The recently passed “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” (CARES Act) is sweeping legislation that will have widespread impact on companies in the health care and life sciences space. In addition to expanding coverage of COVID-19 testing and preventive services, the Act includes provisions to address health care workforce needs, eases restrictions surrounding telehealth
MedPAC recommends Medicare payment updates for 2021 – but all rate bets are off in light of COVID-19
The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) released its 2021 Medicare provider rate update recommendations on March 13, 2020 – the same day President Trump declared a national emergency due to COVID-19. MedPAC’s recommendations were based on an assessment of various Medicare “payment adequacy indicators” that are unlikely to reflect the state of the health…
CMS Issues Final Rule to Streamline Medicare, Medicaid Provider Requirements
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued an “omnibus burden reduction” rule that finalizes a September 20, 2018 proposed rule intended to streamline various Medicare and Medicaid regulatory requirements, in alignment with the Administration’s “Patients over Paperwork” initiative. The omnibus regulation also finalizes a November 4, 2016 proposed rule on…
Medicare Hospice Payments to Rise by $520 Million in FY 2020 under Final CMS Rule
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has published its final fiscal year (FY) 2020 Medicare hospice payment rule. CMS forecasts that the final rule will result in an estimated $520 million increase in FY 2020 payments to hospices due to the final hospice payment update percentage of 2.6%. The final FY 2020 hospice cap is $29,964.78, compared with the FY 2019 cap amount of $29,205.44.
The rule makes a number of modifications to the requirements for hospice election statement content, to provide additional transparency for patients regarding the scope of hospice benefits and their potential financial liability, effective for hospice elections beginning October 1, 2020. Specifically, the hospice must provide notification of the individual’s (or representative’s) right to receive an election statement “addendum” if there are conditions, items, services, and drugs the hospice has determined to be unrelated to the individual’s terminal illness and related conditions and would not be covered by the hospice. CMS sets forth detailed requirement for: content of the addendum, including a list and understandable rationale for such unrelated items; timelines for delivery of the addendum; and notification of the right for advocacy through a Medicare Beneficiary and Family Centered Care-Quality Improvement Organization (BFCC–QIO) if the individual disagrees with the hospice’s determination.
Among other things, the final rule also:…
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CMS Proposes $540 Million Increase in Medicare Hospice Payments in FY 2020; Agency Seeks Comments on Integrating Hospice Benefit in Coordinated Care Models
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed a 2.7% increase in Medicare hospice payment rates for fiscal year (FY) 2020, which the agency estimates would result in a $540 million increase in Medicare payments to hospices compared with 2019 levels. The annual update would be reduced by 2 percentage points for…
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 replace Medicare’s current inpatient hospital quality programs. In short, the HVIP would include a small set of population-based outcome, patient experience, and value measures; score all hospitals based on the same prospectively-set performance targets; and account for social risk factors by distributing payment adjustments through peer grouping. MedPAC believes the HVIP “will be simpler and will produce more equitable results compared with existing quality payment programs.”
MedPAC recommends no change to Medicare physician fee schedule rates in 2020, in accordance with the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015. MedPAC reiterates its criticism of current Merit-based Incentive Payment System measures, stating that they “are neither effective in assessing true clinician quality nor appropriate for Medicare’s value-based purchasing programs.”
MedPAC continues to call for implementation of a unified PPS for post-acute care (PAC) providers, including skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), home health agencies (HHAs), inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs), and long-term care hospitals (LTCHs). Acknowledging that implementation of a unified PAC PPS “is on a longer timetable,” MedPAC recommends the following setting-specific interim payment updates for 2020:…
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CMS Proposes Regulatory Changes to Ease Burden on Medicare, Medicaid Providers
CMS has issued a proposed rule intended streamline the Medicare and Medicaid regulatory burden on numerous types of providers and suppliers. CMS generally classifies the proposals as falling into the following categories: (1) those that simplify and streamline processes, (2) those that reduce the frequency of activities and revise timelines, and (3) those that address…
Medicare Hospice Payments to Increase by $340 Million under Final FY 2019 Rule
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has finalized its FY 2019 update to Medicare hospice rates and policies. As forecast in the May 8, 2018 proposed rule, CMS is increasing FY 2019 hospice rates by 1.8% ($340 million), based on a 2.9% inpatient hospital market basket update that is reduced by both…
CMS Proposes $340 Million Increase in Medicare Hospice Payments for FY 2019
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has published a proposed rule to establish FY 2019 Medicare hospice reimbursement rates and policies. The proposed rule would increase FY 2019 hospice rates by 1.8% ($340 million), based on the 2.9% inpatient hospital market basket update, which is reduced by both a 0.8 percentage point…
MedPAC Calls for Medicare Post-Acute Care and Physician Payment Reforms, Recommends Medicare Payment Updates
The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) has issued its annual recommendations to Congress on updates to Medicare fee-for-service payment system rates, many of which overlap recommendations made in previous years. For instance, MedPAC continues to call for implementation of a unified prospective payment system (PPS) for post-acute care (PAC) providers, including skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), home health agencies (HHAs), inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs), and long-term care hospitals (LTCHs), to be implemented beginning in 2021. In the latest report, MedPAC recommends that Congress direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to begin blending the relative weights of the setting-specific payment systems and the unified PAC PPS in 2019. At the same time, MedPAC recommends that Congress modify the updates for the individual PAC systems by:
- Reducing home health payment rates by 5% in 2019, rebasing payments beginning in 2020, and eliminating the use of the number of HHA therapy visits as a factor in payment determinations.
- Reducing Medicare IRF PPS rates by 5% for FY 2019.
- Eliminating the LTCH PPS update for FY 2019.
- Eliminating SNF PPS market basket increases for fiscal years (FYs) 2019 and 2020, and implementing previous recommendations to reform SNF PPS payments in a way that shifts payments to medically-complex stays. MedPAC notes that it has endorsed SNF PPS reforms since 2008, and it “has grown increasingly frustrated with the lack of statutory and regulatory actions to lower the level of payments and implement a revised payment system.”
MedPAC also includes detailed discussions of Medicare payment for physician and other health professional services. MedPAC recommends increasing physician fee schedule rates in 2019 by the amount specified in current law (0.25%). MedPAC also offers extensive recommendations for revising the framework for updating Medicare physician payments established by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). Most notably, MedPAC recommends eliminating the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and adopting a new voluntary value program under which: (1) clinicians can elect to be measured as part of a voluntary group; and (2) clinicians in voluntary groups can qualify for a value payment based on their group’s performance on a set of population-based measures. Additionally, MedPAC presents the findings of its Congressionally-mandated report on coverage of telehealth services.
With regard to other Medicare fee-for-service payment systems, MedPAC recommends:…
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Get Ready for the FY 2019 Medicare Payment Rules
CMS is gearing up for the fiscal year (FY) 2019 Medicare payment system rulemaking cycle. The agency has requested that the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review the FY 2019 proposed rules for the following payment systems:
- The Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment System for Acute Care Hospitals and the Long-Term Care Hospital
Bipartisan Budget Act: Focus on Medicare, Medicaid, and Other Health Policy Provisions
The new Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (the Act), recently signed into law by President Trump, includes extensive Medicare, Medicaid, and other health policy and payment provisions. Policy changes that will be welcome to health care providers and manufacturers include: repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB); elimination of the Medicare outpatient therapy caps;…
CMS Issues Final FY 2018 Medicare Hospice Payment Update
CMS has finalized fiscal year (FY) 2018 Medicare hospice reimbursement rates and other updates to Medicare hospice policies. As mandated by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), CMS is increasing FY 2018 hospice rates by 1% (approximately $180 million) for those hospices that submit required quality data; this update is reduced…
OIG Targets Additional Medicare/Medicaid Policy Areas for Review
The OIG has added 18 reviews to its FY 2017 Work Plan – most of which target CMS programs, with a particular emphasis on prescription drug policies. For instance, the OIG now intends to examine the following Medicare and Medicaid topics (among others):
- Excessive Use of Opioids in Medicare Part D
- Including Non-Covered Versions When
CMS Proposes FY 2018 Update to Medicare Hospice Payment Rules; Solicits Ideas for Hospice Program Improvements
CMS has published a proposed rule to establish fiscal year (FY) 2018 Medicare hospice reimbursement rates, update hospice quality programs, and request public input on ways to improve the Medicare hospice program.
The proposed rule would increase FY 2018 hospice rates by 1% (approximately $180 million), as mandated by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA); CMS estimates that in the absence of MACRA, the market basket update would have been 2.2%. Note that the annual update is reduced by 2 percentage points for hospices that fail to report required quality data. CMS also proposes updating the FY 2018 hospice cap to $28,689.04, an increase of 1%.
CMS proposes various updates to the Hospice CAHPS® Experience of Care Survey measures, and discusses the potential use of a new “Hospice Evaluation & Assessment Reporting Tool” (HEART) patient assessment instrument. Furthermore, CMS requests comments on potential future hospice quality measure “concepts” addressing potentially avoidable hospice care transitions and access to levels of hospice care. The proposed rule also discusses details of CMS’s plans to begin public reporting of hospice quality measures on a Hospice Compare Site.
In addition, CMS solicits comments regarding possible future rulemaking to specify that:…
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New OIG Investigations to Look at Wide Range of Medicare, Medicaid Services in FY 2017
The HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) has issued its FY 2017 Work Plan, which lays out the OIG’s current audit, evaluation, and other legal and investigative priorities. The largest number of new initiatives by far target Medicare Parts A and B, including reviews focusing on the following:
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OIG Examines Compliance with Hospice Election Statement, Terminal Illness Certification Requirements
A recent OIG report examined whether hospices are meeting all requirements associated with the election statement that Medicare beneficiaries sign when they choose hospice care, and whether physicians are meeting all requirements for certifying Medicare beneficiaries for hospice care. According to the OIG, more than one third of hospice general inpatient (GIP) stays in 2012…
CMS Finalizes Emergency Preparedness Requirements for Medicare/Medicaid Providers
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released a long-awaited final rule establishing emergency preparedness requirements for Medicare- and Medicaid-participating providers and suppliers to ensure that they can meet the needs of patients and residents during emergency situations, both natural and man-made. According to CMS, the final requirements “establish a comprehensive, consistent, flexible, and dynamic regulatory approach to emergency preparedness and response that incorporates the lessons learned from the past, combined with the proven best practices of the present.” CMS projects that compliance with the rule will cost $373 million in the first year, with subsequent annual costs of approximately $25 million.
The new requirements apply to 17 provider types (with certain variations): hospitals; critical access hospitals (CAHs); long-term care (LTC) facilities; psychiatric residential treatment facilities; intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities; religious nonmedical health care institutions; transplant centers; hospices; ambulatory surgical centers; Program for the All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) organizations; home health agencies; comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation facilities; community mental health centers; organ procurement organizations; clinics, rehabilitation, and therapy providers; rural health clinics/federally qualified health clinics; and end-stage renal disease providers.
The sweeping final rule (the advance version spans 651 pages) covers four aspects of emergency preparedness:…
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CMS Issues Final Update to Medicare Hospice Payment Rules for FY 2017
CMS has released a final rule that updates the Medicare hospice wage index, payment rates, and cap amount for fiscal year (FY) 2017. CMS estimates that the final rule will increase overall Medicare payments to hospices by 2.1%, or $350 million, in FY 2017. This increase reflects a 2.7% market basket update, which will be reduced by a 0.3 percentage point productivity adjustment and an additional 0.3 percentage point adjustment required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Hospices that do not meet quality reporting requirements will receive a 2.0 percentage point reduction to their payment update. The final hospice cap amount for 2017 is $28,404.99, compared to the 2016 cap amount of $27,820.75.
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CMS Finalizes Updated Fire Safety Standards for Health Care Facilities
On May 4, 2016, CMS is publishing a final rule amending fire safety standards applicable to the following types of Medicare- and Medicaid-participating health care facilities: hospitals, critical access hospitals, long-term care facilities, intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ICF-IIDs), ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs), hospices that provide inpatient services, religious nonmedical health care institutions, and programs of all-inclusive care for the elderly facilities. As part of this significant update to the current standards, CMS is adopting the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) 2012 edition of the Life Safety Code (LSC) and provisions of the 2012 edition of the NFPA Health Care Facilities Code. In addition to promoting patient safety and health, CMS contends that “adopting the 2012 LSC would simplify and modernize the construction and renovation process for affected health care providers and suppliers, reduce compliance-related burdens, and allow for more resources to be used for patient care.” Nevertheless, CMS estimates that the rule will cost $95 million over 12 years, with $18 million in costs during the first year of implementation, $12 million annually for years 2 and 3 of implementation, and $6 million annually for years 4-12. The greatest costs are associated with a requirement that high-rise buildings containing health care occupancies to be protected by automatic sprinkler systems; facilities that are not already required to do so will have 12 years from publication to comply with this requirement.
The rule addresses numerous other fire/health safety requirements, including the following:…
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