Archives: Other Health Policy Developments

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Surprise Medical Billing:  Bipartisan Consensus on the Problem, but Finding an Effective Fix May be Harder

In a rare display of unity, President Donald Trump and bipartisan Congressional leaders have highlighted their shared commitment to tackling “surprise” medical billing – when an insured patient is subject to unexpectedly high out-of-pocket costs for out-of-network care that is beyond their control.  Such surprise billing can occur when a patient receives emergency care from … Continue Reading

CMS Details Bidding Timeline for Round 2021 of the DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program

Medical equipment suppliers can submit bids for Round 2021 of the Medicare Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS) Competitive Bidding Program (CBP) from July 16 through September 18, 2019, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has just announced. As previously reported, Round 2021 of the CBP round will cover 16 product … Continue Reading

CMS Rolls Out New Policies to Promote Medicare Beneficiary Access to Emerging Technologies

Agency Promises More Frequent Drug/Device HCPCS Code Update Opportunities, Bars MACs from Adopting New Blanket Noncoverage Policies without Evidence Review   On May 2, 2019, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma outlined new improvements to the HCPCS coding and local coverage decision processes that are intended to “ensure safe and effective … Continue Reading

Be Careful What You Ask For: The FCA Implications of DOJ’s New ACA Stance

As many industry observers know, the Department of Justice (DOJ) recently filed an appellate brief arguing that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) should be struck down in its entirety following Congress’ 2017 decision to eliminate the financial penalty assessed when individuals fail to obtain health insurance. On its face, the case in question—Texas v. United … Continue Reading

CMS Proposes $195 Million Boost in Medicare Payments to Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities in FY 2020

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released its proposed rule to update the Medicare inpatient rehabilitation facility (IRF) prospective payment system (PPS) for fiscal year (FY) 2020.  CMS projects that IRF PPS payments would rise by $195 million under the proposed rule.  Specifically, CMS proposes a 2.5% increase factor, based on an IRF … Continue Reading

CMS Announces Plans to Kick Off 2020 Medicare Clinical Lab Test Update Process

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has scheduled a June 24, 2019 public meeting on calendar year (CY) 2020 Medicare Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule (CLFS) payments for new or substantially revised clinical lab codes.  Specifically, the June meeting will provide an opportunity for the public to submit comments on the appropriate basis — … Continue Reading

Trump Administration Calls for Medicare/Medicaid Cuts, Program Reforms in FY 2020 Budget Proposal

The Trump Administration’s proposed fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget includes extensive health policy provisions – as evidenced by the 162-page Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “Budget in Brief.”  This summary focuses on the major Medicare and Medicaid proposals most directly impacting providers and suppliers; note that we discuss the Administration’s proposed prescription drug … Continue Reading

Trump Administrations’ Proposed FY 2020 Budget Targets Prescription Drug Prices

Reducing prescription drug prices is a major theme in the Trump Administration’s fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget proposal, with policies intended to increase competition, encourage better negotiation, incentivize lower list prices, and cut out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries.  The Administration’s projected savings from its designated prescription drug budget proposals top $69 billion over 10 years, although … Continue Reading

MedPAC Recommends Medicare Payment Updates for 2020

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) has issued its annual report to Congress with recommendations for updates to Medicare fee-for-service rates for 2020. With regard to hospital services, MedPAC recommends that Congress update Medicare inpatient and outpatient prospective payment system (PPS) rates by 2% in 2020.  MedPAC also proposes a new hospital value incentive program (HVIP) to … Continue Reading

CMS Spells Out New Standards for State Surveyors on Immediate Jeopardy Citations

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently revised its guidance to states on standards for citing “immediate jeopardy” during surveys of all provider and supplier types and laboratories, including health, emergency preparedness, and life safety code surveys.  CMS Administrator Seema Verma observed in a blog post that the changes were made in response … Continue Reading

CMS Announces Plans to Restart DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program in 2021; Trump Proposed Budget Seeks Authority for Lower Payments to “Winning” Suppliers

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced its plans for Round 2021 of the Medicare Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS) Competitive Bidding Program (CBP), featuring new “lead item” bidding rules and new product categories.  Following on the heels of this announcement, the Trump Administration proposed additional legislative changes to … Continue Reading

Newest CMS Innovation Model Targets Medicare Payment for Emergency Ambulance Services

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) plans to test a new voluntary emergency ambulance service innovation model that seeks promote “the most appropriate level of care at the right time and place.”  In announcing the model, CMS noted that because Medicare regulations now only allow payment for emergency ground ambulance services for transportation … Continue Reading

CMS Announces Significant Expansion of and Increased Flexibility under Medicare Advantage Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID) Model

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is making extensive revisions to its Medicare Advantage (MA) Value-Based Insurance Design model in order “to contribute to the modernization of Medicare Advantage through increasing choice, lowering cost, and improving the quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries.” By way of background, the VBID innovation model was launched … Continue Reading

New CMS Date of Service Coding and Billing Guidance Complicates Billing for Non-Global Radiology Claims

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued new guidance on what date of service (DOS) should be billed for various Medicare Part B services.  For radiology services, CMS offers the option of reporting the DOS of either the date when the radiology study was performed on the patient or the date of … Continue Reading

HHS OIG Recaps FY 2018 Enforcement Highlights  

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Health and Human Services has issued its Semiannual Report to Congress, which summarizes key program integrity efforts in fiscal year (FY) 2018.  Notably, during FY 2018, OIG achieved: Expected investigative recoveries of $2.91 billion (compared to $4.13 billion in FY 2017) Criminal actions against 764 … Continue Reading

CMS Announces 2019 Medicare Clinical Lab Fee Schedule Rates

CMS has finally posted the Medicare clinical laboratory fee schedule (CLFS) rates for 2019, which are based on private payer data as mandated by the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (PAMA).  The files reflect payment rate changes announced in a December 14, 2019 CMS transmittal, which also discussed policy changes including revisions to the … Continue Reading

2019 Medicare DMEPOS Fee Schedule Released

CMS has posted calendar year 2019 Medicare fee schedule rates for durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies (DMEPOS).  The 2019 update factor is 2.3%, although other pricing policies are applied in specific circumstances.  For instance, adjusted fee schedule amounts for former competitive bidding areas are based on single payment amounts in effect December 31, … Continue Reading

CMS Tweaks HCPCS Coding Process to Promote Transparency, Ease Device Market Volume Requirement

Responding to longstanding industry criticisms, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced a number of changes to the Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) coding process for 2019.  Most of the new policies are intended to increase transparency regarding CMS HCPCS coding decisions.  The one substantive change of note is that CMS … Continue Reading

New Medicare Supervision Rules Applicable to both Physician Offices and Hospital Outpatient Departments

In a transmittal issued last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) extended newly-revised supervision rules for certain diagnostic tests paid via the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) to services paid under the Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) for hospital outpatient departments. The transmittal relates to services performed by a registered radiologist assistant who … Continue Reading

HHS Deputy Secretary Hargan Names Innovation/Investment Summit Participants; First Meeting Scheduled for December 18, 2018

Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan has selected 15 health industry and investment professionals to participate in the Deputy Secretary’s Innovation and Investment Summit (DSIIS), which will hold its inaugural meeting on December 18, 2018.  As previously reported, this initiative is intended to provide a forum for private sector and government experts to … Continue Reading

CMS Takes Steps to Bring Clarity to the Archaic Medicare Local Coverage Process; Additional Changes to Promote Coverage of Innovative Technologies in the Works

In an effort to “modernize the Medicare program and bring the latest technologies and innovations to Medicare beneficiaries,” CMS has announced revisions to the local coverage determination (LCD) process.  Specifically, under authority provided in the 21st Century Cures Act and taking into account stakeholder feedback, CMS has issued Program Integrity Manual (PIM) changes intended to … Continue Reading

CMS Names 1,299 BPCI Advanced Bundled Payment Model Participants

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that 1,299 entities have signed agreements to participate in the Administration’s new Bundled Payments for Care Improvement (BPCI) Advanced episode payment model, which runs from October 1, 2018 through December 31, 2023.  According to CMS, BPCI Advanced participants include 1,547 Medicare providers and suppliers (832 … Continue Reading
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