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 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,

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,

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 value-based payment models.  A recent GAO report catalogues five particular areas of concern for small and rural physician practices, based on a literature review and stakeholder interviews:
Continue Reading GAO Highlights Barriers to Small & Rural Provider Participation in Medicare Value-Based Payment Models

 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’

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

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently issued a report highlighting concerns with the public accessibility and reliability of skilled nursing facility (SNF) expenditure data collected by CMS. While CMS has posted raw SNF cost report data in accordance with a statutory mandate, the GAO believes the data’s format, volume, and organization makes it difficult for

In response to concerns about potential future shortages of direct-care workers to provide hands-on long-term services and supports (LTSS), the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report examining federal and state data available on the paid direct-care workforce (e.g., home health aides, psychiatric aides, nursing assistants, and personal care aides).  While a variety of

In light of recent health information data breaches, the Government Accountability Office has issued a report examining whether HHS security and privacy guidance for electronic health records (EHRs) are consistent with federal cybersecurity guidance, and the extent to which HHS oversees compliance with HHS information security and privacy requirements. The GAO identified shortcomings in HHS

The HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently issued several reports on various Medicare Part B drug reimbursement issues. In a report entitled “Medicare Part B: Data on Coupon Discounts Needed to Evaluate Methodology for Setting Drug Payment Rates,” the GAO assessed the impact of manufacturer coupon programs on Medicare payment rates for high-expenditure Medicare Part B drugs. The GAO observed that while coupon programs are prohibited in the Medicare program, they are generally available to privately insured patients, and the Part B drug payment methodology, which is based on reported average sales price (ASP), does not take into account coupon discounts that reduce the effective market price. The GAO estimated that for 18 high-expenditure drugs for which it obtained coupon discount data, the ASP exceeded the effective market price by an estimated 0.7% in 2013. According to the GAO, Part B spending for these drugs could have been reduced by an estimated $69 million “if ASP equaled the effective market price.” The GAO suggested that “[u]pward trends in coupon program use and drug prices suggest that these programs could cause the methodology for setting Part B drug payment rates to become less suitable over time for drugs with coupon programs.” The GAO therefore recommended that Congress consider (1) giving CMS authority to collect data from drug manufacturers on coupon discounts for Part B drugs paid based on ASP; and (2) requiring CMS to periodically collect these data and report on the implications of coupon programs for this methodology.

Continue Reading GAO, OIG Issue Reports on Medicare Part B Drug Payment Issues

A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, “Medicare Part B: CMS Should Take Additional Steps to Verify Accuracy of Data Used to Set Payment Rates for Drugs,” questions the reliability of pricing for Medicare Part B drugs reimbursed based on average sales price (ASP). The GAO observes that while CMS performs various electronic

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently examined the extent to which federal government payments to hospitals for uncompensated care aligned with hospital costs. This federal support, which totaled nearly $50 billion annually in FYs 2013 and 2014, mainly came in the form of Medicare and Medicaid payments to hospitals (about $14 million in Medicare payments

The Medicare appeals process has not been able to keep up with an explosion in the number of volume, particularly at the administrative law judge (ALJ) level (Level 3), resulting in significant backlogs and widespread failure to meet statutory deadlines, according to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. Specifically, the GAO determined that

The HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have recently examined a number of Medicare and Medicaid provider screening and related program integrity issues. The OIG reports include the following:
Continue Reading OIG, GAO Examine Medicare & Medicaid Program Integrity/Provider Screening Issues

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report focusing on the roadblocks hospitals face in implementing evidence-based patient safety practices, such as the use of antiseptics to reduce Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infection or administration of anti-clotting medications to higher-risk patients to prevent venous thromboembolism. Based on a review of selected hospitals, the OIG found that hospitals experience challenges related to:

Continue Reading GAO Examines Hospital Challenges in Implementing Patient Safety Practices

According to the GAO, 505 hospitals received Medicaid payment surpluses (payments that exceeded the costs of providing services) totaling about $2.7 billion in 2012, resulting in part from lump-sum supplemental payments hospitals above regular payments for individual services. The GAO has conducted a review of states’ basis for distributing these payments and how hospitals use such revenues.
Continue Reading GAO Reviews Safeguards on State Supplemental Medicaid Payments to Hospitals

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report on trends in Medicaid managed care spending, enrollment, and oversight.  Notably, the GAO reports that over 10 years (FY 2004 through 2014), federal Medicaid managed care spending grew from $27 billion to $107 billion, representing 38% of total federal Medicaid spending in 2014.  The report also

The GAO has reviewed HHS management of the 72 health care workforce programs administered by HHS and its agencies. The GAO concludes that HHS “lacks comprehensive planning and oversight to ensure that its many workforce efforts address identified national needs.” The GAO recommends that HHS establish a comprehensive and coordinated workplace development program planning approach that covers HHS education, training, and payment programs. More specifically, the GAO states that HHS should:
Continue Reading GAO Calls for Improvements to HHS Oversight of Health Care Workforce Programs