On November 15, 2019 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule requiring hospitals to publicly disclose “standard charges, including payer-specific negotiated rates for items and services. Hospitals will be required to comply by January 1, 2021. The proposed rule is subject to 60 days of comment.
The final rule requires hospitals to make public in a machine-readable file online all standard charges (including gross charges, discounted cash prices, payer-specific negotiated charges) for all hospital items and services. It requires hospitals to de-identify minimum and maximum negotiated charges for at least 300 “shoppable” services.
As many know, out-of-network providers have much different appeal rights with commercial plans than in-network providers. It is important to understand each health plan’s appeal procedure as well as time requirements for an appeal may vary. However, the appeal process is still one of the most important tools providers have to get paid in the current environment of reduced reimbursements, caps on the number and frequency of services, bundled payments based on specific codes, delayed payments, daily errors in claims processing leading to denied claims, claw backs, and the list goes on.
While your healthcare business may be compliant with billing regulations and coding, this does not mean that your payer is compliant and has paid you correctly per your contract. Providers know that Fraud and Abuse has been one of the largest areas of focus for payers and the government over the past 20 years. Due to this attention, many healthcare businesses engage auditors to audit their compliance of claims quarterly or annually. However, in addition to compliance audits, a provider should be auditing their payer interaction to create a dynamic blueprint of denial management and payment recovery. The AMA states that a 5% denial rate for an average family practice equates to about $30,000 walking of the door. A good benchmark for payer compliance would be a denial rate of 5-10%. Often times, practices and healthcare businesses operate with a much higher rate, and even in the 20-30% range without even knowing it.
When auditing the payer interaction, several components should be included in the review including:
Denial rate percentage
Aging of claims paid for 30 day, 60 day, 90 day, over 120 day period as an Aggregate
Aging of claims paid for 30 day, 60 day, 90 day, over 120 day period by each Payer
Claims denied categorized by denial reason as an Aggregate for previous 12 months
Claims denied categorized by denial reason by each Payer for previous 12 months
Claims that have been appealed, the date submitted, the date of the outcome, the outcome by each Payer
Claims not paid according to fee schedule as an Aggregate for previous 12 months
Claims not paid according to fee schedule by each Payer for previous 12 months
Florida’s providers are buzzing with questions about value based care, asking why now? Is it a fad? Will it really ever be a widespread form of payment? Why does Florida seem farther behind the value based curve than other markets?
While there are more aggressive markets in other parts of the country, the bottom line is this: CMS changes are coming and they will not be stopped. The government has invested too much money to turn around at this point. Here are just a few examples of why:
The CMS Value Based Program with hospitals is already implemented;
Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation is piloting NUMEROUS programs covering many physician specialties
CMS expanded the Medicare Shared Savings Program to 3 tracks.
A new Merit-Based Incentive Payment for Physicians, Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, Clinical Nurse Specialists, and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists will be apply to payments for services furnished in 2019.
The train has left the station. Providers will now shift from fee for service to value based payments with CMS. To be successful and still have a profitable business, clinical integration and quality improvements will need to be implemented to improve your practice whether you are hospital based or office based AND whether you are employed by a hospital or in private practice. These changes will be implemented for all of your patients as you will not distinguish in your level of service between patients with managed care as the payor rather than CMS. This essentially means that managed care payors will reap the benefits of these improvements in your practice. If you do not have a value based contract in place with the managed care payors they will not be sharing one dime with you. They will reap the benefits of your improvements AND keep the money! And by the time you get around to a managed care contract that is value based, the shared savings opportunities will be less than if you began those discussions now.
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:
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.
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