Showing 84 posts in Health Care Reform.
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 ›
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 ›
In a first-of-its-kind and closely followed case, a U.S. district court denied a New York health system's (Healthfirst’s) motion to dismiss the U.S. government's and State of New York's complaints in intervention under the federal False Claims Act (FCA) and New York state counterpart. This case represents the first time that the government has intervened in an FCA case based upon an allegation that a party violated the "60 day rule." The 60 day rule came into existence with the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 and subjects parties to FCA liability for failing to report and refund an overpayment within 60 days of identification, even if the defendant received the payment through no fault of its own.
The case, Kane ex rel. United States et al. v. Healthfirst et al., involves three hospitals that were part of the Healthfirst health system network and provided care to patients that were part of Healthfirst's Medicaid managed care plan. Healthfirst received payments from the New York State Department of Health (DOH) in return for services provided to Medicaid eligible enrollees.
The government's allegations stem from overpayments to Healthfirst as a result of a software glitch. Healthfirst was first questioned about the possible overpayments by the New York State Comptroller's office in 2010. The health system tasked Kane, an employee and the eventual whistleblower in the case, to look into the payments. Five months later Kane emailed Healthfirst management a spreadsheet listing over 900 claims totaling more than $1 million that contained an erroneous billing code that may have led to the overpayments. Read More ›
The US Supreme Court's Ruling on the Affordable Care Act will not Change Employers' Responsibilities
On June 25, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a ruling related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the "Act") in the case of King v Burwell. The issue that the Court addressed was whether tax credits were available to individuals who purchased health insurance coverage through a Health Insurance Exchange ("Exchange") that was established by the Federal government.
An Exchange serves as a marketplace where individuals can compare various health insurance plans and ultimately purchase health insurance coverage. The Act requires an Exchange to be established in each State. If a State fails to establish its own Exchange, the Federal government is required to step in and establish the Exchange for that State. The Court's decision had the potential to preclude tax credits for individuals purchasing insurance through the Federal Exchanges in 34 States, including Michigan.
This issue was of significant importance because of its implications for the Act's Employer Mandate, which generally requires large employers to offer health insurance coverage to their full-time employees. The tax credits provided under the Act serve as the lynchpin for liability under the Employer Mandate. Despite the fact that a large employer may fail to offer health insurance coverage to its full-time employees, it will not be penalized if those employees do not obtain coverage through the Exchange and receive a tax credit. Therefore, large employers located in States that have a Federal Exchange could arguably avoid penalties for their failure to offer coverage to their full-time employees; such employees would not receive a tax credit when purchasing health insurance coverage on the Exchange and would not trigger the penalty. Read More ›
Rural hospitals across the United States struggling to stay open
According to the National Rural Health Association, approximately 50 hospitals in the rural United States have closed since 2010. The number of annual closures is growing. Congressional healthcare budget cuts and policy changes significantly affect rural hospitals because rural hospitals often have a disproportionate number of patients who are covered under Medicare, Medicaid or who are uninsured. A number of factors affect and pose challenges to rural hospitals. One challenge is the difficulty of attracting talent, which often means paying more to healthcare professionals in order to recruit them for employment at a rural hospital. Other challenges facing rural hospitals include:
- changing demographics;
- advances in medical practice that the hospital may be unable to implement;
- new federal regulations and standards that create additional compliance related pressure; and
- lower reimbursement rates for Medicare and Medicaid.
Closures of rural hospitals may force individuals to travel long distances for medical care, which may lead to an increase in mortality rates. The closures may discourage business ventures in rural areas due to the increased costs associated with not having a healthcare facility nearby. Metropolitan hospital closings have increased recently, but the existence of medical care alternatives in metropolitan areas typically reduces the effects that closures have on patients. Read More ›
The Affordable Care Act ("ACA") authorizes the innovative payment model referred to as direct primary care, and more commonly known as “concierge medicine.” Under the direct primary care model, patients can access comprehensive coverage of basic healthcare services for a flat monthly fee. Such services generally include guaranteed same-day or next-day visits with no waiting times. Concierge medicine is becoming increasingly popular in states where it is allowed. Read More ›
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.
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 ›
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 ›
Since 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 ›
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