Category Archives: Acute Care

The UPMC – Highmark Dispute: The Beginning of the End of Medical Practices Using Hospitals’ Managed Care Contract Rates?

Recent trends across the country have health systems buying out private physician practices and reclassifying them as hospital-outpatient departments.  There are a number of motivations behind these transactions, the greatest being managed care contracting.  Typically, the physician practice will reassign its Medicare NPI Number to the Hospital and the Hospital will then bill exclusively under that NPI number.  The Hospital will also submit claims to the third party payor and receive payments based on the hospital’s negotiated contract rates and fee schedule.

Critics, including a number of insurers, have claimed that this practice allows the hospital to bill higher rates for the same service at the same location.  For this reason, on February 26, 2014, Highmark, a  Blue Cross Blue Shield company based in Pittsburgh, stated that it would stop reimbursing health systems at higher hospital-outpatient rates for cancer treatment performed in physician offices.  Highmark explained that this move would save patients’ money by reducing out-of-pocket costs for deductibles and co-insurance. Continue reading

OIG Releases 2014 Work Plan

The OIG recently made available its 2014 Work Plan. The Plan identifies OIG focus areas and priority projects for the coming year. This post provides a brief summary of many of the new OIG projects for fiscal year 2014 to assist providers in keeping abreast of the latest developments in health care fraud and abuse, compliance, reimbursement, and enforcement activities. Only a small part of the Plan is summarized here. For the entire document, please follow the link below. Continue reading

Comments Solicited for Draft of Revised Guidebook for National Practitioner Data Bank

The Health and Resources and Services Administration (“HRSA”) of the Department of Health and Human Services has issued notice of a draft revised guidebook for the National Practitioner Data Bank.  The Guidebook provides policies that serve as a resource for Data Bank users to clarify legislative and regulatory requirements.  The Guidebook provides examples for querying the Data Bank and reporting professionals to the Data Bank along with frequently asked questions (FAQs). Comments are being solicited through January 10, 2014; Locate the draft Guidebook and directions on submitting comments at NPDB Website.

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

Hospitalizations High for Medicare Nursing Home Residents

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released a study on November 17, 2013 studying 2011 hospitalization statistics for Medicare nursing home residents. The report finds that one quarter of Medicare nursing home residents were hospitalized for at least one day in federal fiscal year 2011. The study also reports that Medicare costs for nursing home residents represent 11.4% of the Medicare Part A spending on all hospital admissions during that same year resulting in Medicare paying $126 billion for those stays. Interestingly, high hospitalization rates were not evenly distributed throughout the country and generally nursing homes with lower CMS quality ratings had higher hospitalization rates. OIG recommends to CMS the development of a quality measurement report hospitalization rates for residents in each nursing home and to publicly report such measures. You can find a copy of the study here —> SNF Hospitalization Study

CMS Proposed Rules for Immediate Jeopardy Situations for Providers Other than SNFs and NFs

In the April 5th Federal Register, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed new rules relating to immediate jeopardy situations for providers or suppliers that are not Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) or Nursing Facilities (NFs). The proposed rules were published in April of 2013 in the Federal Register and generally apply to the oversight of accrediting organizations, but CMS also proposed a changed to the rule on providers and suppliers, other than SNFs and NFS, with deficiencies. Continue reading

Spring Cleaning – Dust Off Your Compliance Program Manual and Take Some Practical Steps to Reinvigorate Your Program.

Compliance program fatigue is nothing new. Over at least the last 15 years, health care organizations have jumped in head first, put together detailed manuals and taken the plunge. However, reimbursement cuts, quality initiatives, RACs, ZPICs, whistleblowers, physical plant renovations and simply significant industry challenges got in the way of sustaining an efficient and effective compliance effort. Health care organizations have also become desensitized to the barrage of compliance education, enforcement press releases, audits and reviews and other shock-value communications on the importance of regulatory compliance. In that vein, this very article may get lost in the shuffle, although, we hope it doesn’t.

An efficient and effective compliance effort with your organization is extremely important, if only as an insurance policy against government scrutiny. Additionally, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, H.R. 3590 (“ACA”) includes requirements that CMS implement mandatory compliance program requirements for all providers and suppliers. In a distinct section of ACA, nursing home mandatory compliance programs were given a specific implementation timeline. Continue reading