inspection, and is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on February 18, 2020.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

This follows the blog article posted November 28, “Connection and Innovation Take Center Stage at the Patient ENGAGE Conference” and is the second feature regarding the MedCity ENGAGE conference Nov. 6-7 in San Diego. Here, we focus on the aspects of the conference that explored the impact of technology on patient engagement, from wearables to DNA sequencing, to apps used by insureds to quit smoking while reducing insurance premiums in the process.
Continue Reading Patient Empowerment Through Technology is Focus of ENGAGE Conference

Part C and Part D Quality Rating System

The November 1, 2018 proposed rule issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) includes enhancements and substantive changes to the Star Rating System in order to increase the stability and predictability of the Medicare Advantage program (aka “Part C”) and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit program (aka “Part D”) Star Ratings.

Measure Level Star Ratings.

CMS’ Star Ratings proposals are intended to eliminate some of the volatility and unpredictability of the calculation methodology, which is a welcome change for Medicare Advantage organizations (“MAOs”) and Part D plan sponsors. Based on stakeholder feedback and analyses of the data, CMS proposes two enhancements to the current hierarchical clustering methodology that is used to set cut points for non-Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (“CAHPS”) measures:
Continue Reading Blog Series Part 7: CMS Proposed Rule on Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage, Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, Medicaid Fee-For-Service, and Medicaid Managed Care Programs for 2020 and 2021

Dual Special Needs Plans

This part 6 of our 7 part series focuses on the provisions regarding dual special needs plans (“D-SNPs”) released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) in the proposed rule issued on November 1, 2018 (the “Proposed Rule”). D-SNPs enroll individuals who are entitled to both Medicare and medical assistance from a state under Medicaid. States cover some Medicare costs, depending on the particular state and the member’s eligibility. As reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation in “Medicare Advantage 2017 Spotlight: Enrollment Market Update,” Gretchen Jacobson, Anthony Damico, Tricia Neuman, and Marsha Gold ( June 6, 2017), enrollment in special needs plans increased from 2.1 million in 2016 to 2.3 million in 2017 – and 81% of members of these plans are enrolled in D-SNPs.
Continue Reading Blog Series Part 6: CMS Proposed Rule on Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage, Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, Medicaid Fee-For-Service and Medicaid Managed Care Programs for Years 2020 and 2021

Part D Plan Sponsors’ Access to Medicare Parts A and B Claims Data Extracts

As detailed in previous posts in this series, one major objective that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) addressed in a proposed rule issued November 1, 2018 (the “Proposed Rule”), was to implement new Social Security Act provisions that Congress added in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (“BBA”). One such provision will open fee-for-service Medicare data up to prescription drug benefit (“Part D”) plans.
Continue Reading Blog Series Part 5: CMS Proposed Rule on Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage, Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, Medicaid Fee-For-Service, and Medicaid Managed Care Programs for 2020 and 2021

Quality Improvement Programs

The proposed rule issued November 1, 2018 (the “Proposed Rule”) by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) includes two technical changes to 42 C.F.R. Part 422. The first change involves a clarification regarding the accreditation “deeming” standard for Medicare Advantage (“MA”) quality improvement programs. The second change, also related to accreditation, simply proposes the deletion of language regarding the soon to be eliminated requirement that MA organizations (“MAOs”) conduct quality improvement projects.
Continue Reading Blog Series Part 4: CMS Proposed Rule on Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage, Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, Medicaid Fee-For-Service, and Medicaid Managed Care Programs for Years 2020 and 2021