Category Archives: Home Health

2016 Is Ramping Up For Telemedicine Developments

Two months in and this year has already seen significant movement in regulatory action across the country to expand the ability to provide telemedicine services. Below please find some of the more significant items that have already gone into effect in 2016 or are under consideration, including commercial payor and Medicaid reimbursement coverage for telemedicine services, reciprocal licenses for out-of-state providers and the ability to prescribe without an in-person evaluation.

Parity Laws in New York and Connecticut

Effective January 1, 2016, New York passed a Chapter Amendment clarifying last year’s telemedicine commercial coverage statute.  Under the 2016 Chapter Amendment, private insurers are required to cover services via telemedicine if provided by hospitals, home care and hospice agencies, licensed physicians, physician assistants, dentists, nurses, midwives, podiatrists, optometrists, ophthalmic dispensers, psychologists, social workers, speech language pathologists and audiologists.  The parity law prohibits an insurer from excluding from coverage a service provided via telehealth if that service is otherwise covered in-person.

The law also provides for Medicaid reimbursement to providers for telehealth services, which is defined broadly to include real-time two-way electronic audio visual communications, asynchronous store and forward technology and remote patient monitoring. However, with the exception of remote patient monitoring, telehealth will not be reimbursed by Medicaid when the patient is located in their home.  The New York Department of Health is expected to release telemedicine regulations later this year.

Similarly, Connecticut also recently passed a new telemedicine parity law that went into effect January 1, 2016. Under Connecticut’s parity law, commercial insurers must provide coverage for services rendered via telemedicine under the same terms and conditions as would apply if that service was provided in-person.  Connecticut broadly defines telehealth to include services performed by a telehealth provider at a distant site as well as synchronous interactions, asynchronous store and forward transfers and remote patient monitoring.

Notably, Connecticut went even farther than New York in its telehealth parity law by expressly preventing a health plan from excluding a service from coverage solely because the service is provided through telehealth and not in-person. In this way, a health plan cannot exclude a telehealth service, such as remote patient monitoring, simply because it does not lend itself to an in-person professional service.

Florida’s Controlled Substance Teleprescription Law

Florida recently implemented a new rule to permit physicians to prescribe controlled substances via telemedicine exclusively for the treatment of psychiatric disorders, effective March 4, 2016. Specifically, the amended regulation provides that controlled substances may not be prescribed through the use of telemedicine, “except for the treatment of psychiatric disorders.”

However, after passing this new rule, the Florida Board of Medicine recognized that it is still restricted by the Federal Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008.  The Ryan Haight Act narrowly permits the remote prescription of controlled substances for patients without an in-person evaluation so long as the patient is: (1) physically located in a hospital or clinic with a valid DEA registration; and (2) treated by a DEA registered practitioner in the usual course of professional practice and in accordance with state law.  Accordingly, while Florida is expanding its telemedicine laws, the prescription of controlled substances via telemedicine will only be broadly permissible if the American Telemedicine Association, or other organizations, are successful in amending the Ryan Haight Act.

Newly Introduced Telemedicine Bills in New Jersey and Ohio

Various other states are also in the process of trying to pass telemedicine bills. For example, New Jersey recently introduced a bill on February 8, 2016, that would require private payors to provide coverage for telemedicine to the same extent that the services would be covered if they were provided through an in-person consultation.

Additionally, another NJ telemedicine bill was introduced on January 12, 2016, which would provide a mechanism for physicians and other health care providers to obtain reciprocal licenses to practice in New Jersey if the providers are licensed by another state in their particular specialty.  The bill would also provide a parity law for telemedicine services to be reimbursed under NJ Medicaid.  As a similar bill was proposed in 2015 and has now carried over into the 2016 session, the likelihood of its passing is even greater.

An Ohio legislative bill is also headed to the Senate that would allow patients to obtain prescriptions (for non-controlled substances) without an in-person exam or visit from a health care provider.

For more information on telehealth and telemedicine legal and regulatory considerations, continued legislative developments or related issues, please feel free to contact Daniel Meier or any member of our health care practice group for a further discussion.

MyCare Ohio Transition Continues

Ohio’s transition to Medicaid managed care continues. The Ohio Department of Medicaid, the contracting agency with the 5 managed care companies now providing services to Ohio’s dual eligible population is [providing more information to Ohio providers during this transition period. Those dual eligible (eligible individuals for both Medicare and Medicaid) are being transitioned into these managed care private sector insurance programs. Some providers have been experiencing technical difficulties in submitting claims under the new managed care systems and providers are frustrated with slow payments. An updated released by the Ohio Department of Medicaid provides some statistics by region on the number of submitted claims and percentages of paid claims within 30 days of submission. The information provides a link to the Provider Payment Technical Assistance program to work with providers on a case-by-case basis to assist in resolution of issues and to resolve payment concerns. The Ohio Department of Medicaid issuance that includes the Provider Payment Technical Assistance link can be found at http://healthtransformation.ohio.gov/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=V9a0WTwYchs%3d&tabid=105

Important Regulatory Update Issued for Medicare Certified Home Health Agencies

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”), the Medicare oversight agency, issued a new Chapter to the State Operations Manual (“SOM”) governing the imposition of alternative sanctions for home health agencies (“HHA”). Chapter 10 of the SOM is a new chapter outlining the processes for implementing the imposition of civil money penalties, directed in-service training, directed plans of correction, suspension of payment and temporary management. These intermediate sanctions were authorized in a final rule issued in 2012. Continue reading

CMS Implements Fingerprinting Background Checks for New DME and Home Health Providers

In a recently released MLN Matters (Number: SE1417), CMS announced that it is implementing the enhanced enrollment screening provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by requiring finger print based background checks for certain so called “high risk” providers. Currently this means that for newly enrolling Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetic, Orthotic and Supplies (DMEPOS) suppliers and Home Health Agencies, individuals with a 5% or greater ownership interest in the provider or supplier will be subject to criminal background checks based on fingerprint identification. The procedure will also apply to providers that CMS has elevated to the high risk category pursuant to regulations. Affected providers will be notified by their MAC and be given 30 days to comply. The notification will identify contact information for the Fingerprint Based Background Check Contractor (FBBC). Continue reading

OIG Issues Report on Limited Compliance with Medicare’s Face-to-Face Requirement for Home Health Services

On April 9, 2014, the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) Office of Evaluation and Inspections (OEI) issued a report (OEI-01-12-00390) entitled “Limited Compliance With Medicare’s Home Health Face to Face Documentation Requirements.”

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) requires physicians to physically see and evaluate patients for home health services. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires the physicians to document this face-to-face visit as a condition of payment. The face-to-face requirement was implemented to help prevent fraud in home health. The idea is that requiring physicians to document the specifics of a face-to-face visit with a Medicare beneficiary will help prevent fraud by ensuring the physician actually saw and assessed the beneficiary before certifying the patient as eligible for home health services. Continue reading

CMS Final Rule on Moratoria for the Enrollment of New Home Health Agencies and Ambulance Suppliers and Providers

On February 4, 2014, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued in the Federal Register a notice of temporary moratoria on enrollment of new home health agencies (HHA) and ambulance suppliers and providers in certain geographic locations across the U.S. The moratoria were effective on January 30, 2014. CMS also extended existing moratoria noticed on July 31, 2013. Continue reading

Office of Inspector General Issues Strategic Plan

The Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”) issued a 2014-2018 strategic plan including outlining the visions, goals, and priorities of that office for the upcoming several years. The plan sets forth four goals: 1. Fight fraud, waste and abuse; 2. Promote quality, safety, and value; 3. Secure the future; and 4. Advance excellence and innovation. Each goals is identified with several priority areas that support the stated goal. The report can be found at the OIG’s website http://go.us.gov/WdbV