Big Reimbursement & Balance Billing Changes in Florida Law

VOBBy: Karina Gonzalez

Earlier this year, the Florida legislature passed prohibitions against balance billing by out-of-network providers for emergency services and where the patient goes to a contracted facility but does not have an opportunity to choose a provider such as emergency room physicians, pathologists, anesthesiologists and radiologists.

Specific reimbursement requirements went into effect on October 1, 2016 for certain out-of-network providers of emergency and non-emergency services, where a patient has no opportunity to choose the provider.

Under these circumstances, an Insurer must pay the greater amount of either:

(a)         The amount negotiated   with an in-network provider   in the same community where services were performed;

(b)        The usual and customary rate received by a provider for the same service in the community where service was provided; or

(c)         The Medicare rate for the service. Continue reading

The United States Supreme Court adopted an “Implied Certification Theory” in “some circumstances”

bcbs lawsuitBy: Karina Gonzalez

The Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Universal Health Services v. United States ex rel. Escobar (decided 6/16/2016) extended the reach of the False Claims Act (FCA) to cover implied false certifications made “in certain circumstances” by healthcare providers in requesting payment for goods and services.

At issue was a theory of liability known as the “implied false certification theory” and whether this theory was valid under the FCA.  The implied false certification theory treats a payment request as an implied certification of compliance with relevant statutes, regulations or contract requirements that are a material condition of payment and treats a failure to disclose a violation as a misrepresentation that renders the claim false or fraudulent.  Continue reading

Medical Necessity and Payment: Who Decides?

medical necessity kpgBy: Karina Gonzalez

There is nothing readily understood about the term medical necessity.  In healthcare it is the “overarching criterion for payment”.  There is no payment for services or supplies if there is no medical necessity to support it.   Today, every provider at some time is faced with a denial because of lack of medical necessity.  Physician providers will usually hear that payors do not get in the way of the physician-patient relationship.  Payors typically state that they never tell a physician how to practice medicine and a denial based on lack of medical necessity is for purposes of payment only.  However, what provider, on a routine basis, will continue to order care and services which medically unacceptable and not supported for payment purposes?

The definition of medical necessity varies from one commercial plan to another. Federal law such as Medicare has its definition and so does state law under programs such as Medicaid.  Various medical associations such as the AMA also define medical necessity.

Generally, medical necessity refers to services or supplies which are required for the treatment of an illness, injury, diseased condition or impairment and which is consistent with a patient’s diagnosis or symptoms and are in accordance with generally accepted standards of medical practice.  Services or supplies must not be ordered only as a convenience to the patient or provider. Of course care and services which are investigational or unproven are not considered medically necessary. Continue reading

Provider Service Volume is No Longer King

By: Valerie Shahriari

As the shift from fee for service to value based payment develops, one thing is crystal clear:  volume is no longer king.  Prior to 2010, medical providers were being paid on the amount of services that they rendered. The more patients that they treated, the more money they made. That certainty has disappeared with value based compensation and outcomes are now driving the compensation.  To be successful, a provider must learn to bend both the quality and cost curve.  In short, providers must increase quality while decreasing costs.

When contemplating negotiating or entering into a value based contract, the first thing to consider is the amount of financial risk that your practice or healthcare business can take on.  The four main types of financial payments are:

Payment Structures

The best way to determine which payment model best suits your needs is to hire a qualified financial healthcare analyst who will be able to generate financial risk modeling.  A provider will then have a common starting point to negotiate as well as a better understanding of the issues, risks, and potential cost savings involved.  Continue reading

Value Based Payments Gaining Traction – CMMI Oncology Care Model

443 Providers sign up for the CMMI Oncology Care Model including numerous providers in Florida.  The Oncology Care Model is a new payment model for physician practices administering chemotherapy.  Practices receive reimbursement via an episode based payment model that incentivizes high quality coordinated care.  Letters of Intent from payers (several of which are Florida payers) wishing to participate in the new model were submitted and Letters of Intent from providers wishing to participate were also submitted.  A list of those payers and providers who submitted LOIs can be found at http://innovation.cms.gov/initiatives/Oncology-Care/ .

If you would like to learn more about value based payments for your practice, Attorney Valerie Shahriari is offering a free webinar on June 24, 2015.  Registration is now open: “Preparing Your Practice for an Incentive Based Payment Structure”

 

Hospitals Respond to Governor’s Challenge…Are Hospitals Like Baseball?

By: Valerie Shahriari

Like a scene from the popular Netflix series, House of Cards, Governor Scott has requested that State agencies list critical services in light of a possible government shutdown over a battle of the budget.  It is important to note that Floridians relying on Medicaid could be impacted and shifting their care from the Primary Care Doctors back to the Emergency Departments.  Lawmakers will have a special session from June 1-20 with the goal of passing a budget.

In the meantime, hospitals have responded to Governor Scott’s challenge for profit sharing and likening healthcare to baseball.  The Florida Hospital Association responded equating the profit sharing to an additional tax on hospitals.  The Florida Hospital Association stated that hospitals already contribute roughly $1.3 billion to Medicaid as supported by a report commissioned by the State.  Governor Scott also drew criticism from State Senator Don Gaetz in a talk radio interview where he likened the Governor’s profit sharing to government price controls.

No Medicare = No Feds… Not!

ACO-Payment-300x225

By: Jeff Cohen

In the “good old days” (in healthcare, that means more than a week ago), it was understood that if a client didn’t accept any state or federal healthcare program dollars (e.g. Medicare, Medicaid, CHAMPUS, TriCare, Supp Plans), they would not expect to get a “knock on the door” from any federal regulatory authority.  No federal or state healthcare program dollars used to mean the client would only tend to hear from state regulators or commercial payors.  Those days are done!

Federal law enforcement is increasingly pursuing alleged criminal wrongdoing in the “non-government” healthcare space.  One of their favorite weapons is 18 U.S.C. 1347, the Federal Healthcare Fraud Statute, which gives federal law enforcement broad enforcement authority with respect to suspected wrongdoing involving interactions between healthcare providers and commercial insurers. Continue reading