Medicaid expansion has already had a huge impact on whether mental health needs are treated in certain populations. That may not be at the top of all the stories lately about the U.S. House of Representatives passing its replacement of the Affordable Care Act and the Senate considering its own version. But it is a significant piece of our country’s behavioral health puzzle. The expansion brought coverage to many low-income adults without children, a group that had largely been left out of Medicaid programs.
Join the American Health Lawyers Association in Baltimore for the Institute on Medicare and Medicaid Payment Issues. Parker Poe’s Matt Wolfe will be providing an overview of ACA-Related Litigation and Impact of New Administration at a joint luncheon sponsored by AHLA’s Behavioral Health Task Force and AHLA’s Health Care Reform Task Force on March 30.
Read more here.
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:
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
In a letter dated March 17, 2016, Richard Brajer, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, announced that the Local Management Entity-Managed Care Organization (“LME/MCO”) merger process would be moving forward beginning this summer. Currently, there are eight LME/MCOs that manage Medicaid- and State-funded mental health, intellectual and developmental disability, and substance abuse services through a federal waiver. After the newly announced mergers, these eight LME/MCOs will be organized into four regional organizations to include: an East Regional LME/MCO (consisting of a merger between Trillium Health Resources and Eastpointe); a North Central Regional LME/MCO (consisting of a merger between Cardinal Innovations and CenterPoint); a South Central Regional LME/MCO (consisting of a merger between Alliance Behavioral and Sandhill Center); and a Western Region LME/MCO (consisting of a merger between Smoky Mountain Center and Partners Behavioral Health).
The Department believes these mergers will decrease the administrative burden on providers, who are currently required to follow the requirements and deal with the credentialing and billing systems of as many as eight LME/MCOs and will result in better coordination of care and scalability of services. However, providers who have previously experienced these types of transitions know that such a massive process will almost certainly have some negative short-term effects on business and clinical operations. Providers should look to actively engage in the planning and transition process as much as possible over the coming months and keep a close eye on potential pitfalls that may arise during this process. Parker Poe will be closely monitoring this processing going forward as well and are happy to work with providers to best manage these uncertain times in the life of their business.
When the North Carolina Division of Medical Assistance (“DMA”) decides to place a Medicaid provider on prepayment review, it can be the equivalent of a death sentence for a small business. The primary problem is that there are few avenues to appeal the decision to be placed on prepayment review, even when there is little or even no justification for DMA’s decision. Prepayment review then becomes a waiting game reducing cash flow and overwhelming providers with a paper chase gotcha game. Although the initial decision to place a provider on prepayment review cannot be challenged, this does not mean that a Medicaid provider has no options to challenge the prepayment review process.
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.
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 email@example.com.
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.
Here is a common scenario: A behavioral healthcare provider has committed substantial resources into developing specialized behavioral healthcare services in the counties managed by a Managed Care Organization (“MCO”) under the Medicaid Waiver Program. The provider has a contract with the MCO to provide these services and has a good quality track record. Unexpectedly, the provider receives a letter from the MCO stating that the provider’s contract is being terminated – either because the provider’s contact is ending by its terms or because the MCO has decided to terminate the provider’s contract with 30 or 60 days’ notice. Question: Does the provider shut down its operations and transition its consumers, or does the provider have other options?
The simple answer: There are other options. Although some MCOs in North Carolina believe that the concept of a “closed network” allows them to eliminate providers when they choose to do so, there are many cases in which providers have successfully challenged those MCOs’ decisions.
Under North Carolina’s Medicaid laws, providers that receive adverse determinations from the Department’s contractors, including MCOs, have the right to a contested case hearing under the Administrative Procedure Act. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 108C-12. The venue for these hearings is the Office of Administrative Hearings (“OAH”). Administrative Law Judges (“ALJs”) with OAH have presided over dozens of cases by providers challenging adverse decisions of MCOs. Adverse determinations made by MCOs can be reversed when those determinations violate law, are erroneous, arbitrary and capricious, or failed to use proper procedure. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 150B-23(a). Some MCOs are completely ignoring the specific procedures that must be followed under State and federal law and regulations before deciding to eliminate a provider from their networks.
In numerous appeals to OAH that have been filed by providers, MCOs have argued unsuccessfully that the provisions in their contracts with providers or the law allowing them to operating “closed networks” permits them to terminate providers with no appeal rights. In one of those cases in which attorneys at Parker Poe represented the provider, the ALJ reversed the decision terminating the provider and the MCO appealed to Superior Court on the issue of whether the provider had the right to challenge the MCO’s decision. The Superior Court recognized the provider’s right to challenge the MCO’s decision. Yelverton’s Enrichment Services, Inc. v. PBH, 13 CVS 11337 (March 11, 2014).
In the Yelverton’s case, the Honorable Donald W. Stephens, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge in Wake County, concluded that contract provisions cannot override or negate the protections provided under North Carolina law, specifically the appeal rights set forth in North Carolina’s Medicaid law. In cases brought by providers since Judge Stephens’ decision, Administrative Law Judges have cited and relied upon that decision and have concluded that providers have the right to challenge an MCO’s decision to terminate or not renew a provider’s contract, notwithstanding the language in the provider’s contract.