OIG updates policy regarding gifts of nominal value

White gift box wrapped with vibrant red bow and ribbon isolatedOn Dec. 7, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) released an update to its 2000 policy regarding gifts of nominal value given to a Medicare or Medicaid beneficiary. The update increases the nominal value of gifts given to a Medicare or Medicaid beneficiary to $15 per occurrence and $75 in the aggregate for a year (the previous limit was $10 per occurrence and $50 in the aggregate). If a gift complies with these limits, the arrangement does not need to fit within a “safe harbor” to 42 U.S.C. §1320a-7b(b) (the federal anti-kickback statute). Continue Reading

Managing MACRA – Part V: What do I have to do if I’m in an ACO?

A stethoscope and American money on a white background - HealthcAs of January 2016, there were 433 Medicare Shared Savings Program (MMSP) Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) with almost 7.7 million assigned beneficiaries and more than 14,000 participants (a participant may be a group or an individual). Most of these ACOs are one-sided model ACOs that may generate shared savings and do not involve shared losses (Track 1 ACOs).

Importantly, Track 1 ACOs are not considered advanced alternative payment models (APMs) for purposes of MACRA. As a result, a clinician participating in a Track 1 ACO is subject to the merit-based incentive payment system (MIPS) just like a clinician that is not in an ACO (a participant in an advanced APM is not subject to MIPS). Continue Reading

EEOC’s targeting of wellness programs and what that means for your company

Exercising Office WorkerHusch Blackwell was recently named a finalist for the St. Louis Business Journal’s Healthiest Employers 2016 competition. The Business Journal’s profile of Husch Blackwell highlights the firm’s effective use of wellness challenges in the workplace and praises Chris Smith, a partner in our St. Louis office, for his dedicated participation in the wellness initiatives.

Given our firm’s success with health and wellness initiatives, we decided to take this opportunity to discuss and reflect on just a few (of the many) legal requirements relevant to employer wellness programs. Continue Reading

Managing MACRA – Part IV: When does it begin?

A stethoscope and American money on a white background - HealthcUnder MACRA, the merit-based incentive payment system (MIPS) automatically applies to eligible clinicians (generally a physician or mid-level – see our previous blog post for details) and most clinicians who treat Medicare patients are expected to be included in MIPS. As a result, one of the most common questions about MACRA is when it starts. CMS’s final MACRA rule confirms that implementation begins Jan. 1, 2017. Continue Reading

Anticipating data issues in your contract process

Single or divorced woman alone missing a boyfriendAny agreement between two parties begins with the rosy optimism that the good times will last forever. In the world of technology licensing and development, however, we know this is rarely the case. While the Byte Back blog has previously considered data security oversight by the board of directors of the company, it is also important for a company’s legal and procurement teams to establish a plan for the security, use, and transition of its data throughout the contracting process. These issues are particularly important in highly regulated industries such as healthcare.

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OSHA issues recommendations for employer safety and health programs

work incident injuri formLast week, OSHA published its new “Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs,” which advises employers in the healthcare industry and other private sector industries to establish comprehensive internal safety and health programs. The OSHA bulletin also provides extensive guidelines and resources for creating such programs.

In releasing the updated recommendations, OSHA argues that employers adopting such programs could reduce injuries and illnesses and promote sustainability. To the extent that this new guidance creates new compliance burdens and risks (see below), healthcare is likely to be one industry in which OSHA focuses its efforts. After all, OSHA believes that “[m]ore workers are injured in the healthcare and social assistance industry sector than any other.” Continue Reading

Revised Cuba rules allow medical collaboration, ease some pharmaceutical trade

Cuban flag against skyThe U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) recently announced additional rule amendments intended to continue improving relations between the U.S. and Cuba by allowing even greater commerce and humanitarian efforts between the two countries. These new OFAC  and BIS  rules took effect last week. Continue Reading

Managing MACRA – Part III: What is an APM?

A stethoscope and American money on a white background - HealthcUnder MACRA, the merit-based incentive payment system (MIPS) automatically applies to an eligible clinician (generally a physician or mid-level – see our previous blog post for details) except in certain circumstances. One of the circumstances in which an eligible clinician is excluded from MIPS is when the clinician participates in an advanced alternative payment model (APM) that meets certain operational, risk and patient/payment volume requirements. Notably, a participant in a qualifying advanced APM receives a 5 percent annual bonus payment from 2019-2024. A participant in an advanced APM who does not meet the patient/payment threshold requirements may still be exempt from MIPS adjustments (although such a partial qualifying advanced APM participant may choose to participate in MIPS) but will not receive the advanced APM bonus. Continue Reading

Managing MACRA – Part II: Does MACRA apply to me?

A stethoscope and American money on a white background - HealthcMACRA is making big changes to Medicare clinician reimbursement, so which clinicians are affected?

Under MACRA, the merit-based incentive payment system (MIPS) automatically applies to an eligible clinician except in certain circumstances. A MIPS Eligible Clinician (defined at 42 C.F.R. §414.1305) is a:

  • physician, including: (1) a doctor of medicine or osteopathy; (2) a doctor of dental surgery or of dental medicine; (3) a doctor of podiatric medicine; (4) a doctor of optometry; and (5) a chiropractor;
  • physician assistant, a nurse practitioner, and clinical nurse specialist;
  • certified registered nurse anesthetist; or
  • group that includes at least one of the clinicians above.

Continue Reading

Managing MACRA – Part I: What is MACRA?

A stethoscope and American money on a white background - HealthcMACRA is the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015. MACRA ends the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula that has been in place since 1997 (and was the source of decades of legislative fixes to prevent Medicare reimbursement cuts under the SGR). Continue Reading

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