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Additionally, the following FAQs have been removed from the FAQ document “due to being no longer applicable, redundant with another FAQ, or of low utility” (according to CMS):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

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has published its final Medicare physician fee schedule (PFS) rule for calendar year (CY) 2020.  In addition to updating rates for physician services, the final rule revises numerous other Medicare Part B policies.  Highlights of the final rule include the following: 

  • The final 2020 conversion factor is

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has published its proposed Medicare physician fee schedule (PFS) rule for calendar year (CY) 2020.  In addition to updating rates for physician services, CMS proposes changes to numerous other Medicare Part B policies.  Highlights of the proposed rule include the following:

  • The proposed 2020 conversion factor (CF)

The Trump Administration’s proposed fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget includes extensive health policy provisions – as evidenced by the 162-page Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “Budget in Brief.”  This summary focuses on the major Medicare and Medicaid proposals most directly impacting providers and suppliers; note that we discuss the Administration’s proposed prescription drug reimbursement provisions in a separate blog post.

Medicare, Value-Based, and Related Reforms

The Administration estimates that its Medicare policy reforms would save approximately $811 billion over 10 years.  The Administration states that these proposals are “designed to improve value-based systems of care, exercise fiscal integrity, promote competition, reduce provider burdens, improve the appeals system, and address high drug prices.”  Budget provisions that would result in significant Medicare savings include the following (savings are over the 10-year period of FYs 2020-2029): 

  • A new process to distribute uncompensated care payments to hospitals based on share of charity care and non-Medicare bad debt. [$98.0 billion net]
  • Site neutral payments between on-campus hospital outpatient departments and physician offices for certain services (e.g., clinic visits). [$131.4 billion]
  • Payment for all off-campus hospital outpatient departments under the physician fee schedule (PFS) effective CY 2020. [$28.7 billion]
  • A unified post-acute care system for skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, and long-term care hospitals (LTCHs) beginning in 2025. [$101.2 billion]
  • An increase in the intensive care unit minimum stay threshold from three days to eight days in order to qualify for payment under the LTCH prospective payment system. [$10.0 billion]
  • A reduction in Medicare reimbursement of bad debt from 65% to 25% over three years beginning in FY 2020. [$38.5 billion]
  • Expansion of the durable medical equipment (DME), prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies (DMEPOS) competitive bidding program to all areas of the country. The proposal also would reimburse contract suppliers based on their own bids rather than a single payment amount.  [$7.1 billion]
  • Consolidation of federal spending for graduate medical education (GME) programs. [$211.8 billion in Medicare savings].

Other legislative proposals intended to promote value-based care that are not expected to have a budget impact include the following:
Continue Reading Trump Administration Calls for Medicare/Medicaid Cuts, Program Reforms in FY 2020 Budget Proposal

President Trump has just signed into law HR 6, the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act.  The bipartisan legislation includes almost 200 provisions intended to strengthen opioid prevention and treatment efforts and bolster law enforcement tools.

Among many other things, the new law: 

  • Seeks to

CMS has announced inflation-adjusted de minimis reporting thresholds for 2018 under the Open Payments/Physician Payments Sunshine Act program.  Specifically, payments or transfers of value of less than $10.49 do not need to be reported in 2018, except when the total annual value of payments or other transfers of value to a covered recipient exceeds $104.90

CMS has just corrected an error in a 2016 rulemaking that inadvertently called for a 10-fold increase in certain “Sunshine Act” civil monetary penalties (CMPs).

Under section 1128G of the Social Security Act, applicable manufacturers must report annually to CMS any payments or other transfers of value to covered recipients. In addition, the statute requires

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued its final Medicare physician fee schedule (MPFS) for calendar year (CY) 2017.  In addition to updating MPFS rates and policies, the final rule makes numerous other Medicare policy changes, including updates to Stark Law regulations related to unit-based compensation and new enrollment requirements for providers and suppliers furnishing services to Medicare Advantage (MA) enrollees.  Highlights of the rule include the following:

Continue Reading CMS Publishes Final Rule Updating 2017 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Rates and Policies

On August 2, 2016, CMS is hosting a Special Open Door Forum Call on potential future changes to Open Payments/Physician Payments Sunshine Act requirements for reporting payments and transfers of value made by drug and device manufacturers and group purchasing organization (GPOs) to physicians and teaching hospitals, as well as physician ownership information. 
Continue Reading CMS Hosts Call on Potential Future Changes to Open Payments/Sunshine Act Reporting Requirements (Aug. 2)

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has published its proposed rule to update the Medicare physician fee schedule (MPFS) for calendar year (CY) 2017. The proposed rule contains numerous Medicare payment and policy proposals, including consideration of potentially misvalued codes, revisions to diagnostic imaging policies, updates to Stark Law regulations, and new enrollment requirements for providers and suppliers furnishing services to Medicare Advantage enrollees. Highlights of the sweeping rule include the following:
Continue Reading CMS Proposes Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Update for 2017

Today the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published the final rule to update the Medicare physician fee schedule (MPFS) for calendar year (CY) 2016. Despite the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) establishing a 0.5% conversion factor (CF) update for 2016, the final 2016 CF of $35.8279 actually is a decrease compared to the 2015 CF of $35.9335. This is because CMS has more than offset the 0.5% MACRA update with a -0.02% budget neutrality adjustment in addition to a -0.77% “target recapture amount” to reach a statutory target for savings achieved from misvalued code adjustments (discussed below). Final rates and policies are effective January 1, 2016, with certain exceptions. CMS is accepting comments until December 29, 2015 on a limited number of provisions of the rule (e.g., interim final work, practice expense, and malpractice RVUs; interim final new, revised, potentially misvalued HCPCS codes; and changes to the physician self-referral list of codes). The sweeping rule includes numerous policy provisions, including the following:
Continue Reading CMS Finalizes Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Rates, Policies for 2016

The next Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) meeting is scheduled for September 10-11, 2015. Topics on the agenda include, among others: developing a unified payment system for post-acute care; Medicare Advantage encounter data and star ratings; Medicare drug spending; and payments from drug and device manufacturers to physicians and teaching hospitals.

On June 9, 2015, the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services (OIG) released a fraud alert warning physicians to scrutinize carefully the conditions and terms of any medical director or other compensation arrangement they enter into with potential recipients of Federal health care program business. The risks associated with these arrangements under the anti-kickback statute are not new. However, the fraud alert signals  the OIG’s current focus on physicians, which reportedly has also included hiring additional attorneys to handle investigative and enforcement activity involving physicians. Moreover, the government now has access to unprecedented amounts of data regarding financial arrangements between physicians and drug and device manufacturers.

The fraud alert follows on the heels of a dozen recent settlements between the OIG and individual physicians who allegedly received kickbacks disguised as medical directorships and other office staff arrangements. In those settlements, the OIG determined the physicians played an integral role in the schemes and specifically alleged that the agreements:

Continue Reading An Apple a Day Keeps the OIG Away: Practical Guidelines for Structuring Physician Compensation Arrangements to Avoid Kickback Allegations

As we reported last week, on May 21, 2015, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved H.R. 6, the “21st Century Cures Act,” by a bipartisan, unanimous 51-0 vote. This major legislation is intended to accelerate the pace of medical cures in the United States through a variety of reforms addressing drug and device development and approval, clinical trial design, research funding, interoperability of health technology, and other issues. This blog post focuses on the bill’s proposed Sunshine Act (aka Open Payments) changes, which would broaden exclusions related to the provision of education-related payments or transfers of value.
Continue Reading 21st Century Cures Bill Includes Proposal to Broaden Sunshine Act Exclusions Related to Education

Today the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved H.R. 6, the “21st Century Cures Act,” by a bipartisan, unanimous 51-0 vote. This major legislation is intended to accelerate the pace of medical cures in the United States through a variety of reforms addressing drug and device development and approval, clinical trial design, research funding, interoperability

As part of the final 2015 Medicare physician fee schedule rule, CMS is adopting – with certain refinements – its proposed changes to the regulations implementing the Physician Payment Sunshine Act. By way of background, the Sunshine Act requires pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers and group purchasing organizations to submit to CMS certain