Archives: Other Health Policy Developments

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No IPAB Medicare Cuts Triggered for 2019, CMS Actuary Rules

The CMS Chief Actuary has officially determined that the projected Medicare per capita growth rate will not exceed the target that would require the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) to submit plans to reduce 2019 Medicare per-capita spending. Under the Affordable Care Act, if the threshold is breached, IPAB must submit detailed Medicare spending cut … Continue Reading

CMS Finalizes Changes to Payment Error Rate Measurement (PERM) & Medicaid Eligibility Quality Control (MEQC) Programs

CMS has published a final rule that modifies PERM and MEQC regulations to align with changes to how states adjudicate Medicaid and CHIP eligibility under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). According to CMS, the policy revisions are intended to “reduce state burden, improve program integrity, and promote state accountability.” Among other things, the rule changes … Continue Reading

OIG Estimates CMS Made $730 Million in Improper EHR Incentive Payments, Based on Small Sample of Claims

The HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) estimates that CMS made $729.4 million in Electronic Health Incentive (EHR) payments to providers who did not meet meaningful use requirements from May 2011 to June 2014 – representing about 12% of the $6 billion in total EHR payments made during this period. This dramatic finding is based … Continue Reading

CMS Announces Summer Meetings on 2018 Clinical Lab Fee Schedule Update

CMS has scheduled two days of meeting this summer on updates to the Medicare clinical laboratory fee schedule (CLFS) for 2018. First, the public meeting on payment amounts for new or substantially revised HCPCS codes being considered for Medicare payment under the 2018 CLFS will be held on July 31, 2017. This meeting also will … Continue Reading

CMS Expects Almost All Eligible Clinicians in Advanced APMs to Meet Qualifying APM Participant Status for 2017

CMS expects nearly 100% of eligible clinicians in Advanced Alternative Payment Models (APMs) to meet the Medicare Qualifying APM Participant (QP) standard for performance year 2017 and be eligible to receive a 5% APM incentive payment in 2019 under Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) rules. This projection is based on an … Continue Reading

OIG Issues Top 25 Unimplemented Cost-Savings and Quality-Improvement Recommendations for HHS Programs

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released the 2017 edition of its Compendium of Unimplemented Recommendations  (“Compendium”). In the Compendium, OIG identifies the top 25 unimplemented recommendations that HHS would need to prioritize in order to facilitate OIG’s recommendations on cost savings, program effectiveness, efficiency, … Continue Reading

President Trump’s Proposed FY 2018 Budget Spares Medicare, But Calls for Deep Medicaid Cuts & FDA User Fee Hikes

President Trump has released his FY 2018 budget proposal, which the Administration dubs “A New Foundation for American Greatness.”  The proposed budget – which received a generally chilly reception on Capitol Hill – offers a mixed bag for the health care industry.  On the one hand, a document summarizing the Department of Health and Human … Continue Reading

CMS Retroactively Revises DMEPOS Fee Schedule to Implement Cures Act

CMS has announced revised Medicare durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies (DMEPOS) fee schedule amounts for the period of July through December 2016, as required by the 21st Century Cures Act. By way of background, the Affordable Care Act mandated that CMS use pricing information from competitive bidding to adjust certain DMEPOS fee schedule … Continue Reading

GAO: CMS, MACs Should Bolster Provider Education to Cut Improper Medicare Payments

In 2016, an estimated $41.1 billion in improper Medicare fee-for-services payments were made to providers. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) believes that provider education plays an important role in ensuring payments are made properly; CMS has delegated authority for provider education to the Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs). In a recent report, the Government … Continue Reading

Telehealth/Remote Patient Monitoring Rarely Used in Federal Health Programs, but Innovative Programs May Provide Boost, GAO Reports

The GAO recently reported that fewer than 1% of Medicare and Department of Defense (DOD) beneficiaries and 12% of Veteran’s Administration (VA) beneficiaries utilized telehealth and remote patient monitoring services, even though patient and provider associations believe these services may improve or maintain quality of care. These associations cited payment and coverage restrictions as barriers, … Continue Reading

GAO Encourages More CMS Collaboration with States on Medicaid Program Integrity Efforts

The GAO has had ongoing concerns about the integrity of the Medicaid program due to its size, diversity, and recent rapid growth as a result of the Affordable Care Act. It is the second largest health insurance program in the U.S. based on expenditures ($576 billion combined federal and state spending projected for 2016).  At the … Continue Reading

CMS Finalizes 2018 Medicare Advantage/Part D Policies, Seeks Ideas for Improving Programs

CMS has released its 2018 Medicare Advantage (MA) and Part D Rate Announcement and Call Letter. CMS estimates that plan revenues will increase by 0.45 percent in 2018; when coding acuity is considered, plans can expect a total revenue change of 2.95 percent. CMS also adopted provisions intended to reduce opioid misuse under Medicare Part … Continue Reading

OIG and HCCA Offer Suggestions for Measuring Health Organization Compliance Program Effectiveness

The OIG and the Health Care Compliance Association (HCCA) recently held a roundtable where the discussion focused on a broad range of ideas regarding how health care organizations can measure their compliance program effectiveness – while stressing that each organization must tailor its compliance program to reflect the organization’s specific circumstances. These ideas are contained … Continue Reading

CMS Rolls Out New Form for Disclosing Potential Stark Act Violations

CMS has released a new Self-Referral Disclosure Protocol (SRDP) Form for disclosing actual or potential violations of the physician self-referral law (known as the “Stark Act”) under CMS’s existing self-disclosure process. According to CMS, the streamlined and standardized format “will reduce the burden on providers and suppliers submitting disclosures to the SRDP” and facilitate CMS … Continue Reading

CMS Pauses Medicare Home Health Pre-Claim Review Demonstration in Illinois, Puts Off Expanding Demo to Florida for Now

CMS has announced that it is “pausing” its Pre-Claim Review demonstration in Illinois for at least 30 days, effective April 1, 2017, and it is not expanding the demonstration to Florida in April as previously planned. During this pause period, Medicare contractors will not accept additional pre-claim review requests; instead, home health claims will be … Continue Reading

CMS Encourages Providers/Suppliers Not To Put Off Emergency Preparedness Training Exercises; Educational Call Scheduled for April 27

CMS is reminding Medicare- and Medicaid-participating providers and suppliers that they will be expected to comply with training and testing requirements included in a September 2016 emergency preparedness final rule by November 15, 2017.  In particular, CMS warns providers and suppliers not to wait for interpretive guidance to begin planning emergency exercises, since those who … Continue Reading

Just Under the Wire, CMS Announces 60-Day Extension of PAMA Clinical Lab Reporting Deadline

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has just announced that it is extending until May 30, 2017 the deadline for certain clinical laboratories to report to CMS private payor reimbursement information.  As required by the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (PAMA) and its implementing regulations, this data will be used to … Continue Reading

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
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