Health Care Law Blog

OCR Issues Clarifying Guidance on HIPAA Privacy Rule Regarding Access to Protected Health Information

The Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”) recently issued new guidance (“Guidance”) concerning the right of individuals to access their protected health information (“PHI”) under the HIPAA Privacy Rule. The OCR explained in the Guidance that based on its enforcement experience and recent studies, individuals continue to have difficulty accessing information - even from entities required to comply with the HIPAA Privacy Rule. This is also despite improvements in technology that make access more readily available. Bottom line is that individuals must have access to their PHI and health providers need to be providing such access.

However, the Guidance further clarifies a number of issues, including permissible charges for providing information to patients, security issues, submission of requests for information, and the manner for providing access to information. Read More ›

Categories: HIPAA, News & Events, Privacy

CMS Releases Draft Plan to Support Transition to Value-Based Payment System

As part of the continuing transition toward a physician payment system based more on quality than quantity, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) recently released a draft Quality Measure Development Plan (the “Plan”). The Plan is authorized by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (“MACRA”), which mandated that CMS post a draft plan for the development of quality measures by January 1, 2016. The Plan explains how CMS will support the transition to the new Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (“MIPS”) and Alternative Payment Models (“APMs”). Read More ›

Categories: Medicare/Medicaid

Affordable Care Act Reporting Deadlines Extended

In the last few days of 2015, the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") published welcomed relief for employers who are struggling to understand their reporting obligations under the Affordable Care Act ("ACA"): extended deadlines.  Read More ›

Categories: Employee Benefits, Health Care Reform, News & Events

CMS Issues Final Home Health Payment Rules for 2016

On October 29, 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the final home health prospective payment system (PPS) rule for calendar year (CY) 2016. CMS projects that the impact of the final rule will result in a 1.4 percent (or $260 million) reduction in Medicare payments to home health agencies (HHAs) from 2015 payment levels.  Read More ›

Categories: Billing/Payment, Medicare/Medicaid

Department of Justice Enters Into Record-Breaking Stark Law Settlement

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and a handful of states, recently reached a settlement agreement with Adventist Health System (Adventist), resolving Stark Law issues, as well as allegations in two separate qui tam actions that included false claims. Generally speaking, the Stark Law limits physician referrals of designated health services or “DHS” for Medicare and Medicaid patients in instances where the physician - or an immediate family member of the physician - has a financial relationship with the DHS entity.  Read More ›

Categories: Billing/Payment, Medicare/Medicaid, News & Events, Physicians

DOJ Memo: Corporate Investigations to Focus on Individual Accountability

Recent guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) reveals the government’s renewed focus on individual accountability during corporate investigations. On September 9, 2015, Deputy U.S. Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates issued a memorandum to DOJ attorneys (the “Yates Memo”) that emphasizes the importance of seeking accountability from the individuals who are responsible for corporate wrongdoing.

The Yates Memo outlines six measures that should be taken by federal prosecutors during any investigation of corporate misconduct in order to hold accountable the individuals who are responsible for the conduct. A discussion of each measure appears below. Read More ›

Categories: Fraud & Abuse, Providers

Quality vs. Quantity: Accountable Care Organization Results Keep Coming, as Does Some Criticism

One of the primary ways that the Affordable Care Act seeks to reduce health care costs is through the formation of Accountable Care Organizations (ACO). ACOs are still a relatively new concept in the healthcare world, as they emerged in 2011 as a result of an initiative by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

ACOs are generally groups of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers, who voluntarily join forces for the purpose of providing coordinated care to Medicare patients (see other Foster Swift articles on ACOs). ACOs were established as a means of coordinating care in order to ensure that patients, especially the chronically ill, receive effective care while avoiding unnecessary duplication of services and preventing medical errors. ACOs that achieve cost saving from providing timely and accurate care that meet quality benchmarks share in Medicare savings. In short, ACOs are intended to encourage quality of care, not quantity of care, and ACOs that deliver care more efficiently are eligible for bonuses. Read More ›

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

CMS Issues Final Rules for Fiscal Year 2016 Provider Payments

On July 31, 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) issued final Medicare payment rules for federal fiscal year 2016 (the “Rules”). The Rules affect hospitals, hospices, psychiatric facilities, and rehabilitation facilities.  Read More ›

Categories: Billing/Payment, Medicare/Medicaid, News & Events, Providers

HHS Issues HIPAA “Basics” Fact Sheet

The Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) recently released a HIPAA overview called “HIPAA Basics for Providers: Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules” (the “Overview”). The Overview is intended to provide HIPAA Covered Entities such as physicians, hospitals, and other health care providers with a basic overview of HIPAA’s rules and responsibilities. The fact sheet also provides an overview to Business Associates (such as law firms and accounting firms who receive protected health information ("PHI") from Covered Entities). The Overview can be found here.

The Overview explains that the HIPAA Privacy Rule protects individually identifiable PHI, which includes information such as an individual’s past, present, or future physical or mental health condition. Read More ›

Categories: HIPAA, News & Events, Privacy, Providers

Health Insurance Rate Increases Approved for 2016

On Tuesday, August 18, the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (“DIFS”) announced that it has approved health insurance rate increases that average 6.5 percent for the individual market and 1 percent for the small group market. 

Each year, DIFS is responsible for reviewing rate changes proposed by health insurers to determine whether such changes comply with state and federal laws. As part of its review this year, DIFS considered public comments that were submitted after the requested rate changes were posted. DIFS approved all rate changes as requested after determining that such changes were actuarially supported. Read More ›

Categories: Insurance, News & Events