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.

New Medicare Primary Care Incentive Payment Program

On December 3, 2010, the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services (CMS) announced its implementation of a primary care incentive payment program, which is scheduled to take effect in 2011. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), Medicare is authorized to offer this incentive to primary care practitioners for the services they provide under Part B, beginning January 1, 2011, and until January 1, 2016. According to section 5501(a) of the PPACA, Medicare will pay primary care practitioners “on a monthly or quarterly basis an amount equal to 10 percent of the payment amount” for such primary care services under Part B. This program is one example of the numerous incentives for primary care practitioners that will continue to be implemented under the authority of the PPACA.

For more information regarding this announcement, please go to: http://www.cms.gov/MLNMattersArticles/downloads/MM7115.pdf and http://www.cms.gov/transmittals/downloads/R2081CP.pdf.

New Legislation Delays Medicare Physician Reimbursement Cut for an Additional Month

On November 30, 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the Physician Payment and Therapy Relief Act of 2010. This legislation implements a one-month delay to a significant reduction in reimbursement—a 23-percent pay cut—for physicians treating Medicare beneficiaries. The legislation also provides a 2.2-percent reimbursement increase for physicians. The reimbursement reduction will go into effect, beginning on December 31, 2010. Both the Obama administration and Congress hope to use this delay to develop a long-term solution.

For more information regarding the Physician Payment and Therapy Relief Act of 2010, please go to: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d111:HR05712:@@@D&summ2=m&.

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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HHS Announces the Availability of Up to $335 Million to Boost Access to Primary Health Care

On October 26, 2010, HHS announced that there is up to $335 million in available funding for existing community centers throughout the United States. The purpose of the additional funding is to increase access to preventative and primary care services. Health centers interested in obtaining federal funds must submit an application in which they have to explain how they intend to expand their medical capacity and services to underserved populations. The applications must be submitted by January 6, 2011, and they are available at bphc.hrsa.gov/es/. For additional information regarding this news release, please go to the following website: http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2010pres/10/20101026a.html.

Alert: CMS’s Stark Law Self-Referral Disclosure Protocol Raises Tough Decisions for Healthcare Providers

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