On July 20, 2020, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) notified providers that if they received $10,000 or more in funds from the general or targeted Provider Relief Fund (PRF) established under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, reports on how those funds were used will be required. HHS expects to release (through the Health Resources and Services Administration [HRSA] website) detailed instructions on reporting requirements by August 17, 2020. Specifically, reports will be required of any provider who received one or more payments exceeding $10,000 in the aggregate from:
Continue Reading HHS Begins Clarifying Reporting Requirements for Provider Relief Funds

Updated Thursday, April 2, 2020

CMS 1135 waivers allow the U.S. Dep’t of Health and Human Services Secretary to temporarily waive or modify certain Medicare, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Policy (CHIP), and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements to ensure that sufficient health care items and services are available to meet needs during a declared public health emergency.  Individual health care providers and associations may trigger additional waivers through feedback and requests to the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response or CMS Regional Offices.
Continue Reading COVID-19 Update: Kansas 1135 Waivers and State Flexibilities

Updated Thursday, April 2, 2020

CMS 1135 waivers allow the U.S. Dep’t of Health and Human Services Secretary to temporarily waive or modify certain Medicare, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Policy (CHIP), and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements to ensure that sufficient health care items and services are available to meet needs during a declared public health emergency.  Individual health care providers and associations may trigger additional waivers through feedback and requests to the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response or CMS Regional Offices.
Continue Reading COVID-19 Update: Missouri 1135 Waivers and State Flexibilities

On March 24, 2020, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) prepared correspondence to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) seeking waivers of certain Medicaid requirements pursuant to Section 1135 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. § 1320b-5) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The correspondence to CMS was shared on March 24, 2020 with the Wisconsin Legislature Joint Committee on Finance seeking their approval to submit the Section 1135 Waiver to CMS. The letter to CMS prepared by DHS states that Wisconsin is implementing all the blanket waivers issued by CMS on March 13, 2020 in Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), to the extent applicable.
Continue Reading Wisconsin DHS requests authority to seek additional Medicaid Waivers from CMS

In a March 24th letter to all of the nation’s Governors, Secretary Alex Azar of the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) called upon states to take immediate action to loosen regulations that present obstacles to the delivery of effective in person and telehealth services during the COVID-19 emergency. In an effort to “carry out a whole-America response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Secretary Azar asked governors to urgently take steps to “extend the capacity of the health care workforce.”
Continue Reading HHS Urges States to Remove Most of Remaining State Licensing Barriers During COVID-19 Pandemic

physicians

COVID-19 Update: CMS Waiver Information for Private Practice Physicians and Non-Physician Practitioners

By Hal Katz and Tamar E. Hodges

President Donald Trump declared the coronavirus pandemic a National Emergency on March 13, 2020. This declaration granted the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar authority to relax certain Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) requirements set forth in Section 1135 of the Social Security Act. The primary purpose of this waiver is to give providers greater flexibility to meet the needs of Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP beneficiaries during an emergency.  CMS may issue “blanket waivers” after a declaration of a public health emergency when it determines many “similarly situated providers” would require certain waivers. CMS requires providers to put the state licensing agency and CMS Regional Office on notice if it intends to modify their operations in light of such waivers, although the blanket waivers are essentially automatic and, therefore, do not require the provider to submit a request. The waiver is in effect through the duration of the emergency or until CMS terminates the waiver.
Continue Reading COVID-19 Update: CMS Waiver Information for Private Practice Physicians and Non-Physician Practitioners

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?

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

flag_160540827This is the fifth article in our series on the effect of the “slow repeal” of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This week’s article focuses on the potential impact of the slow repeal of the ACA on rural communities and healthcare.

Continued Fragile System Leads to Uncertainty or Closure Causing Economic Ripple Effect Throughout Rural America

There are nearly 5,000 short-term, acute care hospitals in the United States, half of which are in rural areas. About four in 10 rural hospitals are located in the South. More than half of rural hospitals are Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) (53.5%); a smaller share of rural hospitals are designated as Sole Community Hospitals (SCHs) (13%), Medicare Dependent Hospitals (MDHs) (8%), and Rural Referral Centers (RRCs) (11%). All of these designations provide enhanced or supplemental reimbursement under Medicare, using different formulas. Rural hospitals that do not qualify for these Medicare programs are reimbursed as standard Medicare Prospective Payment System (PPS) hospitals.
Continue Reading Slow Repeal of the ACA and Its Impact on Rural Healthcare and Communities