Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont recently signed two important pieces of legislation that affect hospitals and certain Medicaid providers and programs. First, Public Act No. 23-39, “An Act Requiring Discharge Standards Regarding Follow-Up Appointments and Prescription Medications for Patients Being Discharged From a Hospital or Nursing Home Facility” addresses new hospital discharge obligations for state hospitals. Second, Public Act No. 23-186, “An Act Concerning Nonprofit Provider Retention of Contract Savings, Community Health Worker Medicaid Reimbursement and Studies of Medicaid Rates of Reimbursement, Nursing Home Transportation and Nursing Home Waiting Lists”, which implements various changes affecting the state Medicaid program and enrolled providers. Certain legislative changes implemented by these Acts are summarized below.Continue Reading Connecticut Governor Signs Legislation Implementing New Requirements for Hospitals and Nursing Home Facilities
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
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
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
I. Biden Administration Requirement for Insurance Companies to Cover Cost of At-Home COVID-19 Tests
On January 10, 2022, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Safety (HHS) announced that the Biden-Harris administration will be requiring insurance companies and group health plans to cover the cost of over-the-counter, at-home COVID-19 tests, so people with private health coverage can get them for free starting January 15, 2022. This new coverage requirement means that most consumers with private health insurance will be able to purchase an at-home COVID-19 test (online or at a pharmacy) and it will either be paid for directly by their health plan or the consumer can submit a claim for reimbursement.
Starting January 15, 2022, insurance companies and health plans will be required to cover eight (8) free over-the-counter at-home tests per covered individual per month, and there will be no limit on the number of tests that are covered if they are ordered or administered by a health care provider following an individualized clinical assessment.
As part of the new requirement, the administration is incentivizing insurers and group health plans to create programs that allow people to get the over-the-counter tests directly through preferred pharmacies, retailers, or other entities with no out-of-pocket costs. Retailers and other entities providing access to consumers for over-the-counter testing should be aware of the requirements. Even if plans and insurers make tests available through preferred pharmacies or retailers, such plans and insurers are still required to reimburse tests purchased by consumers outside of that network, at a rate of up to $12 per individual test (or, if less, the cost of the test)
Continue Reading New COVID-19 At-Home Test Coverage Requirements Increase Need for Heightened Focus on Health Care Entity’s Billing Practices
On April 9 and 10, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) updated and revised their COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Medicare Fee-for-Service (FFS) Billing. The updates were intended to bring the FAQs up to date in light of new section 1135 waivers, provisions from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the interim final rule for Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Policy and Regulatory Revisions in Response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. The extensive new FAQs are marked in the document as “New: 4/9/20” and “New: 4/10/20” and provide useful insight for billing various types of services, including telehealth, outpatient hospital services, physician services and ACO payment issues. A selection of the FAQs is outlined below; however, these are non-inclusive and providers would be well advised to review the updated CMS FAQ document in full.
Continue Reading CMS Updates and Revises COVID-19 FAQs on Medicare FFS Billing
On March 17, the Trump Administration announced expanded reimbursement for clinicians providing telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published an announcement, a fact sheet and Frequently Asked Questions. To further facilitate telehealth services, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a notification describing certain technologies that would be permitted to be used for telehealth without being subject to penalties under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act regulations (HIPAA). In addition, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) announced it will allow healthcare providers to reduce or waive cost-sharing for telehealth visits.
Continue Reading Federal Government Significantly Expands Telehealth Reimbursement During COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
Massachusetts executive agencies have been issuing an array of further guidance to the healthcare provider community regarding COVID-19. All orders and guidance are available at https://www.mass.gov/2019coronavirus. Review of this website and CDC websites for periodic updates is strongly encouraged, as the situation is fluid and continually evolving.
Continue Reading Massachusetts COVID-19 Guidance for Health Care Providers, Payors and Laboratories on Issues Including Telehealth, Elective Procedures, COVID-19 Testing, and Provider Licensure
On August 17, 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published its Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems final rule for Fiscal Year 2019 (Final Rule). The Final Rule contains a number of important updates to Medicare Part A that take effect October 1, 2018.
Among other provisions in the Final Rule, CMS finalized its proposed update of the regulations that govern hospital admissions under Medicare Part A (42 C.F.R. § 412.3). Specifically, the Final Rule revises language in 42 C.F.R. § 412.3(a) to remove the current requirement that an inpatient admission order “must be present in the medical record and be supported by the physician admission and progress notes, in order for the hospital to be paid for hospital inpatient services under Medicare Part A.” As a result, starting October 1, 2018, CMS will “no longer require a written inpatient admission order to be present in the medical record as a specific condition of Medicare Part A payment.”
Continue Reading CMS Revises Hospital Inpatient Admission Order Documentation Requirements
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