Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

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

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

By now, everyone operating a skilled nursing facility knows about CMS’ 2016 overhaul of the Requirements for Participation for Long-Term Care Facilities (“RoPs”).  The final rule amending the RoPs was published on October 4, 2016.  See 81 Fed. Reg. 68688 (Oct. 4, 2016).  Many of the changes made by CMS do not impose new requirements on facilities, but instead clarify existing requirements.  While CMS has been implementing the various changes in three phases over a three-year period, facilities should by now have implemented or taken steps to implement all of the new requirements.

We have reviewed the new RoPs and guidance documents issued by CMS to determine how the changes impact nursing facility admission agreements.  There were changes or clarifications to a number of subjects that impact such agreements, including: resident discharge requirements, resident representative requirements, selection of attending physicians and other health care providers, room transfer and roommate requirements, visitation rights, facility liability for resident property, bed hold policies, etcetera. Continue Reading Nursing Facilities Need To Update Their Admission Agreements

With the global telehealth market projected to more than quadruple in value over the next five years, even slow-moving government payors have responded to the pressure to expand reimbursement options for telemedicine services. But reimbursement woes continue to top the list of concerns voiced by providers, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) is keeping a watchful eye on reimbursement-related growing pains. On April 30, 2018, OIG released a report that identifies the impact of some of these growing pains on Medicare claims payments. Continue Reading Telehealth Trend: Are Your Claims Reimbursable Under Medicare?

The 60-day repayment rule was implemented by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) effective March 14, 2016 to clarify Medicare providers’ obligations to investigate, report, and refund identified overpayments under the Affordable Care Act. The rule specifically details what it means to “identify” an overpayment and explains how to report and return identified overpayments to CMS.1 The rule also states that an overpayment must be reported and returned if it is identified within six years of the date it was received. This time period is generally referred to as the “lookback” period. Continue Reading Lookback Periods for Medicaid Overpayments