Tag Archives: affordable care act

Skilled Nursing Facilities, Beware of ACOs

Providers in the long term care industry often ask me whether they should sign on with their local accountable care organization (“ACO”). My answer has always been, for years now, absolutely! After all, ACOs can be a good source of referrals for skilled nursing. Plus, a team-oriented ACO can foster better patient care, quality care and wellness in the ACO setting in the community. However, more of our skilled nursing facility clients have been experiencing problems with certain ACOs operating as dictatorships. Perhaps this is because more and more skilled nursing facilities are finally entering the realm of ACO involvement.

While it is good for a skilled nursing facility to be on the ACO’s “A List” of skilled nursing home providers, skilled nursing facilities need to carefully review their contracts with ACOs to make sure they are not taken advantage of or subject to increased liability. For example, recently one skilled nursing facility relationship with its ACO was so strained that it fired its ACO due to problems with patient care.  See Alex Spanko, “How One Skilled Nursing Operator Navigates The Occasional Single ‘Dictatorship’ of ACOs,” Skilled Nursing News, October 16, 2019. In some cases, there were reports that ACOs are placing too much pressure on skilled nursing facilities to discharge residents earlier than indicated, or forcing facilities to provide less care in order to reduce ACO costs, often times to the detriment of residents. Continue reading Skilled Nursing Facilities, Beware of ACOs

Court Decision on 60-day Overpayment Rule Imposes Heavy Burden on Providers

As a result of an August 3, 2015 federal court decision, nursing homes and other health care providers that participate in Medicare or Medicaid are well-advised to pay careful attention to the law that requires report and return of any overpayment within 60 days of the date on which the overpayment is “identified.”  In Kane v. Healthfirst, Inc. et al., the Southern District of New York found that the word “identified” means the date on which a provider is “put on notice” that a claim may have been overpaid.  The court said that providers cannot delay commencement of the 60-day period until the overpayment amount has been definitively determined.

The defendants in the case had argued that simply being on notice of a potential overpayment was not enough to trigger the 60-day repayment rule, which was a provision in the 2010 Affordable Care Act.  While recognizing the burden on providers to bring to conclusion a thorough and definitive investigation of a potential overpayment within 60 days, the court was firm in its finding, referring to the “demanding standard of compliance.”  However, there was a suggestion that prosecutorial discretion could act to assist a provider that did not comply with the letter of the law but acted diligently to attempt to determine an overpayment amount within the required timeframe.

This case, triggered by a former employee of one of the  provider defendants under the False Claims Act whistleblower provision, is important because it is the first time there has been a court opinion addressing the meaning of the term “identified” as used in the law.  Draft regulations published in 2012 have not been finalized.

Duane Morris Partner Lisa Clark Featured in The Wharton Healthcare Quarterly

In the Spring 2015 edition of The Wharton Healthcare Quarterly, Duane Morris partner Lisa Clark’s article, “Affidavit: Healthcare and the Law – Healthcare Reform Update: What’s in a Name?,” discussed the innovations under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). One of the innovations was the Accountable Care Organization (ACO), where a new healthcare reimbursement system was introduced as an alternative to the tradition fee-for-service model. Over the years, the Accountable Care Organizations and other value-based models will be tested and hopefully, there will be buzz around this new model in the next year.

SCOTUS Limits Claims Brought by Healthcare Providers’ for Denied Medicaid Reimbursement

In a recent 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, Armstrong v. Exceptional Child Center, Inc., Slip. Op., 575 U.S. ____ (March 31, 2015), Justice Scalia, writing for the majority, took aim at health care providers seeking to enforce Medicaid rate-setting provisions against a state that refused to incorporate those provisions in the state’s Medicaid plan, and instead reimbursed providers for Medicaid services at lower rates.

In Armstrong, the plaintiffs, providers of habilitation services under Idaho’s Medicaid plan sought an injunction to prevent Idaho’s State Department of Health from violating Section 30(A) of Medicaid, 42 U.S.C. § 1396(a)(30)(A), which requires a state to “assure that payments are consistent with efficiency, economy, and quality of care,” while “safeguard[ing] against unnecessary utilization of. . . care and services.”  The Court reversed the Ninth Circuit’s decision that the Supremacy Clause gave the providers an implied right of action to seek an injunction requiring Idaho to comply with Section 30(a). Continue reading SCOTUS Limits Claims Brought by Healthcare Providers’ for Denied Medicaid Reimbursement

State Medicaid Fraud Control Units’ Data Mining Likely to Increase Through Federal Funding

Effective June 17, 2013, state Medicaid fraud control units (MFCU) will be permitted to use federal matching funds to pay for data mining activities to detect potentially fraudulent utilization and billing patterns. Historically, MFCUs have been prohibited from using federal matching funds to pay for the cost of data mining. Given the financial constraints facing MFCUs, this funding is likely to result in a substantial increase in activities by MFCUs across the United States. While this rule in and of itself is noteworthy, it is likely to have a more significant impact on healthcare providers when coupled with the regulation implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires states to suspend all Medicaid payments to a provider upon credible allegation of fraud during, or triggering, a Medicaid investigation.

Click here to read the full Alert.

Final HIPAA Wellness Program Regulations Issued Under Affordable Care Act

On June 3, 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor, Department of Health and Human Services, Internal Revenue Service, Employee Benefits Security Administration and Department of the Treasury published in the Federal Register final guidance regarding nondiscriminatory wellness programs under employer-sponsored group health plans. This final guidance was issued in the form of much-anticipated joint final regulations on such wellness programs (the “Final Regulations”). It is important to note that the Final Regulations will apply to wellness programs offered under all group health plans [regardless of whether the plan is “grandfathered” under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the “Affordable Care Act”)]. Moreover, these Final Regulations will be effective for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2014.

Continue reading Final HIPAA Wellness Program Regulations Issued Under Affordable Care Act

Research-Related Payments and the Physician Payment Sunshine Act: How Reporting Works and What Applicable Manufacturers Should Consider

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on February 1, 2013, published long-awaited rules (the “Rules”) detailing manufacturers’ and group purchasing organizations’ reporting requirements under Section 6002 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as the Physician Payment Sunshine Act. This Alert is the second in Duane Morris’ series of Alerts on the new Sunshine Act reporting requirements, and addresses the unique reporting requirements for applicable manufacturers’ making payments or transfers of value related to clinical research and pre-clinical research. The Rules contain different reporting requirements for these research-related payments, so applicable manufacturers may want to analyze their relationships now in preparation for the August 1, 2013, data collection start date.

Click here to read more about the Rules and what every applicable manufacturer should know about reporting research-related payments.

mHealth/Telehealth Investors and Entrepreneurs: The Generational Divide

Mobile health (“mHealth”, “telehealth” or any other terms for health care delivered wirelessly) is revolutionizing the health care industry. That message resounded at last week’s mHealth Summit, which gathered roughly 4,000 investors and angel-funders, telecom and software companies, and entrepreneurs and developers to share ideas and display new mHealth products. Hot mHealth areas include data analytics, texting and medical records. Home health and medical homes also stand to benefit with the introduction of products designed to submit protected health information (“PHI”) and other data between patient and provider. Continue reading mHealth/Telehealth Investors and Entrepreneurs: The Generational Divide

Supreme Court Upholds ACA’s Individual Mandate

On June 28, 2012, the United States Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act’s (“ACA”) individual mandate in a long-anticipated decision on the constitutionality of the ACA. The Court upheld the ACA’s individual mandate under Congress’ taxing power, and also held that the lawsuits challenging the ACA were not barred by the anti-injunction act. The Court, however, found the ACA’s Medicaid expansion unconstitutional because it “threaten[ed] States with the loss of their existing Medicaid funding if they decline to comply with the expansion.”

The full slip opinion may be accessed here.

CMS Awards Loans to First Seven CO-OPs

On February 21, 2012, CMS announced its first award of repayable loans to seven Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans (CO-OPs). The awards will help CO-OPs establish private, non-profit, consumer-governed health insurance companies with the goal of expanding health insurance options for consumers and small businesses. The CO-OPs will eventually operate in each states’ health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act, but will also offer plans outside of the exchange. Starting on January 1, 2014, the first seven CO-OPs will become operational in eight states.

Continue reading CMS Awards Loans to First Seven CO-OPs