Monthly Archives: December 2018

Federal Court Enjoins Medicare Recoupment

Posted by Health Law Informer Author on December 31, 2018
Medicare / No Comments

Health insurance application form with money and stethoscopeA Houston federal judge preliminarily enjoined the government from recouping alleged Medicare overpayments made to an ambulance service company facing bankruptcy.  See Adams EMS, Inc. v. Azar, No. H-18-1443, 2018 BL 391263 (S.D. Tex. 2018).

As you may be aware, there is a massive backlog in the Medicare appeals process for alleged overpayments.  The government can begin recouping at step 3 of the arduous 4-step administrative appeal process for overpayment demands.  In a nutshell, the process involves: (1) seeking a redetermination from the Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC), (2) asking for reconsideration from a Qualified Independent Contractor, (3) requesting a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) of the Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals, and (4) appealing to the Medicare Appeals Council.  The law requires a decision on Step 3 within 90 days, but there is currently a 3-5 year backlog. Continue reading…

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CMS Releases Final ACO Regulations

Posted by Chris Raphaely on December 21, 2018
CMS / No Comments

This morning CMS released a final rule regarding its most popular program for accountable care organizations (ACOs), the Medicare Shared Savings Programs. The final rule is based on the proposed rule for the program that was published in August.  The final rule adopts the major structural overhaul contained in the proposed rule, the reduction of the program to two tracks, Basic and Enhanced, the 1 year limitation for most established (ACOs) to remain in an “upside only” risk model and the 2 year limitation for most new ACOs to remain in an “upside only” risk model. The final rule increased the percentage of savings that will be shared with an ACO in an “upside only” model from 25% as proposed to 40%.  The rule also gives approved ACOs the ability to operate patient incentive programs which include cash payments up to $20 from certain ACO professionals and federally qualified health centers for qualifying primary care services,  provides some ACOs with more flexibility with respect to reimbursement for telehealth services, and includes numerous other detailed changes to the program’s operations. Continue reading…

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“A Slow Game of Jenga:” Has a Federal Judge Toppled the Affordable Care Act?

Posted by Health Law Informer Author on December 18, 2018
ACA / No Comments

wood blocks gameLast Friday, in Texas v. United States, Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas (1) declared the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual mandate to be unconstitutional.  In so doing, the Judge, a President George W. Bush appointee, also (2) declared the remaining provisions of the ACA to be “inseverable” and therefore invalid.

Individual Mandate.  As you might recall, the Supreme Court’s 2012 NFIB v. Sebelius decision held that the individual mandate and the shared-responsibility penalty (when viewed as a whole) were constitutional because they fell within Congress’ power to tax.  The provision at the time was found to be a “tax” because, among other things, it produced revenue for the government.  (Under the shared responsibility penalty, non-exempt individuals without health insurance had to pay this tax.).  The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 subsequently amended the ACA by reducing the shared-responsibility payment to zero, starting in 2019.  According to the District Judge, when the shared-responsibility payment becomes zero, the individual mandate and the shared-responsibility payment together can no longer be classified as a “tax” and therefore lacks a constitutional hook. Continue reading…

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