Archive for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

 

Feds Seek Input on Selling Health Insurance Across State Lines

Working to achieve an objective of reducing the cost of health insurance by encouraging the sale of health insurance policies across state lines, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has published a request for information seeking input from stakeholders and the public on how this might best be done.

According to a CMS news release, the agency seeks

… feedback on how states can take advantage of Section 1333 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which provides for the establishment of a regulatory framework that allows two or more states to enter into a Health Care Choice Compact to facilitate the sale of health insurance coverage across state lines.  CMS is primarily looking for input on how the agency can expand access to health insurance coverage across state lines, effectively operationalize the sale of health insurance coverage across state lines, and understand the financial impacts of selling health insurance coverage across state lines.

Learn more from the CMS news release and the RFI itself.…

Stark Changes Coming to Facilitate Value Care?

At a Washington, D.C. conference, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma announced that changes coming in Stark law requirements will enable Medicare to make better use of value-based purchasing in its reimbursement system.

In addition to addressing cybersecurity and electronic health record system issues, changes in the anti-self-referral law will seek to facilitate better coordination of care for Medicare patients.  Verma explained the underlying rationale for the anticipated changes, noting that

…in a system where we’re transitioning and trying to pay for value, where the provider is ideally taking on some risk for outcomes and cost overruns, we don’t have nearly as much of a need to interfere with who’s getting paid for what service.

Learn more from the Fierce Healthcare article “Verma promises hospital industry ‘significant’ Stark Law changes later this year.”

Protections Overlooked as Medicaid Reforms are Implemented

In its eagerness to help states introduce changes in their Medicaid programs and reduce administrative burdens, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is ignoring regulatory requirements designed to understand and measure the impact of those changes on beneficiaries.

According to an analysis by the Los Angeles Times, many states seeking to implement Medicaid work requirements have not projected how many of their beneficiaries would be affected by those requirements nor have they projected how many beneficiaries who are removed from the Medicaid rolls will gain employment after losing their Medicaid benefits.  Both projections are required under Medicaid regulations adopted in 2012, which call for states to assess the anticipated impact of proposed policy changes when seeking federal permission to implement such changes.

Similarly, many states have not proposed commissioning independent assessments to determine the impact of the Medicaid changes they have implemented with CMS’s approval – another requirement under 2012 regulations.

When pressed to explain its failure to enforce these regulations, according to the Times, CMS said only that regulations “…do not require that states provide precise numerical estimates of coverage impacts…” and that it is developing strategies for states to evaluate the impact of new work …

Hospitals Sue Over Site-Neutral Outpatient Payment Policy

Nearly 40 hospitals have filed a joint lawsuit in opposition to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ site-neutral payment policy for Medicare-covered outpatient services.

In the suit, the hospitals charge the federal government with overstepping its authority in implementing such a change through regulation in the face of past congressional action to limit the use of site-neutral payments.

Under its site-neutral payment policy, Medicare pays the same for some outpatient services regardless of where those services are provided.  Under Medicare’s previous policy, Medicare paid more for services provided in hospital-run outpatient facilities.

Hospitals argue that their outpatient facilities are more resource-intensive than ordinary doctors’ offices and that larger payments are justified.  CMS maintains that its site-neutral payment policies will save Medicare beneficiaries $150 million through reduced co-payments and increase competition among providers.

Learn more about the lawsuit, the issue, and the arguments for and against site-neutral Medicare outpatients payments in the Fierce Healthcare article “38 hospitals sue HHS over site-neutral payment policy.”…

End Run Around Congress for Medicaid Block Grants?

The Trump administration reportedly is considering introducing Medicaid block grants through regulations rather than legislation, according to published reports.

Those reports explain that the administration may seek to offer states an opportunity to apply to the federal government to use Medicaid block grants by obtaining section 1115 Medicaid waivers, a commonly used tool for states seeking exemptions from federal legislative or regulatory requirements.

As reported by the online publication The Hill,

…the Trump administration is now considering issuing guidance to states encouraging them to apply for caps on federal Medicaid spending in exchange for additional flexibility on how they run the program, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Proposals to implement Medicaid block grants have arisen periodically over the past decade but have never gotten beyond the discussion stage because of how difficult it would probably be to gain congressional approval for such a program.  This latest proposal would seek to circumvent that problem by making Medicaid block grants optional for states and permitting those states interested in using them to apply for a Medicaid waiver from Centers for Medicaid & Medicaid Services to do so.

It is not clear whether such an approach would be legal.

Learn …