On November 4, 2022, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published the calendar year 2023 Home Health Prospective Payment System Rate final rule, which updates Medicare payment policies and rates for home health agencies.  Some of the key changes implemented by the final rule are summarized below.

Continue Reading CMS Issues Calendar Year 2023 Home Health Final Rule

On November 1, 2022, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued final rules concerning the 2023 Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) payment rates and 2023 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS). These final rules implement various updates and policy changes for Medicare payments under the PFS and OPPS, and made significant updates to the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP), which go into effect on or after January 1, 2023. We summarize the key changes below and will elaborate on these rules in future posts.

Continue Reading CMS Issues Final Rules Concerning the 2023 Outpatient Prospective Payment System Rates and Physician Fee Schedule

On October 17, 2022, the Supreme Court denied certiorari in three cases asking the court to resolve a circuit split regarding the application of the particularity pleading requirement for allegations of fraud in False Claims Act (FCA) cases, as required under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b). The cases are: Johnson, et al. v. Bethany Hospice, 21-462; U.S., ex rel. Owsley v. Fazzi Associates, Inc., et al., 21-936; and Molina Healthcare, et al. v. Prose, 21-1145. Molina also presented a second question over which circuits had split, regarding the correct interpretation of Universal Health Services, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Escobar and whether a request for payment without specific representations can be actionable under an implied false certification theory. (Petition for Writ of Certiorari).

Continue Reading Supreme Court Denies Certiorari in Three FCA “Particularity” Cases

On October 18, 2022, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced two settlements with CHC Holdings, LLC, an Oklahoma limited liability company doing business as Carter Healthcare (Carter), and two former senior corporate officers, resolving alleged violations of the federal False Claims Act (FCA), Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS), and Physician Self-Referral Law (commonly referred to as the “Stark Law”). One case settled claims that Carter had made improper payments to referring physicians in Oklahoma and Texas, while the other case settled claims that Carter had made false billing claims in Florida. Both matters were initiated by qui tam whistleblower complaints filed under the FCA. Carter agreed to pay more than $30 million to resolve the allegations.

Continue Reading Home Health Company and Two Corporate Officers Settle False Claims Act Allegations for Over $30 Million

We follow up on our previous blog post concerning the U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in favor of 340B hospitals. The Supreme Court previously held that “absent a survey of hospitals’ acquisition costs, HHS may not vary the reimbursement rates for 340B hospitals” and therefore, that HHS exceeded its statutory authority by varying the 2018 and 2019 rates for 340B hospitals without first conducting such survey.

Continue Reading 340B Update: District Court Rejects 2022 Payment Methodology for 340B Hospitals Following Supreme Court Win

A physician in Washington state pled guilty on September 28, 2022, to a criminal charge of conspiring to accept kickbacks related to fraudulent genetic testing. According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), the physician ordered certain genetic testing for Medicare beneficiaries that he was not treating and with whom a physician-patient relationship was not established as part of the scheme. According to the plea agreement accepted by the physician, the physician would be connected by telemarketers to the beneficiaries for a few minutes, the physician would order the diagnostic test, the labs would then bill for the test, and another company billed Medicare for the purported telemedicine visit. The physician received almost $168,000 in kickbacks for ordering the medically-unnecessary testing and other services, which resulted in over $18 million being paid by Medicare.

Continue Reading The DOJ Continues to Prosecute Providers for Fraudulent Telemarketing and Telehealth

The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently released a Data Brief summarizing the findings of a review of program integrity risks related to telehealth services reimbursed by Medicare during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic (the Pandemic).[1] The OIG analyzed Medicare and Medicare Advantage claims data from March 1, 2020, to February 28, 2021, focusing on providers that billed for telehealth services, with an emphasis on identifying providers that posed a high risk to the Medicare program.

Continue Reading OIG Releases Data Brief on Medicare Telehealth Program Integrity Risks During the First Year of the Pandemic

On August 19, 2022, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Department of Labor (DOL), and Department of the Treasury (DOT), released “Requirements Related to Surprise Billing: Final Rules” (the Rules). The Rules change and finalize the prior interim final rules concerning the information health insurers must share regarding the qualifying payment amount (QPA) and the independent dispute resolution (IDR) process under the No Surprises Act.  The Rules address comments received pertaining to the interim final rules as well as the recent judicial decisions in Texas Medical Association[1]and LifeNet. [2]

Continue Reading New Final Rule Under the No Surprises Act Released

On June 15, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of “340B” hospitals in a notable statutory interpretation case concerning how the federal Medicare program reimburses hospitals for prescription drugs. The case, which was brought by the American Hospital Association, arises from reimbursement reductions imposed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in 2018 and 2019 on hospitals participating in the 340B program (which the Court noted are hospitals that “generally serve low-income or rural communities”). In those years, HHS sought to impose reductions in reimbursement due to favorable pricing available to 340B hospitals under that program. The hospitals challenged those reductions based on the process HHS followed when setting the reimbursement rates, claiming that HHS’s failure to conduct a survey of hospitals’ average acquisition costs for the drugs prevented HHS from varying reimbursement rates for this distinct group. Therefore, according to the hospitals, HHS was required to pay them based on the average sales price charged by manufacturers for the drugs.

Continue Reading Supreme Court Decides in Favor of 340B Hospitals Regarding Medicare Reimbursement Methodology

On June 2, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission announced a pair of antitrust enforcement actions to block pending health system transactions that, according to it, would harm competition in the provision of inpatient general acute care hospital services.

Continue Reading FTC Takes Action to Block Hospital Transactions in Utah and New Jersey