On November 15, 2019, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (“CMS”) published the 2020 Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule in the Federal Register. Among the several changes outlined in the rule, this post specifically focuses on the changes to documentation requirements for Evaluation and Management (“E/M”) Visits. The first important note is the CMS will maintain the existing documentation requirements for all E/M codes for the year 2020.
However, in an effort to update the currently applicable guidelines (published in 1995 and 1997), the E/M documentation requirements will be revamped in 2021 for office visits only. In other words, the emergency department E/M code documentation will remain unchanged. But the focus of the E/M code documentation for office visits will be based solely on Medical Decision-Making (“MDM”) or E/M visit time with patient. Continue reading Insurers Preempting Upcoming Changes for E/M Visit Documentation
By Patricia S. Hofstra
Indemnity provisions are used to shift risk from one party to another. The intent of an indemnification provision in an agreement is to impose on one party the responsibility to pay the liability, damages, costs, expenses, and attorney fees for the other party to the agreement, under the circumstances set forth in the agreement. An indemnification clause obligates one party to compensate the other party for losses or damages. This compensation is separate and apart from other contractual obligations and damages. Continue reading Contractual Indemnification – DANGER
As outlined in our prior Alert, the Obama administration recently announced a one-year delay in the effective date of three key provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA): (1) the annual information reporting requirements applicable to insurers, self-insuring employers and certain other providers of minimum essential coverage, (2) the annual information reporting requirements applicable to large employers (i.e., those with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees); and (3) the employer shared responsibility provisions. These provisions of the ACA will now be fully effective for 2015.
Click here to read the full Alert, which provides highlights from the IRS Notice 2013-45.
We live in the data age where every day a new technology is announced in business- and consumer-oriented ecommerce and mobile health (mhealth). In response, in recent years, federal and state legislators have enacted strict data privacy and security laws, such as HIPAA, COPPA, and Gramm-Leach-Bliley, to protect data whether in electronic (IT) or physical form. This data is known as protected health information under HIPAA and personally identifiable information under other statutes. New federal and state laws also mandate comprehensive data breach responses, including notifications to individuals whose PHI or PII was breached and some agencies and state attorneys general. The shared premise behind these laws is that the public expects the highest standard of data protection from businesses and government. (Whether or not this is true – after all we regularly give our credit card numbers to anonymous persons over the phone – is a subject for another day…)
Continue reading Warning: If You Handle Protected Health Information (PHI) or Personally Identifiable Information (PII), Buy Data Breach and Security Incident Insurance!
In a bold and seemingly unprecedented move, Aetna recently sued several California surgery centers for an alleged “fraudulent billing scheme”. The lawsuit alleges that the surgery centers induced physicians to refer patients to the surgery centers with promises that the patients would not have any financial responsibility for their coinsurance and deductibles. Aetna claims that the surgery centers then turned around and submitted charges for reimbursement that were artificially inflated driving up the cost of health insurance coverage.
Continue reading Aetna Sues Surgery Centers Over Billing Practices
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
On January 17, 2012 the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) adopted as a final rule changing Medicare’s Extra Help Program. The Extra Help Program is a prescription drug coverage low-income subsidy created through the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). Effective January 18, 2012, the final rule incorporates the ACA’s changes to the Extra Help Program by extending eligibility for one year after the death of a beneficiary’s spouse that would otherwise decrease or eliminate the subsidy. The final rule also implements changes to the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Provider Act of 2008 by excluding from a resource (for purposes of Extra Help eligibility) the value of life insurance policies or income for food, shelter, and certain household bills.
Read the full notice from the federal register here.
On February 24, 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that states can begin to apply for a second round of grants, which they can use to create or improve existing health insurance premium review programs. Approximately $200 million is available to states to better track and review premium rate increases, and make the rate process more transparent to consumers. HHS anticipates that the state review programs will also enable states to challenge or even prevent unreasonable premium increases from being implemented. This round of grants marks the federal government’s continued effort to combat rising health insurance premiums.
To read more about this announcement and to see how to access grant funding, please go to http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/ratereview02242011a.html.
On January 20, 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced an additional grant funding opportunity for states to establish their health insurance exchanges. Two types of grants will be available: Level One and Level Two. Level One grants will provide states with funding for up to one year, and subsequent to the first year, states may apply for a second year of Level One funding. Level Two grants, which provide states with funding through December 31, 2014, are available for those states that are further along in the implementation of their exchanges. For states to receive funding at either level, they must submit plans to HHS outlining how they intend to implement the exchanges along with anticipated expenditures. HHS did not disclose the amount of funding available for the grants, but it noted that funding will vary based on state need. For additional information regarding the grants, please see the Health Insurance Exchange Establishment Grants Fact Sheet.
This regulation, issued on November 15, 2010, amends an earlier regulation published in June that outlined rules governing whether group health plans and health insurance coverage in both the individual and group markets can maintain “grandfathered” health plan status. The grandfathered status allows plans to retain an exemption from some new requirements under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Under the amended regulation, a group health plan may now switch insurance companies and maintain its grandfathered plan status as long as it adheres to other requirements outlined in this and the original regulation. This amendment affords employers more flexibility in shopping for health plans that offer coverage at a lower cost. Additional information regarding this provision is available at: http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2010pres/06/20100614e.html.