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.
With the current healthcare environment many providers looked to alternative methods of treating patients and achieving outcomes this past year due to the pandemic. To meet the needs of their patients, and their financial obligations many providers implemented services that were not customary to their practice, or their billing departments. As is the case for any office that begins to provide something new there is always the potential for error in any aspect of the practice involved with the patient or claim. Therefore, I believe it is a great time to refresh providers on the procedures for reporting and returning Medicare overpayments as they are discovered moving forward.
As many of you are aware in 2016 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a final rue pursuant to Section 1128J(d) of the Social Security Act (the Act), as amended by the Affordable Care Act, that requires Medicare Parts A and B health care providers to report and return overpayments 60 days after the date an overpayment is identified, or the due date of any corresponding cost report, if applicable, whichever is later. If credible information indicates that an overpayment exists, the rule requires that a reasonably diligent inquiry must be performed.
Due to the increasing number of forms being required these days it is all too common for practices to get lost in the vast terminology, rules, and coding requirements that have to be followed as well. An area that practices have one of the most difficult times with is operationalizing the issuance of an ABN properly. I am frequently asked to consult for practices that ask who does which part, when, and with whom in regards to ABNs? In other instances, many practices I have worked with simply make the mistake that they can solve the complexities of trying to understand the nuances of how to properly utilize ABNs by deciding to issue ABNs to every Medicare patient for every service which is not a viable option either. The solution that many offices try that I just described is called issuing blanket ABNs, which in turn may cause Medicare to invalidate all issued ABNs from the practice, including those that may been appropriate which is why it is very important that blanket ABNs are never issued.
One thing in common with practices that issue ABNs in a proper manner is that they all have a process in place for identifying potential denied services prior to delivering them. To many practices this may sound easy, but to ensure that your practice is as effective as possible it will take some claims data analysis to ensure that your practice is capturing all potential opportunities for ABN issuance. The aim of this article will be to provide practices with 5 steps that will make ABN issuance easier. read more
A question that I am frequently asked is do I actually need a Massage Establishment License for my chiropractic practice? The answer is it depends on the employment status of licensed massage therapist, and whose patients the massage therapist is treating.
Chapter 480, Florida Statutes, regulates the practice of massage therapy in Florida. Pursuant to this law, the facility where massage therapy is administered must be licensed separately as a massage establishment license unless it is the residence or office of the client. Under the Chiropractic Medicine Act, a chiropractic physician prescribing massage therapy for his or her patients in the chiropractic physician’s office does not need to have a massage establishment license. However, the office, does need a massage establishment license if the massage therapist is permitted to bring his or her own clients into the office for massage therapy.
In addition, the key question that many offices need answered is if your Licensed Massage Therapist is an Independent Contractor do you need to have a massage establishment license? The answer is yes, because the operative sentence of the exemption reads: “This section does not apply to a physician licensed under… chapter 460 who employs a licensed massage therapist to perform massage on the physician’s patients at the physician’s place of practice.” Be aware that an independent contractor is not an employee, and therefore the exemption will never apply if the massage therapist is an independent contractor. read more
There have been a rise in cases recently, in which practices that operate under a Health Care Clinic License have been brought under scrutiny by insurance companies trying to recoup funds through any means possible. In an effort to claw back funds insurance companies are beginning to claim that medical directors are failing to meet their statutory obligations under Florida Law which in turn can have serious monetary repercussions. Due to the clinics allegedly failing to meet their statutory obligations the insurance companies are filing suit to recoup any payments made while violating the Health Care Clinic Act obligations, and to stall any future payments due until such cases are heard.
By law, a medical director must be a health care practitioner that holds an active and unencumbered Florida license as a medical physician, osteopathic physician, chiropractic physician, or podiatric physician. The type of services provided at a clinic may dictate who would be able to serve as a clinic’s medical director, because a medical director must be authorized under the law to supervise all services provided at the clinic.
Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic many healthcare businesses are exploring various ways to increase their referrals, and although exchanging fees and gifts in return for referrals may sound like an easy way to obtain additional business, there are state and federal laws that strictly prohibit such activities that are discussed in greater detail below.
Two of the most important laws that all physical therapists should be aware of are the Anti-Kickback Statute and the Stark Law which are used to ensure that medical decisions are not made based on financial incentives. However, each of the laws do have distinctions that you need to be aware of. read more
As the country reopens in light of COVID-19 many patients are beginning to feel safe to return to practices for services. In an effort to generate additional business to make up for lost revenue many practices have turned to internet-based marketing programs, such as Groupon to help attract new patients. Such sites provide a platform for discounted services, in exchange for a fee to refer patients to those businesses. While every state and business is different, chiropractors need to be aware of the implications of working with such sites while accepting federal health care insurance reimbursements, and the marketing requirements that still must be adhered to that often go overlooked.
When a discount is offered, Groupon customers (in this case, chiropractic patients) pay fees directly to Groupon. The chiropractor is then paid a percentage of the fees collected. Such marketing might affect Federal laws, for patients covered by federal insurance programs. The federal anti-kickback statute (AKS) prohibits any person from knowingly and willfully offering or paying cash to any person to induce the person to refer a patient for services for which payment may be made under a federal healthcare program. While some safe harbors exist, none specifically fit in a case like this. read more
On August 19, an amendment to the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act was announced by HHS which allows pharmacists in every state to now administer childhood vaccinations to children ages 3 and older, subject to several requirements,
The vaccine must be approved or licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The vaccination must be ordered and administered according to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) immunization schedules.
The licensed pharmacist must complete a practical training program of at least 20 hours that is approved by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). This training program must include hands-on injection technique, clinical evaluation of indications and contraindications of vaccines, and the recognition and treatment of emergency reactions to vaccines.
What follows is a very common scenario that helps demonstrate why proper documentation is essential in all personal injury cases, and what steps can be taken to ensure proper documentation occurs from the very beginning. Typically, following a car accident or slip and fall, a patient will present to the ER with complaints of “neck pain” only. However, the next day the patient might wake up with mid-back, and low back pain that radiates down the right leg, in addition to the original neck pain. The pain does not go away and gets worse, so they decide to make an appointment to come see their chiropractor.
The Problem Starts Here
When a new patient comes in for the first time, he or she typically starts the visit by completing a detailed history form. One of the first prompts is, “please tell us what hurts,” and there is a diagram that accompanies this question where the patient is asked to, “circle the areas that hurt.” More than likely the patient then puts or circles “neck, mid back, low back, and right leg.” The next question that typically follows the diagram asks, “When did your pain begin?” The patient then puts “4 days ago following my car wreck.” The potential problem for the treating chiropractor starts here. When the note is dictated it will more than likely read something to the effect of “New patient presents with history of neck, thoracic, and lumbar pain with radicular complaints, all of which began immediately after an MVA 4 days ago.”read more
You may not be aware that the Third DCA ruled earlier this year that “Physical Therapy Modalities & Services” such as electrical muscle stimulation, ultrasound, heat, ice, and traction are not reimbursable under PIP when rendered by a massage therapist in any practice setting. Pointing in part to a law that took effect January 1, 2013 an appeals court sided with Geico General Insurance Co. in a dispute about paying for physical-therapy services provided by massage therapists to auto-accident victims.
The Miami-Dade County case involved bills for three patients sent by Beacon Healthcare Center, Inc., under the state’s personal injury protection, or PIP, insurance system.
Physical therapy and physical therapy modalities (i.e. electrical muscle stimulation, ultrasound, heat, ice, and traction) were prescribed for auto accident patients by Beacon’s treating physician and medical director which were performed by massage therapists rather than physical therapists. Neither a licensed physician nor a physical therapist directly supervised the care performed by the massage therapists. However, when Beacon billed GEICO they noted that the supervising physician, and not the massage therapists, provided treatment. The billing statements also indicated that the massage therapists performed physical therapy modalities under the direct supervision of the medical director, whose only responsibility was to review patient files monthly. Geico General Insurance Company denied payment, which led to Beacon filing a suit in Circuit Court. read more