Medicare

CMS releases 2015 Medicare payment rules

Posted on July 4, 2014

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued several rules concerning Medicare payments for 2015.  First, CMS released the 2015 physician fee schedule.  Pursuant to the “doc fix” legislation recently passed, this proposal holds physician payments for the first quarter of next year.  The rule also bolsters the Physician Payment Sunshine Act by requiring providers to report payments received from speaking at continuous education events.  Additionally, the proposal revises the quality scoring methodology so that accountable care organizations (ACOs) are better able to exemplify the improvements they make in quality measures.  The number of metrics will increase from 33 to 37.

Yesterday, CMS also updated the payment scheme for outpatient services by 2.1% for 2015.  Biologics and non-pass-through drugs are still expected to be paid at average sales price plus 6%.  Payments are anticipated to increase by $5.2 billion compared to 2014.

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CMS rule sets payment adjustments for low-volume hospitals

Posted on June 13, 2014

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a rule to change the payment adjustment for low-volume hospitals and Medicare-dependent hospitals. The changes would be issued under the hospital inpatient prospective payment systems (IPPS) for the second half of fiscal-year 2014. According to the rule, a hospital is considered low-volume if it is more than 15 miles from another hospital and has less than 1600 discharges of individuals entitled to or enrolled in Medicare Part A.

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CMS issues Medicare Advantage and Part D final rule for 2015

Posted on May 21, 2014

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the final rule for Medicare Advantage (Part C) and the Medicare prescription drug benefit program (Part D) for contract year 2015. The rule aims to clarify program provisions, enact statute requirements, and improve payment accuracy. One specific provision provided in the rule said CMS will not open up preferred networks to permit any willing pharmacy to offer preferred cost-sharing. CMS indicated they would continue to study preferred cost-sharing practices to address stakeholder reactions and concerns to the proposed policy.

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New CMS rule reduces burden and promotes efficiency

Posted on May 8, 2014

A final rule released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is designed to loosen policies that could save hospitals up to $3.2 billion over the next five years. One policy addressed removes the requirement that a physician must be present at a rural health center every two weeks, which was implemented to help combat the shortage of rural health providers. The rule also relaxes supervision requirements for some providers, such as dieticians. Easing regulations under this rule follows suit with the administration’s “regulatory lookback” that began in 2012.

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CMS releases interim final rule in response to AHA

Posted on October 2, 2013

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an interim final rule on disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments. The rule alters when certain hospitals, specifically those with reporting periods that do not align with the fiscal year, will receive Medicare DSH payments. The discrepancy was causing administrative and financial issues for these hospitals, which CMS ultimately determined were not in the best interest of the patient population of these hospitals. The new rule was issued with significant encouragement from the American Hospital Association and Association of Medical Colleges.

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CMS issues proposed rule for FQHC and RHC

Posted on September 18, 2013

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a proposed rule impacting both federally qualified health centers (FQHC) and rural health clinics (RHC). Beginning in October 2014, the rule implements the prospective payment system (PPS) for FQHC under Medicare Part B in conjunction with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The proposed rule also states that RHC may contract with nonphysician practitioners, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, as long as these practitioners meet the employment requirements for the health center. Lastly, the rule alters the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments in regards to proficiency testing referrals.

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Medicare and Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital Payments: Proposed Rules

Posted on June 13, 2013

For thirty years, the Medicare and Medicaid programs have furnished additional payments to hospitals that furnish a disproportionate share of services to low income populations. Despite the fact that the two disproportionate share hospital (DSH) programs share a common mission, they function differently in terms of how the funds actually move to hospitals and in the formulas used to make DSH payments. The Affordable Care Act makes significant adjustments in both DSH programs beginning in 2014 in anticipation of a significant expansion in the proportion of people who have health insurance coverage. With the United States Supreme Court’s decision in 2012 in NFIB v Sebelius, which permits states to opt out of the Medicaid expansion without risking the loss of federal funding for their existing Medicaid programs, the downward DSH payment adjustments become an even more significant matter for hospitals that treat large volumes of low income patients…

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Interview of Phyllis Borzi, Assistant Secretary of Labor of the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), United States Department of Labor

Posted on June 11, 2013

Recently, Sara Rosenbaum, the Hirsh Professor of Health Law and Policy at the GW Department of Health Policy, had an opportunity to interview Phyllis Borzi, the federal official in charge of overseeing the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), for Health Reform GPS. EBSA is an agency of the United States Department of Labor responsible for administering, regulating and enforcing the provisions of Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), and the agency is playing an important role in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act….

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CBO report addresses characteristics, spending and policies for duals

Posted on June 7, 2013

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published a report describing the characteristics and costs associated with dual-eligible beneficiaries. A dual-eligible beneficiary, or dual, is someone that is eligible to receive benefits from both Medicare and Medicaid. Dual-Eligible Beneficiaries of Medicare and Medicaid: Characteristics, Health Care Spending, and Evolving Policies uses data from 2009 to examine the different payment systems used in both Medicare and Medicaid to pay for dual benefits, as well as methods by federal and state governments to integrate the payments systems and better coordinate care for this growing population.

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CMS releases additional hospital spending data

Posted on June 3, 2013

In an expansion to the hospital charges data released last month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) provided data describing charges for 30 different outpatient procedures. The data include charge estimates for Ambulatory Payment Classification Groups, which are paid under the Medicare Outpatient Prospective Payment System. Presented data are hospital-specific and report charge values collected during calendar year 2011.

CMS also released data on geographic variations in Medicare public use and Medicare utilization by those with chronic conditions.

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