Hurricane Harvey. On August 26, 2017, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a waiver of certain compliance requirements, retroactive to August 25, 2017, for providers in areas of Texas affected by Hurricane Harvey.  A similar waiver was issued August 28, 2017, for providers in Louisiana, retroactive to August 27, 2017.  Along with these waivers, the Secretary of HHS issued disaster declarations for the states of Texas and Louisiana pursuant to section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, and the President issued disaster declarations for the states of Texas and Louisiana pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.

Continue Reading CMS Grants Providers Compliance Flexibility in Areas Affected by Hurricane Harvey or Irma

On July 13, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) put out its 2018 Medicare Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System Proposed Rule. The Rule proposes, among other things, to dramatically reduce Medicare Part B reimbursement of drugs procured by hospitals at 340B prices—from the current rate of Average Sales Price (“ASP”) plus 6 percent to ASP minus 22.5 percent.  By CMS’s estimate, this could result in savings to the Part B program of $900 million and a corresponding cut to the 340B hospitals which currently receive those payments (and ostensibly use them in furtherance of the 340B program’s goal of assisting safety net providers in stretching their scarce resources).   Continue Reading CMS Proposes Drastic Reduction to Medicare Part B Reimbursement of 340B Drugs

On May 23, 2017, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill (SB) 507, expanding the current law dealing with “balance billing.”

Balance billing occurs when an insured patient receives care from a physician, hospital or other healthcare provider, who is not part of a patient’s health plan provider network. The out-of-network provider then bills the patient directly for the portion of medical expenses not covered by insurance, typically at a much higher rate.

In 2009, Texas passed legislation establishing a Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) mediation system aimed at resolving balance billing issues. The 2009 legislation made mediation available to patients who were balanced billed by six types of facility-based providers: radiologists, anesthesiologists, pathologists, ER physicians, neonatologists and assistant surgeons. Effective September 1, 2017, SB 507 expands access to balance billing mediation eligibility to all types of out-of-network providers treating patients at in-network hospitals and other facilities, including freestanding ERs. SB 507 also allows mediation for emergent care balance bills over $500 at any healthcare facility, whether in or out of network. The legislation will cover Texans with PPO plans receiving care from an out-of-network provider at an in-network facility. It will also cover the Teachers Retirement System, in addition to the Employee Retirement System covered by the original legislation.

SB 507 also expands disclosure requirements on network status by health plans, facilities, and other healthcare providers. These new requirements include, among other things, that a bill sent to a patient contain an explanation of the mediation process, and a statement that is substantially similar to the following:

“You may be able to reduce some of your out-of-pocket costs for an out-of-network medical or health care claim that is eligible for mediation by contacting the Texas Department of Insurance at (website) and (phone number, including requiring that the following statement be added to balance bills.”

Providers should become familiar with the new balance billing requirements to determine how they will impact current billing practices. A full copy of SB 507 is available at Texas Legislature Online.

Insurers providing health care benefits to federal employees can obtain reimbursement when their insured obtains a tort recovery, despite a state law prohibiting such reimbursement, based on the preemption provision of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Act (FEHBA), pursuant to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Coventry Health Care of Missouri, Inc., fka Group Health Plan, Inc. v. Nevils, issued April 18, 2017.

Continue Reading State Anti-Subrogation Law Is Preempted With Respect to Federal Employee Insurance Contract

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?

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 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 - 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 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 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 III: What is an APM?

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 II: Does MACRA apply to me?