Insights

HMA Insights: Your source for healthcare news, ideas and analysis.

HMA Insights – including our new podcast – puts the vast depth of HMA’s expertise at your fingertips, helping you stay informed about the latest healthcare trends and topics. Below, you can easily search based on your topic of interest to find useful information from our podcast, blogs, webinars, case studies, reports and more.

Show All | Podcast | Blogs | Webinars | Weekly Roundup | Videos | Case Studies | Reports | News | Solutions

Filter by topic:

Receive timely expert insights on topics you care about.

Select Topics

1852 Results found.

Brief & Report

Edrington Health Consulting, an HMA company authors “Investing in Primary Care: Why it Matters for Californians with Medi-Cal Coverage”

Download

California Health Care Foundation released a new study authored by the Edrington Health Consulting, an HMA company, Investing in Primary Care: Why it Matters for Californians with Medi-Cal Coverage, that highlights the critical role primary care plays for patients in Medi-Cal. The study encompasses 5.4 million Californians enrolled in Medi-Cal managed care, or nearly half of all Medi-Cal enrollees in 2019, and finds greater investment in primary care is generally associated with better quality of care, patient experience, and plan rating. Furthermore, the study provides an  important baseline for understanding how greater investment in primary care can improve quality and equity; this is particularly important as California expands Medi-Cal to include all income-eligible Californians, regardless of immigration status. This analysis comes as California is taking significant steps toward ensuring primary care teams, including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, community health workers, behavioral health staff and others play a greater role in the health care delivery system.

Blog

Center for Medicare Director Meena Seshamani to Deliver Virtual Keynote Address on The Future of Medicare Value-Based Payments at HMA Conference in Chicago, October 10-11

Read Blog

Meena Seshamani, deputy administrator and director of the Center for Medicare at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, will deliver a virtual keynote address on The Future of Medicare Value-Based Payments at the HMA conference, October 10-11, 2022, at the Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park.

To register, visit https://conference.healthmanagement.com/.  For details on sponsorships and group discounts, contact Carl Mercurio.

The overall theme of this year’s conference is How Medicaid, Medicare, and Other Publicly Sponsored Programs Are Shaping the Future of Healthcare in a Time of Crisis. More than 40 speakers are confirmed, and more than 400 people are expected to attend.

Blog

CMS Picks Up the Pace on Transforming the Medicare Landscape

Read Blog

Over the course of three weeks CMS has made a series of Medicare announcements that arguably contain the most sweeping changes to the Medicare program proposed thus far by the Biden Administration. With final Medicare payment rules on the horizon, CMS is poised to further the Biden Administration’s directional imprint on the Medicare program. The recent releases include:

  • A new opportunity focused on rural hospitals designed to preserve –and likely expand – access to services in rural communities;
  • A proposed payment and policy rule for outpatient and ambulatory care services also lays the groundwork for new transparency and competition initiatives;
  • Significant updates to most aspects of Medicare’s accountable care organizations; and
  • New opportunities to support oncology providers in moving towards a whole person approach to services through the Enhancing Oncology Model.

For this blog our HMA experts focus on the 2,000+ page Calendar Year (CY) 2023 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) proposed rule released to the public on July 7, 2022. The Medicare Physician Fee Schedule and its accompanying proposed policy changes is a significant tool CMS uses to advance annual updates in reimbursement policy and to consider other policy changes in traditional Medicare that have implications for the program writ large.

Generally, in the CY 2023 proposed rule the Administration is continuing to broaden and deepen the way it applies its health equity framework to the entirety of the proposals, strengthens access to behavioral health services, and reinvigorates value-based care through the Medicare Shared Savings Program’s (MSSP) Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) structure.

The rule includes a myriad of other policy proposals. We highlight a few of the key ones below. For example, CMS must make updates to the physician fee schedule conversion factor which has ripple effects throughout the Medicare program. The agency is also proposing updates to reimbursement for certain telehealth services and coverage enhancements for hearing and dental services, among many others proposals.

Key Action Items for Stakeholders

All comments to the rule are due to CMS by September 6, 2022. CMS plans to publish the final rule in late fall 2022.

The public comment opportunity is essential for CMS to deepen its understanding of the impact of the proposals. The agency considers stakeholders’ concerns, questions, and other feedback as it makes decisions on which proposals to finalize, modifications to the proposals, or to defer implementation.

This is also an important window of opportunity during which stakeholders can analyze the impact of the proposals and the business decisions these may require, plan advocacy around the proposed changes, and prepare for implementation which generally will occur on January 1, 2023.

Many leading national provider organizations are making their concerns with the annual payment update a central piece of their advocacy agenda in Congress. These concerns will add to the long list of structural issues that Congress is expected to debate leading up to and well after this year’s mid-term elections. However, providers still need to weigh the inflation pressures and uncertainty surrounding Congress’ ability to intervene with new opportunities in the Medicare program and Medicare Advantage market.

Medicare Shared Savings Program

CMS proposes significant changes to the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP), which aredesigned to accelerate provider and Medicare beneficiary participation in accountable relationships. Last year, CMS established a goal of all Medicare beneficiaries will be in a care relationship with accountability for quality and total cost of care by 2030. These proposals are designed to make further progress on achieving that goal. First, CMS proposes several changes to MSSP which respond to criticisms that the program is not sufficiently flexible to support Medicare providers who may have different levels of sophistication with respect to risk-sharing and available capital for practice transformation. Additionally, it reflects federal officials understanding of the impact social care services can have on Medicare beneficiary health and well-being.

Proposed changes to the MSSP include the following:

  • Investment in New Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs): CMS proposes to provide a one-time fixed payment of $250,000 and quarterly payments for the first two years of the 5-year agreement period for certain ACOs. Eligible ACOs are those that are low revenue ACOs, inexperienced with performance-based risk Medicare ACO initiatives, new to MSSP and that serve underserved populations.
    • The initial application cycle to apply for advance investment payments will occur during CY 2023 for a January 1, 2024, start date.
    • The advance investment payments would increase when more beneficiaries who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid or who live in areas with high deprivation or both, are assigned to the ACO.
    • The advance investment payments would be recouped once the ACO begins to achieve shared savings in their current agreement period and in their next agreement period, if a balance persists. If the ACO doesn’t achieve shared savings, CMS would not recoup the funding.
    • Funds would be available to address the social and other needs of people with Medicare.
  • CMS would also provide greater flexibility in the progression to performance-based risk for new ACOs to ease the transition to and likelihood of success under risk arrangements. Specifically, for ACOs with agreement periods beginning on January 1, 2024, and in subsequent years, ACOs inexperienced with performance-based risk could participate a one-side risk model for up to 7 years.
  • Current ACO Participants: For performance years beginning January 1, 2023, and in subsequent years, CMS may allow certain currently participating ACOs to elect to continue in their glide path agreement.
    • CMS intends to incorporate an adjustment for prior savings that would apply in the establishment of benchmarks for renewing ACOs and re-entering ACOs
  • CMS also is proposing several changes to the benchmark methodology to better support long term participation in MSSP and less capitalized ACOs for agreement periods beginning January 1, 2024.  This includes adjusting the benchmark for prior savings and reducing the impact of the negative regional adjustment.
    • CMS also plans to include a fixed, prospectively projected administrative growth factor (referred to in this proposed rule as the Accountable Care Prospective Trend (ACPT)), into a three-way blend with national and regional growth rates to update an ACO’s historical benchmark for each performance year (PY) in the ACO’s agreement period.
  • CMS requested comments on alternative benchmarking policies: a) exclude the ACO’s own assigned beneficiaries from the assignable beneficiary population used in regional expenditure calculations, b) expand the definition of the ACO regional service area to use a larger geographic area to determine regional FFS expenditures, or c) both.
  • Beginning on January 1, 2023, and subsequent years, CMS is planning to change the all-or-nothing approach to determining an ACO’s eligibility for shared savings based on quality performance to allow for scaling of shared savings rates for ACOs that fall below the 30th/40th percentile quality standard threshold required to share in savings at the maximum sharing rate. To be eligible ACOs must meet minimum quality reporting and performance requirements.
  • CMS also plans to update MSSP quality-measurement policies, including a new health equity adjustment that would award bonus points for high quality measure performance and serving higher proportions of underserved or dually eligible beneficiaries.

Behavioral Health Changes

The CY2023 MPFS also seeks to enhance access to behavioral health services and strengthen the behavioral health model within the Medicare program. The proposals include:

  • Creating an exception to supervision requirements, allowing marriage and family therapists, licensed professional counselors, addiction counselors, certified peer recovery specialists, and others to provide behavioral health services while being under general supervision rather than “direct” supervision.
  • Paying psychologists and social workers to help manage behavioral health needs as part of the primary care team.
  • Establishing new payments for team-based, comprehensive management and treatment of chronic pain.
  • Enhancing the ability of ACOs to address social, behavioral, and physical health care needs, by making advanced shared savings payments to new, smaller ACOs. CMS states these funds could be used to hire behavioral health practitioners and address the social needs, such as food and housing.
  • Clarifying Opioid Treatment Programs may bill Medicare for services performed by mobile units without obtaining a separate registration and increasing payment rates to Opioid Treatment Programs.

These proposed changes represent a major shift in traditional Medicare’s coverage of behavioral health services. If finalized and in combination with changes to coverage for telehealth services, these could have a meaningful impact for Medicare beneficiaries including those in rural communities. ACOs, health systems, and other providers may have greater opportunities to include behavioral health practitioners in their model of care.

Payment Issues

Payments to physicians through the PFS are proposed to decline by roughly 4 percent from CY 2022 to CY 2023. The bulk of this decline stems from CMS’s proposal to reduce the PFS conversion factor (CF) by nearly 4.5 percent.  In dollar terms the proposed 2023 CF would be $33.08, which is $1.53 lower than the 2022 CF. This policy change to the CF reflects three dynamics, two of which are changes directly mandated by the U.S. Congress:

  • Expiration of a statutory one-year 3 percent increase in payments,
  • A statutory 0 percent payment update for CY 2023, and
  • A budget neutrality adjustment across all billing codes resulting from modifications to PFS weights which increased the relative value of primary care billing codes.

Payment changes contained within the CY 2023 proposed rule result in differential impacts for individual physician service codes and physician specialties. While payment rates for many codes are proposed to decline uniformly by roughly 4 percent, payment rates for some services codes may decline more, such as for some physician inpatient hospital care codes that may decline more than 10 percent. In the context of physician specialty type, CMS estimates 5 percent payment increases on average for infectious disease and a 3 percent increases on average for internal medicine and geriatrics. By contrast, CMS estimates a 2 percent decline on average for clinical psychology and a 3 percent decline on average for radiology.   

Notable Issues for Stakeholder Consideration

In addition to the major structural and financing issues discussed above, the wide-ranging rule contains numerous other policy proposals with direct and indirect implications on Medicare providers, and beneficiaries, and other stakeholders. Table 1 provides a snapshot of some of the issues that warrant further consideration.

 Table 1. Other Notable Proposed Changes Impacting Health Care Providers and Stakeholders

TopicSummary
TelehealthThe Proposed Rule makes a number of potential changes to telehealth policies: Implements several of the policies mandated by the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) of 2022, which extended telehealth flexibilities CMS adopted during the public health emergency (PHE) for 151 days after the end of the PHE. The rule also confirms Medicare telehealth services performed with dates of service occurring on or after the 152nd day after the end of the PHE will revert to pre-PHE rules and the appropriate place of service (POS) indicator will be required to be included on the claim.Permanently adds three new services to the list of reimbursable telehealth services: prolonged inpatient hospital, prolonged skilled nursing, and prolonged home services. Adds several additional services to the Medicare Telehealth Temporarily (through the end of CY 2023) adds several telehealth services: new therapy services, audiology, and new behavior assessment/treatment services. Temporarily (during PHE plus 151 days) requires practitioners to use billing modifier code ‘95’ and either provider of service code ‘02’ (not in home) or ‘10’ (home) for all telehealth services. At the end of the PHE-plus-151 days, billing requirements will revert to pre-PHE methods. Permanently (beginning in 2023) requires practitioners to use billing modifier ‘93’ for all audio-only services, and requires RHCs, FQHCs, and OTPs to use modifier ‘93’ for eligible mental health services furnished via audio-only services. However, CMS specifically did not propose to extend audio-only evaluation and management visits beyond the 151 days after the PHE. 
DentalMedicare pays for a limited number of dental services when the dental care is an integral part of a beneficiary’s medical treatment. CMS is proposing to add to the list of conditions where that may be appropriate such as dental exams and necessary treatments prior to organ transplants, cardiac valve replacements, and valvuloplasty procedures. CMS is also seeking feedback on other clinical conditions where the dental services are linked to the clinical success of the medical services.
HearingCMS is proposing to allow audiologists to perform and bill for certain diagnostic hearing tests for patients with non-acute conditions without a physician order.
Wound CareCMS is proposing several policies to update payment, coding and billing for skin substitutes which are commonly used in the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers and venous leg ulcers. CMS is proposing to change the terminology of skin substitutes to ‘wound care management products’ in order to reflect how clinicians use these products, to provide a more consistent approach to coding for these products, and to treat and pay for these products as a physician supply instead of a separately paid product under the Average Sales Price methodology beginning on January 1, 2024.
MIPSCMS continues to update and refine the quality measures used in the different aspects of the programs under MIPS including the addition of certain health equity related measures.  CMS also is proposing five additional MIPS Value Pathways (MVPs) (Advancing Cancer Care, Optimal Care for Kidney Health, Optimal Care for Patients with Episodic Neurological Conditions, Supportive Care for Neurodegenerative Conditions, and Promoting Wellness) CMS also proposed several ways to reduce the burden for physicians participating in advanced alternative payment models (AAPMs) including permanently establishing the 8% minimally Generally Applicable Risk Standard for AAPM qualification and proposing to apply the eligible clinician limit to the entity participating in the medical home model rather than the parent organization.  

The HMA Medicare team will continue to analyze these proposed changes. We have the depth and breadth of expertise to assist with tailored analysis, to model policy impacts, and to support the drafting of comment letters to this rule.

Blog

Indiana releases MLTSS RFP

Read Blog

This week, our In Focus section reviews the Indiana Medicaid managed long-term services and supports (MLTSS) request for proposals, released by the Indiana Department of Administration on behalf of the Family and Social Services Administration on June 30, 2022. Indiana is seeking three managed care organizations (MCOs) that will serve an estimated 106,000 enrollees, beginning January 1, 2024, for a period of four years, with two one-year renewal options.

MLTSS Program

Indiana began forming a plan to reform the state’s Medicaid LTSS services in 2019 by holding stakeholder meetings. The state estimated that from 2010 to 2030 the proportion of Hoosiers over age 65 will grow from 13 percent to 20 percent, and that the state’s system would need to be reformed to meet the growing demand. The state set an objective to shift the LTSS program to a managed care model and to move a higher percentage of new LTSS members into home and community-based settings.

The new statewide, risk-based MLTSS program will serve Medicaid beneficiaries who are aged 60 years and older and are classified as aged, blind, or disabled. These beneficiaries will include individuals who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, those in a nursing facility, and those who are receiving LTSS in a home or community-based setting.

Beneficiaries in this program will receive all traditional Medicaid services, delivered through a capitated managed care arrangement. Those who meet a specified level of care will be eligible to receive home and community-based services (HCBS) waiver services. The Medicaid Rehabilitation Option (MRO), Adult Mental Health Habilitation Services Program (AMHH), and Behavioral and Primary Care Coordination (BPHC) will be carved out of the capitated arrangement. For dually eligible beneficiaries, Medicare will be the first payer for all Medicare covered services, including services that are covered by both Medicare and Medicaid.

Indiana seeks to contract with MCOs that can address complex and chronic health conditions of the program population and integrate care along the continuum and settings of LTSS in the state. Program goals include simplifying access to HCBS and expanding the HCBS provider network, especially in rural areas; using a person-centered approach; improving quality outcomes and consistency of care across the delivery system; promoting caregiver support and skill development; in addition to others.

Timeline

The first part of the proposals is due September 19, with the second part due September 23. Awards are expected in February 2023.

Evaluation

After ensuring proposals meet the mandatory requirement, proposals will be scored out of a total possible 103 points, as shown in the table below.

Preliminary Capitation Rate Summary

Based on the preliminary calendar year 2024 capitation rate development, contracts are estimated to be worth $3.8 billion annually.

Link to RFP

Brief & Report

HMA and National Council for Mental Wellbeing release issue brief on diversity in the behavioral health workforce

Download

The third issue brief, in a series by HMA and National Council colleagues that examines the workforce crisis facing the country’s behavioral health system, highlights the access and service delivery challenges presented and exacerbated by health disparities and inequities.

The brief focuses on the need to recruit, train, and retain a diverse workforce in order to reduce behavioral health disparities and engage populations with historic and structural disparities, in order to build trust with providers and in the overall healthcare system.

Outlining challenges and actionable solutions, the brief points to the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) model as an opportunity for states and provider organizations to partner and address health disparities and social determinates of health for underserved and marginalized populations.

Additional briefs in this series are Behavioral Health Workforce is a National Crisis: Immediate Policy Actions for States and Immediate Policy Actions to Address the National Workforce Shortage and Improve Care

The following HMA colleagues contributed to this series: Uma Ahluwalia, Heidi Arthur, Angela Bergefurd, Cammie Cantrell, Nora Carreras, Suzanne Daub, Gina Eckart, Gina Lasky, Juliet Marsala, Emma Martino, Sandra Oxley, Deb Peartree, Erica Reaves, and Doris Tolliver.

Blog

CMS releases the Enhancing Oncology Model

Read Blog

This week, our In Focus section reviews the new Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) model named the Enhancing Oncology Model (EOM), released on June 27, 2022, by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). This new physician specialty model builds off the previously implemented Oncology Care Model (OCM). The EOM incentivizes the coordination of care and the improvement of care quality for Medicare patients undergoing cancer treatment. The model also seeks to reduce Medicare fee-for-service spending for oncology services, because oncology services are an area of high spending within the Medicare program. As a part of the EOM model participating physician practices will be held accountable for financial and performance targets during six-month episodes of care for systemic chemotherapy administration to patients with common cancer types. The EOM will run for five years beginning on July 1, 2023. Applications to EOM are currently open and will close on September 30, 2022.

CMS indicated that EOM supports President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot initiative to improve the experience of people and their families living with and surviving cancer. EOM aligns with the Cancer Moonshot pillars and priorities of supporting patients, caregivers, and survivors, learning from all patients, targeting the right treatments for the right patients, and addressing inequities.

Consistent with CMS priorities, EOM also has a strong health equity focus and oncology practices who care for underserved beneficiaries are encouraged to apply.

Design of EOM

EOM is built off the foundation of OCM which ran from July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2022. CMS previously solicited feedback from the oncology community and other interested stakeholders on an OCM successor model. Those lessons plus an alignment with CMMI’s strategy refresh priorities of moving to total cost of care accountable models and making cancer care more affordable and accessible created the foundations for the design of the model.

Under EOM, participating Physician Group Practices (PGPs) will take on accountability for their patients’ health care quality and for total Medicare Parts A and B and certain Part D spending during six-month episodes of care.  Eligible Medicare patients are those with certain cancers (breast cancer, chronic leukemia, small intestine/colorectal cancer, lung cancer, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and prostate cancer) receiving chemotherapy treatment.

  • Participating practices may bill for a Monthly Enhanced Oncology Services (MEOS) ($70 per month) payment for Enhanced Services provided to eligible beneficiaries. The MEOS payment will be higher ($100 per month) for beneficiaries dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Enhanced services are
    • Provide EOM beneficiaries 24/7 access to an appropriate clinician who has real-time access to the EOM participant’s medical records.
    • Provide patient navigation, as appropriate, to EOM beneficiaries
    • Document a care plan for each EOM beneficiary that contains the 13 components in the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Care Management Plan applicable to the EOM beneficiary
    • Treat EOM beneficiaries with therapies in a manner consistent with nationally recognized guidelines
    • Identify EOM beneficiary social needs using a health-related social needs screening tool
    • Gradual implementation of electronic Patient Reported Outcomes (ePROs)
  • Participants will be required to take on downside financial risk from the start of the model (with the potential to owe CMS a performance-based recoupment). If participants successfully meet quality and savings targets, they will have the opportunity to earn a retrospective performance-based payment (PBP). These amounts will be based on actual practice performance.
  • CMS has not yet specified the quality measures for this model. Instead, the application says the EOM quality strategy will focus on the following domains: patient experience, avoidable acute care utilization, management of symptoms toxicity, management of psychosocial health, and management of end-of-life care. CMS will prioritize measures that; reflect national priorities for quality improvement and patient-centered care, are outcomes-based measures (including those collected from patients), minimize EOM participant burden where possible, and align with CMS and Innovation Center quality strategy.
  • Health equity provisions of the EOM include requiring oncology practices to screen for health-related social needs (HRSNs), CMS providing data reports on patient expenditures and utilization for to help health care professionals identify and address health disparities, and CMS increasing reimbursement for the provision of Enhanced Services to patients who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.
  • CMS also will issue payment waivers and benefit enhancements to provide additional flexibility to practices in the way they deliver care to patients. Expected enhancements include telehealth, post-discharge enhancements, and care management home visits.

CMS has designed EOM as a multi-payer model. Medicare Advantage plans, state Medicaid plans and other payers are invited to apply to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with CMS to align on incentives for oncologists to improve care to their patients and increase participation in value-based care arrangements.

What’s Next

CMS intends to release additional information about EOM payment methodologies later this summer. CMS also will be hosting several upcoming webinars regarding the payment methodology, quality strategy and general application support office hours before the application due date of September 30, 2022. CMS intends to select participants later this year or early next year and will implement the EOM on July 1, 2023.

For more information about this new model and how providers and payers can apply to it, please contact our Medicare team who have knowledge in CMS and its value-based payment programs, Amy Bassano (HMA Managing Director, Medicare) ([email protected]), Julie Faulhaber (HMA Managing Director, Medicare) ( [email protected]) Andrea Maresca (HMA Principal) ([email protected]), or Zach Gaumer (HMA Principal) ([email protected]). To access the EOM application and other model materials, you may visit https://innovation.cms.gov/innovation-models/enhancing-oncology-model.