Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Regulations

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has finally published the minimum staffing rule for Long Term Care facilities in the Federal Register, which starts the clock for compliance with some provisions of the rule.

But what does the rule actually do? And what do facilities have to do in order to come into

Making good on its promises to enhance oversight of Medicare Advantage (MA) and Medicare Part D plans, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has submitted for public inspection its Contract Year 2025 Final Rule. The final rule, published in the Federal Register on April 23 and taking effect on June 3, 2024, codifies existing MA and Part D sub-regulatory guidance, adds a number of new policies for Contract Year 2025 and implements provisions of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (BBA) and the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 (CAA 2023).

The rule contains many substantive changes to current MA and Part D requirements. The most impactful sections of the rule include: (1) changes to the Part D formulary, including substitutions of biosimilar biological products; (2) modification of agent and broker compensation requirements for MA plans; (3) codification of consent requirements within the MA regulations for the sharing of personal beneficiary data between third party marketing organizations (TPMOs); (4) standardization of the MA Risk Adjustment Data Validation Appeals Process; (5) changes to the Part D medication therapy management program eligibility criteria; (6) changes to contracting standards and limitations on dual-eligible special needs plans; and (7) changes to the network adequacy standards within MA to add a new facility-specialty type called “Outpatient Behavioral Health”.

Also notable is what CMS does not address in the rule – CMS declined to establish what qualifies as an identification of an overpayment that needs to be returned to avoid False Claims Act violations. That potential standard has been in the works since the Contract Year 2023 rule, but stakeholders have to keep waiting as CMS notes that it may be the subject of a future rulemaking.Continue Reading Are you listening, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D Plans? It’s CMS (Again)

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has published its final rule that requires nursing homes enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid to disclose additional ownership and management information to CMS and state Medicaid agencies. The rule finalizes CMS’s proposed rule from February, with just two differences, as we describe further below.

The rule implements Section 1124(c) of the Social Security Act, which was added by the Affordable Care Act to require the disclosure of additional information about ownership and oversight of nursing facilities. Medicare-enrolled skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) and Medicaid-enrolled nursing facilities (NFs) will soon be required to report many detailed aspects of their ownership and management structure, including both the executive leadership and any members of the facilities’ governing bodies.

CMS plans to gather the information in 2024, beginning when the revisions to the Form CMS-855A is completed, regardless of where a facility is on its current five-year revalidation schedule. The information will then be made publicly available within one year.

Of note in the final rule is that CMS declined to finalize a broad definition of “real estate investment trust” (also known an “REIT”) from its February proposed rule and instead has finalized a definition that it finds more consistent with current federal law and industry practice.Continue Reading CMS Finalizes Nursing Home Ownership Rule

Good news for Medicare-eligible patients: the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is making it easier for individuals with limited income to apply and reenroll in Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs).

On Sept. 21, CMS issued a final rule that will streamline the enrollment and eligibility processes for the MSPs and align them with the requirements and processes for other public programs. The rule will also serve to reduce the complexity of the application and reenrollment process for eligible individuals. Continue Reading CMS Final Rule Streamlines Medicare Savings Program Eligibility and Enrollment

In a proposed rule sent to the federal register public inspection list on Sept. 1, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a long-awaited minimum staffing requirement for Long Term Care (LTC) facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

The proposed rule, set for publication in the Federal Register on Sept. 6, would create a floor for staffing in Medicare and Medicaid participating LTC facilities for both registered nurses (RN) and nurse aides (NA). Additionally, CMS is also seeking input on need to add on a minimum total nurse staffing requirement with the rule.

The staffing levels that the rule proposes exceed the current minimum staffing requirements of nearly every state. In the rule, CMS indicated that its proposed staffing requirement is merely a floor that could be adjusted upward based on acuity of resident need and that it may revisit the levels in later rulemaking with an eye toward increasing the staffing requirement even further.Continue Reading CMS Proposes National Minimum Nursing Staff Requirements for LTC Facilities

On August 28, 2023, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final payment rule for inpatient and long-term care hospitals (“LTCH”) that builds on the Biden-Harris Administration’s priorities to provide support to historically underserved and under-resourced communities and to promote the highest quality outcomes and safest care for all individuals. 

The fiscal year 2024 Inpatient Prospective Payment System (FY 2024 IPPS) and LTCH Prospective Payment System (LTCH PPS) final rule updates Medicare payments and policies for hospitals as required by statute. The rule adopts hospital quality measures to foster safety, equity, and reduce preventable harm in the hospital setting.

Under the rule, acute care hospitals and long-term care hospitals will see total payment increases of $2.2 billion and $6 million respectively. Additionally, the rule focuses on health equity and rural hospital access by recognizing higher costs to treat underserved populations.Continue Reading CMS Updates Medicare Rates and Policies for Inpatient and LTC Hospitals, Promoting Health Equity and Patient Safety

On June 6, 2023, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) released a Quality Safety & Oversight memorandum (“QSO Memo”) reminding state survey agencies, accrediting organizations, and hospitals of the requirements for discharges and transfers to post-acute care (“PAC”) providers. 

The standard for hospital discharge planning is set forth in 42 CFR 482.43, which requires a hospital to have “an effective discharge planning process that focuses on the patient’s goals and treatment preferences and includes the patient and his or her caregivers/support person(s) as active partners in the discharge planning for post-discharge care.”  Moreover, the hospital “must discharge the patient, and also transfer or refer the patient where applicable, along with all necessary medical information pertaining to the patient’s current course of illness and treatment, post-discharge goals of care, and treatment preferences, at the time of discharge, to the appropriate post-acute care service providers and suppliers, facilities, agencies, and other outpatient service providers and practitioners responsible for the patient’s follow-up or ancillary care.”  42 C.F.R. 482.43(b). Continue Reading CMS Issues Requirements for Hospital Discharges to Post-Acute Care Providers

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a pair of proposed rules on April 27, 2023 that make substantial changes to the structure of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), both in the traditional fee-for-service setting and for services provided through managed care organizations (MCOs), and incorporate feedback from stakeholders in

In part I, we discussed whether federal district courts could exercise jurisdiction under the federal-question statute over legal challenges to overpayment determinations made by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) under the agency’s controversial Risk Adjustment Data Validation (RADV) program for Medicare Advantage (MA) organizations. In part II, we discussed whether MA organizations must exhaust administrative remedies before filing suit under the federal-question statute.

In this final installment, we discuss a litigation nuance of potential significance in this unique context: namely, whether a district court may find that a MA organization can only challenge a RADV overpayment determination in the United States Court of Federal Claims.Continue Reading A Potential Route to RADV Judicial Review: Part III

In part I, we discussed whether federal district courts could exercise jurisdiction under the federal-question statute over legal challenges to overpayment determinations made by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) under the agency’s controversial Risk Adjustment Data Validation (RADV) program for Medicare Advantage (MA) organizations. After concluding that existing Supreme Court precedent provided a substantial basis for arguing in favor of such jurisdiction, we left for another day the antecedent question whether MA organizations must exhaust administrative remedies before filing suit under the federal-question statute.

The seemingly straightforward exhaustion question presents a host of considerations that belie a one-size-fits-all answer. The practical answer likely depends on the nature of the specific overpayment determination at issue and the grounds upon which the MA organization wishes to challenge that determination.Continue Reading A Potential Route to RADV Judicial Review: Part II

The Medicare Act does not expressly provide for judicial review of overpayment determinations made by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) under the agency’s controversial Risk Adjustment Data Validation (RADV) program for Medicare Advantage (MA) organizations. With the first wave of such overpayment determinations expected in the coming months, MA organizations impacted by RADV audits should begin considering a potential route to judicial review of such overpayment determinations and whether courts may deem exhaustion of administrative remedies a prerequisite to judicial review.Continue Reading A Potential Route to RADV Judicial Review: Part I

On March 27, 2023, two United States Senators, Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced the bipartisan No Unreasonable Payments, Coding, or Diagnoses for the Elderly (“No UPCODE”) Act to address perceived financial incentives inherent in the Medicare Advantage patient risk scoring reimbursement methodology. Senator Merkley alleges that the current reimbursement

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) published a proposed rule on February 15, 2023 that would require Medicare-enrolled skilled nursing facilities (“SNFs”) and Medicaid-enrolled nursing facilities (“NFs”) to disclose additional ownership and management information to CMS and state Medicaid agencies.

The proposed rule would implement Section 1124(c) of the Social Security Act, which was created by the Affordable Care Act to require the disclosure of information about ownership and oversight of SNFs and NFs. CMS first published a proposed rule in 2011 to implement the provision; after receiving public comments, that rule was not finalized. Twelve years later, CMS is trying again, citing concerns about the standard of care that residents receive in these facilities, including those owned by private equity companies and real estate investment trusts (“REITs”).Continue Reading CMS Wants to Know Who Owns Nursing Facilities

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently issued a Medicare-related final rule invoking the agency’s statutory authority to promulgate retroactive rules after finding that failure to apply the final rule retroactively would be “contrary to the public interest.” The final rule is expected to face vigorous legal challenges in the coming years.

Of note, such challenges may ultimately provide the Supreme Court of the United States with an opportunity to reexamine a constitutional question whose importance goes beyond just the Medicare program: namely, whether a “public interest” statutory standard—whereby Congress directs an agency to regulate according to what the agency determines to be in the public interest—complies with the constitutional prohibition against Congress delegating its legislative power to agencies.Continue Reading “Contrary to the Public Interest” Part II: CMS Again Invokes Retroactive-Rulemaking Authority

On January 26, 2023, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance for Rural Emergency Hospitals (REHs), through which CMS outlined requirements on eligibility, the conversion process for eligible facilities, and other related information. The guidance clarifies the final rule CMS issued in November that established REHs as a new Medicare provider type, effective January 1, 2023.

This provider type was established to address the concern over closures of rural hospitals, which was particularly problematic during the COVID-19 pandemic. The final rule set forth the Conditions of Participation (CoPs) that REHs must meet in order to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The standards for REHs closely align with the current CoPs for Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs), available here.

This article provides a brief overview of CMS’s recent eligibility guidance.Continue Reading CMS issues guidance for rural emergency hospital eligibility requirements

As the September 1, 2023 deadline for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to publish the first 10 “selected drugs” subject to negotiation of “maximum fair prices” under Medicare Parts B and D fast approaches, CMS has recently specified information that manufacturers must submit in order for their drugs to qualify for the “Small Biotech Exception” to being included on the list. The information is to be submitted during the summer of 2023; the specific deadline has not yet been announced.

On August 16, 2022, President Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA). Among other provisions, the IRA provides for the CMS to negotiate “maximum fair prices” with manufacturers of “selected drugs” covered under Medicare Parts B and D. The price negotiation process begins on September 1, 2023, when CMS is required to publish the list of the first 10 selected drugs subject to negotiation, for maximum fair prices which will take effect beginning January 1, 2026.

The IRA provides that the selected drugs will be the 10 “negotiation-eligible drugs” having the highest total expenditures under Medicare Part D during the period June 1, 2022 through May 31, 2023. Negotiation-eligible drugs generally consist of “qualifying single-source drugs”, which are generally defined as branded drugs and biologicals approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at least 7 years (with respect to drugs) or 11 years (with respect to biologicals) before the date the list is published, and which do not have a marketed generic equivalent or biosimilar. However, for 2026 through 2028, the IRA provides that negotiation-eligible drugs exclude certain drugs under what CMS refers to as the “Small Biotech Exception”.Continue Reading CMS Specifies Info Needed for Small Biotech Exception to Medicare Drug Price Negotiation

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) has proposed a new rule that, among other changes, would amend the “identified overpayment” standard in the current regulations for Medicare to align with the False Claims Act’s (“FCA”) “knowingly” standard. The proposed rule plans to remove “the exercise of reasonable diligence” language from the relevant regulations and replace that language with the “knowingly” standard from the FCA.

The regulations at issue — 42 C.F.R. § 401.305(a)(2); 42 C.F.R. § 422.326(c) and 42. C.F.R. § 423.360(c) — are supposed to implement, in part, Section 6402(a) of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), codified at 42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7k. This section of the ACA explains that if an overpayment under the various Medicare programs has been identified and has not been reported and returned in a set amount of time, then an enforcement action can be brought under the FCA. This section also states that the terms “knowing” and “knowingly” have the same meaning as under the FCA.

The FCA defines these terms to mean that a person has actual knowledge of information, acts in deliberate ignorance of the truth or falsity of information, or acts in reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of information; the terms do not require a specific intent to defraud. 31 U.S.C. § 3729(b)(1).Continue Reading CMS Proposes Amending Identified Overpayment Rules to Align with FCA Knowledge Standard

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has published a final rule that governed the way that Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans interact with third-party marketing organizations. The rule, which goes into effect on June 28, 2022, will have a wide ranging impact on the insurers who run these plans.

Scot Hasselman

CMS recently issued updated Open Payments Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). The FAQs are revised periodically to reflect the most up to date program requirements. This latest revision both added and removed FAQs, and also included some general edits.

The following FAQs were added: #2014, #2015, #2016, #2017, #2018, #2019, #2020, #2021 and #2022. Each new FAQ is reproduced in full below. They provide additional guidance regarding topics such as archived reporting years, salaries paid to covered recipients, reporting of device identifiers, valuing long-term device loans, debt forgiveness, and the definition of Nurse Practitioner.

Additionally, the following FAQs have been removed from the FAQ document “due to being no longer applicable, redundant with another FAQ, or of low utility” (according to CMS):
Continue Reading CMS Issues Updated Open Payments FAQs

Just when the procedures thought they were out(patient), CMS pulls them back in(patient).

Last year, in the final CY 2021 Outpatient PPS rule, CMS announced its intention to eliminate the Inpatient Only (IPO) List by January 1, 2024. The IPO list featured more than 1,700 procedures that were surgically invasive or required more than 24 hours of post-operational recovery time. As a result, any procedure on the list would only be paid for by Medicare on an inpatient basis.

With the CY 2021 rule, those procedures would be released to outpatient providers in stages, allowing physicians to clinically determine whether inpatient admission was indicated for a particular procedure.

However, in the proposed CY 2022 Outpatient PPS rule, announced on July 19, 2021, CMS reversed that decision and announced that it will now keep the IPO List, reinstating the 298 procedures that were removed by the 2021 rule. CMS said it was responding to concerns from stakeholders about patient safety. In particular, CMS indicated that the 2021 rule removed the procedures on too steep of a timeline. The agency said it wanted to provide “greater consideration of the impact removing services from the list has on beneficiary safety and to allow providers impacted by the COVID-19 PHE additional time to prepare to furnish appropriate services safely and efficiently before continuing to remove large numbers of services from the list.”Continue Reading CMS Gives the IPO List the Godfather 3 Treatment