Photo of Bruce Arnold

Decades of experience representing companies and providers at every stage of the healthcare continuum give Bruce a distinct understanding of the industry. Like the healthcare professionals he admires, Bruce applies these principles to his practice: diagnose, predict and treat.

For decades, pundits, policymakers and consumer groups have called for better tools to make health care purchasing decisions easier.  Greater cost transparency and clear indicators of quality, they say, would help consumers make the right choices, which would lead to lower costs and better quality care.

If only it were as easy as using Angie’s List:  describe the need and up pops the names of local providers, along with comparative information on their performance.

Increasingly, such information and tools are available.  But their impact is unclear.

Since 2010, Medicare consumers have had an “Angie’s List” type of resource in Physician Compare, an online service produced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  The website was mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).  It serves a two-fold purpose, according to CMS:
Continue Reading Physician Quality Measures—Growing Numbers of them, but are they being used?

Hospitals are not happy with CMS’ recent changes to hospital outpatient payments.  Two hospital associations and three hospitals claim in a federal lawsuit filed December 4, 2018, that CMS had no authority to change the payment scheme for off-campus provider-based departments (PBDs).  The change took effect January 1, 2019, and is estimated to reduce payments to hospitals by $380 million in the first year of a two-year phase-in period.

The plaintiffs, including the American Hospital Association and the Association of American Medical Colleges, are seeking judgment that the payment change is unenforceable as well as preliminary and permanent injunctive relief.  The complaint against US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The plaintiffs’ assert that the reduced payments threaten patient access to care and harm the providers’ ability to meet the health care needs of their patients, including some of the most vulnerable populations. 
Continue Reading Hospitals React Strongly to CMS’ Changes to Hospital Outpatient Payments

This is the third article in our series on the new “Pathways” rules for Accountable Care Organizations.  Our first two articles in the series can be found here.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued its anticipated final rule revising the Medicare Shared Savings Program to improve cost savings and quality.

With the changes in the final rule, the revamped program, called “Pathways to Success,” is projected to save Medicare $2.9 billion over 10 years—that’s $0.7 billion more than projected in the proposed rule issued August 9, 2018.
Continue Reading The “Pathways to Success” Final Rule is Here: ACO’s Face Big Decisions

One conclusion drawn from the 2018 midterm elections is health care is a big deal for Americans. In fact, according to pre- and post-election polling, health care may be the biggest deal, as a plurality of voters identified health care as their top issue in casting their vote.  
Continue Reading Health Care Drives Voters at the Polls, but Will Health Care Drive Policymaking?

A new rule proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on October 26, 2018, would revise the way the agency validates the risk adjustment data and collects repayments from Medicare Advantage (MA) organizations. With the new methodology, CMS is expecting to return $4.5 billion in savings to the Medicare Trust Fund over 10 years, according to an October 26 CMS news release.
Continue Reading CMS Issues Proposed Rule Addressing Payment Error in Medicare Advantage, Expects to Recover $4.5 Billion Over 10 Years

Anticipating open enrollment season for coverage in 2019, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released coverage and premium information that will factor into consumer decisions about Medicare and individual commercial plans offered through exchanges. Enrollment and premium trends also inform regulatory and broader policy decisions at both federal and state levels.
Continue Reading Open Enrollment Update: CMS Releases Benefit and Market Data

A federal court decision to vacate regulations concerning “overpayments” to Medicare Advantage plans has left open questions about the way the government pays the insurers and pending cases brought by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Continue Reading Court Decision on Overpayment Rule Leaves Uncertain Future for Medicare Payment Methodology and Pending Justice Department Lawsuits

This is the second article in our series on the new “Pathways” rules for Accountable Care Organizations. Our first article in the series can be found here.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a report on August 27, 2018, showing Next Generation accountable care organizations (ACOs) produced net savings of $62 million in 2016 while maintaining quality of care.  CMS Administrator Seema Verma pointed to the savings as evidence that ACOs taking two-sided risk succeed, according to a CMS press release. 
Continue Reading Performance Report: “Pathways” Rules Help CMS Advance Two-Sided Risk Sharing

This is the third article in our series on Association Health Plans (AHP). This week’s discussion focuses on the mixed reaction to the recent Department of Labor (DOL) AHP.

In the health benefits market, some state-based associations, such as Wisconsin’s largest business association, have announced their intent to create an AHP. On the other hand, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), a long-time advocate of AHPs, is declining to establish an AHP because the rule falls short of what the NFIB felt was needed to establish an AHP, according to reports.  
Continue Reading Association Health Plans Are Drawing A Lot of Attention, Including Some Pushback

This is the second article in our series on Association Health Plans (AHP). This week’s discussion focuses on the potential impact of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) decision to relax some AHP requirements.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently expanded the ability of small groups and the self-employed to obtain health coverage through AHPs. A final rule published June 21 eases certain AHP requirements and restrictions.
Continue Reading DOL Rule Relaxes Some AHP Requirements, Points to Other Protections