HMA Summary of Democratic Nominee Joe Biden’s Healthcare Plan

This week, our In Focus section reviews Democratic Nominee Joe Biden’s healthcare plan to protect and build on the Affordable Care Act (ACA). On August 18, 2020, Biden was officially nominated as the presidential candidate. Biden vowed at the 2020 Democratic National Convention (DNC) that if elected, he would strengthen the ACA and provide a Medicare-like public option. HMA summarizes Biden’s official plan below.

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HMA Summary of Medicare Fee-For-Service (FFS) Proposed Rules

This week, our In Focus section reviews two Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) proposed rules recently issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). On August 3, 2020, CMS released a proposed rule that includes updates to services furnished under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS). On August 4, CMS released the Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) and Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) Payment System proposed rule. These proposed regulations include payment rate and policy changes for the upcoming calendar year. Key features in this year’s PFS proposed rule include: policies to retain, extend, or end certain telehealth flexibilities implemented in response to the novel COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), changes to enable certain health care professionals to practice at the top of their licenses, modifications to opioid treatment programs (OTPs), and updates to the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP). Additional information on the PFS Proposed Rule can be found here. Among the most notable policy changes in the OPPS and ASC proposed rule are: 1) transitioning services to lower cost settings by eliminating the inpatient-only list to enable more services to be provided in the outpatient settings and increasing the scope of procedures that can be provided in ASCs, 2) further reducing payments for the 340B drug program, and 3) modifying the formula for calculating Hospital Star Ratings, and expand the use of prior authorization for outpatient services. Additional information about these proposals can be found here.

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Regulatory Changes to Medicare in Response to COVID-19

This week, our In Focus section examines how the federal government implemented changes to the Medicare program in response to COVID-19.  As the COVID-19 pandemic began in the United States, Congress and the Administration responded with a series of legislative, regulatory, and sub-regulatory changes to the Medicare program that were designed to provide relief from certain Medicare rules to assist health care providers, Medicare Advantage organizations, and Part D plans in responding to the pandemic. Some of these changes waived conditions of Medicare participation to enable patients to be treated in alternative care settings. Others permitted physicians and other providers to receive Medicare reimbursements for telemedicine services.

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