OIG Releases 2017 Work Plan

On November 10, 2016, the Office of Inspector General (“the OIG”) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“DHHS”) released its 2017 Work Plan.  Published annually and updated throughout the year, the Work Plan identifies the OIG’s key areas of focus as it carries out its mission of protecting the integrity of programs within DHHS.  The OIG is charged with ensuring the integrity of more than 100 programs administered by DHHS, including those within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institute of Health. The OIG Work Plan summarizes the OIG’s current activities – comprised of both new and revised activities — along with information regarding previously identified activities that have been completed, postponed, or cancelled.

The Work Plan highlights new and continuing priorities applicable to various provider types, including hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, home health, clinical laboratories, physicians and other health professionals, medical equipment suppliers and manufacturers, pharmaceutical manufacturers and other providers and suppliers.

The 2017 Work Plan is available here.

The following is a sampling of some of the new and ongoing efforts highlighted in the Work Plan:

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Amanda Hayes

Amanda Hayes

Amanda Hayes counsels clients in connection with mergers and acquisitions, divestitures and other business matters, with a particular focus on the health care industry. She regularly serves as lead counsel on acquisitions and divestitures, guiding the client through deal structuring, due diligence, drafting, negotiation and closing. In addition to health care, Ms. Hayes’ mergers and acquisition experience includes a variety of industries, such as manufacturing, retail, automotive, contract research, environmental remediation, engineering and construction supply.

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OCR Issues Guidance on Ransomware Attacks and Determining Whether a Reportable HIPAA Breach Exists

The Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”) has issued new guidance in connection with an increase of malicious cyberattacks, namely ransomware attacks on healthcare organization’s computer systems. Ransomware is a defined by HHS as a type of malicious software whose defining characteristic is that it attempts to deny access to a user’s data, usually by encrypting the data with a key known only to the hacker until the requested ransom is paid.Read More

Chara O'Neale

Chara O'Neale

Chara O’Neale focuses her practice primarily on the representation of hospitals, physician groups and other health care providers in the resolution of legal, regulatory and business issues for entities involved in the health care industry.

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CMS Finalizes Rule on Reporting and Returning Medicare Overpayments

The Affordable Care Act (sometimes referred to as Obamacare) included a requirement for providers to report and return all Medicare and Medicaid overpayments within 60 days of identification.  Although this requirement has been in effect since 2010, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) has proposed but failed to promulgate rules serving to further clarify this requirement. On February 12, 2016, CMS published a final rule, which went into effect March 14, 2016.  The final rule applies to Part A and Part B of Medicare.

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Varsha Gadani & Matt Wolfe

Varsha Gadani focuses her practice on the health care industry. Her clients include hospitals, physicians, behavioral health care providers, long-term care facilities, and other providers. Prior to joining Parker Poe, Ms. Gadani served as Assistant Counsel at the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS). In this role, she performed a variety of legal functions for the NCMS. She monitored and analyzed emerging state and federal health law issues and advised physicians on health policy matters. Matt Wolfe concentrates his practice in the areas of administrative litigation, government relations, and other regulatory matters. Matt formulates comprehensive political and public relations strategies on a broad range of federal and state policies. He drafts and monitors legislation, intervenes directly with legislative, executive, and local officials, and appears before state and federal executive agencies. Within his administrative litigation practice, Matt advises and counsels health care providers subject to federal and state regulatory actions.

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First, Do No Harm: Analyzing the Certificate of Need Debate in North Carolina

From time to time the Parker Poe Health Care Blog will be asking experts in the health care field to serve as guest bloggers. Our first guest blogger is Daniel Carter from Ascendient. Ascendient is a Health Care Consulting firm located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, that provides strategic health care planning and Certificate of Need advice and analysis. Ascendient has recently completed an in-depth analysis of the Certificate of Need (“CON”) law in North Carolina to determine how a potential repeal of the law would affect health care providers and consumers in the state. After reading it, we decided we should share this analysis with you. Here is a summary with a link to the full report.

Much of the debate over whether North Carolina’s Certificate of Need (“CON”) law should be repealed has focused on market theories without a great deal of focus on measurable realities. Ascendient decided to expand the perspective beyond the ideological arguments and review the data to see if it could draw some conclusions about how a potential repeal of the CON law in North Carolina would affect health care providers and consumers.

Based on an analysis of facts and objective data, we conclude that any move now to deregulate North Carolina’s healthcare system by reducing or eliminating the CON program would be premature and put already vulnerable hospitals at much greater risk as new entrants pick off their best patients without taking up the burden of indigent care.

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State Council Release Draft 2016 Certificate of Need Plan

There has been a lot of discussion about major changes to North Carolina’s Certificate of Need law.  As these legislative discussions continue, the State Health Coordinating Council continues its work on next year’s State Medical Facilities Plan (“SMFP”).  The draft plan is available on the N.C. Division of Health Service Regulation’s website.  Public hearings on this proposed SMFP were held in July.  Several petitions have been submitted seeking adjustments to the new determinations in the proposed 2016 SMFP.

A summary of the need determinations in the proposed 2016 SMFP is set forth below. Petitions submitted to adjust the need determinations also are listed.

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Renee Montgomery

Renee Montgomery

Renee Montgomery focuses her practice in the health law area and has extensive experience in regulatory and administrative law. For more than 25 years, Ms. Montgomery has represented health care providers and other organizations in administrative proceedings and litigation matters. Ms. Montgomery frequently lectures on health law and administrative law issues.

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Parker Poe Hosts Health Care Symposium on Supreme Court Decisions


Raleigh, NC –  On July 16, 2015, Parker Poe hosted a Health Care Symposium co-sponsored by the North Carolina Society of Health Care Attorneys, the Federal Bar Association’s Health Law Section, and the Federal Bar Association’s Eastern North Carolina Chapter.

The Symposium was a review of the United States Supreme Court’s decisions impacting health care in the 2015 term. Panelists reviewed the Court’s opinions and their legal and practical implications. The Symposium was designed for health care providers, lawyers, policy makers, and others interested in health law and policy.

Matt Wolfe, an attorney  in Parker Poe’s Raleigh office, moderated the Symposium’s panels.  Matt was joined by Kimberly Cogdell Boies of NCCU Law; Catherine Dunham, Elon Law; Mark Hall, Wake Forest Law; Joan Krause, UNC Law; Jane Perkins, National Health Law Project; Barak Richman, Duke Law; Richard Saver, UNC Law; and Don Taylor, Duke Public Policy. Click here for a link to the video of the session.

If you would like further information about topics discussed, please contact Matt Wolfe at 919-835-4647 or mattwolfe@parkerpoe.com.

Matt Wolfe

Matt Wolfe

Matt Wolfe concentrates his practice in the areas of administrative litigation, government relations, and other regulatory matters. Matt formulates comprehensive political and public relations strategies on a broad range of federal and state policies. He drafts and monitors legislation, intervenes directly with legislative, executive, and local officials, and appears before state and federal executive agencies. Within his administrative litigation practice, Matt advises and counsels health care providers subject to federal and state regulatory actions.

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OIG Releases Joint Guidance for Health Care Boards

Yesterday, the Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) published “Practical Guidance for Health Care Governing Boards on Compliance Oversight.”  The guide is intended as an educational resource for the boards of healthcare entities of all sizes and is the result of a unique collaboration between the OIG and a number of private health care trade organizations.   Topics covered by the guide include:

  • expectation of the board with respect to compliance functions;
  • appropriate relationships between audit, compliance, and legal departments within the organization;
  • establishing expectations regarding reporting to the board;
  • identifying and auditing potential risk areas; and
  • encouraging a culture of compliance.

The guide can be found here.

Joy Hord

Joy Hord

Joy Hord focuses her practice on regulatory and compliance matters specifically related to the health care industry. Her clients include hospitals, physicians, pharmacies and other health care providers. Ms. Hord also has significant experience representing health care professionals and organizations with business law and transactional issues, such as mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures. Ms. Hord leads Parker Poe’s Health Care Practice, which includes attorneys from the firm’s North Carolina and South Carolina offices.

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Office of Civil Rights Delays Phase 2 Audits

The Office of Civil RIghts (“OCR”) recently announced that Phase 2 of the HIPAA audits would be further delayed because the audit portals and project management tools that are needed to initiate the audit process are not ready and available for usage. Phase 2 of the HIPAA audits was initially slated to begin in the fall of 2014 and was subsequently moved to late 2014 or early 2015. Currently, no timeline has been provided as to when the next round of audits will officially begin.

A delay in Phase 2 of the OCR HIPAA Audits does not mean that covered entities and business associates should not continue to make sure they are in compliance with all HIPAA regulations. The potential consequences for failure to comply with HIPAA regulations are significant. While the audit portals are still under development, it is a good time for covered entities to (i) make sure their HIPAA policies and procedures are up to date and meet the latest privacy and security requirements, (ii) create a list of all business associates that provide services to the covered entity, and (iii) conduct an internal risk assessment to identify potential risks and vulnerabilities to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of electronic protected health information held by the covered entity.

Among other things, Parker Poe’s healthcare attorneys advise our healthcare clients about (i) compliance with HIPAA’s privacy requirements as they affect healthcare information, including preparing employee and patient notices, plan policies and procedures, plan amendments and authorization and other forms, and (ii) HIPAA compliance requirements for business associates.

Chara O'Neale

Chara O'Neale

Chara O’Neale focuses her practice primarily on the representation of hospitals, physician groups and other health care providers in the resolution of legal, regulatory and business issues for entities involved in the health care industry.

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How Much Does this Procedure Cost? North Carolina Proposes Temporary Rules on Cost Reporting Requirements for Hospitals and Ambulatory Surgery Centers

The recently adopted North Carolina Health Care Cost Reduction and Transparency Act aims to improve transparency in healthcare costs by providing information to the public.  By January 1, 2015, the Medical Care Commission (MCC) is required to adopt rules establishing reporting requirements for hospitals and ambulatory surgical facilities.  This information will then be available to the public on the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ (Department) website.  The MCC has submitted proposed temporary rules and is accepting public comments through October 17, 2014.  The public hearing on these rules will be on October 15, 2014.  The reporting requirements of these proposed rules are summarized below.

Reporting Requirements for Hospitals
The Department will determine the 100 most frequently reported diagnosis related groups (“DRGs”), the 20 most common outpatient imaging procedures, and the 20 most common outpatient surgical procedures performed in hospitals statewide.  Hospitals will be required to provide the following:

  1. The average gross charge for each DRG or procedure if paid in full without any portion paid by a public or private third party;
  2. The average negotiated settlement for patients not covered by a public or private third party;
  3. The amount of Medicaid reimbursement for each DRG or procedure;
  4. The amount of Medicare reimbursement for each DRG or procedure; and
  5. For the top five largest health insurers (meaning Department of Justice (“DOJ”)-licensed third parties and the State Health Plan):
  • Identify the top five largest health insurers by dollar volume of payments;
  • List the lowest payment from each insurer for each DRG or procedure;
  • List the average of each of the five insurer payment amounts;
  • List the highest payment from each insurer for each DRG or procedure; and
  • Redact names of top five health insurers prior to submission.

Reporting Requirements for Ambulatory Surgical Facilities
The Department will determine the 20 most common outpatient imaging procedures and the 20 most common outpatient surgical procedures performed in ambulatory surgical facilities statewide.  Ambulatory surgical facilities will be required to provide the following:

  1.  The average gross charge for each DRG or procedure if paid in full without any portion paid by a public or private third party;
  2. The average negotiated settlement for patients not covered by a public or private third party;
  3. The amount of Medicaid reimbursement for each DRG or procedure;
  4. The amount of Medicare reimbursement for each DRG or procedure; and
  5. For the top five largest health insurers (meaning DOI-licensed third parties and the State Health Plan):
  • Identify the top five largest health insurers by dollar volume of payments;
  • List the lowest payment from each insurer for each DRG or procedure;
  • List the average of each of the five insurer payment amounts;
  • List the highest payment from each insurer for each DRG or procedure; and
  • Redact names of top five health insurers prior to submission.

Each quarter, hospitals and ambulatory surgical facilities must report on the quarter ending three months previous to the date of reporting.

 

Comments to these proposed temporary rules can be submitted by:

Email: DHSR.RulesCoordinator@dhhs.nc.gov;
Fax: 919-733- 7021;
Mail: Megan Lamphere, Division of Health Service Regulation, 2701 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-2701.

The Public Hearing on October 15, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. will be held at 801 Biggs Drive, Raleigh, NC 27603, Brown Building, Room 104.

Varsha Gadani

Varsha Gadani

Varsha Gadani focuses her practice on the health care industry. Her clients include hospitals, physicians, behavioral health care providers, long-term care facilities, and other providers. Prior to joining Parker Poe, Ms. Gadani served as Assistant Counsel at the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS). In this role, she performed a variety of legal functions for the NCMS. She monitored and analyzed emerging state and federal health law issues and advised physicians on health policy matters.

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