Litigation involving out of network claims by providers, also referred to as “non-participating” or “non-par”, continues to be rampant into 2019. Complexity of plan administration, increased state and federal rule making, and rising costs are resulting in increased litigation. A recurring issue: unpaid claims disputes.
Many physicians come to the conclusion that some contracts aren’t worth entering. More and more physicians are opting out of participating provider contracts or have chosen not to participate in the first place. Reimbursement is usually the prime reason. The law that controls much of the litigation surrounding these disputes is the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). ERISA is a federal law that sets minimum standards for most plans along with fiduciary responsibilities for plan sponsors. Under ERISA, a “Summary Plan Description” must be created for each plan that sets forth the rights and benefits of each plan member and importantly, how out-of-network reimbursement is determined.
Most everyone knows that laws are being implementing in federal and state government to address the opioid crisis in the US. One such law is the Substance Use Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act (“SUPPORT Act”) signed into law in October 2018 by President Trump. While the SUPPORT Act seeks to increase access to treatment for substance use disorders and prevention of substance use disorders, it also contains language to prevent abuse of the process to increase treatment access. Specifically, incorporated into the SUPPORT Act is the Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act (“EKRA”) which directly targets unlawful referrals to recovery homes, clinical treatment facilities, and laboratories.
EKRA is similar to prohibited kickbacks and patient brokering pursuant to Sections 456.054 and 817.505, Florida Statutes, using similar language as both Florida statutes. EKRA makes it unlawful…
Not tomorrow, but relatively soon. And with a vengeance! We knew the current Competitive Bidding Program moratorium wouldn’t last forever, and that the floodgates that opened as of the first of this year would eventually be reined in.
Indeed, on March 7, 2019 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) announced a new round of Competitive Bidding, which will commence on January 1, 2021 and last through December 31, 2023.
The largest changes from previous rounds of Competitive Bidding that immediately stand out are:
When providers or suppliers self-report overpayments to Medicare Part C Managed Care organization, there is some uncertainty on what lookback period applies and whether there actually is an overpayment obligation. Is it Medicare’s 60-day overpayment rule that applies or do the Managed Care Part C organizations impose a different lookback period for overpayments?
CMS (The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) published its Final Rule clarifying the procedures applicable to the statutory requirement under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) for providers and suppliers to self-report and return overpayments. (The Final Rule was published on February 12, 2016). The Final Rule applies to Medicare Parts A and B and addresses the procedures that a provider or supplier need to follow to investigate, identify, quantify to self-report and return an overpayment. The Final Rule clarifies the obligations of Medicare providers and suppliers to report and return overpayments for claims originating only under Medicare Parts A and B. The final rule does not address, or reference, the obligations of providers to return overpayments to Medicare Advantage organizations for Part C claims.
On February 11, 2019, the Hon. Judge John Z. Lee issued an impactful opinion (msj opinion Case 114-cv-05602) in high-stakes class action litigation that has been pending for more than four years, ruling on a Motion for Summary Judgment that the Defendant’s faxed prescription requests were not unsolicited advertisements in violation of the Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”).
Here is some background on the case: Over the period of several months in 2013, the Defendant, a DME/pharmacy supplier, sent six prescription requests via facsimile to a doctor for breathing medication on behalf of a patient. Problem was, unbeknownst to the Defendant, the prescription requests were being sent to the wrong doctor.
Florida has experienced a huge influx of new residents in the past few years. Throughout the state you’ll find snowbirds moving for a better climate, professionals moving for new opportunities, lifestyle change and better tax incentives as the market grows, and families leaving big city life to establish roots in more suburban areas in Florida. In addition, in areas like Central Florida, big investors have established offices and purchased high dollar medical real property due to strong demographics, readily available open space, and the continued appeal of healthcare professionals looking to grow and open new offices. On a national scale, according to data released by Revista and Healthcare Real Estate Insights (HREI), outpatient medical real estate development projects totaling nearly $7.7 billion in construction value and 19.4 million square feet were completed in 2016.
In July 2013, CMS issued a moratorium on enrolling new home health providers in Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program in specific counties in Florida and Illinois. The moratorium was subsequently expanded to counties in Texas and Michigan. And in August 2016, the moratorium was expanded to cover those entire states. The stated purpose of the moratorium was to allow CMS to address the “fraud, waste and abuse” it had identified in those states, and it was consistently renewed by CMS every six months for the past five years.
As reported in various media, on January 24, 2019 a trucker got into some hot water when he and his big rig were passing through Idaho en route to California from Oregon. In going through a weigh station and having his cargo inspected, state police didn’t take to kindly to what he was transporting.
His haul? Almost 7,000 pounds of hemp.
His customer? A company that intended to wholesale that crop to businesses that manufacture hemp-derived CBD.
Why the fuss? Drug sniffing dogs alerted to his cargo, and field tests indicated the presence (not concentration) of THC. The trucker was immediately apprehended, spent four days in jail, and was freed after posting $100,000 bond.
The company that hired the trucker to transport the product maintains that the load was indeed hemp, that the amount of THC in the hemp was within permissible federal limits, and that it was improperly confiscated. They want it back! So much so, that they’re suing for it; they filed a lawsuit against both the police and the prosecutor.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has recently aimed its investigatory efforts under the False Claims Act (FCA) to the durable medical equipment (DME) industry. One area of DME regulation focus has been on diabetic shoe and insert manufacturers. In its arsenal of investigative tools, the DOJ has the ability to issue Civil Investigative Demands (CIDs). However, there are limits to the DOJ’s investigatory powers. If a CID is received, DME suppliers need to be aware of the limitations placed on the government and what initial steps need to be taken.
Imagine running a successful business: inventory is growing and flourishing, staff is happy, operations are smooth, and all of a sudden – a notification arrives that a bank foreclosed on the property the business rents from the landlord, with no advance notice.
In the blink of an eye, the location is gone, the risk of losing of inventory is imminent, and cash flow is impacted during the transition to find another cultivation space. This type of situation can, and has, happened. But what could have been done differently before establishing operations?
Health law is the federal, state, and local law, rules, regulations and other jurisprudence among providers, payers and vendors to the healthcare industry and its patient and delivery of health care services; all with an emphasis on operations, regulatory and transactional legal issues.