Tag Archives: hospitals

Verifying Patients’ Affordable Care Act Exchange Insurance is Putting Doctors’ Office Employees Through the Ringer

10 Indest-2008-7By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

The ultimate goal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is to provide millions of previously uninsured Americans with access to health care. Open enrollment does not end until March 31, 2014; however, practices are already seeing an influx of patients who have bought insurance through the exchanges. With that, some offices are reporting a new challenge being presented in doctors’ offices.

In a National Public Radio (NPR) article, some doctors’ office employees report having to call insurance companies to verify that each exchange patient is paid up. These calls are reportedly taking up to an hour or more, which costs the practice both time and resources.

Click here to read the entire NPR article.

Doctors’ Offices Used to Check Insurance Online.

In the past, practices were able to verify patients’ insurance quickly through online verification systems. However, for exchange patients, some doctors’ offices are choosing to call insurance companies to make sure the patient has paid the premium. It if is not paid, the insurance company can refuse to pay the doctor for the visit, or recoup payments already made.

Financial Risk Part of the 90-Day Grace Period Included in the ACA.

Individuals that purchased subsidized coverage through the exchanges are granted a 90-day grace period before their coverage is cancelled for nonpayment. The insurance plan is required to pay any claims incurred during the first 30 days of the grace period. However, for the next 60 days, nothing is guaranteed. If a patient visits the doctor, the insurer can “pend” the claim and wait to pay until the patient pays the premium. At the end of the 90 days, the insurer can cancel the coverage and refuse to pay the pended claims or recoup payments already made. To read a previous blog on this topic, click here.

Risk Falls on Health Care Professionals and Providers.

The rule imposes a significant risk for uncompensated care on health care providers. The rule does require insurers to tell health care providers when patients are behind on their premium payments, but the rule does not specify how the health plan will provide that notice to the providers. This is why some practices are opting to get in front of the insurance companies by calling and verifying everything is in order before proceeding with the visit. However since the calls are taking so long, this means longer hours, more overtime and higher overhead expenses.

The Office Has Options.

If the premium is not paid, the office is at risk to not receive reimbursements. Instead of taking that risk, the office can provide patients with other options. The patient could reschedule the appointment for a later date. Or the patient could pay the office in cash and then apply to the insurer for reimbursements. Either way, the practice will receive its proper payment.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in the Representation of Health Professionals and Providers.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, CRNAs, pain management doctors, dentists, pharmacists, psychologists and other health providers in insurance company or other third party payor reimbursements.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

Has your practice been calling insurance companies to verify patients have paid their premiums? As a health care professional or provider, are you worried you don’t have adequate financial protection? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Source:

Gold, Jenny. “Doctors’ Offices Get Put On Hold Trying to Find Out Who’s Insured.” National Public Radio. (February 25, 2014). From: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/02/25/282115303/doctors-offices-get-put-on-hold-trying-to-find-out-whos-insured

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. http://www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2014 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

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Grace Period Included in the Affordable Care Act Could Pose Financial Risk to Healthcare Professionals and Providers

MLS Blog Label 2By Michael L. Smith, R.R.T., J.D., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law, and George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

A little known rule published by CMS to implement the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could pose a significant financial risk for doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers. The rule requires health plans participating in the exchanges to provide individuals purchasing insurance through the exchanges a grace period before terminating the coverage for non payment of the premiums. Doctors and other healthcare providers will continue to provide care during the grace period, but the insurance plan will not be required to pay the claims incurred during most of the grace period. The result could be that physicians and other healthcare providers would provide a significant amount of uncompensated care.

Details of the Rule.

The CMS rule provides individuals that purchased subsidized coverage through the exchanges a 90-day grace period before their coverage is cancelled for non payment. The insurance plan is required to pay any claims incurred during the first 30 days of the grace period, but the insurance plan is not required to pay the claims incurred during the last 60 days of the grace period if the individual’s coverage is terminated. The insurance plan is allowed to place all the claims during the last 60 days of the grace period in a pending status. The rule requires the insurance plan to notify the healthcare providers when an insured individual is in the last 60 days of the grace period.

Risk Falls on Healthcare Professionals and Providers.

The rule imposes a significant risk for uncompensated care on the healthcare providers. The rule does require insurers to tell healthcare providers when patients are behind on their premium payments, but he rule does not specify how the health plan will provide that notice to the providers. The only notice some providers receive will probably be the pending status placed on the unpaid claims by the insurance plan.

Many doctors and hospitals are reluctant to participate in insurance plans offered on the exchanges due to the increased financial risk associated with the CMS rule. The result could be that individuals enrolling in insurance plans through the exchanges may find it difficult to find a healthcare provider willing to accept them as patients. CMS has been asked to modify the rule so that insurers are required to pay claims during the entire 90-day grace period.

How Grace Period Can be Manipulated to Benefit Patients.

The CMS rule may also result in individuals manipulating the system. Some individuals may intentionally pay premiums for only part of the year and become serial abusers of the 90 day grace period. Another unintended consequence of the ACA is that individuals that choose not to pay their premiums and have their coverage terminated can reenter the exchange and enroll in a plan regardless of their pre-existing conditions so there is little incentive for some individuals to maintain their coverage.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in the Representation of Health Professionals and Providers.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, CRNAs, pain management doctors, dentists, pharmacists, psychologists and other health providers in insurance company or other third party payor reimbursements.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

Were you aware of the 90-day grace period? As a healthcare professional or provider, are you worried you don’t have adequate financial protection? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Fiegl, Charles. “Medical Groups Fear ACA Grace Period Will Lead to Unpaid Claims.” American Medical News. (September 2, 2013). From: http://www.amednews.com/article/20130902/government/130909984/4/

Block, Jonathan. “Providers Protest Rule Putting Them at Financial Risk if Patients Don’t Pay Premiums.” Modern Healthcare. (August 13, 2013). From: http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20130813/NEWS/308139968

Adams, Samuel. “Hospitals May Absorb Risk of Insurers’ Debtor Patients.” Bloogberg. (August 17, 2013). From: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-08-16/hospitals-may-pay-for-insurers-debtor-patients-under-obamacare.html

45 C.F.R. Section 156.270

About the Authors: Michael L. Smith, R.R.T., J.D., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

 

 

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Physician Payment Sunshine Act Deadline is Here-Are You Ready?

GFI Blog LabelBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law and Lance O. Leider, J.D., The Health Law Firm

As of August 1, 2013, the Physician Payment Sunshine Act (Sunshine Act) goes into effect. The Sunshine Act, contained in Section 6002 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), is designed to highlight the financial relationship between doctors and the manufacturers of medical devices and pharmaceuticals. The act requires that light be shined on the payments being made to physicians by pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, bringing these out into the “sunshine.”

Some of the items tracked include gifts worth more than $10, five-star dinners, trips, money paid to physicians for speaking engagements, etc. The medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturers will be responsible for reporting the figures to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). However, it’s important that physicians keep their own records to verify the accuracy of the reports.

To read a summary of the Sunshine Act, click here.

What Has to be Reported and What Does Not Have to Be Reported.

All manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and medical devices will have to disclose how much money they pay physicians and hospitals in cash and gifts, as well as how much stock doctors and their families own in the particular manufacturer’s company.

As required by law, this information will be published by CMS starting in September 2014. There are several reporting exceptions, such as gifts less than $10, drug samples for patients and educational materials given to patients, according to a Huffington Post article.

To read the entire Huffington Post article, click here.

Physicians Need to Track Their Records.

The burden of collecting and reporting data will be the responsibility of the manufacturers of medical devices and pharmaceuticals, but physicians are encouraged to keep their own records. They will have 45 days to review disclosures and seek corrections if they dispute what is being reported. According to Modern Healthcare, CMS will not mediate disagreements but will note if a figure is being disputed.

Physicians can register with CMS starting January 1, 2014, to receive a consolidated report on activities each June for the prior reporting years.

To read the Modern Healthcare article, click here.

Helpful Resources for Physicians.

The Sunshine Act affects all physicians with a current medical license. The American Medical Association (AMA) has a “Physician Sunshine Act Tool Kit” available on its website to help physicians navigate the Sunshine Act changes. The AMA is also working on tools to aid physicians in talking with their patients about the transactions included in the new Sunshine Act database. Click here to access the AMA’s Physician Sunshine Act Tool Kit.

CMS is holding a national provider conference call on August 8, 2013. Doctors of medicine, osteopathy, chiropractic medicine, dentistry, dental surgery, optometry and podiatry are encouraged to participate and ask questions. CMS also recently introduced a free mobile app called “Open Payments Mobile for Physicians.” The app will help physicians and businesses track financial relationships.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Health Care Professionals.

The Health Law Firm routinely represents pharmacists, pharmacies, physicians, nurses and other health providers in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections and audits involving the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Health (DOH) and other law enforcement agencies. Its attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

What are your concerns about the Sunshine Act? Are you ready for the law to go into effect? How have you prepared for the Sunshine Act? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Robeznieks, Andis. “Reform Update: Aug. 1 Brings Deadline to Report Physician Payments.” Modern Healthcare. (July 29, 2013). From: http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20130729/NEWS/307299967/reform-update-aug-1-brings-deadline-to-report-physician-payments

Aronfeld, Spenser. “Here Comes the Sunshine Act – And It’s All Right.” Huffington Post. (July 16, 2013). From: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/spencer-aronfeld/here-comes-the-sunshine-act_b_3595394.html?view=print&comm_ref=false

Lasher Todd, Heather. “AMA Reminds Physicians: Sunshine Act Reporting Starts This Week.” American Medical Assocations. (July 30, 2013). From: http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/news/news/2013/2013-07-30-sunshine-act-reporting-this-week.page

About the Authors: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

Lance O. Leider is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

How Safe Is Your Hospital?

10 Indest-2008-7By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

It’s been a long time since most of us have seen a report card, but hospitals all over the nation received their safety grades on November 28, 2012. Leapfrog, a national group that advocates for safer health care, determined the grades. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Florida hospitals ranked well. Overall, 39 percent (39%) of the 156 hospitals graded received A’s, earning the Sunshine State a tenth place ranking in the nation.

Click here to read the entire article from the Orlando Sentinel.

How Florida Hospitals Did.

Here is a list of the grades received by Florida hospitals:

A’s: 61 (This includes Orlando Regional Medical Center, Dr. P. Phillips Hospital,

Orlando Regional South Seminole Hospital and Health Central.)

B’s: 38 (This includes Florida Hospital campuses in Orlando, Altamonte, Apopka, Celebration, east Orlando, Kissimmee and Winter Park.)

C’s: 49

D’s: 8

F’s: 0

To see the number of hospitals receiving each grade for patient safety by state, click here.

Grades Were Calculated by Safety Measures in Hospitals.

According to the Kaiser Health News article, Leapfrog calculated the grades based on 26 different measures of safety. The company used publicly-available data, including the number of blood line infections, falls in the hospital, bedsores and the consistency that hospitals follow recommended methods of care.

Physicians Believe Rating System is Pointless.

This grading system has physicians reportedly complaining. In the Kaiser Health News article doctors interviewed said that the grades are redundant and offer no benefit to hospitals since Medicare calculates and publishes most hospital-related issues.

Click here to read the Kaiser Health News article.

Leapfrog defends the ratings, saying the report cards provide a more transparent health care system for patients.

How to Fight Poor Online Reviews.

The Leapfrog grading system is just one of the many ways the performance of physicians, hospitals, nurses, dentists and all health providers is put on the chopping block. Other internet review websites like Vitals.com and Yelp.com allow patients to post virtually anything they want – good or bad. If you’ve personally received an unfavorable review that was possibly planted by a disgruntled patient, competitor or former employee you need to fight it. When the comment is posted, search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, AOL, or MSN may bring up the false statement every time someone searches for that health provider’s name. To learn legal strategies for health providers to fight bad online reviews, click here.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Health Care Professionals and Providers.

At the Health Law Firm we provide legal services for all health care providers and professionals. This includes physicians, nurses, dentists, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors, Durable Medical Equipment suppliers, medical students and interns, hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, pain management clinics, nursing homes, and any other health care provider. We represent facilities, individuals, groups and institutions in contracts, sales, mergers and acquisitions.

The services we provide include reviewing and negotiating contracts, business transactions, professional license defense, representation in investigations, credential defense, representation in peer review and clinical privileges hearings, Medicare and Medicaid audits, commercial litigation, and administrative hearings.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

As a health professional, do you think this grading system is redundant? Do you believe there is any merit to the grades hospitals received? Do you think patients benefit from the published grades? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Jameson, Marni. “Did Your Hospital Make the Grade? Group Rates Quality of Care, More.” Orlando Sentinel. (November 28, 2012). From: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-leapfrog-hospital-grades-20121127,0,5928170.story

Rau, Jordan. “Hospitals Get New Grades on Safety.” Kaiser Health News. (November 28, 2012). From: http://capsules.kaiserhealthnews.org/index.php/2012/11/hospitals-get-new-grades-on-safety/

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.

Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Halifax Whistleblower Claims Hospital Overbilled Medicare

The U.S. Department of Justice has joined a whistleblower suit filed against Halifax Hospital by the hospital’s director of physician services, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed its part of the lawsuit on Friday. It claims that Halifax Health defrauded the federal government by submitting thousands of false claims for Medicare and Medicaid payments worth millions of dollars. By filing, the U.S. Department of Justice hopes to recover millions of dollars in Medicare and Medicaid payments that it says were made in error to Halifax.

Elin Baklid-Kunz filed a lawsuit against Halifax in 2009. As a whistleblower, he could be awarded a percentage of whatever the government recovers. Generally, whistleblowers can be awarded 25 percent to 30 percent of the recovery. He claims Halifax overbilled Medicare by inappropriately admitting patients and had financial arrangements with some of its doctors that violated a federal anti-kickback law.

The federal Stark Law prohibits Medicare and Medicaid payments for hospital services that are prescribed by doctors who have profit-sharing agreements with the hospital. The law was made to ensure that referrals are made for medical reasons only, without financial motives.

However, according to the lawsuit, Halifax had agreements with its doctors that gave them a financial incentive to generate hospital revenues.

The Justice Department’s lawsuit focuses on doctors’ contracts, claiming that Halifax administrators “could not have reasonably concluded” the agreements to pay bonuses to doctors did not violate the Stark Law. Neurosurgeons at Halifax received generous incentive compensation that boosted their based salaries by hundreds of thousands of dollars. These neurosurgeons referred patients to Halifax and, between 2004 and 2010, Halifax charged Medicare more than $35 million for neurological services, the suit states. Each neurosurgeon individually generated over $2 million in profits for Halifax Hospital in 2009, according to the suit. The Justice Department claims a similar pattern existed with the hospital’s seven oncologists.

For more information on similar legal matters, visit www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.