Hospital Tier Status in Payor Network Agreements

Posted by J. Nicole Martin and Chris Raphaely on March 21, 2018
Healthcare / No Comments

gavel and bookBergen County Superior Court Judge Robert Contillo issued a recent decision deemed favorable by Horizon Healthcare Services Inc. (“Horizon”) in a case involving three healthcare providers (“Providers”) that challenged Horizon’s newer tiered health coverage plan for hospitals: OMNIA. The Providers alleged that Horizon unfairly designated them as Tier 2 Providers, a tier in which OMNIA Members access providers while incurring higher out-of-pocket costs than they would when accessing those providers in Tier 1. Although certain other claims may proceed, Judge Contillo dismissed the breach of contract claim because he determined that Horizon did not breach the network hospital agreements by “failing to include [the Providers] in Tier 1” because “[t]he plain and unambiguous language [under the agreement] does not guarantee that [the Providers] be included in Horizon’s new products, networks or subnetworks.”

This decision illustrates that tiered designation disputes between hospitals and payors may hinge on the language of the applicable network hospital agreements. Hospitals and other providers are encouraged to review their existing contracts and address this issue in future contracts to determine the level of discretion payors may have in including them in tiered and limited network products. As insurers continue to develop new products designed to lower costs, this will continue to be an important consideration for most providers.

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2018 Telemedicine Benchmark Survey Shows Industry Trends

Posted by Rene Quashie on March 20, 2018
Telemedicine / No Comments

doctor typing on laptop telemedicineEach year, REACH Health publishes an industry benchmark survey that provides great insight into what telemedicine industry leaders are thinking.  Its most recently published survey is no different.  The 2018 survey was conducted among healthcare executives, physicians, and other professionals during December 2017 and January 2018.  Survey participants spanned the industry with almost half representing health systems and hospitals. Here are some takeaways from the survey:

  • 70 percent of respondents view telemedicine as a top or high priority.
  • About half are taking an enterprise approach to telemedicine, a significant increase from last year’s survey.
  • A majority of organizations plan to increase or maintain investments in telemedicine.
  • Improving patient outcomes and providing access to rural patients were the two top objectives for telemedicine programs cited by respondents.
  • 60 percent view the designation of a full-time dedicated program manager as a key to success of a telemedicine program.
  • Improved patient satisfaction was the most cited contributor to ROI, consistent with the past few surveys.
  • Facility settings that require more specialized treatment tended to have more mature telemedicine programs. Related to that, certain specialties such as stroke, behavioral health, radiology, and neurology, have more mature telemedicine programs.
  • Integrated audio/video for live engagement was the technology feature considered the most valuable to an organization with over 90 percent of respondents agreeing.

Continue reading…

DOH Finalizes Temporary Regulations for Clinical Registrants and Academic Clinical Research Centers

The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) published the much anticipated final version of the temporary regulations under the Medical Marijuana Act applicable to Clinical Registrants and Academic Clinical Research Centers (ACRC) in Pennsylvania (“Temporary Regulations”). The Clinical Registrant/ACRC relationship was first developed in Pennsylvania with a specific focus on research.  A Clinical Registrant is a unique category of Medical Marijuana Organization under Pennsylvania law that is granted a permit to act as both a grower/processor and dispensary. An ACRC is “an accredited medical school” in Pennsylvania that “operates or partners with an acute care hospital licensed and operating” in Pennsylvania. The Temporary Regulations require Clinical Registrants and ACRCs to enter into Research Contracts together and provide some broad guidance about the content of those written agreements. Additionally, the Temporary Regulations address certification of ACRCs, capital requirements, approvals for clinical registrants, and the process for Clinical Registrant applicants who wish to convert their already issued grower/processor or dispensary permits to Clinical Registrant permits.

For more information about the Temporary Regulations or the Medical Marijuana Act, contact Chris Raphaely, J. Nicole Martin or another member of Cozen O’Connor’s Cannabis Industry Team.

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CMS Approves Medicaid Waiver Requiring “Community Engagement”

Posted by Mark Gallant and Robert A. Chu on January 25, 2018
CMS, Medicaid / No Comments

Medicaid, health concept. Stethoscope, syringe and pills on grey backgroundAs a first in the history of the Medicaid program, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approved, on January 12, 2018, Kentucky’s section 1115 waiver application that imposes on many beneficiaries a “community engagement” requirement as a condition of Medicaid eligibility.  This is commonly referred to as a “work” requirement, given that it can be satisfied through employment.  The prior administration had rejected similar work requirements proposed under an Arkansas waiver requirement as falling outside the boundaries of the Secretary’s statutory authority under Title XIX of the Social Security Act to provide “medical assistance” to designated indigent populations.

The following are some takeaways from the Kentucky HEALTH approved demonstration project.

What must affected beneficiaries do?  Beneficiaries subject to the requirement must demonstrate completion of 80 hours (each month) of community engagement activities.  Otherwise, they will lose Medicaid coverage.  Beneficiaries can fulfill the requirement through a combination of employment, education, job skills training, or community service. Continue reading…

End of 2017 Marked by Scaling Back of Obama Era Nursing Home Financial Penalties under the Trump Administration

Posted by J. Nicole Martin on January 05, 2018
CMS / No Comments

CMS outlined changes to the nursing home survey process in a October 2017 memo to state survey agency directors, which scaled down the use and severity of civil monetary penalties (CMPs) for certain nursing home deficiencies. Shortly thereafter, CMS released a November 2017 memo that among other things, outlined an 18-month moratorium on the imposition of CMPs, discretionary denials of payment for new admissions and discretionary termination by surveyors for survey deficiencies identified by the following eight  “F” tags: Continue reading…

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The Effects of Tax Reform on the Affordable Care Act: An Attempt at Death by a Thousand Cuts

Posted by Dana Petrillo on December 22, 2017
ACA, Affordable Care Act / No Comments

The sweeping Republican tax reform bill, H.R. 1 (115), was passed by Congress on Wednesday afternoon, and signed by President Trump today. Although the President said on Wednesday that, “ObamaCare has been repealed in this bill,” due to the bill’s elimination of the Individual Mandate, it remains to be seen whether this will truly strike the final blow to ObamaCare (the Affordable Care Act, or “ACA”) as envisioned by the President.

If the ACA manages to survive, it will not be for lack of trying on the Trump administration’s part. On top of the elimination of the Individual Mandate, the Trump administration has removed some subsidies, halved the insurance enrollment period, destroyed the Obamacare marketing campaign, and has permitted skimpy new health plans that will inflict even more damage on the ACA. All together, these add up to an incremental corrosion of the law.

However, although the ACA is weakened, it has so far survived the assault, even if in a diminished form. In fact, numerous polls have found that the ACA is increasingly popular with the American public. And several factors indicate that the ACA may be able to weather the storm. Continue reading…

CMS Waives Medicaid Retroactive Eligibility for Iowa: Is Your State Next?

Posted by Mark Gallant and Robert A. Chu on December 01, 2017
Medicaid / No Comments

Medicaid, health concept. Stethoscope, syringe and pills on grey backgroundSince 1973, the Social Security Act has mandated that states provide retroactive Medicaid benefits for three months prior to the individual’s application.  SSA § 1902(a)(34).  Congress enacted this provision to provide coverage to those lacking knowledge about their Medicaid eligibility and to those whose sudden illness prevented them from applying.  Senate Report No. 92-1230, at 209 (Sept. 26, 1972).  Providers benefit from retroactive eligibility through the ability to enroll uninsured patients in Medicaid retroactively, including after discharge, to avoid uncompensated care costs.

Seeking to trim Medicaid expenditures, Iowa’s Governor this year signed a law requiring the State to seek a CMS waiver from the retroactive eligibility requirement.  When the State agency asked the public for comments on its waiver proposal, only one commenter expressed support.  The vast majority expressed concern that many patients—especially trauma patients who might lack the ability to promptly file Medicaid applications—would face new coverage gaps.  The State itself projected that the waiver would shed 3,000 members (monthly) and would slash Medicaid expenditures by $36.8 million (annually).  Providers unsurprisingly voiced concern that the waiver would increase uncompensated care costs. Continue reading…

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Telehealth Report Offers Glimpse Into Variety and Complexity of State Telehealth Laws and Policies

Posted by Rene Quashie on November 13, 2017
Regulations, Telehealth, Telemedicine / No Comments

In the recently published fall update of the fifth annual edition of its telehealth report, the Center for Connected Health Policy, the federally designated National Telehealth Policy Resource Center, provides a current summary guide to telehealth-related laws, regulations, and policies for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and tracks a number of telehealth trends. The report offers a revealing glimpse into the scope and complexity of state laws and policies governing telehealth. The authors conclude, however, that despite the fact that state laws and Medicaid policies “differ significantly” certain trends are coming into relief. Here are some highlights of the report:

  • 48 states and the District of Columbia provide reimbursement for live video consults in their Medicaid fee-for service programs.
  • States alternate between the terms “telemedicine” and “telehealth,” and in some states, both terms are explicitly defined in statute or regulation.
  • 15 state Medicaid programs reimburse for store-and-forward services.
  • 21 Medicaid programs reimburse for remote patient monitoring.
  • 36 states and the District of Columbia have laws governing coverage by private payers of telehealth services.
  • In the 2017 legislative session, 44 states introduced over 200 telehealth-related pieces of legislation addressing issues such as reimbursement and the standard of care.
  • 30 jurisdictions have telehealth informed consent requirements (depending on the state, may apply to Medicaid only, certain specialties, or to all telehealth transactions in the state).
  • 22 states are now part of the Federation of State Medical Boards’ Interstate Medical Licensure Compact facilitating multi-state licensure for physicians in those states.
  • 32 states reimburse a transmission fee, facility fee, or both.
  • 9 state medical/osteopathic medical boards issue special licenses/certificates related to telehealth.


Hospitals Will Need Psychiatrists and Mental Health Professionals to Satisfy EMTALA

Hospitals that have emergency departments should call upon their “available resources” to screen and stabilize patients with mental health emergencies as required by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (“EMTALA”) according to recent statements by an analyst for CMS and an attorney with the Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) for the Department of Health and Human Services.

While speaking at the American College of Emergency Physicians annual meeting in Chicago, the CMS representative noted that EMTALA requires hospitals with emergency departments to provide a medical screening within the capabilities of the hospital by a person who is qualified to do the examination, which, if the hospital offers psychiatric services, would include a psychiatrist.  While the initial screening must be done with medical personnel such as a psychiatrist, the CMS official stated that other mental health professionals may be qualified to assist in those examinations.

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The White House’s One-Two Punch to Obamacare: A Knockout Blow to the ACA?

Posted by Robert A. Chu and Chris Raphaely on October 16, 2017
ACA, Affordable Care Act / No Comments

Health insurance application form with money and stethoscopeIn moves that stunned and alarmed insurers, providers, and consumers alike, on October 12, the White House issued an announcement and an Executive Order that appear to be purposefully designed to decimate the Exchanges under the ACA:

  1. The White House announced that the government will stop making cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies under Obamacare.  According to the White House, there is no appropriation for such payments.  As the Exchange plans will still be obligated to bear the costs of the cost-sharing reductions, premiums for Exchange plans that remain in the market would be expected to rise dramatically.  Many Exchange plans have termination provisions which allow them to terminate their 2018 contracts if the cost-sharing subsidies stop.  On October 13, eighteen states and the District of Columbia sued the administration to restore the funding.
  2. The President also issued an Executive Order requiring the relevant agencies to consider regulations or guidance (1) allowing more employers to form association health plans (AHPs) and (2) expanding the availability of short-term, limited-duration insurance (STLDI).  If the regulations come to fruition, younger and healthier people are expected to be siphoned from Exchange products and into cheaper AHPs and STLDI plans (that potentially offer skimpier coverage), creating adverse selection.  Premiums will rise for those left in the Exchanges.

Is the ultimate goal of these moves the total destruction of the Exchanges?  Are they bargaining chips designed to bring Congress back to the table to fix the “problems” with the ACA?  If the latter, will Medicaid spending cuts sought by many Republicans be part of that discussion?  Stay tuned.

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