ATTORNEY ADVERTISING

RECOVERY AUDIT CONTRACTOR (RAC)
We have extensive experience with RAC audits and appeals, working directly with healthcare entities subject to RAC audits.
STARK ANDANTI-KICKBACK
We have represented Independent Diagnostic Testing Facilities (“IDTFs”), mobile leasing entities, radiology group practices, and other imaging providers.
STAFF PRIVILEGES & LICENSING MATTERS
We provide assistance and guidance through the legal process focused on the goal of resolving your matter successfully and efficiently.
Published on:

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has published a 957-page final rule that confirms changes made to the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP). This new rule will be expected to have a substantial impact on Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) that rely on one-sided risk models, in so far as ACOs in the program will be forced to assume a larger amount of financial risk than under the current landscape. CMS’s new program, “Pathways to Success”, will afford smaller, physician-led ACOs a period of three years to remain in a one-sided risk model. All new ACOs will have two years, while existing ACOs with one-sided risk models will only have solely a year to adopt the new program and assume the additional financial risk.

CMS has also reduced the shared savings rate to 40% for ACOs that do not assume risk for health care costs, but the 50% rate for ACOs at all other levels of financial risk remains unchanged. With this new rule, announced December 21, 2018, CMS projects $2.9 billion in savings over the next ten years as ACOs take on more risk.

In CMS’s current program, which has been in effect for six years, ACOs were eligible to receive a portion of any savings that were generated, provided that they met quality standards for the care they provided to their patients. Currently, only a limited number of ACOs are subject to any sort of financial penalties in cases in which costs increase. However, from the experience running MSSP, CMS has been able to determine that ACOs that are required to take responsibility for costs tend to perform better than those that do not. This new rule provides incentives for ACOs to provide high-quality care in order to generate additional savings for themselves.

Published on:

The Patient Test Result Information Act – commonly referred to as Act 112 – now requires Pennsylvania imaging entities to directly communicate with patients if the entity finds “significant abnormalities” in the patient’s test results, as well as to continue to follow normal reporting procedure to inform the ordering physician. The catalyst for this legislation, signed by PA Governor Tom Wolf on October 24, 2018, was the perceived risk that the increased workload of health care providers increases the prospects that test results may be overlooked or misread. PA State Representative Marguerite Quinn, who introduced the bill, expressed worry over “two situations in which abnormal test results were not communicated to the patient, resulting in the unnecessary death of both people” in a February 20, 2015 memo. These circumstances caused her to press for better communication between imaging centers and any person who receives outpatient diagnostic imaging services.

A “significant abnormality” is defined by the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) as “a finding by a diagnostic imaging service of an abnormality which would cause a reasonably prudent person to seek additional or follow-up medical care within three months.”

Act 112 became effective on December 23, 2018 and will require imaging entities who provide outpatient services to notify their patients within 20 days of the date their results were sent to the ordering physician. The notification does not need to include a copy of the test results, but does need to include certain information, described below:

Published on:

Established in 1986, the National Practitioner Data Bank (“NPDB”) is a “repository of reports that contain information on medical malpractice payments and certain adverse actions related to health care practitioners, providers, and suppliers.” NPDB website. Under the NPDB, hospitals and other entities with peer review committees, health plans, and numerous others are required to report certain adverse actions to the centralized database. Reporting to the NPDB (or failing to report) has serious consequences to both mandatory report entities and practitioners that are reported. Entities that report improperly (or properly), may face lawsuits from reported practitioners. Conversely, reported practitioners who appear on the NPDB (properly or improperly) may have lasting career and reputational effects.

The NPDB Guidebook provides interpretation of NPDB requirements for mandatory report entities. On October 26, 2018, the Guidebook was updated for the first time since April 2015. While many of the October 2018 updates to the NPDB are editorial changes, there were also modifications made regarding what is considered a reportable surrender of privileges, as well as other reporting descriptions. These changes will likely lead to more reporting events.

These changes occurred predominately in Chapter E: Reports, Reporting Adverse Clinical Privileges Actions, with the addition of a new section entitled “Length of Restriction”. This section clarifies that, regardless of how a restriction order is written, if a professional review action affects the privileges of a practitioner in a negative way for longer than 30 days, it is reportable. This update appears to be a response to a 2017 federal court ruling that found that a proctoring restriction was not reportable because it was not clear that the restriction would take more than 30 days.

Published on:

Two cases brought against an Alabama-based hospice company will result in an almost $6 million settlement payment. In two whistleblower complaints filed in 2013 by two former employees, one of which who worked as a clinical director in a Pennsylvania branch, SouthernCare Inc. is accused of wrongly billing Medicare for unnecessary hospice care. When the federal government decided to intervene in September of 2016, the cases were combined.

The complaints against SouthernCare include allegations that the company put patients in their hospice program who weren’t terminally ill in order to submit claims for the more expensive treatment to the government health insurance plan for seniors. SouthernCare denies the claims but did promise to pay almost $6 million to clear up the allegations. The two whistleblowers, Dawn Hamrock and Patricia Beegle, will share slightly more than $1 million of that, according to the settlement agreement.

Hamcock, the former Pennsylvania clinical director who resigned from the company in 2012, raised questions prior to her resignation regarding the way in which SouthernCare was handling Medicare claims.

Published on:

HLP is excited to announce the selection of Robert S. Iwrey, Esq. as a Top Lawyer in Health Care Law for 2019 by dbusiness Magazine!

dbusiness, Detroit’s Premier Business Journal, selects its Top Lawyers by peer review survey, which polled 19,000 attorneys in the metro Detroit area. The poll asks each attorney to nominate lawyers among 50 legal specialties. We are honored that Rob was included and congratulate him on this accomplishment.

Published on:

The Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act of 2018 (“EKRA”) became effective October 24, 2018. ERKA makes it a criminal offense to knowingly and willfully offer, pay, solicit or receive any remuneration (i.e., anything of value), directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, in cash or in kind, to induce a referral (or in exchange for a referral) to a lab, clinical treatment facility or recovery home.  Unlike the Federal Anti-Kickback Statue, ERKA applies to all payor sources.

Notably, the broad language of the ERKA permits the federal government to monitor arrangements intended to generate business for any laboratory, clinical treatment facility or recovery home for services payable by a federal health care program or commercial health insurers.  ERKA includes certain exceptions, as well as “preemption” language tied to the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute.

It is important that labs, clinical treatment facilities (i.e., a medical setting, other than a hospital, that provides detoxification, risk reduction, outpatient treatment and care, residential treatment, or rehabilitation for substance use, pursuant to licensure or certification under State law), and recovery homes, critically examine current compensation arrangements with employees and contractors, as certain types of payment arrangements will now be prohibited.

Published on:

The New York State Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG) maintains a Certification Program to ensure Medicaid providers are continuing proper compliance. This program works to eliminate any environment in a Medicaid provider’s system that may encourage fraud, waste, or abuse, as well as ensuring errors have the potential for self-correction if mistakes are located before the Medicaid program is billed. Providers who meet OMIG’s requirements must submit a certification at the time of enrollment and every December thereafter. This includes any Medicaid providers who have submitted $500,000 in Medicaid claims or those who may reach that goal in any consecutive 12-month time period, regardless of calendar year.

OMIG has identified seven compliance areas that must be covered by the Compliance Program:

  • Billings
Published on:

The practice of diagnosis and treatment of patients remotely by way of a telecommunications technology, also known as telemedicine, has gained popularity as companies who provide this type of healthcare have recently worked to make a name for themselves. Services such as CareClix, ConsultADoctor, and Teladoc are just a few of these providers who utilize telehealth as their primary healthcare service.

Telemedicine can be divided into two general categories: synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous programs are those that occur in real-time, generally through a video conference or other similar means of communication between a patient and a medical provider. Asynchronous telemedicine, or “store and forward”, refers to the patient’s ability to gather all relevant information and communicate it to a medical provider over a delayed time period. The information is sent via secure email or other form of messaging service.

Beginning January 1, 2019 Medicare will be accepting certain medical services that fall under the classification of asynchronous telemedicine. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published the final rule for the 2019 Physician Fee Schedule, which included a new code entitled “Remote Evaluation of Pre-Recorded Patient Information” (HCPCS code G2010). A list of the telehealth services that are currently covered by CMS can be found here.

Published on:

The results of the 2018 primary election have officially been tabulated and the impact that will be made on healthcare law is slowly becoming clear. The most notable healthcare development is in regards to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that was enacted in March of 2010 under President Obama, the primary goal of which was to make reasonably priced health insurance available to more Americans than ever before. In recent months, Republicans have been working to repeal and replace the ACA but have thus far been unsuccessful. This most recent election has put that progress back even further. Now, 37 states including the District of Columbia have implemented or are working to implement the ACA’s Medicaid expansion which will increase the coverage of low-income adults who otherwise would not have access to healthcare. This recent growth in the number of states who have adopted the expansion plan may subsequently generate extra pressure for states who have not yet approved the plan.

Incoming Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who won over her Republican counterpart Bill Schuette, has made it known in the past that she supports the ACA. Whitmer has also recognized that premiums may be considered too high by many and understands something needs to be done to address the cost. In addition, the Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) has plans to work closely with the Whitmer association transition team, ensuring that Michigan’s healthcare needs are fully addressed and that the results are in the public’s best interests. According to the MHA, issues that will be discussed include Healthy Michigan Plan work requirements and rural and behavioral health access, among other topics.

In New York, the departure of former long-time Chair of the Senate Health Committee turned key New York senator Kemp Hannon is causing speculations on whether New York’s political future will include more progressive attention to healthcare law. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has already made it clear that passing both the Reproductive Health Act as well as the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act are going to be some of his first priorities. In addition, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Senator Gustavo Rivera have both made statements supporting a single-payer healthcare system under the New York Health Act.

Published on:

On November 1, 2018, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia issued a Memorandum Opinion, ordering the Medicare appeals backlog to be eliminated by FY 2022.

Specifically, the court ordered that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) achieve the following reductions from the current backlog of 426,594 pending appeals:

– 19 percent reduction by the end of FY 2019

Contact Information