Posted by J. Nicole Martin
on October 13, 2014
On Friday October 10, 2014, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) jointly announced a $38 million settlement with a skilled nursing facility (SNF), Extendicare Health Services Inc. (Extendicare) and its subsidiary Progressive Step Corporation (ProStep). Extendicare owns and operates 146 SNFs in eleven states. Prostep offers Extendicare residents occupational, physical and speech rehabilitation services.
The settlement stemmed from allegations in two qui tam cases: United States ex rel. Lovvorn v. EHSI, et. al. C.A. 10-1580 (E.D. Pa); and United States ex rel. Gallick et al., v. EHSI et al., C.A. 2:13cv-092 (S.D. Ohio). The allegations were that Extendicare (1) “billed Medicare and Medicaid for materially substandard nursing services that were so deficient that they were effectively worthless”; and (2) “billed Medicare for medically unreasonable and unnecessary rehabilitation therapy services.” Continue reading…
Posted by Dana Petrillo
on October 10, 2014
Choosing a nursing home can be a daunting task for consumers who often have myriad questions regarding the quality of care available at the nursing homes in their areas. To help answer these questions, CMS has created the Nursing Home Compare website, which provides consumers with easy-to-compare ratings of nursing homes’ staffing, quality measures, and health inspections, as well as an overall rating, of each nursing home in the country. To help consumers make informed decisions about nursing home quality, CMS uses the Five Star Quality Rating System, by which CMS compares data from nursing home inspections, self-reports, and assessments. Based on this information CMS calculates nursing homes’ star levels on a scale of one to five, with five stars being much above average and one star being much below average.
However, there has been concern over the accuracy of the self-reported data that CMS uses in calculating its star ratings. To improve the Five Star Quality Rating System, and to standardize the results, Congress recently passed the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act (“IMPACT Act”). The IMPACT Act will require providers to submit standardized data to allow CMS to compare quality across different post-acute care settings, and will provide funding for the quarterly electronic submission of nursing home staffing information that is tied to payroll data. CMS will also increase both the number and type of quality measures used in the Five Star Quality Rating System. The first additional measure, starting January 2015, will be the extent to which antipsychotic medications are in use. Future additional measures will include claims-based data on re-hospitalization and community discharge rates. Continue reading…
Posted by J. Nicole Martin
on July 02, 2014
Pennsylvania Department of Health
The Pennsylvania Department of Health (“DOH”) Bureau of Laboratories (“Bureau”) recently announced that it will begin to phase-in enforcement of Act 122, which amended the Pennsylvania Clinical Laboratory Act (“Lab Act”), even though Act 122 became effective on December 18, 2013. The Bureau also issued additional guidance regarding Act 122 in its Frequently Asked Questions, Volume 1 and Volume 2 (“FAQs”).
According to its Senate Co-Sponsorship Memoranda, the purpose of Act 122 was to: (1) prohibit the “placing of phlebotomists or specimen collectors in physician and other health care provider offices in the Commonwealth;” and (2) afford Pennsylvania laboratories “the ability to compete on a level playing field with out-of-state labs” who had been able to place staff in providers’ offices “without fear of sanction.” However, the broad language of Act 122 will also affect laboratories’ ability to collect specimens from skilled nursing facilities (“SNFs”). Continue reading…