Affordable Care Act

Finally! CMS Publishes the 60-Day Rule for Reporting and Repaying Medicare Overpayments

Posted by Ryan Blaney on February 12, 2016
ACA, Affordable Care Act, False Claims Act, Final Rule, Fraud and Abuse / No Comments

After four years and 200 comments, CMS finalized the much‑awaited “60‑Day Rule” for reporting and repaying Medicare Part A and B overpayments (CMS issued a Final Rule related to Medicare part C and D overpayments in the May 23, 2014 Federal Register, 79 FR 29844, and will address Medicaid overpayments in future rulemaking). The 60-Day Rule is part of CMS’s efforts to reduce fraud, waste, and abuse in the Medicare program.

Section 6402(d) of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), created section 1128J(d) of the Social Security Act (codified at 42 U.S.C. 1320a-7k(d)), requiring a person or entity who has received an overpayment to report and return the overpayment to the appropriate entity by the later of: (1) 60 days after the date on which the overpayment was “identified”; or (2) the date any corresponding cost report is due (if applicable). Importantly, the ACA also made reporting and repaying overpayments within 60 days an “obligation” under the False Claims Act (FCA), and therefore subject to FCA liability. Proof of specific intent to defraud the government is not required for a person or entity to be liable under the 60-Day Rule.

The Final Rule slightly relaxes some of the onerous requirements in the 2012 Proposed Rule:

Six Year Lookback Period: CMS responded to numerous comments and concerns that the proposed 10-year look back period for identifying overpayments was too long. The 60-Day Rule changed the lookback period to 6 years, consistent with the statutory limitations for the FCA.

Definition of Identify: CMS acknowledged the numerous comments submitted on what it means to “identify” an overpayment and said, “We agree and have revised the language … to clarify that part of identification is quantifying the amount, which requires a reasonably diligent investigation.” According to CMS, “[t]he Final Rule clarifies that a person has identified an overpayment when the person has or should have, through the exercise of reasonable diligence, determined that the person has received an overpayment and quantified the amount of the overpayment.” CMS warned Medicare providers and suppliers not to use the “ostrich defense”; reasonable diligence includes both proactive compliance activities conducted in good faith by qualified individuals, and good faith investigation of credible information conducted in a timely manner by qualified individuals. Quantification of the amount of the overpayment may be determined using statistical sampling and extrapolation methodologies.

How to Report and Return Overpayments: The Final Rule states that providers and suppliers must use an applicable claims adjustment, credit balance, self-reported refund, or another appropriate process to satisfy the obligation to report and return overpayments.

The Final 60-Day Rule is available at: https://federalregister.gov/a/2016-02789. By way of comparison, the February 16, 2012 Proposed Rule is available at:  https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-02-16/pdf/2012-3642.pdf

To learn more about reporting or making repayments under the Final Rule, please contact Ryan Blaney, Dana Petrillo or any member of Cozen O’Connor’s Health Law team.

Ryan Blaney

Ryan Blaney

Ryan Blaney joined Cozen O'Connor as a member of the firm's Health Law group. Ryan practices in the firm's Washington, D.C., office. He focuses his practice on representing clients in the health care and life sciences industries in a wide range of matters, including health care fraud and abuse, civil and criminal government investigations, qui tam and whistle-blower disputes under the False Claims Act and other federal and state laws and regulations, HIPAA privacy and data security, compliance and transactional services, and antitrust matters.

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Is This The Year Florida Recognizes Direct Primary Care?

Posted by Marc Goldsand on February 03, 2016
Affordable Care Act, DPC, Healthcare / No Comments

shutterstock_128160911Florida House Bill 37 and Florida Senate Bill 132, similar bills aiming to expressly authorize and regulate direct primary care medical home plans in the State of Florida (“DPCs”) and both stating that DPCs are not “insurance” under State law, have been smoothly sailing through committees in their respective chambers. The House Bill has already passed through the Select Committee on Affordable Healthcare Access, the Finance and Tax Committee, and the Health and Human Resources Committee. Its next step is a vote in front of the entire House. The Senate Bill cleared the Health and Policy Committee, but no word yet from the Banking and Insurance and Fiscal Policy Committees. At some point before the session ends on March 11, 2016, if they continue to move forward, the bills will be consolidated and approved by both chambers, after which the final bill will be subject to approval or veto of Governor Rick Scott. Passage is by no means certain, but there appears to be an appetite for this law with – so far – no real opposition this year.

 DPCs are private payment agreements between primary care physicians and their patients, whereby patients typically pay low dollar (perhaps $75 to $100) monthly payments directly to the provider for primary care services, in lieu of typical insurance covering primary care services.  In return for the monthly payments (which are easily collected by credit card or cash, without the need for insurance/managed care code-based reimbursement billing), primary care providers offer at little or no additional charge an array of primary care services to the member patients. When paired with a high-deductible “wrap-around” insurance policy, the DPCs comport with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.     

 

Marc Goldsand

Marc Goldsand joined Cozen O’Connor’s Miami office as an associate in the Health Care Practice Group in 2015. Marc focuses his practice on the corporate representation of physicians and healthcare businesses, bringing value and experience in an array of corporate and regulatory areas, including but not limited to, capital raising, enterprise sales, and mergers and acquisitions, while counseling clients regarding federal and state rules and regulations, including Anti-Kickback, Stark, Affordable Care Act, and HIPAA compliance and data privacy.

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Ignorance Is Not Bliss: The Clock under the ACA’s “60 Day Rule” Can Start Ticking Well Before the Exact Amount of Overpayment is Identified

Posted by Chris Raphaely on August 05, 2015
ACA, Affordable Care Act, False Claims Act, Medicaid, Medicare / No Comments

shutterstock_186812807

On August 3, 2015, a federal judge in the Southern District of New York ruled that the United States’ and state of New York’s complaints in intervention can move forward against a group of hospitals, under the federal False Claims Act (“FCA”) and New York’s FCA corollary. The hospitals allegedly failed to report and return Medicaid overpayments that were brought to their general attention over two years before all of the relevant repayments were made.

The judge’s opinion denying the defendants’ motions to dismiss in Kane v. Health First, et al. and U.S. v. Continuum Health Partners Inc. et. al., should be of particular note to providers because it contains extensive discussion and guidance as to how at least one federal judge interprets the Affordable Care Act’s (“ACA”) “60 day rule.” Specifically, the ACA’s rule requires any provider who receives an overpayment from Medicare or Medicaid to repay such overpayment within 60 days of the “date on which the overpayment was identified.” Further, retention of such an overpayment beyond the sixty-day period can result in liability under the FCA.

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Chris Raphaely

Chris Raphaely

R. Christopher Raphaely joined Cozen O'Connor's Philadelphia office in 2014 as co-chair of the Health Care Practice Group. Chris joins the firm from Jefferson Health System, where he served as deputy general counsel and general counsel to the system’s accountable care organization and captive professional liability insurance companies.

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Supreme Court Upholds ACA Subsidies: What’s Next?

Posted by Chris Raphaely on June 26, 2015
ACA, Affordable Care Act / No Comments

On Thursday, June 25, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its much anticipated ruling in King v. Burwell, the second major Court challenge to a core element of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”).  The Court, by a 6-3 margin, issued a victory for the ACA.

King v. Burwell was not a challenge to the ACA per se.  Rather, the plaintiffs challenged an Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) rule which permits the provision of subsidies for the purchase of health insurance to lower-income residents of states that use Healthcare.gov, the exchange operated by the federal government.  Essentially, the plaintiffs, and three Justices in a vigorous dissent penned by Justice Scalia, argued that the plain language of the statute limited the subsidies to residents of states that operate their own exchanges.  This would have eliminated subsidies in at least 36 states, and would have had innumerable indirect effects on other provisions of ACA (including eliminating the penalties for violations of the employer mandate in those states).

Although the decision will be of great interest politically and to administrative and constitutional law scholars, it does nothing to change the implementation of the ACA.  The exchange system that is currently in place will move forward unless it is changed legislatively or by executive action. This was welcomed by businesses in the two sectors most directly affected by the ruling, insurance and health care providers, and was reflected  in  sharp one day gains of stock prices for the large insurance companies and for-profit hospital chains.

Another aspect of the ACA that will now definitely move forward as a result of the decision is the scheduled implementation of the employer mandate on January 1, 2016.  Accordingly, affected entities (employers of 50 or more full time equivalents) should continue, and in some cases quickly step up, their compliance efforts by reviewing their employment and benefits policies to make certain that they do not run afoul of the employer mandate once it becomes fully effective.

Chris Raphaely

Chris Raphaely

R. Christopher Raphaely joined Cozen O'Connor's Philadelphia office in 2014 as co-chair of the Health Care Practice Group. Chris joins the firm from Jefferson Health System, where he served as deputy general counsel and general counsel to the system’s accountable care organization and captive professional liability insurance companies.

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Another Health Plan Hit By Massive CyberAttack and Class Actions Follow

Coming fresh off the heels of the Anthem data breach Premera Blue Cross announced on March 17th that it was the victim of a “sophisticated” cyberattack that may have exposed the personal information of approximately 11 million of its members.  Premera has approximately 6 million members residing in the State of Washington, 250,000 members residing in Oregon and 80,000 members residing in Alaska.  Premera stated that the cyberattack began sometime in May of 2014 but was not discovered until the end of January 2015.   According to Premera, the information exposed may include social security numbers, bank account information, and medical and financial information, including clinical information.

Three state insurance commissioners (Washington, Oregon and Alaska) have already launched a joint investigation and a market conduct examination of Premera related to the breach.  The joint investigation will include on-site reviews of Premera’s financial books, records, transactions, and Premera’ cybersecurity.  The Washington Insurance Commissioner has expressed concern over the length of time (approximately six weeks) it took for Premera to notify his office of the attack.  Alaska’s governor ordered all state agencies to review their online security safeguards as well as those put in play by their business associates.  Premera is also conducting an internal forensic investigation by a cybersecurity firm and is cooperating with the FBI in a criminal investigation.

Combined with the cyberattacks on Community Health Systems and Anthem, this is the third large attack on a member of the health care industry announced in the last seven months, and these three breaches may have collectively impacted approximately 95.5 million people.   As these attacks illustrate, health information is now a high priority target for cybercriminals.  Currently a complete health record may be worth at least ten times more than credit card information on the black market as health records often include a wealth of personal information that can be used for identity theft and to file false health insurance claims.  Further, the data security protections currently in place in the health care industry tend to lag behind those in the banking and financial sector, which makes the information vulnerable to attack by those who view the valuable information as “low hanging fruit.”

Similar to the Anthem and the Community Health Systems breaches, Premera was immediately hit by a proposed class action accusing Premera of negligence and inadequate security.  The March 26, 2015 Complaint alleges that Premera breached its duty of care by failing to secure and safeguard the personal and health information of its members and negligently maintaining a system that it knew was vulnerable to a security breach.  The Complaint further alleges that Premera has a duty to secure and safeguard the personal health information of its members under HIPAA and its failure to implement security and privacy safeguards was a violation of HIPAA.  The Complaint also alleges violations of state consumer protection laws and data disclosure laws.

As evident by the Anthem and Premera breaches, a single security incident resulting in a data breach can have significant consequences for health care companies and business associates that include government investigations, class action lawsuits, and a hit to the organization’s reputation.  To manage this risk, we encourage all companies handling health information to conduct comprehensive risk assessments and to create, review and update their data security policies and procedures to ensure that they are doing enough to adequately protect the health information maintained on their IT systems and elsewhere in their organization.

Ryan Blaney

Ryan Blaney

Ryan Blaney joined Cozen O'Connor as a member of the firm's Health Law group. Ryan practices in the firm's Washington, D.C., office. He focuses his practice on representing clients in the health care and life sciences industries in a wide range of matters, including health care fraud and abuse, civil and criminal government investigations, qui tam and whistle-blower disputes under the False Claims Act and other federal and state laws and regulations, HIPAA privacy and data security, compliance and transactional services, and antitrust matters.

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On the Horizon … A Possible “Permanent” Cure to Medicare’s “Doc Fix”

Posted by Ryan Blaney on March 27, 2015
Affordable Care Act, Medicare / No Comments

11In a historic bipartisan moment, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a nearly 300-page bill that is intended to “repeal the Medicare sustainable growth rate [“SGR”] and strengthen Medicare access by improving physician payments and making other improvements.” The legislation, titled the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, which is referred to as the Medicare “doc fix”, is the result of ongoing bipartisan efforts to resolve an unpopular physician reimbursement system that if not overridden each year would cut Medicare doctor’s pay by a notable percentage. The annual reimbursement cut would occur as required under the federal Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (the “BBA”), if not for the annual fixes set into motion by Congress. In a March 25, 2015 letter from the Congressional Budget Office (“CBO”) to House Speaker Boehner, the CBO explained that the BBA established the SGR formula “to ensure that real—that is, adjusted for inflation—spending per [Medicare] beneficiary for physicians’ services would grow on average at a rate of increase in gross domestic protect per capita minus the expected rate of increase in productivity for the economy as a whole.”

According to news outlets and press conferences, President Obama is ready to sign the bill once the Senate passes it. In the CBO’s letter to House Speaker Boehner, it estimated that this bill will increase:

  • The federal budget deficits by $141 billion;
  • Direct spending by approximately $145 billon; and
  • Revenues by approximately $4 billion.

Under the Bill, Medicare’s payment rates for services on the physician fee schedule would increase by 0.5 percent a year for services furnished through 2019.  From 2019 through 2025 payments will remain the same but Medicare doctors will be eligible for merit-based bonus payments consistent with Medicare initiatives such as care models that shift away from fee for services.

Many expected the Bill to pass the Senate on Friday, March 27th but the Bill was not put up for a vote and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the bill will not get a vote until mid-April when the Senate returns from its recess.  CMS has provided notice that they will be able to hold payment for 14 calendar days to avoid a rate cut.

For further information contact Cozen O’Connor’s health care team.  We will continue to monitor and provide updates.

Ryan Blaney

Ryan Blaney

Ryan Blaney joined Cozen O'Connor as a member of the firm's Health Law group. Ryan practices in the firm's Washington, D.C., office. He focuses his practice on representing clients in the health care and life sciences industries in a wide range of matters, including health care fraud and abuse, civil and criminal government investigations, qui tam and whistle-blower disputes under the False Claims Act and other federal and state laws and regulations, HIPAA privacy and data security, compliance and transactional services, and antitrust matters.

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Going Paperless: FDA Releases Draft Guidelines to Digitize Clinical Trials

Posted by Ryan Blaney on March 12, 2015
Affordable Care Act, CMS, Medicare, Uncategorized / No Comments

 

FDA ShutterstockThe FDA released draft guidelines (“Guidelines”) on Monday, March 9, 2015 establishing recommendations on the use of e-media and processes to obtain informed consent for clinical investigations (trials) of medical products including human drug and biological products, medical devices and combinations. The Guidelines provide useful insight for how the FDA recommends clinical investigators, sponsors and institutional review boards (“IRB”) should use e-informed consent for a clinical trial.

The FDA defines e-informed consent as “using electronic systems and processes that may employ multiple electronic media (e.g., text, graphics, audio, video, podcasts and interactive Web sites, biological recognition devices, and card readers) to convey information related to the study and to obtain and document informed consent.” The FDA reminds clinical investigators and sponsors that informed consent is more than just a subject’s signature.  Informed consent – whether completed electronically or in paper form – includes providing prospective clinical trial participants with enough information regarding the research to enable them to make an informed decision regarding whether to participate in the study. The subjects must have “adequate information” about the research.  Clinical investigators and sponsors may use video conferencing (i.e. Skype) to answer a subject’s questions about the clinical trial.

The Guidelines also include a question and answer section containing 14 inquires such as:

  • How information in an e-informed consent should be presented to subjects;
  • How/where e-informed consent processes should be conducted; and
  • How/when questions from subjects should be answered.

Similar to CMS and states recognizing the authenticity of e-signatures, this guidance demonstrates the FDA’s desire to digitize health care and respond to the increased patient access to clinical trials in states passing “right-to-try” bills.  Right-to-try bills generally permit doctors and terminally ill patients to negotiate directly with drug companies to obtain experimental drugs that have passed Phase-I trials. Stay tuned for a forthcoming Health Law Informer blog announcing the FDA’s release of the e-informed consent final guidelines, which clinical investigators, sponsors and IRBs will want to consider implementing.

For further information contact the Cozen O’Connor’s health care team or the authors Ryan P. Blaney (Washington, DC) and J. Nicole Martin (Philadelphia, PA).

Ryan Blaney

Ryan Blaney

Ryan Blaney joined Cozen O'Connor as a member of the firm's Health Law group. Ryan practices in the firm's Washington, D.C., office. He focuses his practice on representing clients in the health care and life sciences industries in a wide range of matters, including health care fraud and abuse, civil and criminal government investigations, qui tam and whistle-blower disputes under the False Claims Act and other federal and state laws and regulations, HIPAA privacy and data security, compliance and transactional services, and antitrust matters.

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Co-Chair of Cozen O’Connor’s Health Care Practice Discusses the Affordable Care Act in the New York Times

Posted by Chris Raphaely on March 10, 2015
Affordable Care Act, Medicaid / No Comments

Mark H. Gallant, co-chair of Cozen O’Connor’s Health Care practice group and a nationally respected health care lawyer, was quoted in a recent New York Times article discussing the Supreme Court arguments in the case, King v. Burwell. At issue in the case is the right to federal subsidies for the purchase of health insurance by individuals who reside in states that have chosen to have the federal government run their health insurance exchange.  If decided for the plaintiffs, the case could have a drastic effect on the future of the controversial Affordable Care Act.

Mark has been a go-to contact for the press on these type of issues for many years, recently providing insight into another Supreme Court case regarding the rights of providers to sue states over Medicaid payment rates in Bloomberg Business News. With the Affordable Care Act’s mandate to expand health care coverage and states still facing significant budgetary constraints, various media outlets will no doubt be seeking out Mark’s insights as the issues surrounding the payment for expanded health care coverage play out.

Some Supreme Court Justices Cite 2012 Argument Against Health Care Law as Defense for It Now – New York Times – March 8, 2015

Why the Supreme Court’s Medicaid Decision Matters – Bloomberg Business – January 20, 2015

Chris Raphaely

Chris Raphaely

R. Christopher Raphaely joined Cozen O'Connor's Philadelphia office in 2014 as co-chair of the Health Care Practice Group. Chris joins the firm from Jefferson Health System, where he served as deputy general counsel and general counsel to the system’s accountable care organization and captive professional liability insurance companies.

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HHS Ups The Ante: Announces Percentages And Time Frames On Goals For Medicare Pay-For-Value Efforts

Posted by Chris Raphaely on January 27, 2015
Accountable Care Organizations, Affordable Care Act, CMS, HHS, Medicaid, Medicare / No Comments

On January 26, 2015, the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), Sylvia Mathews Burwell, announced two important goals for the Department:

  1. Increase the percentage of Medicare provider payments that are made through alternative payment models based on how well the providers care for patients, rather than the amount of care provided. The percentage goals for these alternative payment models are 30% by 2016 and 50% by 2018.
  2. Tie virtually all Medicare fee-for-service payments (85% in 2016 and 90% in 2018) to quality and value.

This announcement puts hard numbers on the goal to move away from traditional fee-for-service Medicare payments that has been stated generally since at least 2010 when the Affordable Care Act was enacted. By clearly delineating specific figures for alternative payment models, such as accountable care organizations and bundled payment arrangements, from those figures for payment methods, HHS has made it clear that providers should be thinking not just about different forms of payment but different forms of organizations and relationships with other providers. Alternative payment models generally require coordination among different types of providers who may not otherwise be related to each other.

While the announced goals focus on the Medicare fee-for-service system, it is clear that HHS intends the impact of these goals to be far broader. Ms. Burwell also announced the creation of a Health Care Payment Learning and Action Network to facilitate a public-private sector partnership to “continue to build on our work with state Medicaid agencies, private payers, employers, consumers and other partners,” while welcoming the fact that “our partners in the private sector have the opportunity to be even more aggressive” in establishing alternative payment models and pay-for-value compensation systems. On the same day as Ms. Burwell’s announcement, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a fact sheet stating that it is taking action with a goal to spend “our health dollars” more wisely, citing the importance of the goal for patients, families, providers, tax payers, employers, states and insurance companies, and making it clear that HHS and CMS fully intend to have their efforts to transform health care delivery and payment systems to reverberate well beyond the Medicare program.

Chris Raphaely

Chris Raphaely

R. Christopher Raphaely joined Cozen O'Connor's Philadelphia office in 2014 as co-chair of the Health Care Practice Group. Chris joins the firm from Jefferson Health System, where he served as deputy general counsel and general counsel to the system’s accountable care organization and captive professional liability insurance companies.

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CMS and ACOs: A Busy Summer and a Busier Fall

Posted by Chris Raphaely on August 05, 2014
ACA, Accountable Care Organizations, Affordable Care Act, HIPAA, HITECH, Medicare, Privacy / No Comments

 

It has been a busy summer so far for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) with respect to Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), as the agency has proposed altering the quality reporting measures under the Medicare Shared Savings Program (“MSSP”) for 2015 and beyond.  Expect an even busier fall as other, potentially broader, proposed rule changes for ACOs are analyzed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and both sets of proposals wind their way through the public comment process.

The proposed changes concerning quality reporting would revise and update the measures used to evaluate MSSP ACOs’ performance. Overall, the CMS says it would like to focus more on outcome-based measures (as opposed to process-based measures), reduce duplicative measures, and reflect current clinical practices without increasing ACO’s reporting burden.

More specifically, the CMS proposes to add 12 new measures and remove eight, which would increase the total number of quality measures from 33 to 37. The new measures relate to “avoidable” admissions for patients with multiple chronic conditions, heart failure, and diabetes; depression readmission; readmissions to skilled nursing facilities; patient discussion of prescription costs; and updated composite measures for diabetes and coronary artery disease.

The CMS would like to modify the scoring system to award bonus points toward shared savings to ACOs that make year-over-year improvements on individual measures. Moreover, the agency would like to modify its benchmarking methodology to use flat percentages to establish the benchmark for a measure when the national FSS data results in the 90th percentile being greater than or equal to 95 percent. And, finally, the CMS proposes several ways to align MSSP reporting requirements with other reporting programs, including Medicare’s Electronic Health Records Incentive Program and the Physician Quality Reporting System.

Fewer details are available about the next set of proposed rules changes, which were submitted to OMB on June 26 and will be printed in the Federal Register after review. It is expected that these regulations will include changes to the MSSP’s payment provisions. The proposed changes would apply to existing ACOs and approved ACO applicants starting January 1, 2016. As soon as the text of the rule becomes publicly available, the Health Law Informer will provide more information.

Chris Raphaely

Chris Raphaely

R. Christopher Raphaely joined Cozen O'Connor's Philadelphia office in 2014 as co-chair of the Health Care Practice Group. Chris joins the firm from Jefferson Health System, where he served as deputy general counsel and general counsel to the system’s accountable care organization and captive professional liability insurance companies.

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