On November 12, 2021, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued finalized guidance (“Guidance”) clarifying that hospitals can share space, services, or personnel with another hospital or health care provider so long as they demonstrate independent compliance with the Medicare Conditions of Participation (CoPs). This Guidance, which finalizes the prior draft guidance issued on May 3, 2019, explains how CMS and state agency surveyors will evaluate a hospital’s space sharing or contracted staff arrangements when assessing the hospital’s compliance with the Medicare CoPs.  The Guidance took effect immediately upon publication on November 12, 2021.

As relayed by CMS, hospitals have increasingly co-located with other hospitals or other healthcare entities as they seek efficiencies and develop different delivery systems of care. Co-location occurs when two Medicare certified hospitals or a Medicare certified hospital and another healthcare entity are located on the same campus or in the same building and share space, staff, or services.
Continue Reading CMS Finalizes Guidance on Hospital Co-Location

To ensure the continued availability of health care workers, on November 12, 2021, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) issued Order 2021-13 (COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Order No. 2021-13), extending licensure reciprocity for certain out-of-state providers to provide services (in person or via telemedicine) to patients in Massachusetts. Order 2021-13 extends prior DPH orders which authorized issuance of temporary licenses for certain health care providers and renewal or reactivation of certain temporary licenses.
Continue Reading Massachusetts DPH Issues Two Orders To Ensure Continued Availability of Health Care Provider Workforce

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently published a Proposed Rule, primarily intended to modify certain Medicare payment policies.  The Proposed Rule contains several provisions that address the growing use of telehealth. CMS noted that it had received many suggestions regarding the expansion of access to telehealth as well as appropriate pay for the same, in response to its call for comments in the CY 2018 Medicare physician fee schedule (PFS) proposed rule.
Continue Reading Medicare Proposes Revised Telehealth Services and Payments

On April 2, 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a Final Rule, updating Medicare Advantage (MA) and the prescription drug benefit program (Part D).  The Final Rule includes, among other provisions:

  • Preclusion List Requirements for Prescribers in Part D and Individuals and Entities in Medicare Advantage, Cost Plans, and PACE: The Final Rule eliminates the MA and Part D prescriber and provider enrollment requirement.  Instead, CMS is compiling a “Preclusion List” of prescribers, individuals, and entities that: (1) are currently revoked from Medicare, under an active reenrollment bar, or have engaged in behavior for which CMS could have revoked enrollment in Medicare and (2) in addition, CMS determines their underlying conduct to be detrimental to the best interests of the Medicare program. The Preclusion List will be made available to MA plans and Part D prescription drug plans, which must deny payment for claims submitted by, or associated with prescriptions written by prescribers and providers on the list.
  • Eliminating “Meaningful Difference” Requirements: Beginning with CY 2019 bid submissions, CMS has eliminated the requirement that MA plans offered by the same organization in the same county comply with the “meaningful difference” requirements, which limit the variety of plans an MA organization can offer in the same county. The Final Rule eliminates the “meaningful difference” requirement for PDP Enhanced Alternative (EA) benefit designs offered by the same organization in the same region, but does not change this requirement between PDP Basic and EA prescription drug plan offerings.
  • Medicare Advantage Uniformity Requirements Flexibility: As an option for all MA plans, the Final Rule allows the plans to reduce cost sharing for certain covered benefits, offer specific tailored supplemental benefits, and offer different deductibles for beneficiaries that meet specific medical criteria.


Continue Reading CMS Updates Medicare Advantage and Part D (Prescription Drug Benefit)

On January 9, 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation announced a new voluntary bundled payment model called Bundled Payments for Care Improvement Advanced (BPCI Advanced).  BPCI Advanced is the first Advanced Alternative Payment Model (Advanced APM) launched under the Quality Payment Program that was implemented as part of the Medicare Access and Chip Reauthorization Act (MACRA). 
Continue Reading CMS Announces First Advanced Alternative Payment Model Under MACRA: Bundled Payments for Care Improvement Advanced

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently published a proposed rule (Proposed Rule) to scale back its mandatory bundled payment programs. Under the Proposed Rule, CMS would cancel the episode payment models (EPMs) and cardiac rehabilitation incentive payment model (CR), and it would also reduce the mandatory participation in the comprehensive care for joint replacement model (CJR). CMS stated that it believed the proposed changes are necessary because the continued mandatory participation in bundled payment models may impede CMS’s ability to engage providers in future, voluntary initiatives. CMS also stated that it anticipates testing future initiatives through applications and agreements with providers as opposed to additional rulemaking efforts.
Continue Reading CMS Proposes to Cancel EPM and CR Bundled Payment Programs and to Reduce Mandatory Participation in CJR Model

The OIG has released the 2017 Compendium of Unimplemented Recommendations, summarizing prioritized recommendations relating to HHS programs and operations.   Topping the list are recommendations relating to hospitals, including:

  • Reimbursement rates for critical access hospital swing beds should be adjusted to the lower rates for similar services provided in skilled nursing facilities.
  • Reimbursement rates for hospital outpatient department procedures should be adjusted to the lower rates for similar procedures conducted in ambulatory surgical centers.
  • Medicare should adopt a hospital transfer payment policy to lower hospital reimbursement for beneficiaries who are discharged early to hospice care.
  • CMS and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality should take steps to reduce harm to patients in rehabilitation hospitals.
  • CMS should increase protections for beneficiaries under the 2-midnight policy that applies to hospitals decisions about a beneficiary’s inpatient or outpatient admission status.
  • The disparity in beneficiary coinsurance for outpatient services received at a critical access hospital versus an acute-care hospital should be reduced.


Continue Reading OIG Publishes Prioritized Recommendations for HHS