As we mentioned earlier, the big government stimulus dollars are an incentive to invest in healthcare IT and the ability to share information among providers is a part of the "meaningful use" test needed to secure the bonus payments.
More meaningful, robust healthcare information systems are the clear goal of the stimulus funding. As the article points out, there is a lot of work left to do.
This will no doubt be an administrative burden upon implementation and surely gives the IRS more tools to track the underreporting of income.
This is another small, but important requirement for healthcare accounting / healthcare tax compliance personnel. The onion that is the Healthcare Reform Bill continues to unfold. A summary of the high points can be found on KSM's main Web page. We will continue to outline some of the finer points of the Bill here as they come to light.
The full AP story is here.
Whether or not the bill gets signed into law, I think it is indicative of a trend towards more political will in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement enforcement.
This carrot and stick framework is encouraging a number of our clients to jump in early and try to maximize the available federal dollars as a subsidy for their healthcare IT investment. The benefits of an integrated information system have long been touted to include:
- Reduced billing costs
- Reduced transcription costs
- Reduced duplicative testing
- Lowered risk of medication errors
- Streamlined prescription refills
- Improved coding
As the current wave of physician acquisitions grows, we are seeing some of our clients, both hospitals and physicians, wanting to and entering into clinical lease arrangements as an alternative to direct physician employment.
The general arrangement is as follows:
- The physician remains independent, but assigns the right to bill and collect for services provided to a third party, usually a health system.
- The health system, in turn, guarantees a clinical rate to the physician.
- Payment is generally paid on a production basis -- typically in a rate per wRVU fashion.
This has been a good option for physician groups that are not interested in an immediate sale, but want stability with respect to income and an opportunity to develop a closer working relationship with a health system.
Health System Perspective
Health systems also get the opportunity to more closely evaluate the relationship. Sometimes this is an interim step towards a full employment arrangement / practice acquisition. This can also be a good relationship structure for a health system if it has insufficient resources to acquire and/or manage a practice.
This type of physician compensation model has been successfully implemented in a number of markets for a variety of reasons, including the few mentioned above, but certainly in other situations as well. Personally, I anticipate increased utilization of this type of arrangement in the market for the next two to three years.
If you have a question about this type of relationship or about a related fair market value opinion, leave a comment, email, or call me.
CMS announced it would hold post March 31 claims an additional 10 days in order to allow Congress time to address the issue after returning from Easter recess. This is just the latest hiccup in for practices in analyzing Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement for 2010.
This is Bloomberg's take on the delayed cuts.
We are all back to a wait and see approach on this one.
Here's a link to the Pew Prescription Project's Fact Sheet.
Cash or in-kind consideration (of many varieties) are required to be reported. Disclosures will include a physician's name, address, provider number, and value of payment.
This is another important healthcare consulting item for physicians and hospitals to consider as the interact with sales reps and like going forward.
Here's a link to the Financial Times video interview of Peter Orszag, White House Budget Director.
Especially interesting to me was Mr. Orszag's comment that the Medicare Commission could be as significant to health policy as the Federal Reserve is to fiscal policy.
Could this mark the end of Congress' last minute elimination of statutory cuts to Medicare reimbursement? Many of our clients thought this was the year the seemingly annual 20%+ cuts to reimbursement would take place. It will be interesting to see how this new Commission impacts the reimbursement landscape.
Since Stark Compliance is frequently a hot topic, here is a brief summary of the three changes:
- Stark Self Referral Disclosure CMS must develop and implement a self disclosure protocol for actual and potential stark violations. CMS is also granted the authority to compromise or reduce otherwise statutory penalties. The OIG or Department of Justice are not required to be involved in settling any cases under this protocol.
- In Office Ancillary Disclosure The in-office ancillary services exception under Stark now requires a referring physician to inform patients (in writing and at the time of the referral) that the patient may receive various ancillary services, such as imaging or other DHS services, from a source other than the referring physician / practice. In fact, physicians must provide patients with a written list of suppliers who furnish equivalent services locally. This is retroactively effective as of 1/1/2010.
- Limits on Physician Owned Hospitals Physicians are essentially barred from future investment in hospitals, except as meets the whole hospital exception. Current investments are grandfathered as of a qualifying date (currently 8/1/10, but subject proposed at 12/31/10 in reconciliation bill). There are also increased disclosure requirements and heavy restrictions on expansion of facilities, including operating rooms, procedure rooms, and beds.
Are "incident-to" wRVU's generated by a non-physician provider included in the MGMA data reported for physician wRVU's?
This was a key question in a recent healthcare compensation study we performed.
It turns out that they are included in the physician data. The "TC/NPP Excluded" that appears in many of the tables in MGMA's Physician and Production Compensation Survey is not intended to include the incident-to wRVU's generated by non-physician providers.
Here is what I am referring to:
The NPP Excluded from the chart above indicates that independently performed non-physician provider services are not included. Those services relate to non-physician provider work billed directly under the non-physician provider's provider number (typically at a discount from physician rates).
Therefore, the inclusion of non-physician provider wRVU's may or may not be appropriate to include in a healthcare compensation study, depending on the facts and circumstances. The key, as always, is to make sure the underlying data is appropriately matched.
Here's a link to Politico's coverage.
This may open the floodgates for private recovery auditors to start investigating the various hospital-physician arrangements that exist in the marketplace.
As relates to our clients, we would encourage everyone to take stock of their arrangements and make sure all compensation, especially physician compensation, is being paid at fair market value.
Be advised that fair market value opinions are commonly issued with an "expiration date" and, generally, should not be relied upon for more than two years. Therefore, just having a fair market value opinion on file may not be sufficient protection if it's based on old data and/or old methodologies.
Glad to see enforcement on the national radar? Worried? Think the enforcement will steer clear of the smaller markets? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section of our healthcare blog.