As a result of a new rule published on February 1, 2023, at 88 Fed. Reg. 6643, Medicare Advantage (MA) organizations soon will be facing enhanced exposure from Risk Adjustment Data Validation (RADV) audits. Under the new rule, effective for audits of payment years 2018 and after, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will use extrapolation to calculate MA organizations’ repayment obligations based on RADV audit findings. While CMS did not adopt any specific extrapolation methodology and plans to use methodologies appropriate to the specific audit, it will be focused on contracts identified as being high-risk for improper payments using statistical modeling, data analytics, or both. CMS does commit to disclosing the extrapolation methodology used in connection with any particular audit so that MA organizations will know how their repayment obligation was calculated. Notwithstanding its prior proposal to do so (https://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Monitoring-Programs/recovery-audit-program-parts-c-and-d/Other-Content-Types/RADV-Docs/RADV-Methodology.pdf), CMS did not adopt a Fee-For-Service Adjuster in RADV Audits. Relying on a recent D.C. Circuit decision, CMS takes the position that the obligation to report and return overpayments is not subject to the “actuarial equivalence” provision of the statute (42 U.S.C. § 1395w-23(a)(1)(C)) that applies to the risk adjustment payment methodology. UnitedHealthcare Ins. Co. v. Becerra, 16 F.4th 867, 885-86 (D.C. Cir. 2021), cert denied, 142 S. Ct. 2851 (2022).Continue Reading CMS Issues Final Rule Authorizing Extrapolation as Part of RADV Audits
Any provider who participates in the Medicaid program knows that it risks committing fraud if it bills twice for the same service. Unfortunately, Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) that are also Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) have been incorrectly advised by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid & Services (CMS) to do just that.
CCBHCs are entities that were created by a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) demonstration project to improve the availability and quality of services provided in community mental health centers. Once certified, the CCBHC is required to offer a specific range of services and meet standards for service. The model is intended to ensure access to coordinated comprehensive behavioral health care. CCBHCs are paid similar to FQHCs using a Prospective Payment System (PPS) rate that is based on certain costs to provide CCBHC services. Continue Reading Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics Beware!
Though much of U.S. government-sponsored pandemic relief has expired as the country approaches it third new year since its first reported cases of COVID-19, pandemic-related law changes exist that continue to impact employee benefit plans, and it is important that plan sponsors and administrators pay close attention to these changes as the new year approaches.
The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) of the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Department of Treasury and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a notification of relief, effective immediately, that extends certain critical deadlines in health, disability, and other welfare plans (Deadline Relief). This Deadline Relief requires that these plans extend certain deadlines that affect plan participants, beneficiaries, claimants and Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) qualified beneficiaries, by disregarding days during the COVID-19 “Outbreak Period” from counting toward statutory and regulatory timeframes.
The Outbreak Period began on March 1, 2020 and lasts until 60 days after the announced end of the “National Emergency” period for COVID-19 that was declared by the President.
These deadline extensions will impact employer plan sponsors, administrators and insurers.
Continue Reading Important Deadlines Delayed for Health and Welfare Plans due to COVID-19 Emergency: Impacts for Employer Plan Sponsors, Administrators, and Insurers
Several updates have made by the Oregon Health Authority (“OHA”) and the Health Evidence Review Commission (“HERC”) since this alert was first posted. The following is updated as of March 31, 2020.
On March 16, 2020, the Oregon Health Authority (“OHA”) issued a new temporary emergency rule revising OAR 410-130-0610 – OHA’s Medicaid telehealth reimbursement…
On March 13, 2020, President Donald Trump issued a proclamation declaring a national emergency concerning the novel coronavirus disease (the “Emergency Declaration”). The president framed the emergency declaration as empowering the Secretary of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) to waive “laws to enable telehealth,” which gave providers hope that the administration would remove some of the primary regulatory barriers to the broad implementation of telehealth services. In the days since the declaration, the administration has taken increasingly significant steps to do just that.
The Emergency Declaration authorized the Secretary of HHS to exercise his waiver authority under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. § 1320b–5). Section 1135 empowers the Secretary to waive or modify only certain provisions under Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (“CHIP”), and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) during a national emergency. Congress broadened these waiver authorities in the emergency supplemental appropriations bill, signed into law on March 6, which gave the Secretary additional authority under Section 1135 to loosen Medicare’s telehealth billing standards. It also specifically allowed the Secretary to waive the requirement that the beneficiary live in a rural area and receive the services at an approved remote site, such as a rural hospital.Continue Reading CMS Takes Significant Action to Spur Use of Telehealth Services for Duration of COVID-19 Emergency
Health care attorneys have long questioned whether there are significant Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) risks associated with financial transactions between Medicare Advantage plans and their participating providers. An ongoing case in the Northern District of Illinois could provide Medicare Advantage organizations with a clear answer regarding the nature of such risks.
United States ex rel. Derrick v. Roche Diagnostics Corp., brought by a qui tam relator under the False Claims Act, involves Roche Diagnostics Corp. (“Roche”), a manufacturer of glucose monitoring products, and Humana, Inc. (“Humana”), an issuer of Medicare Advantage plans (collectively the “Defendants”). United States ex rel. Derrick v. Roche Diagnostics Corp., 318 F. Supp. 3d 1106 (N.D. Ill. 2018). The relator alleges that the Defendants violated the AKS when Roche agreed to settle an overpayment owed by Humana for pennies on the dollar in exchange for the exclusive placement of Roche products on Humana’s formularies. This litigation has been ongoing since 2014 and the trial is set for early 2020.
Prior to the events giving rise to this action, Roche sold glucose monitoring products via Humana’s Medicare Advantage formularies. The relator alleges the following sequence of events. First, in March 2013 Humana notified Roche that it would be terminating its supplier contract with Roche and removed Roche’s products from its formularies. After protracted settlement negotiations, Roche agreed to accept only $11 million of the $45 million overpayment. That same week, Humana placed Roche products back on the Humana formularies and, crucially, also agreed to remove from its formularies all products that competed with Roche. Additionally, Roche “reserved the right to recover the full amount owed if Humana did not satisfactorily perform its obligations” under the debt forgiveness agreement. The relator claims that this exchange of debt forgiveness (remuneration) for formulary placement (recommendation/referral) amounted to an AKS violation.
Continue Reading AKS and Medicare Advantage Plans: Don’t Kickback and Relax!
Appeals Court ruling supports MA organization request for refund of B&O taxes paid on premiums
On April 1, 2019, the Washington Court of Appeals Division 1 ruled unanimously in a published opinion that premiums received by Medicare Advantage (“MA”) organizations from or on behalf of their members are not subject to Washington’s business and occupation…
Washington’s Insurance Commissioner Rolls Back Federal Attempt to Expand Access to Short-Term Health Plans
On October 17, 2018, the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (“OIC”) adopted a final rule that defines minimum standards for short-term limited-duration health insurance plans (“short-term plans”) in Washington State and rejects federal efforts to expand their availability. Short-term plans are…
The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation (the “Division”) recently issued a bulletin clarifying Oregon law and guidance applicable to association health plans (“AHPs”), which are multiple employer welfare arrangements (“MEWAs”) under ERISA. In Bulletin No. DFR 2018-07 (the “Bulletin”), the Division declined to adopt the more flexible criteria established by the recent U.S. Department of…
On August 1, 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a final rule that allows individuals to purchase short-term limited-duration health plans. Under the rule, short-term health plans can span an initial period of less than 12 months, with renewals and extensions capped at 36 months. Under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), lower-grade…