Archives: Other Health Policy Developments

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Trump Administration Proposes 17.9% Cut to HHS Programs, Doubling of FDA User Fees

The Trump Administration is calling for deep cuts to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) funding for fiscal year (FY) 2018 along with a $1 billion hike in Food and Drug Administration (FDA) user fees in its “budget blueprint,” dubbed “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again.”  The blueprint — which … Continue Reading

Post-Acute Care Providers Targeted for Cuts in MedPAC’s Latest Report to Congress

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) has released recommendations to Congress regarding how Medicare fee-for-service payment system rates should be adjusted in 2018. One of the focus areas for MedPAC is post-acute care (PAC), which includes skilled nursing facility (SNF), home health agency (HHA), inpatient rehabilitation facility (IRF), and long-term care hospital (LTCH) services.  According … Continue Reading

Trump Administration Signals More Administrative Flexibility for State Medicaid Programs, with Emphasis on “Most Vulnerable Populations”

In her first act as CMS Administrator, Seema Verma joined HHS Secretary Tom Price in writing to the nation’s Governors to urge collaboration on improving the Medicaid program, with an emphasis on services for “truly vulnerable” populations. Price and Verma contend that the “expansion of Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to non-disabled, working-age … Continue Reading

Senate Confirms Verma as CMS Administrator; Trump Nominates Gottlieb for FDA, Hargan as Deputy HHS Secretary

The Senate has approved the nomination of Seema Verma to be CMS Administrator on a vote of 55 to 43. In other nomination news, President Trump has nominated Scott Gottlieb to be Commissioner of Food and Drugs. Dr. Gottlieb is a physician, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and venture capital firm partner who … Continue Reading

Cuts to Medicare DMEPOS Payment Based on Competitive Bidding Prices – Opportunity to Comment

CMS is seeking input from stakeholders on how it should use data from the durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies (DMEPOS) competitive bidding program to adjust (cut) Medicare DMEPOS fee schedule amounts outside of bidding areas (CBAs), as required by the 21st Century Cures Act. The Cures Act mandates that CMS take such stakeholder … Continue Reading

OIG Tallies Medicaid Fraud Control Unit Achievements in FY 2016

The OIG has released national and state-by-state data quantifying State Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCUs) accomplishments in fiscal year 2016. During this period MFCUs were credited with a total of: 1,721 indictments (1,249 involving fraud and 472 involving abuse or neglect); 1,564 convictions (1,160 involving fraud and 404 involving abuse or neglect); 998 civil settlements … Continue Reading

2018 “Next Generation” Accountable Care Organization (ACO) Models

CMS is soliciting applications for 2018 Next Generation ACOs, an Innovation Center initiative intended to promote Medicare quality improvement and care coordination. Letters of intent are due May 4, 2017. CMS is holding a series of calls to discuss the model and the application process, including the following: March 14, 2017: Application Overview and Participating … Continue Reading

Medicare & Medicaid Remain Vulnerable to Fraud and Abuse, GAO Warns

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is out with the latest installment of its “High-Risk Series,” which identifies federal programs “that are especially vulnerable to waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement, or that need transformative change.” Once again, GAO flags Medicare and Medicaid as high-risk programs. With regard to Medicare, GAO notes that while Congress, HHS, and … Continue Reading

CMS Releases Proposed 2018 Medicare Advantage/Part D Reimbursement Methodologies and Policies

CMS has released its 2018 Advance Notice and Call Letter, which outline proposed updates to Medicare Advantage (MA) and Part D plan reimbursement methodologies and policies. CMS notes that it its proposed policies focus on four major outcomes: (1) improvement in quality of care for individuals, (2) promotion of alternative payment models, (3) program integrity … Continue Reading

OIG Assesses Diabetes Testing Supplies Market Share Data for Competitive Bidding Purposes

The HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) has released another in series of Congressionally-mandated reports on Medicare market shares of mail order diabetes test strips, this one covering the three-month period after implementation of the National Mail-Order recompete on July 1, 2016. This market share data is intended to help CMS determine if competitive bidding … Continue Reading

CMS Provides Sneak Preview of Future DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Plans Before Retracting Announcement

One week after unveiling the next round of Medicare durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies (DMEPOS) competitive bidding, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced a “temporary delay” in order “to allow the new administration further opportunity to review the program.” Specifically, on January 31, 2017, CMS revealed plans for “Round … Continue Reading

CMS Call on Required Data Reporting for Global Surgery/Post-Operative Care (April 25)

CMS has scheduled an April 25, 2017 call to discuss new data reporting requirements for clinicians in selected states who furnish global surgery services, as authorized by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). Specifically, the 2017 Medicare physician fee schedule (MPFS) final rule established a data reporting requirement for practitioners furnishing specified global … Continue Reading

OIG Report Cites Continuing Vulnerabilities Under Medicare’s 2-Midnight Policy

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a report, “Vulnerabilities Remain Under Medicare’s 2-Midnight Hospital Policy,” which assessed changes in hospital inpatient and outpatient stays since implementation of the “2-midnight” policy. This policy generally provides that an inpatient stay generally requires at least two midnights … Continue Reading

Trump Executive Order Directs Executive Agencies to Minimize “Unwarranted” ACA Economic and Regulatory Burdens

President Donald Trump’s first official act in office was to sign an executive order declaring it the policy of his Administration to seek prompt repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – but in the meantime, he calls for executive branch action “to minimize the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens of the Act.”  Specifically, Trump’s … Continue Reading

CMS Guidance on Off-Campus Provider-Based Department Policy Changes

CMS recently released guidance on how hospitals can request from their CMS Regional Office a relocation exception from site-neutral payment rates for an excepted off-campus department of a provider due to an extraordinary circumstance, in conformance with the 2017 Medicare Outpatient Prospective Payment System Final Rule. A separate CMS document discusses implementation of 21st Century … Continue Reading

OIG Semiannual Report Highlights FY 2016 Fraud Recoveries, Enforcement Actions

The HHS Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) latest Semiannual Report to Congress highlights top audits, investigations, and enforcement activities for the period of April 1 to September 30, 2016 and summarizes overall accomplishments for fiscal year (FY) 2016. Notably, the OIG reports: Expected FY 2016 recoveries will exceed $5.66 billion, including nearly $1.2 billion in audit … Continue Reading

GAO Highlights Barriers to Small & Rural Provider Participation in Medicare Value-Based Payment Models

CMS has developed a variety of Medicare value-based payment models that tie payments to quality and efficiency metrics, and the importance of such models to physicians will increase under the new Quality Payment Program. The Government Accountability Office cautions, however, that small and rural physician practices face a number of unique challenges when participating in … Continue Reading

GAO Calls for Improvements to CMS Nursing Home Rating System

 The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has reviewed the Medicare Five-Star Quality Rating System for nursing homes and identified several factors that may prevent consumers from using the website “as an easy way to understand nursing home quality and identify high- and low- performing homes.”  In particular, GAO concluded: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ … Continue Reading

CMS Announces Three New Innovation Models, Focusing on Patient Engagement and Dual-Eligible Population

The CMS Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) continues to launch initiatives to test ways to improve the quality of health care while controlling cost, despite an uncertain fate under the future Trump Administration and Republican-controlled Congress. Specifically, two new CMMI Beneficiary Engagement and Incentives (BEI) Models seek to promote “shared decision making,” which … Continue Reading

GAO Assesses Impact of Medicare DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program on Beneficiary Access, OIG Documents Market Share for Diabetes Testing Supplies

The number of Medicare beneficiaries who received durable medical equipment (DME) items generally fell after Round 2 of competitive bidding program (CBP) and the national mail-order program for diabetes testing supplies were implemented July 1, 2013, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report issued this fall. Specifically, from 2012 to 2014, the number of … Continue Reading

CMS Releases Standardized Hospital Medicare Outpatient Observation Notice Form

Hospitals are facing a March 8, 2017 deadline to begin using the new Medicare Outpatient Observation Notice (MOON) to inform Medicare beneficiaries when they are outpatients receiving observation services and not inpatients of the hospital.  The notice is required by the Notice of Observation Treatment and Implication for Care Eligibility Act (NOTICE Act). … Continue Reading
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