Posts in Medicare/Medi-Cal Compliance & Payments.
Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act

On April 21, 2020, the United States Senate passed the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (the Act). The House is expected to pass the Act and send it to the President on April 23, 2020. Broadly speaking, the Act amends the CARES Act to provide additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, hospitals and providers, and includes funding for coronavirus testing.

The Act provides an additional $75 billion on top of the $100 billion appropriated in the CARES Act for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund of the Department of Health and Human ...

CMS Expands the Accelerated and Advance Payment Program in Response to COVID-19

On March 28, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) announced that the agency would provide relief to Medicare providers and suppliers by expanding the Accelerated and Advance Payment Program for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency.  According to CMS’ guidance, to qualify for accelerated or advance payments, the provider or supplier must:

  • Have billed Medicare for claims within the prior 180 days
  • Not be in bankruptcy
  • Not be under active medical review or program integrity investigation
  • Not have any outstanding delinquent Medicare ...
2018 Bipartisan Budget Act Revises Stark Law Regulations - Part II

This is the second installment of a two-part series on the Bipartisan Budget Act. Part I discussed the Bipartisan Budget Act’s effect on Medicare Advantage health plans.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (the Act), signed into law on February 9, 2018, contains an amendment that should cause physicians and healthcare providers to take note. Section 50404 of the Act, titled Modernizing the Application of the Stark Rule under Medicare, codifies recent Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regulations and corresponding preamble that went into effect on January 1, 2016 ...

2018 Bipartisan Budget Act: Greater Access, Innovation, and Technology in the Administration of Medicare Advantage Plans - Part I

This is the first installment of a two-part series on the Bipartisan Budget Act. Part II will discuss the Bipartisan Budget Act’s effect on the federal Stark Law.

Prior to adjourning for spring recess, Congress passed and the President signed into law on March 23, 2018, omnibus appropriations legislation that funds the government for the remainder of the fiscal year – through September 30. As part of the earlier negotiations to reach the budget deal, Congress passed and the President signed into law on February 9, 2018, the Bipartisan Budget Act, which included dozens of ...

The Anti-Kickback Statute

Those in the business of providing healthcare services to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries are all too familiar with the federal Anti-kickback Statute (AKS). Among other dreadful sanctions, it imposes criminal penalties on those individuals or entities that knowingly and willfully offer, pay, solicit, or receive remuneration in order to induce or reward the referral of business reimbursable under federal healthcare programs. A violation of the AKS is a felony punishable by fines of up to $25,000 and imprisonment for up to five years. An offense may ...

On January 19, 2017, the Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement which would resolve allegations that competing ophthalmologists violated federal antitrust laws when they refused to negotiate contracts with MCS Advantage, Inc. (MCS), a Medicare Advantage Plan, and Eye Management of Puerto Rico (Eye Management), MCS’s network administrator.

According to the complaint, the charges arise from an arrangement between Eye Management and MCS entered into in April, 2014.  Eye Management agreed to create and manage a network of ophthalmologists to provide services to MCS enrollees and to do so at a cost savings to MCS.   Eye Management planned to replace MCS’s existing contract with each individual ophthalmologist with a new contract between Eye Management and the ophthalmologist at a lower reimbursement rate. In early June 2014, Eye Management sent a proposed contract to every ophthalmologist contracted with MCS at the time. These contracts offered payments at rates that were about 10% lower, on average, than the rates under the existing contracts between MCS and each ophthalmologist.

There may be no noticeable difference between a hospital patient occupying a bed as an inpatient or one in observation status.  Yet, state and federal legislators have been concerned that the difference can have important consequences for the patient.  Observation care is considered by Medicare to be an outpatient service.  Patients classified as outpatients in the hospital may fail to achieve a three-day inpatient stay to qualify for subsequent Medicare coverage for skilled nursing facility care.  Patients in observation status may also have higher co-payments and charges for doctors’ fees and hospital services, as well as drugs.

Federal Law.  The Medicare Outpatient Observation Notice (MOON) was developed to inform all Medicare beneficiaries when they are receiving observation services and are not an inpatient of the hospital.  The MOON is mandated by the Notice of Observation Treatment and Implication for Care Eligibility Act (NOTICE Act), enacted in 2015. All hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs) are required to provide the MOON beginning no later than March 8, 2017.

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