JAMA Internal Medicine recently published an article finding that the number of homebound adults aged 70 or older more than doubled during the last decade. In 2011, approximately 5% of adults aged 70 or older were homebound compared with 13% in the same age group in 2020. The authors indicate the steep incline in 2020 was likely due to social distancing restrictions and other health precautions taken over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the high number of homebound adults aged 70 and older will likely continue throughout 2021 and have potential lasting effects on the overall health of the individuals and their health care delivery.

While telehealth has become a staple in the lives of many post-pandemic (as discussed in a prior blog post), it may not be reaching this vulnerable population. The JAMA article indicated that, of the survey respondents, 27.8% did not have a cell phone, 50.8% did not have a computer, and more than 50% did not email, text or go online in the last month. This means those in this population that need assistance with health care services may need to rely on in-person home care.
Continue Reading Home Is Where the Health Care Is: New Study Shows Increase in Number of Homebound Older Adults While CMS Expands Home Health Reimbursement Model

Cardiology procedures in the ambulatory surgery center (“ASC”) setting are growing rapidly.  According to MedPAC’s March 2021 report to Congress, there were 88 single-specialty cardiology ASCs billing Medicare in 2019 (the latest year with reportable data), which is a significant uptick from just 18 such ASCs in 2017.[1]  Despite demonstrable growth, it is important to note that this growth is occurring from a smaller base relative to other single-specialty ASCs.  For example, there were more than 1,000 gastroenterology ASCs in 2019.[2]  However, while ASCs accounted for an estimated 10% of all cardiology procedures in 2018, Bain & Company expects that they will account for 30-35% of such procedures by the mid-2020s as lower costs and favorable outcomes drive change.[3]
Continue Reading Key Considerations for Cardiology Procedures in the ASC Setting

Many of us have been waiting to hear the final word about what’s next from CMS for the Next Generation ACO Model. On May 21, 2021, CMS’s Innovation Center (“CMMI”) confirmed that the Next Generation ACO Model would not be extended and will conclude at the end of this year as planned. The Next Generation ACO Model has been the most advanced value-based contracting model offered by CMS with participating risk-bearing entities taking between 80%-100% upside and downside risk.  However, according to reports, the model didn’t achieve sufficient savings to justify making it a permanent CMMI program.
Continue Reading CMS to Discontinue Next Generation ACO Model as Expected but Allows Program Participants to Apply For Direct Contracting

The U.S. Department of Justice (the “DOJ”) recently settled whistleblower False Claims Act (“FCA”) allegations against The University of Miami (“UMiami”) for $22 million, which resolves claims from three separate lawsuits related to billing practices at UMiami’s off-campus hospital-based facilities (“Off-Campus Hospital Facilities”) and fraudulent claims for laboratory services.
Continue Reading The University of Miami to Pay $22 Million to Settle Medicare False Claims Act Allegations

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a wave of telehealth policy changes across the nation at both federal and state levels. Such changes have expanded access to health care and addressed underutilization in chronic disease management while minimizing the risk of exposure for individuals seeking care. One such policy change in particular has received widespread attention and support from industry stakeholders and lawmakers alike: expansion of telehealth to include audio-only telephonic communications. However, the longevity of telehealth’s expansion to audio-only services remains uncertain as states and the federal government each pursue revisions to pandemic-era policies and flexibilities.
Continue Reading Hold the Phone: Audio-Only Telehealth Expanding in New York and other States, but National Policies May Lag

The latest COVID-19 stimulus bill, the American Rescue Plan of 2021 (the “Act”), enacted on March 11, 2021, provides $1.9 trillion in funding for various COVID-19 relief measures. However, while the Act includes many funding provisions, including those funding direct assistance to lower-income individuals and families, expanding “Obamacare” insurance subsidies and availability, increasing federal medical assistance percentage (“FMAP”) rates for Medicaid programs under certain circumstances, supporting public health workforce development, funding technical assistance to skilled nursing facilities (“SNFs”), and bolstering COVID-19 vaccine and testing efforts, it also has a few provisions that create new or directly augment existing financial supports available to providers and hospitals that have sustained losses during the pandemic.
Continue Reading The COVID-19 Provider Funding Tap Begins to Run Dry: The American Rescue Plan Offers Minimal Financial Relief to Non-Rural Providers and Hospitals