Health Care Law Blog

CMS Proposes Rule to Update Wage Index and Payment Rate for the Medicare Hospice Benefit

On April 30, 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) issued a proposed rule that would update fiscal year (“FY”) 2016 Medicare payment rates and the wage index for hospices serving Medicare beneficiaries (the “Proposed Rule”). CMS estimates that the Proposed Rule would result in a 1.3 percent ($200 million) increase in hospice payments for FY 2016. The highlights of the Proposed Rule are summarized below.  Read More ›

Categories: Billing/Payment, Long Term Care, Medicare/Medicaid, News & Events

The Updated April 2015 National Practitioner Data Bank Guidebook has been Released

The DHHS Health Resources and Services Administration (“HRSA”) has finally published the new National Practitioner Data Bank (“NPDB”) Guidebook.  The original Guidebook had not been updated since September 2001. 

The updated April 2015 NPDB Guidebook is available here.

The new Guidebook extensively covers the changes resulting from the 2013 merger of the NPDB and the Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank (“HIPDB”).  The HIPDB was a separate data bank that received and disclosed reports of final adverse actions by federal and state agencies and health plans against practitioners, entities, providers, and suppliers.  After the merger, there were significant changes in the entities eligible to query and report, as well as the individuals and entities subject to reports.  Read More ›

Categories: Criminal, Hospitals, Licensing, News & Events, Physicians, Providers

Peer Review Protections Apply to Objective Facts in Incident Reports

The Michigan Supreme Court has issued an important decision on the scope of peer review protection. In Krusac v Covenant Med Ctr, Inc, the court held that “objective facts gathered contemporaneously with an event” are protected when “contained in an otherwise privileged incident report.” Krusac overruled a Court of Appeals opinion, Harrison v Munson Healthcare, which ruled that peer review protection only applied to the evaluative content in an incident report. Krusac reinforces the broad protections for “records, data and knowledge” that is collected by or for peer review committees.

While Krusac clarifies the scope of the statutory protection, it also highlights the need for hospitals and health facilities to carefully structure and properly document their peer review processes. It will be especially important in litigation to establish that a committee or individual has been assigned a peer review function and that information is being collected for the purpose of reducing morbidity and mortality and improving patient care.

Richard Kraus of Foster Swift filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the University of Michigan Health System in Krusac.

Categories: Hospitals, News & Events

The IRS Provides Temporary Relief for Certain Health Reimbursement Arrangements

On February 18, 2015, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) provided further guidance related to the issue of how certain employer health insurance reimbursement arrangements are treated under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”).

As we explained in a previous post, after the Health Insurance Marketplace opened for business, many employers recommended that their employees use it to purchase individual health insurance policies, with the promise that the premium costs would be reimbursed by the employer. In fact, such employee reimbursement strategies were aggressively marketed to employers as a solution to reduce costs and comply with the requirements of the ACA. Little did these employers (and marketers) know, such arrangements exposed the employers to significant penalties under the ACA. 

Prior guidance made clear that such arrangements – whether funded on a pre- or post-tax basis – may be subject to the ACA’s market reforms. Employers that offer reimbursement arrangements that violate the ACA are subject to a $100 per day per affected employee penalty.

Notice 2015-17 clarifies previous guidance and provides transition relief to certain small employers from ACA penalties. Key aspects of the new guidance are noted below. Read More ›

Categories: Compliance, Employee Benefits, Health Care Reform, Health Insurance Exchange, Medicare/Medicaid, Tax

2015 Michigan Health Law Update

On March 12, 2015 Foster Swift Attorney Jennifer Van Regenmorter co-presented the Michigan Health Law Update (“Annual Update”) at the 21st Annual Health Law Institute. The Annual Update provides an overview of the most significant Michigan-specific health law developments from the past year, many of which have been covered on this blog. This article will summarize the highlights from this year’s Annual Update. Read More ›

Categories: Hospitals, Insurance, Licensing, Medicare/Medicaid, News & Events, Privacy

Recap from the 2015 Health Law Institute

Foster Swift health care attorneys recently attended and presented at the 21st Annual Health Law Institute on March 12 and 13, 2015. The two-day institute, which was co-sponsored by the Institute for Continuing Legal Education and the Health Care Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan, included presentations on recent statutory, regulatory, and case law developments in the health care industry.

Foster Swift Attorney Jennifer Van Regenmorter co-presented the “Michigan Health Law Update,” which provided an overview of Michigan’s most significant health law developments from the past year. This was Van Regenmorter’s third time presenting this yearly update at the Institute. Read More ›

Categories: Fraud & Abuse, HIPAA, News & Events, Physicians

“Top 10 Healthcare Law Trends in 2015” – Part 2

The February issue of the American Health Lawyers Association’s AHLA Connections features a list of the top ten issues that will impact healthcare law in 2015. We summarized the first five topics in a previous blog. (Miss our summary of the first five? Please click here.)

Here are the remaining trends to think about:  Read More ›

Categories: Health Care Reform, HIPAA, Medicare/Medicaid, News & Events, Providers

“Top 10 Healthcare Law Trends in 2015” – Part 1

The February issue of the American Health Lawyers Association’s AHLA Connections features a top-ten list of the issues that will impact healthcare law in 2015. This two-part series discusses these important trends.

Here are the first five: Read More ›

Categories: Fraud & Abuse, Health Care Reform, Medicare/Medicaid, News & Events

Hospital Mergers Continued to Climb in 2014

MergerSince the approval of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, hospital consolidation has been on the rise and according to a report detailed in a recent Chicago Tribune article, 2014 followed suit with a “flurry of mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures.” The article features findings from a report issued by healthcare consulting firm Kaufman Hall, including that in 2014 95 deals were announced, down slightly from 98 in 2013 but up from 66 in 2010.

Passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 increased pressure on hospitals to operate more effectively and efficiently, which has driven industry consolidation. The ACA favors a service model that rewards organizations for producing quality outcomes – not quantity – and many providers believe that compliance will be easier with the greater scale and integration enabled by mergers. Through consolidation, many also hope to be better positioned to attract new patients with expanded services and medical specializations.

Additionally, the ACA’s introduction of a massive wave of new patients into the healthcare system, combined with diminishing Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements, means that the business of healthcare is becoming increasingly expensive, especially for independent hospitals. Another challenge – and driving force behind consolidation – has been the need to upgrade IT systems and facilities to comply with rules and regulations beyond the ACA. Read More ›

Categories: Health Care Reform, HIPAA, HITECH Act, Hospitals, News & Events

Federal Health IT Coordinator Signs Off on 2017 Interoperability Road Map

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) released a report on January 29 that identifies optimal healthcare information exchange and implementation standards to enable a nationally interoperable health data information exchange system by 2017 (i.e. standards so that you can have your health records sent and read by all your doctors).

In healthcare, interoperability of IT systems allows providers to share data among different practitioners, insurers, billing and scheduling systems and health information exchanges. Interoperability has the potential to improve the quality of patient care by providing access to accurate, timely information in one location, save time previously used searching for information, and make critical medical information instantly available for clinical decisions.

Under the 2009 economic stimulus legislation’s electronic health records (EHR) incentive payment program, the ONC was directed to establish a governance mechanism for the nationwide health information network. Since that time, however, the ONC has been under increasing criticism about the lack of interoperability of EHRs despite the significant public investment. Read More ›

Categories: Accountable Care Organizations, Electronic Health Records, Providers