Since the first managed care plans were introduced, relationships between physicians and payers have been rocky. It has not been uncommon for controversies between the two sides to result in lawsuits, contract terminations and regulatory intervention. Both sides recognize that each needs the other to survive — payers must populate their networks with sizeable numbers of physicians, while physicians must contract with payers to get reimbursed for patient care.

Continue Reading Improving Physicians’ Negotiation Skills

A stethoscope and American money on a white background - HealthcSpecialists are generally subject to the MACRA merit-based incentive payment system (MIPS) in the same manner as primary care clinicians but are treated differently under MACRA in two situations:

  1. Certain specialists may qualify as “non-patient-facing” (for example, pathologists or radiologists that do generally not see patients) and have reduced MIPS reporting obligations; and
  1. A specialist who participates in more than one alternative payment model (APM) will receive the most favorable APM treatment of the APMs in which the specialist participates (for example, if the specialist participates in two Track 1 ACOs, the specialist will get the higher of the MIPS scores for those ACOs).

Continue Reading Managing MACRA – Part VI: What do I have to do if I’m a specialist?

flag_160540827This is the second article in our series on the effect of a “slow repeal” of the ACA, which began January 3, 2017, when Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi introduced a budget resolution with instructions to the relevant Senate and House committees to develop a plan to repeal the ACA. The four committees that control healthcare policy have until January 27, 2017, to draft reconciliation bills, which will address the important details, likely including how long it will take to replace the ACA, and which parts of the ACA will be repealed through a budget reconciliation process. On January 4, 2017, the Senate promptly voted (51-48) to begin debate on the procedures to repeal the ACA. Continue Reading Slow Repeal of the ACA and Its Effect on Physicians

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 OIG updates policy regarding gifts of nominal value

corporative buildingIn the 2016 Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule published on Nov. 16, 2014, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized the proposed exception for timeshare arrangements that we discussed in our earlier blog post [80 Fed. Reg. 70,886, 71,300 (Nov. 16, 2015)]. As we stated in our earlier post, a timeshare or part-time “space use” arrangement typically provides a physician with the use of office space during scheduled time periods. The space usually includes furnishings with basic medical office equipment, supplies and support personnel so that the physician is able to use the space, on a turn-key basis, to see patients during scheduled times. Prior to the implementation of the new timeshare exception, these types of arrangements needed to be structured to comply with the Rental of Office Space Exception, which includes “exclusive use” requirements that many hospitals and physicians found burdensome [42 C.F.R. § 411.357(a)]. Continue Reading CMS finalizes new timeshare exception to the Stark law

spotlightiStock_000001543068_LargeThe Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services recently published its Fiscal Year 2016 Work Plan, which summarizes OIG’s priorities over the coming year. Notably, the 2016 Work Plan demonstrates the OIG’s expanded focus on delivery system reform and the effectiveness of alternate payment models, coordinated care programs, and value-based purchasing.

There were also noteworthy areas of new focus for several provider types, including skilled nursing facilities, hospice organizations, ambulatory surgical centers, and physician practices.  Below we have highlighted a few key areas from the FY 2016 Work Plan that will likely impact these providers. Please note this is not intended to be a comprehensive summary of the 2016 Work Plan and is focused only on the new OIG focal areas for these certain providers. Continue Reading OIG issues FY 2016 Work Plan with more than 40 new focal areas

Closeup of a lecturer speaking to a group of business people

Attorneys, compliance officers, accountants, and other professionals who advise clients in the healthcare industry may want to consider attending a coming event next month in Chicago. Featuring Husch Blackwell attorneys Cori Turner and Bill Hopkins, the Fundamentals of Health Law will be held Nov. 15-17.

The American Health Lawyers Association’s event will offer continuing education credits. Continue Reading November in Chicago: Fundamentals of Health Law conference

Pills bottle-92816346On August 31, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) issued its long-awaited Management Standards for Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals Proposed Rule, which is designed to prevent facilities from disposing of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals by flushing them down the toilet or drain. The proposal creates a new subpart under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act’s (“RCRA”) hazardous waste regulations for the regulation of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals generated by “healthcare facilities” and “pharmaceutical reverse distributors.” Continue Reading EPA proposes new rule for hazardous waste pharmaceuticals

horizon_lights178441822Proposed Stark exception could impact hospital and physicians timeshare/ part-time agreement arrangements

In July 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) published a proposed rule pertaining to payment policies under the 2016 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (“Proposed Rule”) (80 Fed. Reg. 41,685). In addition to changes to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule and other Medicare Part B payment policies, the Proposed Rule addresses modifications to the Stark Law and provides guidance on CMS’s interpretation of existing Stark Law exceptions. Continue Reading New timeshare exception on the horizon

clipboard with white blank paper masks stethoscope blood pressurThe U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an opinion June 12, 2015, lambasting the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (“CMS”) rationale in implementing the ban on “per-click” space and equipment leases under the Stark Law. This ban, which went into effect Oct. 1, 2009, was effectively challenged by the Council for Urological Interests (“Council”), which was also behind the successful challenge against the application of the Stark Law to hospital lithotripsy services in 2002.

Among the more colorful descriptions used by the Court in describing CMS’s position were that it was “incomprehensible,” “tortured”, and “the stuff of caprice.” And on an even more scathing note, the Court described CMS’s reading of the legislative history of the Stark Law as belonging to the “cross-your-fingers-and-hope-it-goes-away school of statutory interpretation.” Continue Reading Per-click leases back in business – but for how long?