A Summary of Medicare Shared Savings Program and ACO Proposed Regulations

On March 30, 2011, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid issued the long-awaited, proposed regulations for the Medicare Shared Savings Program, including details of the requirements for qualifying as an accountable care organization (ACO), such as:

  • Eligible legal entities
  • Criteria for shared governance
  • Assignment of beneficiaries to ACOs
  • Different types of risk contracts
  • Benchmarks and calculations of savings
  • Shared savings, antitrust issues and policies, Medicare anti-kickback, and other regulatory requirements as applied to ACOs

The full text of the summary is available as a Duane Morris Alert.

Civil Money Penalties for Nursing Homes

On March 18, 2011, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued this regulation, implementing section 6111 of the Affordable Care Act. Section 6111 gives CMS authority to impose and collect civil monetary penalties (CMPs) against nursing homes. The penalties are reserved for nursing homes that fail to comply with federal participation requirements outlined in section 6111. Although penalties for noncompliance existed before the Affordable Care Act was promulgated, this regulation revises and expands CMS’s authority to impose and collect CMPs. The final rule is effective January 1, 2012.

For additional information about this new regulation, please visit the Office of the Federal Register website.

$45 Million More in Federal Funding to Assist Medicaid Beneficiaries

On February 22, 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it would provide $45 million in grant funding to 13 states for the startup and operation of Money Follows the Person (MFP) demonstration projects. States operate MFP programs to provide financial support and assist Medicaid beneficiaries with moving from institutions (i.e., hospitals and nursing facilities) and transitioning back into their communities to live in their own homes or other facilities. HHS anticipates that this federal funding will help 13,000 more Medicaid beneficiaries, and it will continue to provide grant funding through 2016 by committing at least $621 million to the state projects.

To read more about this announcement and see the list of 13 states scheduled to receive grant funding, please go to http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2011pres/02/20110222b.html.

Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Requirements for Long-Term Care Facilities; Notice of Facility Closure

Issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)on February 18, 2011, this regulation implements section 6113 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The interim final rule amends existing legislation by introducing new notice requirements associated with long-term care (LTC) facility and skilled nursing facility (SNF) closures. Its purpose is twofold: to protect resident health and safety, and to facilitate a “smooth transition” in the event of a facility’s closure.

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CMS Will Acquire New Tools to Prevent Fraud

On December 16, 2010, at the regional health care fraud prevention summit in Boston, Massachusetts, HHS Secretary Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder announced that CMS will issue a solicitation for new analytic tools to prevent fraud in Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP. In its press release on the subject, HHS stated that the tools will “integrate many of the Agency’s pilot programs into the National Fraud Prevention Program and complement the work of the joint HHS and Department of Justice Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT).” The tools will be designed to prevent fraudulent payments before they occur, including through predictive modeling and identification of real-time trends by tracking billing patterns and other information.

To read the full press release, please go to: http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2010pres/12/20101216a.html.

Congress Passes Legislation Delaying 25 Percent Medicare Physician Reimbursement Cut for One Year

On December 15, 2010, President Obama signed the Medicare and Medicaid Extenders Act of 2010 into law. This legislation implements a one-year delay to a significant reduction in reimbursement—a 25 percent pay cut—for physicians treating Medicare beneficiaries. Current Medicare payment rates will now remain in effect through December 31, 2011. In addition, the Act extends other Medicare and Medicaid payment provisions that were set to expire, such as the Medicare work geographic adjustment floor, Transitional Medical Assistance, and the qualifying individual program. Among other things, the Act also repeals the delay of RUG-IV and provides for the continued inclusion of orphan drugs as covered drugs for children’s hospitals under 340B.

The full text of the Act is available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-111hr4994enr/pdf/BILLS-111hr4994enr.pdf.

OIG Submits Semiannual Report to Congress Reporting Savings and Expected Recoveries of $25.9 Billion

On December 15, 2010, the OIG submitted its semiannual report to Congress pursuant to the Inspector General Act of 1978. The report summarizes the OIG’s audit, investigation, and evaluation activities from April 1, 2010 through September 30, 2010 and for the 2010 fiscal year in total. Highlighted accomplishments for FY 2010 include savings and expected recoveries of $25.9 billion and the exclusion of 3,340 individuals and organizations from participation in Federal health care programs. The report summarizes the OIG’s Medicaid and Medicare reviews, its legal and investigative activities, its public health (CDC, FDA, HRSA, HIS, NIH) and human services (AoA, ACF) reviews, and other department wide issues.

To read the OIG’s press release, please go to: http://oig.hhs.gov/publications/docs/press/2010/sar2010press.pdf. To read the full report, please go to: http://oig.hhs.gov/publications/sar/2010/fall2010_semiannual.pdf.

CMS Introduces New Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation

On November 16, 2010, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the establishment of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The acting director of the Center is Richard Gilfillan, M.D., the former president and CEO of Geisinger Health Plan and executive vice president of insurance operations for Geisinger Health System. The goal of the CMMI is to improve quality of care and make coverage more affordable for Medicaid and Medicare patients. To do this, the CMMI will collaborate with key stakeholders, which include consumers, patient advocates, physicians, hospitals, federal agencies and states. The Center will focus on three main objectives:

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CMS Issued Stark Self-Disclosure Protocol

On September 23, 2010, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a disclosure protocol pertaining to Stark Law self-referrals in accordance with Section 6409 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The purpose of the Medicare self-referral disclosure protocol (SRDP) is to create a mechanism that affords both health care providers and suppliers the opportunity to disclose either real or potential violations of the Stark law. In the event of a violation, a provider’s or supplier’s submission of this information to CMS may potentially result in a reduction in the amount due for the self-referral violations. For additional information regarding the SRDP, please go to the following website: http://www.cms.gov/PhysicianSelfReferral/65_Self_Referral_Disclosure_Protocol.asp

Correction of Final IPPS for ACHs (Acute Care Hospitals) and LTCH (Long-Term Care Hospital) PPS and FY 2011 Rates

This regulation was adopted in order to correct technical and typographical errors that were found in the preamble and addendum of two documents regarding hospital inpatient prospective payment: a final rule and the interim final rule. The final rule and interim final rule documents containing the errors are titled “Medicare Program; Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems for Acute Care Hospitals and the Long-Term Care Hospital Prospective Payment System Changes and FY 2011 Rates; Provider Agreements and Supplier Approvals; and Hospital Conditions of Participation for Rehabilitation and Respiratory Care Services; Medicaid Program: Accreditation for Providers of Inpatient Psychiatric Services.” The regulation provides a summary of the errors and their corresponding corrections, which were effective beginning October 1, 2010.