On February 2, 2011, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published a final rule with comment period (Final Rule) implementing provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that strengthen provider and supplier screening provisions under Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The rule is effective March 25, 2011, as mandated by the ACA (although CMS is delaying the effective date of a provision requiring fingerprint-based criminal history record checks for certain providers until after additional subregulatory guidance is issued).

Among many other things, the Final Rule applies various screening tools, including unannounced site visits, background checks, and fingerprinting, based on the level of risk associated with different provider and supplier types. The Final Rule also: imposes application fees on institutional providers and suppliers; authorizes CMS and states to impose moratoria on new provider enrollment to protect against a high risk of fraud; authorizes the suspension of payments pending an investigation of a credible allegation of fraud; provides guidance to states regarding termination of providers from Medicaid and CHIP if terminated by Medicare or another state program; and addresses termination of providers and suppliers from Medicare if terminated by a Medicaid state agency. The rule also discusses comments regarding an ACA requirement that providers or suppliers in certain industry sectors establish compliance programs; these comments will be considered in a future rulemaking.

CMS notes it has identified specific provisions surrounding implementation of fingerprinting for certain providers and suppliers that may be subject to change based on public comments; comments on the fingerprinting requirements only will be accepted until April 4, 2011.

Our full alert provides an analysis of the major provisions of the extensive Final Rule.