Reed Smith Hosts Multifaceted Conference on Post-Acute Care

As highlighted on our Health Industry Washington Watch blog, Reed Smith hosted a dynamic conference on post-acute care in Washington, D.C. in early April. Entitled "Reed Smith 2014 Washington Health Care Conference: Focus on Post-Acute Care," the conference brought together a panel of experts discussing episodic care, proposed bundling models, and alternative payment and delivery systems; a specialist in health care investment banking addressing the current climate and future outlook for post-acute investments and transactions; and a legal policy analyst providing a thorough overview of recent legislative action related to post-acute care. The conference concluded with a thought-provoking keynote speech from Dr. Norman Ornstein, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, about the politically polarizing nature of health care policy in the United States today. To read the entire post, click here.

Manufacturer, Group Payment Organization, and Physician Financial Information Slated For Disclosure, May Spur False Claims Act Activity

As mentioned on our Health Industry Washington Watch blog, pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers and group purchasing organizations (GPO) are currently in the process of submitting detailed 2013 payment and investment interest data to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The submission of this data, as dictated by the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, is intended to highlight certain financial relationships between the manufacturers and GPOs and physicians. With some exceptions, this data will become public by September 1, 2014, at which time the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General, Department of Justice, and relators’ attorneys will likely analyze the data to initiate investigations and support complaints under the federal False Claims Act. To read the entire post, click here.

Final Rule Gives Patients a New Right under HIPAA to Access Completed Test Reports Directly from Labs

This post was written by Nan Bonifant, Brad Rostolsky, and John Wyand

On February 6, 2014, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ (HHS) Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Office for Civil Rights jointly published a final rule amending the HIPAA Privacy Rule and the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA) regulations to provide patients with direct access to laboratory test reports. HHS believes that a right to access these test reports under HIPAA is crucial to provide patients with vital information to empower them to better manage their health and take action to prevent and control disease. The amendments to both regulations become effective April 7, 2014, and HIPAA-covered laboratories must comply with the new right by October 6, 2014.

Under the currently enforced Privacy Rule, a patient’s right to access his or her protected health information (PHI) is limited with respect to PHI maintained by a CLIA laboratory or a CLIA-exempt laboratory. This limitation was included in the Privacy Rule because the existing CLIA regulations may prohibit such laboratories from disclosing this information. Currently, a CLIA laboratory may only disclose laboratory test results to three categories of individuals or entities: (1) the “authorized person,” (2) the health care provider who will use the test results for treatment purposes, and (3) the laboratory that initially requested the test. An “authorized person” is the individual authorized under state law to order or receive test results. If a state does not authorize patients to receive their test results, the patients must receive this information from their health care providers.

The final rule modifies the CLIA regulations to allow laboratories subject to CLIA, upon the request of a patient (or the patient’s personal representative), to provide access to completed test reports that – using the laboratory’s authentication process – can be identified as belonging to that patient. With respect to the Privacy Rule, the final rule removes the exceptions to a patient’s right of access related to CLIA and CLIA-exempt laboratories. Therefore, as of October 6, 2014, HIPAA-covered laboratories will be required to provide a patient or his or her personal representative with access, upon request, to the patient’s completed test reports, as well as to other PHI maintained in a designated record set. For purposes of the final rule, test reports are not part of a designated record set until they are “complete.” A test report is considered complete when all results associated with an ordered test are finalized and ready for release. These changes to the Privacy Rule preempt any contrary state laws that prohibit a HIPAA-covered laboratory from providing patients direct access to their completed test results.

In order to comply with the amended Privacy Rule, HIPAA-covered laboratories should develop and implement a policy and procedure to receive and respond to patient requests. Processing a request for a test report, either manually or electronically, will require completion of the following steps: (1) receipt of the request from the individual; (2) authentication of the identification of the individual; (3) retrieval of test reports; (4) verification of how and where the individual wants the test report to be delivered and provision of the report by mail, fax, email or other electronic means; and (5) documentation of test report issuance. Additionally, HIPAA-covered laboratories must revise their notice of privacy practices to inform patients of their right to access completed test reports, including a brief description of how to exercise the right, and removing any statements to the contrary.

This amendment to the regulations is consistent with OCR’s focus on improving patients’ rights under the Privacy Rule, and represents another important aspect of policy change and documentation efforts for HIPAA-covered entity providers.

CMS Seeks Public Comment on its Imposition of CMPs for Noncompliance with Medicare Secondary Payer Reporting Requirements; Opportunity for Clinical Trial Sponsors to Request Discretion

This post was written by Celeste Letourneau, Catherine Hurley and Jennifer Pike

The application of the Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) law to clinical trial sponsors has long been a point of significant contention between sponsors and CMS, with CMS insisting (via subregulatory guidance, and a widely circulated letter) that clinical trial sponsors are like insurers, and thus subject to the law. In a positive development, however, Congress has now directed CMS to promulgate regulations addressing the circumstances under which CMS will exercise discretion not to impose civil monetary penalties (CMPs) for noncompliance with MSP insurer reporting requirements. This affords sponsors an important new opportunity to engage with CMS on this issue, and to request appropriate enforcement discretion.

On December 11, 2013, CMS released an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) soliciting comments on specific practices for which CMPs may or may not be imposed for failure to comply with MSP reporting requirements. Among other issues, CMS is seeking comments and proposals on mechanisms and criteria that it would employ to evaluate whether and when it would impose CMPs for noncompliance with MSP reporting requirements.

Although clinical trial sponsors are not mentioned in the ANPRM, CMS has expressly stated elsewhere that the MSP reporting requirements do apply to clinical trial sponsors.1 Specifically, CMS has taken the following position on clinical trial sponsors under the MSP reporting statute:

When payments are made by sponsors of clinical trials for complications or injuries arising out of the trials, such payments are considered to be payments by liability insurance (including self-insurance) and must be reported. The appropriate Responsible Reporting Entity (RRE) should report the date that the injury/ complication first arose as the Date of Incident (DOI). The situation should also be reported as one involving Ongoing Responsibility for Medicals (ORM).2

In sum, CMS views clinical trial sponsors, by virtue of any promise to pay for complications or injuries, as insurance companies, and subjects clinical trial sponsors to the same reporting obligations that liability insurers must meet. Failure to comply with the MSP reporting requirements can carry a CMP of $1,000 for each day of noncompliance, per individual, that should have been reported.3 Congress amended the MSP statute last year to afford CMS discretion with regard to whether to impose CMPs in instances of noncompliance.4 Prior to that, CMS had no such discretion. The purpose of the ANPRM is to solicit input for the circumstances under which CMS should exercise this discretion.

Clinical trial sponsors should consider whether they are prepared to comply with the MSP reporting requirements and face potential CMPs for failure to do so, or whether CMS should be urged not to impose CMPs on clinical trial sponsors. For example, clinical trial sponsors should consider whether they are prepared to:

  • Report to CMS all complications and injuries involving Medicare beneficiaries arising out of a clinical trial that they have agreed to pay for. This includes everything the sponsor has agreed to pay for; it is not limited to adverse events. For example, this could involve medications included in the study protocol and paid for by the sponsor that are intended to prevent or mitigate an anticipated adverse event.
  • For Medicare beneficiaries, collect and produce all of the data CMS requires to be reported, including identifiable information (such as patient name, social security number, date of birth, dates of incident, etc.), and all relevant ICD-9-CM/ICD-10-CM (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth/Tenth Revision, Clinical Modification) Diagnosis Codes describing the alleged injury/illness.
  • Potentially forgo Medicare reimbursement for routine costs associated with clinical trials, even though there is a national coverage determination (NCD) stating that CMS will pay.
  • Manage study subjects who are Medicare beneficiaries and who may be aggrieved because, as a result of the sponsor reporting their ICD-9-CM/ICD-10-CM codes to CMS pursuant to MSP, all their Medicare claims associated with those codes could be routinely denied during their participation in the study. 
  • Unblind clinical trials if necessary in order to satisfy reporting requirements.
  • Incur significantly increased administrative and financial costs to ensure compliance with MSP reporting. 
  • Incur the burden of complying with MSP reporting as both a clinical trial sponsor, and as a potential defendant in a product liability suit, if and when the investigational product is commercialized. This may include implementing complex and detailed processes in both the research and development, or the medical side of a company (for clinical trial sponsor reporting), and the legal department (for products liability reporting). Additionally, the former may be trial-specific, meaning that different internal processes for addressing MSP reporting may be needed for different trials. 
  • Refrain from offering to pay for research-related injuries in order to avoid triggering the MSP reporting requirements, even though this would likely result in the loss of Medicare beneficiaries as study subjects.
  • Pay a CMP of up to $1,000 per beneficiary per day for noncompliance.

The ANPRM presents the opportunity to explain to CMS that, because of the many complexities associated with imposing the MSP reporting requirements on clinical trial sponsors, CMS should not impose CMPs on clinical trial sponsors for failures to report.

The ANPRM is available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-12-11/pdf/2013-29473.pdf. Comments to the ANPRM may be submitted in writing, or electronically at www.regulations.gov, on or before February 10, 2014.

_________________________________

1See CMS’ Office of Financial Management, Financial Services Group Director (Gerald Walters) to Holly Thames Lutz, Esq. of Gardner, Carton & Douglas, dated April 13, 2004.
2See CMS, MMSEA section 111 Medicare Secondary Payer Mandatory Reporting, Liability Insurance (Including Self-Insurance), No-Fault Insurance, and Workers’ Compensation USER GUIDE, Chapter III: POLICY GUIDANCE, Version 3.4 at 40 (July 3, 2012), available at http://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Coordination-of-Benefits-and-Recovery/Mandatory-Insurer-Reporting-For-Non-Group-Health-Plans/Downloads/New-Downloads/NGHPUserGuideVer40Ch3Policy.pdf.
342 U.S.C. § 1395y(b) (Social Security Act § 1862(b)).
4Medicare IVIG Access and Strengthening Medicare and Repaying Taxpayers Act of 2012 [Public Law No: 112-242].

Overview and Analysis of the Proposed Federal Sunshine Regulations

On December 19, 2011, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) published a proposed rule (the “Proposed Rule”) related to section 6002 of the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as the “Physician Payment Sunshine Act.” The Physician Payment Sunshine Act requires applicable manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologicals, or medical supplies covered under Medicare, Medicaid, or CHIP to report annually to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (“Secretary”) certain payments or other transfers of value to physicians and teaching hospitals. Additionally, applicable manufacturers and applicable group purchasing organizations (“GPOs”) must report certain information regarding the ownership or investment interests in them that are held by physicians or their immediate family members.

To learn more about this development regarding the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, please see the full post written by Elizabeth B. Carder-Thompson, Katie C. Pawlitz, Nancy E. Bonifant and Debra A. McCurdy on Reed Smith’s Health Industry Washington Watch blog.

MMSEA Section 111 Mandatory Insurer Reporting Updates

This post was written by Catherine A. Hurley.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has recently updated the information on its website with respect to the Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Extension Act of 2007 (MMSEA), Section 111 “Mandatory Insurer Reporting” requirements. The recent updates cover (1) a revised implementation timeline for certain liability insurance (including self-insurance) total payment obligation to claimant settlements, (2) revised guidance on claims involving exposure, ingestion, and implantation issues, (3) upcoming improvements to the Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) program, (4) a new exception for certain settlements paid into a qualified settlement fund and (5) a new way for certain injured Medicare beneficiaries to satisfy their past and future MSP obligations.

Revised Implementation Dates

First, CMS has delayed Section 111 reporting for certain liability insurance (including self-insurance) total payment obligation to claimant (TPOC) settlements, judgments, awards, or other payments. The revised implementation date for reporting will be based on the TPOC amount. A schedule of the new dates is provided here.

Exposure, Ingestion, and Implantation – Revised Guidance

Second, CMS has posted revised guidance pertaining to liability insurance (including self-insurance) responsible reporting entities (RREs) where the claims involve exposure, ingestion, and implantation issues. In the guidance, CMS explains its policies for claims involving exposure, ingestion, and implantation. Specifically, CMS discusses when Medicare will, and will not, assert a recovery claim against the settlement, judgment, award, or other payment, and when the MMSEA, Section 111 mandatory reporting rules must (or need not) be followed. CMS also provides examples of various factual scenarios involving exposure, ingestion, and implantation, and discusses how its policies will be applied to each. 

Upcoming MSP Improvements

Third, according to CMS, certain improvements to the MSP program can be expected within the next three to nine months, including:

  • The implementation of a Medicare Secondary Payer Recovery Contractor (MSPRC) web portal, where the beneficiary or representative can obtain information about Medicare's claim payments, demand letters, etc., and input information related to a settlement, disputed claims, etc.
  • The implementation of an option that allows for an immediate payment to Medicare for future medical costs that are claimed/released/effectively released in a settlement. 
  • The implementation of a process that discloses Medicare's conditional payment amount, prior to settlement in certain situations.

If implemented, these new options and processes could significantly improve the efficiency of the existing MSP system and provide greater certainty to all parties where settlements involve Medicare beneficiaries. More information can be found on CMS’s website. 

Narrow Exception for Qualified Settlement Funds Prior to October 1, 2011

Fourth, in an “Alert” dated September 20, 2011, a narrow exception has been announced for certain settlements that are paid into a qualified settlement fund (QSF) under Section 468B of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) prior to October 1, 2011.  Specifically, each of the following criteria must be met in order for exception to apply:

  • The settlement, judgment, award, or other payment is a liability insurance (including self-insurance) TPOC amount, where no ongoing responsibility for medicals (ORM) is involved
  • The settlement, judgment, award, or other payment will be issued by a QSF under Section 468B of the IRC, in connection with a state or federal bankruptcy proceeding
  • The funds at issue were paid into the trust prior to October 1, 2011

New “Fixed Percentage Option”

Finally, for certain settlements that are less than $5,000, there is a new "fixed percentage option" for beneficiaries to satisfy Medicare's total MSP claim.  Details are provided on the MSPRC website and are reprinted below. Although this option is currently only available under narrow circumstances, it represents a significant departure from CMS’s historical and complicated approach to the MSP recovery process.  

 

Effective November 7, 2011, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has implemented a new and simple fixed percentage option that is available to certain beneficiaries. This option is available to beneficiaries who receive certain types of liability insurance (including self-insurance) settlements of $5,000 or less.

A beneficiary who elects this option will be able to resolve Medicare's recovery claim by paying Medicare 25 percent of his/her total liability insurance settlement instead of using the traditional recovery process. This means that a beneficiary will know what he/she owes and will be able to immediately pay Medicare.

In order to elect this option, the following criteria must be met:

  • The liability insurance (including self-insurance) settlement is for a physical trauma based injury. (This means that it does not relate to ingestion, exposure, or medical implant)
  • The total liability settlement, judgment, award, or other payment is $5,000 or less
  • The beneficiary elects the option within the required timeframe and Medicare has not issued a demand letter or other request for reimbursement related to the incident
  • The beneficiary has not received and does not expect to receive any other settlements, judgments, awards, or other payments related to the incident

 

Senate Finance Committee Report Inquires into Physician-Owned Distributors

This post was written by Joseph W. Metro, Gina M. Cavalier and Jouya Rastegar.

On June 9, 2011, Senator Orrin Hatch released a report by the Senate Finance Committee Minority Staff that outlines key concerns about Physician-Owned Distributors (“PODs”), specifically regarding the lack of regulatory oversight and clear guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (“OIG”). The Committee Minority’s report, Physician Owned Distributors (PODs): An Overview of Key Issues and Potential Areas for Congressional Oversight, set forth findings of committee staff who spoke to over fifty people and reviewed thousands of pages of documents. In addition to the report, the Chairman and Ranking Members of the Senate Financial Committee, Special Committee on Aging, and Judiciary Committee sent letters on the same day to the Administrator for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”)and the Inspector General of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) requesting further inquiry into the concerns set out in the Senator Hatch’s report.

The crux of the Committee’s concern with PODs is the potential for fraud and abuse the Committee believes to be inherently found in PODs. Historically, implantable medical devices (these are what the report focuses on) have been sold to hospitals and surgery centers directly from the device manufacturers or through independent distributors. More recently, PODs have come into existence to buy the devices from manufacturers and sell them to hospitals or surgery centers. PODs are mostly comprised of small groups of physicians who create companies to distribute, and in some cases manufacture, medical devices for implantation in surgeries. The large majority of products sold by PODs are sold to hospitals where their own physician investors practice. This is where the concern stems from—physicians’ potential ability to profit through distribution markups on products they are selling through the PODs in which they are owners or investors, particularly where the PODs likewise solicit discounts from manufacturers based on preferred positioning or other “captive” volume.

The report: (1) explains the history of PODs and their business models; (2) describes the concerns for fraud and abuse; (3) highlights the regulatory environment in which they exist; and (4) concludes by outlining what the should happen to address concerns. The nature of PODs creates financial incentives for physician owners to use devices that yield personal financial return, which may implicate the federal anti-kickback statute’s prohibition on inducements to purchase or order items covered under federal health care programs. The report listed anecdotal and evidence-based reasons for concern, such as instances of surgeons performing eight to ten procedures on elderly patients despite the serious health risks, stories of surgeons redoing previous surgeries to use their own POD products, an analysis from the Quality Implant Coalition, a coalition of manufacturers of implantable medical devices, which showed claims data from one hospital indicating a 300 percent increase in spinal fusion surgery after a spinal product POD moved into the hospital’s area, and an April 2010 Journal of the American Medical Association study that found a fifteen-fold increase in the number of spinal fusion surgeries for Medicare patients from 2002-2007, the period during which PODs became a more prevalent business model. On the other hand, the report mentioned a paper written by a POD, which was presented at the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons 2009 annual meeting, in which the POD asserted that its business model helped saved the hospital with which it was affiliated thirty-four percent over a two year-period—a total savings of over one million dollars.

The legal implications of the business of PODs have not been entirely clear because the regulatory environment in which they find themselves is murky. As highlighted in the Senate Finance Committee report, the OIG issued written guidance on the issue of PODs and expressed the need to carefully review and closely scrutinize these entities under fraud and abuse laws and its Special Fraud Alert relating to joint venture arrangements. Similarly, CMS has declined to regulate PODs under the Stark law. However, the Senate Finance Committee report indicated that there has been a lack of any recent or more specific guidance on this topic. Further the report noted that POD arrangements might implicate the Sunshine Act’s reporting requirements relating to manufacturer financial arrangements with physicians, for which HHS has not yet issued guidance.

The report, as well as the letters to the HHS Inspector General and CMS Administrator, call for several measures to address concerns: (1) further inquiring into and closely examining PODs and their current structures and activities; (2) providing additional regulatory guidance from OIG and/or Congress; (3) including the distribution model of PODs into CMS’ final definition of “applicable manufacturers,” in order to require PODs to fall under the Sunshine Act financial reporting requirements; (4) accounting for the POD business model when CMS promulgates the final Accountable Care Organization regulation to protect against abuses posed by PODs; and (5) developing recommendations for further actions.
 

Vermont Modifies Manufacturer Gift Ban and Reporting Law, Effective July 1, 2011

This post was written by Elizabeth B. Carder-Thompson and Katie C. Pawlitz.

On May 26, 2011, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed into law Senate Bill 104 (“S.104”), significantly modifying Vermont law banning the provision by manufacturers of gifts to health care providers and requiring disclosure of certain allowable expenditures and gifts to health care providers (18 V.S.A. § 4631a and 18 V.S.A. § 4632). S.104 follows amendments made to the Vermont gift ban and disclosure law enacted just last year. This Client Alert includes a summary of the modifications pursuant to S.104. Except as otherwise noted, the changes are effective July 1, 2011. To read the full Alert, click here.

This is a follow-up to our previous Client Alert "Update on Medical Device Manufacturer Marketing Activities: State and Federal Restrictions and Reporting Requirements," which provides a brief overview of the existing state marketing laws that apply to device manufacturers, including recent changes to those laws, as well as federal reporting requirements under the ACA.

Update on Medical Device Manufacturer Marketing Activities: State and Federal Restrictions and Reporting Requirements

This post was written by Elizabeth B. Carder-Thompson and Katie C. Pawlitz.

States are increasingly imposing marketing restrictions on device manufacturers through laws that previously focused more specifically on pharmaceutical manufacturers. These laws affect compliance activities and relationships with providers, and create new reporting obligations. The impact is significant in that these state laws directly influence how companies conduct business and interact with customers, but implementation is complicated by the variations that exist between states.

Most significantly, under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), beginning March 31, 2013, and annually thereafter, device manufacturers must report payments to physicians and teaching hospitals during the preceding calendar year. This means manufacturers must be prepared to track payments in a comprehensive manner as of January 1, 2012. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) is now in the early stages of developing specific provisions to implement the new ACA provisions, with publication of proposed regulations to occur not later than October 1, 2011.

This Client Alert provides a brief overview of the existing state marketing laws that apply to device manufacturers, including recent changes to those laws, as well as federal reporting requirements under the ACA. Although the laws discussed may apply broadly to other entities, we refer in our Client Alert specifically to medical device manufacturers. To read the full Alert, click here.

CMS' Oversight of Security Rule "Not Sufficient" According to the OIG

This post was written by Gina M. Cavalier, Vicky G. Gormanly and Brad M. Rostolsky.

On May 16, 2011, the Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) published a report with the results from its nationwide review of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS’”) oversight of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”). In its review, the OIG sought to determine the sufficiency of CMS’ oversight and enforcement actions pertaining to hospitals’ implementation of the HIPAA Security Rule. Pursuant to the Security Rule, covered entities, such as hospitals, must implement technical, physical, and administrative safeguards for the protection of electronic protected health information (“ePHI”). According to the OIG, CMS’ oversight and enforcement actions were “not sufficient,” leaving limited assurance of the security of hospitals’ ePHI.

The report details the results from the OIG’s audits of seven hospitals. The audits disclosed “numerous internal control weaknesses.” Specifically, the OIG identified 151 vulnerabilities in the systems and controls intended to protect ePHI. Of these vulnerabilities, 124 were categorized as “high impact.” These vulnerabilities placed the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of ePHI at risk. The consequences of the high impact vulnerabilities is that it (1) may result in the highly costly loss of major tangible assets or resources; (2) may significantly violate, harm, or impede an organization’s mission, reputation, or interest; or (3) may result in human death or serious injury. 

Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) Mandatory Insurer Reporting: MMSEA section 111--Delay Announced for Liability Insurance (Including Self Insurance) Mandatory Reporters

This post was written by Carol C. Loepere and Catherine A. Hurley.

In an “Alert” dated November 9, 2010, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has published a revised implementation timeline applicable to liability insurance (including self-insurance) “responsible reporting entities” (RREs) under Section 111 of the Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP Extension Action of 2007 (MMSEA). Specifically, the obligation to report “total payment obligation to claimant” (TPOC) amounts subject to the reporting requirement has been extended from the first calendar quarter of 2011 to the first calendar quarter of 2012. Moreover, under the revised implementation timeline, only TPOC amounts established on or after October 1, 2011 (instead of October 1, 2010) must be reported. Earlier reporting (i.e., reporting prior to the first calendar quarter of 2012), and reporting of TPOC amounts established prior to October 1, 2011 is now optional. CMS has also delayed the staggered phase-out of its interim threshold dollar amounts for TPOC amounts that liability insurance (including self-insurance) and workers’ compensation RREs must report by one year. 

Mandatory reporting of ongoing responsibility for medicals (ORM) by liability insurance (including self-insurance) RREs has not been delayed. Similarly, mandatory reporting by other types of RREs (such as group health plans, no-fault insurance, and workers’ compensation) has not been delayed. Finally, this implementation delay does not affect liability insurance (including self insurance) RREs’ status as “primary payers” under section 1862(b) of the Social Security Act.

According to CMS, this Alert will be incorporated into a forthcoming revision to CMS’s MMSEA Section 111 Medicare Secondary Payer Mandatory Reporting “User Guide” for Liability Insurance (Including Self-Insurance), No-Fault Insurance, and Workers’ Compensation. 

Stark Law Developments Will Challenge Health Care Attorneys

Despite the many years since enactment, counseling health care clients on the broad and complex federal physician self-referral law, commonly called the Stark Law, will become increasingly difficult. Although originally enacted in 1989 to create "bright line" to demark improper physician self-referred laboratory services, and expanded in 1993 to cover a wide range of "designated health services" reimbursable under Medicare, the contours of the Stark Law continue to evolve and new uncertainties emerge.

The significant damages that can result from a Stark Law violation — most particularly the prospect under the False Claims Act for recovery of three times the Medicare reimbursement paid as a result of a prohibited referral — has caused the Stark Law to attract increasing attention from U.S. Attorneys offices and the private qui tam relator bar.

In his article "Stark Law Developments Will Challenge Health Care Attorneys," published in The Legal Intelligencer, Reed Smith Partner Karl Thallner discusses recent developments demonstrating the difficulties in counseling health care clients on the application of the Stark Law, as well as with selecting a course of action when a Stark Law violation has been discovered.

CMS Proposes Broad Expansion of Medicare/Medicaid/CHIP Provider and Supplier Screening Requirements Under Affordable Care Act Authority

This post was written by Daniel A. Cody, Scot T. Hasselman, Carol C. Loepere and Debra A. McCurdy.

On September 23, 2010, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published a proposed rule that would implement provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) designed to strengthen provider and supplier screening requirements under the Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). According to CMS, the Proposed Rule is intended to ensure "that only legitimate providers and suppliers are enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP, and that only legitimate claims will be paid."

Among many other things, the Proposed Rule would: apply screening tools, including unannounced site visits, background checks, and fingerprinting, based on the level of risk associated with different provider and supplier types; impose a $500 application fee on certain providers and suppliers; authorize temporary moratoria on enrollment of certain types of new providers and suppliers; require Medicare and Medicaid payments to be suspended upon credible allegations of fraud; and update various Medicaid screening requirements. Comments on the proposed rule will be accepted until November 16, 2010.

Our full alert provides an analysis of the proposed rule.

CMS Proposes Withdrawal of AMP Regulations

On September 3, 2010, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) published a Proposed Rule withdrawing certain provisions of the July 17, 2007 AMP Final Rule, and withdrawing the October 7, 2008 Final Rule defining “Multiple Source Drug.” Specifically, the rule proposes to withdraw 42 C.F.R. § 447.504, “Determination of AMP,” § 447.514, “Upper limits for multiple source drugs,” and the definition of “Multiple Source Drug” in § 447.502. Conforming amendments are also proposed to other sections of the AMP Final Rule, generally by replacing references to the regulatory definition of AMP which is being deleted, with references to the statutory definition of AMP. As the rule explains, the withdrawal is being proposed in light of retail pharmacies’ legal challenges to the definition of AMP and the multiple source drug provisions, and the passage of health care reform amendments which have effectively superseded the AMP provisions. 

In the absence of regulatory guidance governing the AMP calculation, CMS advises pharmaceutical manufacturers to base their AMP calculations on the definitions set forth in the statute, as amended by the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, and the FAA Air Transportation Modernization & Safety Improvement Act (“Transportation Bill”). This presents challenges to manufacturers as they prepare to submit their monthly AMP pricing for October 2010 – the first submission based on the new legislation. The proposed rule notes that CMS expects to develop implementing regulations, but it is unclear whether manufacturers will receive guidance in time for the October submission, which is due on November 30, 2010.

Manufacturers modifying their AMP calculations would be prudent to carefully review the statute as amended, and document their assumptions accordingly. Particular attention should be paid to the “alternate calculation” for “inhalation, infusion, instilled, implanted, and injectable” drugs that are, “not generally dispensed through a retail community pharmacy.”

Comments must be received by CMS no later than 5 p.m., on October 4, 2010. Please contact Vicky G. Gormanly, Joseph W. Metro or Robert J. Hill if you would like further information regarding this Proposed Rule.

Interview with Dr. Donald Berwick

As you may have read, President Obama plans to nominate Dr. Donald Berwick to head the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at HHS. We thought you might be interested in seeing an interview (.PDF) that Reed Smith partner Elizabeth Carder-Thompson conducted with Dr. Berwick several months ago, for the American Health Lawyers Association. The interview was published in the November 2009 edition of AHLA Connections.

California Health Care Update: New Laws Adopted in 2009 and Effective in 2010

This post was written by Daniel A. Cody, Paul W. Pitts and Alison B. Riddell.

Although California legislators devoted a significant amount of time and resources to addressing the state’s budget shortfall and the economic recession, the 2009 legislature debated and passed a surprising number of bills related to health care, many of which will become effective January 1, 2010. New laws impacting California health care providers include:

  • Amendments to the 2008 law requiring certain health care providers to disclose unlawful and unauthorized uses or disclosure of medical information
  • Laws requiring the Department of Public Health [www.cdph.ca.gov] to more timely process and approve applications for new or modified hospital outpatient services
  • Provisions impacting the delivery of radiologic and diagnostic imaging services, such as permitting physician assistants to provide fluoroscopy services under the supervision of a physician
  • Amendments to California’s False Claim Act that expand the types of claims subject to the law, extend the state’s prosecutorial authority, and increase the penalties for violating the statute
  • Laws stating that long-term care providers will be subject to new ownership disclosure requirements
  • Passing Assembly Bill 215, which makes California one of the first states to recognize and incorporate the controversial Five-Star Quality Rating for nursing facilities as created by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

For the full summary of major legislation impacting California physicians, hospitals, nursing facilities, and other licensed health care facilities, read our client alert.

AHLA Stark Reform Proposals

The American Health Lawyers Association released a white paper on August 10, 2009, which analyzes the problems and benefits of the Stark Law and challenges amidst pending health care reform. In light of these significant policy discussions, many are wondering whether Congress will take action. Reed Smith's Karl Thallner was quoted in BNA's Health Law Reporter article discussing difficulties of the Stark law and the proposed improvements suggested by AHLA Committee. The article, "AHLA Stark Reform Proposals Welcome, Have Little Chance of Success, Attorneys Say" is reproduced with permission from BNA's Health Law Reporter, 18 HLR 1105 (Aug. 20, 2009). Copyright 2009 by The Bureau of National Affairs,Inc. (800-372-1033).

RAC Protest Resolved: Audit Work Will Now Resume

This post was written by Jason M. Healy.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services ("CMS") states that on February 4, 2009 the parties involved in the protest of the award of the Recovery Audit Contractor ("RAC") contracts settled the protests filed with the GAO.

The settlement means that the stop work order has been lifted and CMS will now continue with the implementation of the RAC program.

Under the program, the four RACs will contract with subcontractors to supplement their efforts. PRG-Schultz, Inc. will serve as a subcontractor to HDI, DCS and CGI in regions A, B and D. Viant Payment Systems, Inc. will serve as a subcontractor to Connolly Consulting in region C. Each subcontractor has negotiated different responsibilities in each region, including some claim review.

According to the CMS Notice, the RAC in each jurisdiction is as follows:

Region A: Diversified Collection Services (DCS)
Region B: CGI
Region C: Connolly Consulting, Inc.
Region D: HealthDataInsights, Inc.

All correspondence, websites and call centers will be in the name of the RACs listed above.