Over Objections, CMS Maintains Hospital Transparency Pricing Rule in the Inpatient Prospective Payment System Final Rule for 2021
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) has released its Inpatient Prospective Payment System (“IPPS”) final rule for fiscal year (“FY”) 2021, effective October 1, 2020. The rule affects approximately 3,200 acute care hospitals. Over the objections of numerous providers, including the American Hospital Association, CMS maintained the transparency rule in the final rule, which requires hospitals to report to CMS the median rate negotiated with Medicare Advantage organizations for inpatient services.
New Jersey Passes Bill Requiring New Prevailing Wage for Long-Term Care Facility Staff and Establishes a Direct Care Ratio for Nursing Homes
The New Jersey State Assembly and the New Jersey State Senate passed a new bill (A4482/S2758) establishing the minimum wage for certain long-term care facility staff and establishes direct care ratio requirements for nursing homes. First, the bill provides that the minimum wage for direct care staff in long-term care facilities is to be $3 higher than the prevailing State minimum wage and annually adjusted based on cost-of-living increase. Second, under the bill, the Commissioner of Human Services will be required to establish a direct care ratio reporting and rebate requirement that will take effect no later than July 1, 2021.
Deadline for Phase 2 Financial Relief Applications Extended by CMS
Healthcare providers now have more time to apply for the next round of emergency financial relief under the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”). Previously, the deadline to apply for the Phase 2 General Distribution was August 28, 2020. However, on August 25, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) issued new guidance extending the deadline to September 13, 2020 and expanding the eligible providers.
Governor Murphy Vetoes Bill Authorizing Pharmacists to Order and Administer COVID-19 Tests
Bill S2436, which passed both the Senate and Assembly, allows for licensed pharmacists, consistent with federal guidance and waivers, to order or administer to any person any COVID-19 test that the Food and Drug Administration has authorized for use. Under the bill, the pharmacy must distribute personal protection equipment ("PPE") to all pharmacy staff and ensure that policies and protocols are in place to ensure all people presenting at the pharmacy for any reason maintain a level of social distancing appropriate to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.
Guidance on Free Testing On or about August 4, 2020, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”) issued new guidance in the form of frequently asked questions regarding a clinical laboratory’s ability to offer free COVID-19 antibody testing to federal health care program beneficiaries who receive other medically necessary blood tests.
CMS Finalizes Four New Payment Rules
CMS finalized new payment rules for inpatient psychiatric facilities (“IPFs”), skilled nursing facilities (“SNFs”), and hospices, for fiscal year (“FY”) 2021. The final rule includes a 2.2 percent IPF payment rate increase, which CMS expects to yield an additional $95 million in payments. As to SNFs, the final rule updates the payment rates by 2.2 percent, or an increase of $750 million, and hospice payment rates by 2.4 percent, or an increase of $540 million.
For those Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program (“CHIP”) and dental providers who missed out on the $20 billion second tranche from the general Provider Relief Fund, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) recently announced that it would reopen the application process. Do not assume you will not receive funds. The Provider Relief Fund has been a valuable source of funding for many providers during COVID-19 so apply when it reopens.
Federal Executive Orders on Drug Pricing
On July 24, 2020, President Donald Trump signed four Executive Orders aimed at lowering prescription drug prices. The first order, Executive Order on Access to Affordable Life-Saving Medications, directs federally qualified health centers ("FQHCs") to pass along discounts on insulin and epinephrine received from drug companies to certain low-income Americans.
New Jersey Executive Directive No. 20-016 Modifies Testing Protocols for Ambulatory Surgery Centers Resuming Elective Surgery and Invasive Diagnostic Procedures
The New Jersey Department of Health has further modified its previous guidance on the resumption of elective surgeries and invasive procedures in Ambulatory Surgery Centers (“ASCs”). Under the modified guidance, patients still have to undergo COVID‑19 testing and receive results within six days before the scheduled surgery.
During the past week or so, federal agencies have released new information and deadlines related to COVID-19. For example, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) has released a timeline for Provider Relief Fund reporting requirements and extended the deadline for eligible Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (“CHIP”) providers to apply for funding distribution. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) has updated its reimbursement calculation for Wright Medical’s Augment regenerative solutions, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) announced that patients recovering from COVID-19 no longer need a negative test result to come out of isolation.