GAO Calls for Expanded HHS Efforts to Reduce Antipsychotic Drug Use in Community Settings

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report examining the extent to which antipsychotic drugs are prescribed for older adults with dementia in nursing homes and other settings. The GAO found that, according to Medicare Part D data, about one-third of older adults with dementia who spent more than 100 days in a nursing home in 2012 were prescribed an antipsychotic, compared to about 14% of Medicare Part D enrollees with dementia living outside of a nursing home were prescribed an antipsychotic that year. While several agencies within HHS have taken steps to address antipsychotic drug use in nursing homes as part of the National Alzheimer's Plan, these efforts have not applied to older adults in other settings, such as assisted living facilities or individuals' homes. The GAO therefore recommends that HHS update its National Alzheimer's Plan to expand outreach and educational efforts to reduce antipsychotic drug use among older adults with dementia residing outside of nursing homes; HHS concurred.  For details, see the full report, “Antipsychotic Drug Use: HHS Has Initiatives to Reduce Use among Older Adults in Nursing Homes, but Should Expand Efforts to Other Settings.” 

CMS Raises the Bar for Nursing Home Quality Ratings under "Nursing Home Compare 3.0"

CMS has made revisions to the measurements used in the Nursing Home Compare Five Star Quality Rating System that have resulted in a decline in the star rating for about one-third of nursing homes. Specifically, on February 20, 2015, CMS added quality measures regarding the use of antipsychotics, revised the calculation of nursing home staffing levels, and strengthened the criteria for nursing homes to achieve top “star” ratings. According to CMS, before this “recalibration” (dubbed Nursing Home Compare 3.0), about 80% of nursing homes received either a 4 or 5-star quality rating; now about 49% will receive these top star ratings. The number of nursing homes receiving one star has increased from 8.5% to 13% after the recalibration. CMS advises consumers to rely on multiple factors in selecting a nursing home, however, including star ratings, visits, and reputation.

CMS Schedules Provider Calls on Medicare Payment, Quality, Coding & Program Integrity Topics

CMS has scheduled a series of provider calls in February and March on the following topics:

CMS to Expand Nursing Home MDS Focused Surveys

In mid-2014, state survey agencies and CMS piloted a short-term focused survey in five states to assess nursing home Minimum Data Set, Version 3.0 (MDS 3.0) coding practices and its relationship to resident care. According to a CMS memo to state survey agencies, these surveys enhanced surveyors’ ability to identify errors and deficiencies, such as inaccuracies related to staging and documentation of pressure ulcers, the classification of antipsychotic drugs, and coding regarding the use of restraints. CMS therefore announced that it plans to expand these surveys nationwide in 2015. The scope of some or all of the focused surveys also will be expanded to include an assessment of the staffing levels of nursing facilities. Specifically, the assessment is intended to verify the staffing data self-reported by the nursing home and identify changes in staffing levels throughout the year.

CMS Call: National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes (Dec. 9).

On December 9, 2014, CMS is hosting a call to provide an update on the CMS National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes. The partnership focuses on continuing to reduce the use of unnecessary antipsychotic medications and other potentially-harmful medications in nursing homes and eventually other care settings.

CMS to Revise Five Star Quality Rating System for Nursing Homes

CMS has announced that it will make a series of improvements to the Nursing Home Five Star Quality Rating System, including additional quality measures, new data verification processes, and a revised quality scoring methodology. Among other things:

  • CMS will add a new quality measure on antipsychotic medication use starting January 2015, and include claims-based data on re-hospitalization and community discharge rates in the future.
  • CMS and states will implement focused survey inspections for a sample of nursing homes to verify staffing and quality measure information, effective January 2015.
  • CMS will implement a quarterly electronic reporting system that is auditable back to payrolls to verify staffing information and allow for the calculation of staffing-related quality measures.
  • CMS will strengthen requirements to ensure that states maintain a user-friendly website and complete timely, accurate nursing home inspections for inclusion in the rating system.
  • CMS will revise the methodology used to calculate each facility’s quality measure rating in 2015.

OIG Reviews Nursing Facility Abuse/Neglect Reporting Practices

The OIG has issued a report reviewing the extent to which Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing facilities comply with federal requirements related to reporting allegations of resident abuse or neglect. For the purposes of this report, the OIG uses the term “nursing facility” (NF) to refer to both Medicare skilled nursing facilities and Medicaid nursing facilities. Based on a sample of 250 NFs, the OIG estimates that:

  • 85% of NFs reported at least one allegation of abuse or neglect to OIG in 2012. The OIG notes that for the purposes of this study, it did not determine whether the reported allegations were substantiated.
  • 76% of NFs maintained policies that address federal regulations for reporting both allegations of abuse or neglect and investigation results.
  • 61% of NFs had documentation supporting the facilities’ compliance with regulations under Section 1150B of the Social Security Act requiring NFs to (1) annually notify covered individuals (i.e., owners, operators, employees, managers, agents, or contractors of nursing facilities) of their obligation to report to the appropriate entities any reasonable suspicion of a crime, and (2) clearly post a notice specifying employees’ rights to file a complaint under Section 1150B.
  • 53% of allegations of abuse or neglect and the subsequent investigation results were reported, as required.

The OIG recommends that CMS ensure that nursing facilities: (1) maintain policies related to reporting allegations of abuse or neglect; (2) notify covered individuals of their obligation to report reasonable suspicions of crimes; and (3) report allegations of abuse or neglect and investigation results in a timely manner and to the appropriate individuals. 

GAO Reviews Financial Characteristics of Applicants for Medicaid Nursing Home Coverage

The GAO has issued a report entitled “Medicaid: Financial Characteristics of Approved Applicants and Methods Used to Reduce Assets to Qualify for Nursing Home Coverage.”  The report highlights ways applicants in Florida, New York, and South Carolina reduce their countable assets to qualify for Medicaid nursing home coverage, including (1) spending countable resources on goods and services that are not countable towards financial eligibility, such as prepaid funeral arrangements; (2) converting countable resources into noncountable resources that generate an income stream for the applicant (e.g., an annuity or promissory note); (3) giving away countable assets as a gift to another individual (which could lead to a penalty period that delays Medicaid nursing home coverage); and (4) for married applicants, increasing the amount of assets a spouse remaining in the community can retain (e.g., through the purchase of an annuity). The report does not include recommendations.

CMS Call: National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes (May 20)

On May 20, 2014, CMS is hosting another call to discuss the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes, which includes as a goal reducing the use of unnecessary antipsychotic medications in nursing homes. This call will focus on efforts to monitor enforcement rates and track surveyor training completion; the role that activity professionals play in the mission to improve dementia care; and nonpharmacologic care approaches.

Highlights from Reed Smith's Post-Acute Care Conference

In early April, Reed Smith hosted an enlightening, industry-leading conference on post-acute care in Washington, D.C. The conference, entitled “Reed Smith 2014 Washington Health Care Conference: Focus on Post-Acute Care," brought together a panel of experts to discuss episodic care, bundling models, and alternative payment and delivery systems. The conference also featured other speakers who presented from the perspective of investors and Capitol Hill, along with a keynote address from American Enterprise Institute resident scholar Dr. Norman Ornstein.

Policy Discussion on Payment Models

The conference started with a panel discussing bundling initiatives and other alternative payment models. The panel featured Barbara Gage, Ph.D., Fellow and Managing Director of Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform at the Brookings Institution; Judy Feder, Ph.D., Professor at Georgetown University; Vincent Mor, Ph.D., Professor at Brown University School of Medicine; and James Michel, Director for Medicare Research & Reimbursement at the American Health Care Association (“AHCA”). The panel brought with them decades of experience in health care policy and research, and a deep knowledge of post-acute care providers’ current reimbursement systems, in addition to models expected to reform payment for post-acute services in the future.

Dr. Gage spoke first, and introduced bundling by discussing the triple aim adopted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”): achieve better care for patients, better communities’ health, and lower costs by improving the health care system. She explained how new payment models—including bundled payment initiatives and accountable care organizations—strive to accomplish the above-mentioned triple aim. Gage discussed whether the post-acute setting in which a patient receives treatment distinguishes the patient’s outcome and the level of resources that different post-acute settings (e.g., home health, skilled nursing facilities (“SNF”), inpatient rehabilitation facilities (“IRF”), or long-term acute care hospitals (“LTCH”)) furnish to patients. Gage described in great detail the arguments in favor of bundled payments, emphasizing that one of the benefits of a bundled payment model is that it forces communication across all care settings.

Dr. Feder, on the other hand, urged caution as reimbursement moves to new models. She stressed that bundled payment models, for example, create powerful incentives to potentially reduce or limit the care furnished to patients, and therefore could result in reduced quality of care. Feder explained that bundling is not new, and that, e.g., payers have bundled in the inpatient hospital setting for 30 years. Feder pointed out that when Medicare implemented diagnosis-related groups in the inpatient hospital prospective payment system, hospital length of stay “dropp[ed] like a stone.” Feder underscored that the biggest challenges arise from patients whose health is deteriorating, and explained that the number of home health visits, for instance, are the lowest when patient acuity is the highest. In order to ensure adequate, appropriate, and high-quality care for patients, Feder suggested that policymakers thoughtfully develop and implement any new payment system over time, and incorporate quality mechanisms that serve to protect patients. Feder suggested that good patient data and strong accountability measures are essential to any bundled payment program.

After Feder spoke, Dr. Mor took the podium and analogized capitation versus fee-for-service as being “between the devil and the deep blue sea.” He further explained that fee-for-service reimbursement models have encouraged runaway costs and increased utilization, and that there is a lack of provider accountability and responsibility. In contrast, he explained that in capitation reimbursement models, there is an inherent incentive to deny care. Mor discussed how policymakers can ensure patients receive quality care from providers, and raised a number of thought-provoking questions, such as whether a SNF or other post-acute provider should be responsible for rehospitalization after the discharge of a patient, and whether low rehospitalization reflects overall high-quality care. Mor urged the development of a common assessment tool that includes hospital assessment data in order to more accurately measure post-acute quality and case-mix. He also recommended that CMS use the “Welcome to Medicare” assessment and other periodic beneficiary assessments to obtain risk profiles for patients. Mor ended his presentation by suggesting that while capitation models—such as bundling—are preferable to fee-for-service because one entity is responsible for patients’ care, capitation models face challenges as well, including how to properly measure case-mix and outcomes.

James Michel from AHCA noted the operational challenges associated with bundled payments. For example, it is difficult for post-acute providers to assume the responsibility for patients after the post-acute provider discharges a given beneficiary. Michel also stated that the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation Bundled Payments for Care Improvement initiative’s models incentivize low-cost providers to participate, but providers who recognize they have higher costs than the community average will not participate because of the risk that they will miss the spending target, resulting in a payment to the government. Michel noted that AHCA has developed its own bundled payment proposal, in part to preserve a process in which patients and their families can decide where the patient should be treated after an acute stay. The AHCA bundled payment proposal includes four proposed episodes (e.g., major respiratory condition and septicemia) that would account for approximately 60 percent of all SNF care and more than 50 percent of all post-acute care.

Wall Street Perspective

Jay Barnes, a Senior Vice President for Healthcare Investment Banking at Jefferies, LLC, spoke from the Wall Street perspective, addressing the current appetite for deals in the post-acute space. He described a tepid outlook for post-acute investment stemming from the uncertainty of the future payment models and the changing regulatory landscape, particularly with regard to LTCHs. He informed attendees that the private equity market has been non-existent in the post-acute space because it is challenging to create projection models when future reimbursement for post-acute care remains murky. He explained that the post-acute transactions occurring are largely driven by real estate. For example, Barnes described the recently announced Emeritus Senior Living and Brookdale Senior Living merger as driven by real estate.

Congressional Activity

Cate McCanless, Senior Policy Analyst at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, provided an insightful overview of Medicare activity on Capitol Hill. She explained that Congress has focused on post-acute care because of the perceived “comfortable” margins achieved by post-acute providers (according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission). McCanless also described the outlook for the discussion draft of the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation (“IMPACT”) Act of 2014, released by the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Ranking Member Sandy Levin (D-Mich.), along with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), March 18, 2014. The IMPACT Act draft includes one measure discussed by Mor during the bundling panel: the reporting of common data across post-acute providers, and the required reporting by acute-care hospitals of patient assessment data gathered in advance of discharge. McCanless also explained that while there has been some Congressional momentum in eliminating Medicare's sustainable growth-rate (“SGR”) formula in order to move to an alternative payment model, such momentum may lose steam this year now that a temporary patch has been enacted, because eliminating the SGR would be expensive, and it is an election year. McCanless pointed out certain post-acute policy proposals that would result in cost savings, such as reducing the SNF payment update by 1.1 percent, which would save an estimated $12 billion, and equalizing certain payments for SNFs and IRFs, which would save an estimated $1 billion; these provisions could be targets for offsets for future Medicare reforms.

Impact of Political Polarization on Health Policy

Dr. Norman Ornstein, noted observer of Congress and politics, and keynote speaker at Reed Smith’s inaugural Health Care Conference, closed the session with a thoughtful discussion regarding the current state of American politics. He described not just the polarization, but also the tribalism, of American politics today, depicting a broken American political system where opposing parties have adopted a mantra of, “if you support it, I am against it.” Despite Ornstein’s bleak description of the current state of politics, he offered some suggestions for reform, including incentivizing citizens to vote. He argued that if more of the American public is engaged, politicians must meet in the middle on at least some policy debates.

In all, the inaugural Reed Smith Health Care Conference led to provocative discussions and a deeper understanding of the political climate and policy recommendations likely to impact—or even transform—post-acute care in the not-so-distant future. We look forward to next year’s conference.

HHS OIG Identifies "Top 25" Priorities

The OIG has released its “Compendium of Priority Recommendations,” which lists 25 priority issues for which the OIG has open recommendation and that, if implemented, would best protect the integrity of HHS programs. The 25 top priorities are as follows:

  • Medicare Policies and Payments: address wasteful Medicare policies and payment rates for clinical laboratories, hospitals, and hospices; improve controls to address improper Medicare billings by community mental health centers, home health agencies, and skilled nursing facilities; detect and recover improper Medicare payments for services to incarcerated, unlawfully present, or deceased individuals; maximize recovery of Medicare overpayments; improve monitoring and reconciliation of Medicare hospital outlier payments; ensure that Medicare Advantage Organizations are implementing programs to prevent and detect waste, fraud, and abuse; and improve controls to address questionable billing and prescribing practices for Part D prescription drugs.
  • Medicare Quality of Care and Safety Issues: address adverse events in hospital settings; improve care planning and discharge planning for beneficiaries in nursing home settings; address harm to patients, questionable resident hospitalizations, and inappropriate drug use in nursing homes; improve nursing home emergency preparedness and response; and ensure hospice compliance with Medicare conditions of participation.
  • Medicaid Program Policies and Payments: ensure that state claims and practices do not inappropriately inflate federal reimbursements; ensure that states prevent, detect, and recover improper payments and return the federal share of recoveries to the federal government; assist states to better align Medicaid drug reimbursements with pharmacy acquisition costs; ensure that Medicaid Information Systems are fully functional; and address Medicaid managed care fraud and abuse concerns.
  • Medicaid Quality of Care and Safety Issues: ensure that Medicaid home- and community-based care service providers comply with quality and safety requirements; and ensure that States improve utilization of preventive screening services for eligible children.
  • Oversight of Food Safety: improve oversight of dietary supplements; and improve oversight of food inspections and traceability.
  • HHS Grants and Contracts: improve oversight of grantee compliance, quality assurance, and conflicts of interest; and improve oversight of Medicare contractor performance and conflicts of interest.
  • HHS Financial Stewardship: reduce improper payments and fraud; and correct deficiencies found in financial statement audits.

Note that some of these recommendations would require additional authority or other legislative change.  

Reed Smith Hosting Washington Health Care Conference: Focus on Post-Acute Care on April 4, 2014 - One Week Left to Register

On April 4th, 2014, Reed Smith will host its inaugural Washington Health Care Conference at The Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C. With a keynote from Dr. Norman Ornstein, this year’s conference will focus on post-acute care, bringing together leading industry professionals for a discussion on several important issues, including:

Governing in Polarized America: The Prospects for Policy in 2014 and Beyond (Keynote)

  • Dr. Norman Ornstein, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute, and weekly columnist for National Journal and The Atlantic

Policy discussion on episodic care, bundling models, and alternative payment and delivery systems

  • Mike Cheek, Vice President for Medicaid and Long Term Care Policy, American Health Care Association
  • Judy Feder, Professor, Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy, and Urban Institute Fellow
  • Dr. Barbara Gage, Fellow, Managing Director, Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform, Brookings Institution
  • Dr. Vincent Mor, Ph.D., Florence Pirce Grant Professor of Community Health, Public Health Program, Brown University School of Medicine

Wall Street perspective: the current appetite for deals

  • Jay Barnes, Senior Vice President, Healthcare Investment Banking, Jefferies LLC

Hill briefing on Medicare legislation

  • Cate McCanless, Senior Policy Advisor, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck

Limited seating is still available for this complimentary program. If you are interested in registering, please email Lindsay Korenich at For more information about this conference, click here.

OIG Assesses Adverse Events Among Medicare Beneficiaries in SNFs

The OIG released a report on March 3, 2014, “Adverse Events in Skilled Nursing Facilities: National Incidence among Medicare Beneficiaries,” that examines the national incidence rate, preventability, and cost of adverse events in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). This report is an outgrowth of a series of studies about hospital adverse events. For purposes of this report, the OIG defined an adverse event as harm to a patient or resident as a result of medical care in a health care setting that resulted in a prolonged SNF stay or hospitalization (including emergency room visit), permanent harm, life-sustaining intervention, or death. Based on a small sample of individuals discharged from hospitals to SNFs with SNF stays that ended in August 2011 (a total of 653 Medicare beneficiaries), the OIG estimates that 22% of Medicare beneficiaries experienced adverse events during their SNF stays and 11% of Medicare beneficiaries experienced temporary harm events during their SNF stays. The OIG’s physician reviewers determined, based on review of the patients’ medical record, that 59% of these adverse events and temporary harm events were clearly or likely preventable. More than half of the residents who experienced harm were rehospitalized, with an estimated Medicare cost of $208 million in August 2011. This equates to $2.8 billion spent on hospital treatment for harm caused in SNFs in FY 2011 (or roughly 2% of inpatient hospital spending).

The OIG observes that the preventable nature of many of the events it identified indicates an opportunity for SNFs to significantly reduce the incidence of resident harm events. To that end, the OIG recommends that the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and CMS raise awareness of nursing home safety and reduce resident harm through methods the agencies previously used to promote hospital safety. For instance, OIG recommends that the agencies collaborate to create and promote a list of potentially reportable nursing home events to help nursing home staff better recognize and reduce harm (but AHRQ and CMS should specify that they do not require external nursing home reporting of these events). Likewise, the OIG recommends that AHRQ and CMS encourage nursing homes to report adverse events to Patient Safety Organizations. CMS also should include potential events and information about resident harm in future guidance to nursing homes on the development of Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement (QAPI) programs pursuant to the ACA. Finally, the OIG recommends that CMS instruct state agency nursing home surveyors to review facility practices intended to identify and reduce adverse events. AHRQ and CMS concurred with the OIG’s recommendations.

CMS Call on Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes (Feb. 26)

On February 26, 2014, CMS is hosting a call to discuss the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes, which includes as a goal reducing the use of unnecessary antipsychotic medications in nursing homes. This call will focus on the role of surveyors in the implementation of the partnership, the importance of leadership, and the correlation between proper pain assessment and antipsychotic medication use.

OIG Focuses on Hospitalization of Nursing Home Patients

A recent OIG report, "Medicare Nursing Home Resident Hospitalization Rates Merit Additional Monitoring,” examines the extent to which Medicare nursing home residents are hospitalized. The OIG found that in FY 2011, nursing homes transferred one quarter of their Medicare residents to hospitals for inpatient admissions in FY 2011, and Medicare spent $14.3 billion on these hospitalizations. Septicemia was the most common condition requiring the hospitalization of nursing home residents, and nursing homes located in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Oklahoma had the highest annual rates of resident hospitalizations. The OIG concludes that the higher-than-average resident hospitalization rates of some nursing homes in FY 2011 suggest that some hospitalizations could have been avoided through better nursing home care. The OIG recommends that CMS develop a quality measure that describes nursing home resident hospitalization rates and assess this measure during surveys of nursing homes. CMS concurs with OIG’s recommendations, and is already working on developing a hospitalization measure for all nursing home residents and a re-hospitalization measure for Medicare skilled nursing facility residents. CMS also concurs in adding these measurers to the quality measures surveyors review.

CMS Call on Dementia Care in Nursing Homes (Nov. 25)

CMS is hosting a call on November 25, 2013 to discuss progress to date in implementing the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes. The partnership is focused on delivering person-centered, comprehensive, and interdisciplinary care and reducing the use of unnecessary antipsychotic medications in nursing homes. The target audience for the call is consumer and advocacy groups, nursing home providers, surveyor community, prescribers, professional associations, and other interested stakeholders. 

CMS Finalizes Medicare/Medicaid Requirements for Long Term Care Facilities Providing Hospice Services

On June 27, 2013, CMS published a final rule that revises the requirements that an institution must meet to qualify as a skilled nursing facility (SNF) in the Medicare program, or as a nursing facility (NF) in the Medicaid program with regard to hospice services. Specifically, the rule requires SNFs and NFs that chose to arrange for the provision of hospice care through an agreement with one or more Medicare-certified hospice providers to have in place a written agreement with the hospice that specifies the roles and responsibilities of each entity. As in the October 22, 2010 proposed rule, the final rule provides that the LTC facility that arranges for the provision of hospice care under a written agreement must designate a member of the facility’s interdisciplinary team to be responsible for working with hospice representatives to coordinate care provided by the LTC facility and hospice staff to the resident. The final rule adds language to clarify, however, that the LTC representative must have a clinical background, function within their state scope of practice act, and have the ability to assess the resident or have access to someone that has the skills and capabilities to assess the resident. The rule also clarifies that if a facility chooses not to arrange for the provision of hospice services at the facility through an agreement with a Medicare-certified hospice, it must assist the resident in transferring to a facility that will arrange for the provision of hospice services when a resident requests a transfer. The rule is effective August 26, 2013.

CMS Call on Improving Dementia Care in Nursing Homes (July 10)

On July 10, 2013, CMS is hosting a provider call on its National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes. This initiative focuses on delivering person-centered, comprehensive, and interdisciplinary dementia care, while reducing the use of unnecessary antipsychotic medications in nursing homes (and eventually other care settings).

CMS Finalizes ACA Nursing Facility Closure Notification Rules

On March 19, 2013, CMS published a final rule that adopts, with technical changes and a few clarifications, a February 18, 2011 interim final rule implementing an ACA provision imposing notification requirements in connection with closure of a Medicare skilled nursing facility (SNF) or Medicaid nursing facility (NF). Under the rule, in the case of a long-term care (LTC) facility closure, the SNF or NF administrator must provide written notification of the impending closure and a plan for the relocation of residents to the state survey agency at least 60 days prior to the impending closure (or, if the Secretary terminates the facility’s participation in Medicare or Medicaid, not later than the date the Secretary determines appropriate). Notice and the plan also must be provided to residents, their legal representatives or other responsible parties, and the state LTC Ombudsman. While the ACA authorizes civil monetary penalties (CMPs) of up to $100,000 and exclusion for an administrator's failure to comply with this provision, CMS is finalizing the lower levels of CMPs established in the interim final rule in recognition that there are cases in which an administrator may not have had control over implementing notice procedures. The final rule therefore sets CMPs of: a minimum of $500 for the first offense; a minimum of $1,500 for the second offense; and a minimum of $3,000 for the third and subsequent offenses (CMS states that interpretive guidelines are being developed that will establish criteria for determination of CMP amounts). CMS also provides appeal rights for an individual who is subject to administrator sanctions under the rule. The final rule is effective April 18, 2013 (although note that the statutory closure notice requirements are effective March 23, 2011).

CMS Proposes Reforms to Reduce Provider Regulatory Burdens

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published a proposed rule on February 7, 2013 that it estimates would save health care providers $676 million annually by streamlining unnecessary, obsolete, or excessively burdensome regulations and making reforms to the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA). The provisions of the wide-ranging proposal would affect numerous policy areas; among other things, the proposed rule would:

  • Revise the requirements ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) must meet in order to provide radiological services that are integral to procedures offered by the ASC and provide that a qualified doctor of medicine or osteopathy must supervise the provision of radiologic services (eliminating the requirement that ASCs meet the hospital condition of participation (CoP) requirement to have a radiologist supervise the provision of radiologic services);
  • Permit qualified dietitians to order patient diets under the hospital CoPs;
  • Revise the nuclear medicine services CoP to remove the requirement for direct supervision of hospital in-house preparation of radiopharmaceuticals;
  • Eliminate a requirement that critical access hospitals (CAHs), rural health clinics (RHCs), and federally qualified health centers have a physician on site at least once in every two-week period, and eliminate the requirement that a CAH develop its patient care policies with the advice of at least one member who is not a member of the CAH staff;
  • Allow long-term care facilities to apply for an extension of the August 13, 2013 deadline for installing automatic sprinkler systems;
  • Eliminate a transplant center data submission requirement and an automatic re-approval survey process.
  • Make a number of clarifications pertaining to CMS regulations governing proficiency testing referrals under CLIA, including establish policies under which certain PT referrals by laboratories would not generally be subject to revocation of a CLIA certificate.
  • Address a variety of other issues, such as hospital reclassification of swing-bed services, hospital medical staff, hospital governing bodies, practitioners permitted to order hospital outpatient services, and potential changes to reduce barriers to the provision of telehealth, hospice, or home health services in an RHC.

CMS will accept comments on the proposed rule until April 8, 2013.

Older Entries

January 14, 2013 — CMS Call to Focus on Improving Dementia Care in Nursing Homes (Jan. 31)

December 17, 2012 — December Congressional Hearings and Markups

October 16, 2012 — OIG Report on Criminal Convictions of Nurse Aides with Substantiated Findings of Abuse, Neglect, & Misappropriation

September 27, 2012 — OIG Finds Lax CMS Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank Reporting

July 30, 2012 — HHS Notice on HAI Strategy for LTC Facilities

July 19, 2012 — CMS Nursing Home Action Plan

July 18, 2012 — OIG Reviews Nursing Facility Compliance with Rules for Residents Receiving Atypical Antipsychotic Drugs

May 30, 2012 — CMS Partnership Seeks to Improve Dementia Care In Nursing Homes

April 23, 2012 — OIG Examines Nursing Home Emergency Preparedness

April 23, 2012 — OSHA Announces National Emphasis Program for Nursing and Residential Care Facilities

March 14, 2012 — GAO Examines Nursing Home Quality Survey Implementation

December 9, 2011 — CMS Launches Round 2 of DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program; Registration Underway

November 29, 2011 — House Panel Votes to Repeal ACA CLASS Program

November 29, 2011 — Congressional Health Policy Hearings

October 28, 2011 — Upcoming MedPAC Meeting (Nov. 3-4)

September 19, 2011 — President Obama Outlines Proposal to Deficit Reduction Super-Committee; Medicare Provisions Loom Large

August 30, 2011 — CMS Call on FY 2012 SNF PPS Policy Changes (Sept. 1)

August 1, 2011 — CMS Issues Final Medicare SNF PPS Update for FY 2012

June 24, 2011 — CMS Guidance on Reporting Reasonable Suspicion of Crimes in Long-Term Care (LTC) Facilities

May 13, 2011 — GAO, OIG Reports on Nursing Home Oversight and Care

March 19, 2011 — CMS Calls: Provider Compliance Group National Outreach/OIG Reports (March 22-24)

March 8, 2011 — CMS Proposes Medicaid Community First Choice Option Under ACA

March 2, 2011 — CMS Call: Designing A SNF Value-Based Purchasing Program (March 10)

February 18, 2011 — CMS Issues Nursing Facility Closure Notification Rule

February 18, 2011 — CMS Proposes Requiring Providers to Notify Beneficiaries of Right to Access QIOs

January 10, 2011 — MedPAC to Examine Medicare Provider Payment Adequacy (Jan. 13-14)

December 29, 2010 — HHS Semiannual Regulatory Agenda for FY 2011

July 12, 2010 — ACA Nursing Home CMP Provisions