Tags Posts tagged with "Final Rule"

Final Rule

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has issued a Final Rule to advance equity and bolster protections for people with disabilities. The final rule, Discrimination on the Basis of Disability in Health and Human Service Programs or Activities, updates, modernizes, clarifies, and strengthens the implementing regulation for Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 504 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance.

The historic rule provides robust civil rights protections for people with disabilities in federally funded health and human services programs, such as hospitals, health care providers participating in CHIP and Medicaid programs, state and local human or social service agencies, and nursing homes. Reflecting on over 50 years of advocacy by the disability community, it advances the promise of the Rehabilitation Act and helps to ensure that people with disabilities are not subjected to discrimination in any program or activity receiving funding from HHS. This final rule is consistent with Section 504 statutory text, congressional intent, legal precedent, and the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to advancing equity and civil rights.

The Legal Action Center (LAC) will host a stakeholder meeting to discuss the recent amendments to 42 CFR Part 2, the federal privacy and confidentiality rule for substance use disorder (SUD) treatment records, from 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm on Thursday, February 29, 2024. Stakeholders, including directly impacted individuals and their loved ones, addiction treatment providers, healthcare professionals serving people with SUD, and legal and policy advocates, are encouraged to participate. The meeting will focus on the implications of the final rule, with insight from LAC attorneys. Registration is required. For more information on the final rule, visit LAC’s website.

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released the fiscal year (FY) 2023 inpatient rehabilitation facility prospective payment system (IRF PPS) final rule that was published in today’s Federal Register. Some of the key provisions contained in the final rule are provided below:

Final FY 2023 Payment Updates
CMS estimates overall payments to IRFs will increase by 3.2 percent compared to FY 2022 levels (higher than the 2 percent estimated in the proposed rule). This update is the result of a 4.2 percent update to the IRF market basket reduced by a 0.3 percent productivity adjustment, which is required by law. As a result of this market basket increase and a few small budget neutrality adjustments, the standard payment conversion factor will increase from $17,240 to $17,878. ‎CMS is also adjusting the outlier threshold, which it says will reduce overall payments by 0.6 percent. CMS says the 3.2 percent overall increase will result in $275 million in increased payments to IRFs compared to 2022.

Proposed Expansion of IRF Transfer Policy to Include Home Health Services
CMS issued a Request for Information (RFI) in the proposed rule regarding the potential expansion of the current IRF transfer payment policy to include home health services. For background, IRFs receive a reduced case mix group (CMG) payment rate under the IRF transfer policy when the patient’s discharge occurs earlier than the average length of stay (for that respective CMG and tier) and the patient is discharged to a certain setting (an IRF, acute-care hospital, LTCH, nursing home that takes Medicare and Medicaid payment). The policy currently does not apply to home health.

The RFI in this year’s rule followed a December 2021 Office of Inspector General (OIG) report finding that Medicare could have saved over $993 million had the IRF transfer policy been expanded to include home health services (based on 2017 and 2018 data). The OIG therefore recommends that CMS explore ways to capture early discharges to home health care in the current policy, which CMS referenced in the proposed rule. Following a review of concern cited in stakeholder comments, CMS is not moving forward with any changes to the transfer policy at this time.

IRF Quality Reporting Program Changes & Requests for Information All-Payer IRF-PAI Reporting Proposal
CMS proposed to require collection of the IRF-PAI for all IRF patients, including those without Medicare, beginning with the FY 2025 IRF QRP (with data collection to begin on October 1, 2023). Currently the IRF-PAI is only required to be collected for Medicare Part A (fee-for-service) and Part C (Medicare Advantage) beneficiaries. In response to comments, CMS opted to finalize the proposal but with a revised implementation date. IRFs will now be required to collect IRF-PAIs on all patients, regardless of payer, for the FY 2026 IRF QRP (data collection to begin on October 1, 2024).

RFI on Future QRP Measure Expansions
CMS had issued a Request for Information (RFI) related to measures/concepts for use in the QRP in future years in the proposed rule. The agency specifically requested information on a cross-setting function measure that would include self-care and mobility items, and development of a patient-level COVID-19 vaccination measure. CMS referenced several of AMRPA’s comments, including concerns that IRF stays are typically not long enough to adequately capture COVID-19 vaccination for patients. CMS did not provide a response to comments but affirmed the agency would use the stakeholder feedback to inform future rulemaking.

The Office of Long-Term Living (OLTL) has issued Bulletin 59-21-03, which pertains to the Home and Community-Based Settings (HCBS) Heightened Scrutiny process. Also included are the following bulletin attachments:

  • Attachment A: Final Rule Heightened Scrutiny checklist for Day Settings
  • Attachment B: Final Rule Heightened Scrutiny checklist for Employment Skills Development Settings
  • Attachment C: Final Rule Heightened scrutiny checklist for Residential Settings

OLTL is currently working to develop a training for providers on this topic and will host training sessions sometime in early 2022. Questions about the bulletin and/or the attachments should be sent via email. The bulletin is effective December 29, 2021.

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released the calendar year (CY) 2022 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) final rule. Some of the key provisions contained in this final rule include:

Telehealth Services

CMS finalized a policy to allow for Category 3 telehealth services to be available to providers through December 31, 2023. Category 3 telehealth services are those services CMS has added temporarily to the telehealth list due to the public health emergency (PHE) but wishes to consider for permanent addition to the telehealth list. Presently, many occupational and physical therapy services are on the Category 3 list, with some exceptions. However, CMS has not yet added any speech-language service codes to the Category 3 list, so their availability will cease at the end of the PHE. The current list of available telehealth codes is available here.

Therapy Services

CMS made final modifications to its policy for implementing a 15 percent payment reduction for outpatient therapy services provided in part by a therapy assistant, effective January 1, 2022. As previously finalized, any billed unit of service in which a therapy assistant independently provided more than 10 percent of the minutes of service must include a claim modifier and will be subject to the payment reduction. In this final rule, CMS slightly loosened the requirements, allowing providers to forgo appending the modifier for “remaining units” when the therapist had provided at least 8 minutes of the remaining unit, regardless of any additional minutes provided by the therapy assistant. CMS has provided numerous billing scenarios in the final rule to help explain the steps providers should take to determine when the modifier should be used. This guidance will be posted on CMS’ website.

Billing of Shared Services With a Physician Assistant (PA) or Nurse Practitioner

CMS finalized its proposed policy regarding the billing of services when both a physician and non-physician practitioner (NPP), such as a physician assistant (PA) or nurse practitioner (NP), share in the provision of a service. CMS will require the practitioner who performed the majority of the minutes relating to the service to bill for the service. Therefore, when an NPP provides more than 50 percent of the time for a given service, the NPP must bill for the service, and payment will be made at the lower applicable rate for that billed code. This policy applies to all Evaluation and Management (E/M) services provided in institutional settings, including hospitals.

CY 2022 PFS Rate-Setting and Conversion Factor

CMS finalized a series of standard technical proposals involving practice expense, including standard rate-setting refinements, the implementation of the fourth year of the market-based supply and equipment pricing update, and changes to the practice expense for many services associated with the update to clinical labor pricing. CMS finalized their proposal to update the clinical labor rates for CY 2022 through the addition of a four-year transition period as requested by public commenters.

The final rule will be published in the November 19, 2021 Federal Register.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that they will hold a call on December 10, 2020 from 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm Eastern Time (ET) that will focus on the calendar year (CY) 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) final rule that was recently released. This call will focus specifically on four key areas within this final rule, including:

  • Extending telehealth and licensing flexibilities beyond the public health emergency (PHE);
  • Updating Evaluation and Management (E/M) coding guidance;
  • Updating the Quality Payment Program and Merit-Based Incentive Payment System Value Pathways; and
  • Updating opioid use disorder and substance use disorder provisions.

During the call, CMS experts will briefly cover provisions from the final rule and address any questions. Members are encouraged to review the final rule prior to the call. To participate, please register here.