Health Care Reform: Compliance Programs, Reduce Filing Limits, Limited Ownership

The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 signed March 23, 2010, has made significant changes to health care providers and claims filing requirements.  Remember, CMS will have to publish written notification and post implementation deadlines; however, it will make your life easier to start educating staff and changing practice now.

*  Mandatory Effective Compliance Program for ALL health care providers that bill Medicare, Medicaid, and other federally funded program from hospital to mental health and everyone in between.

A compliance program has been required for providers collecting $5 million or more per year in Medicaid funds collectively since 2006.

New York Office of Inspector General implemented state requirement for effective compliance program 10/1/2009.

An effective compliance program contains 7 elements which includes Compliance Officer, Compliance Committee, Code of Conduct (approx 70 pages), Policies & Procedures (50+ depending on practice), Minimum of 5 hours of training per year on specific relationship and billing topics, Auditing and Monitoring Function, Reporting Options without fear of retaliation, and a few others that are embedded in these items.  It takes at least 12 months to roll out a compliance program and about 18 months to see effectiveness.  As a note, accreditation policies typically do not include most of the elements likewise the audits typically are not coverage criteria based or risk based.

*  Physicians must have a Face to Face with patients prior to ordering DME (durable medical equipment) and HHA (Home Health) Services effective 2/23/10.  This should be taking place now; however, if not, do not wait until CMS publishes an effective date.  This is good business practice and should be implemented immediately.

*  Physicians must be a Medicare provider as of July 1 2010, if they order DME and HHA that will be billed for Medicare reimbursement.

*  Physicians must provider medical record documentation to support referral orders or be subject to a revoked Medicare supplier number for a period not greater than one year **ADDED**

*  Claim submission filing limit has been reduce from 18 months to 12 months.  Until CMS publishes an effective date, you will have 18 months.  Be on the look out.  Announced 5/14/2010

*  Expanded Stark Law regulations will limit physician ownership in hospitals as of 12/31/2010.

*  Must provide patient choice when you have diagnostic equipment in your office such as MRI, PET, CAT.

*  Stark & Anti-kickback violations will also receive penalties until Federal False Claims Act.

*  Overpayments must be refunded to Medicare/Medicaid within 60 days whether you identify the overpayments or the refund is requested.  Failure to do so is likely to result in a revoked provider number and sanction from participating with the Medicare and Medicaid programs.  This was actually part of the Patient Affordable Care Act.  CMS announced 10/15/2010 see also Cynthia Stamer’s Blog.  This announcement also has language on Self Disclosure of Self Referral practices that have taken place.

*  Have heard from several people, that Oxygen will be reduced from 36 months to 13 months.  However, I have searched the full text and amendment and cannot find it. **ADDED**

*  It will require insurance payers to reimburse preventative services at 100% with no co-pay.  Please note, this has not been published with an implementation date so continue to file claims as normal.  Patients cannot expect to receive free preventative services until their payer publishes this change!

*  It appears to me that only companies with 50 or more employees will be required to provide health insurance for all W-2 employees.  I will be interested in seeing how this turns out.   It also appears that in 2018, you will have to use the government health care program or loose tax credits of 25-35% of the premiums.  I wish I had one of this money trees in my back yard!

This covers many of the highlights that impact provider billing, but there are so many more points.  Read over the information so your are prepared.  If you find you need your compliance program reviewed and developed remember to find a consultant that focuses on ALL aspects of compliance not just a compliance program.  They need to understand billing and operations and we are one of the companies that offers an all encompassing solution to health care providers.

You can reference the full text and amendments as well as a blog from Looper, Reed, & McGraw  Search the document for key words used in bullet points.  I have also included a Timeline link that has many items bullet pointed except the ones that apply to providers and reimbursement for Medicare services

Angela Miller of Medical Auditing Solutions LLC has been in health care compliance, auditing, billing, collections and HIPAA for over 18 years.  Ms. Miller has made it the  focus of the business to help providers run their businesses efficiently, collect money, and maintain compliance with federal and state regulations and coverage criteria.  Ms. Miller is very experienced with Medicare & Payer audits.  Ms. Miller ran a very successful compliance program for over 5 years for the largest HME/Pharmacy provider in the US at the time.  Ms. Miller  also works as a contract compliance officer to provide an avenue to compliance training to staff, implementation of policies, as well as handling anything that affects cash flow from the initial intake to back-end collections. You can visit our website at Medical Auditing Solutions LLC.