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CLIENT ALERT: Low Volume Appeals Settlement for RAC Appeals

In April, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) issued a new settlement proposal to providers with outstanding appeals at the Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals (“OMHA”) and the Medicare Appeals Council (“MAC”). Essentially, CMS is offering to pay up to 62% of the claim to the provider for qualifying claims that are currently in the appeal process. Interested providers may submit an Expression of Interest (“EOI”) to CMS by June 8, 2018. Providers should explore this settlement opportunity and submit an EOI to receive an offer of settlement. Providers may decline the offer after the EOI is submitted. Brennan, Manna & Diamond, LLC’s Provider Relations, Audit, and Appeals Unit, a division of its Healthcare Department, is able to assist providers with filing the EOI, analyzing the outstanding claims subject to the settlement, and reviewing the Administrative Agreement that is offered by CMS.

Overview:

The Low Volume Appeals Initiative (“LVA”) is a program conducted by CMS that allows CMS to settle outstanding reimbursement appeals with appellants, such as United Medical and Wulf Clinic, who meet certain requirements. The settlement is for a fixed percentage of payment of 62% of the amount of reimbursement money the appellant is disputing. Participation in the LVA program is completely voluntary, and appellants will not be compelled to proceed to settlement after submitting an EOI. If the appellant ultimately decides to settle, the appellant and CMS enter into a settlement agreement whereby the appellant agrees to accept 62% of the amount being disputed, to be paid within 180 days, in exchange for a release of all claims it may have against CMS for unpaid reimbursement.

Requirements for Eligibility:

Medicare Part A and Part B providers, physicians, and suppliers who are not in bankruptcy or have False Claims Act allegations pending or completed may be eligible for the LVA program. The appellant must have less than 500 appeals pending at OMHA and MAC, combined. The appellant will be eligible for all appeals under Medicare Part A or Part B that are pending before the OMHA or MAC as of November 3, 2017, that are for a billed amount of $9,000 or less per appeal.

LVA Process:

Interested appellants must first fill out an EOI form and submit it to MedicareAppealsSettlement @cms.hhs.gov. The window in which to submit EOIs is from April 12, 2018 until June 8, 2018. If the appellant is approved to participate in the LVA program, CMS will send a spreadsheet to the appellant with a list of eligible appeals along with an Administrative Agreement. The appellant will then analyze the spreadsheet and resolve any discrepancies with CMS over the following 30 days. If all discrepancies are resolved, CMS and the appellant will enter into the Administrative Agreement and resolve all claims up to 62% of their disputed value. At any point up until signing of the Administrative Agreement, the appellant may withdraw from the program and continue with the normal appeals process.

Should you have any questions concerning the Low Volume Appeals Initiative, please contact Amanda L. Waesch, Esq. (alwaesch@bmdllc.com) or Bryan E. Meek, Esq. (bmeek@bmdllc.com), who are attorneys in Brennan, Manna & Diamond’s Provider Relations, Audits, and Appeals Unit, a division of BMD’s Healthcare Department.

 

Explosive Growth in Pot of Gold Opportunity for Bank (and Other) Cannabis Lenders Driving Erosion of the Barriers

Our original article on bank lending to the cannabis industry anticipated that the convergence of interest between banks and the cannabis industry would draw more and larger banks to the industry. Banks were awash in liquidity with limited deployment options, while bankable cannabis businesses had rapidly growing needs for more and lower cost credit. Since then, the pot of gold opportunity for banks to lend into the cannabis industry has grown exponentially due to a combination of market constraints on equity causing a dramatic shift to debt and the ever-increasing capital needs of one of the country’s fastest growing industries. At the same time, hurdles to entry of new banks are being systematically cleared as the yellow brick road to the cannabis industry’s access to the financial markets is being paved, brick by brick, by the progressively increasing number and size of banks that are now entering the market.

2021 EEOC Charge Statistics: Retaliation & Impact of Remote Work

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its detailed information on workplace discrimination charges it received in 2021. Unsurprisingly, for the second year in a row, the total number of charges decreased as COVID-19 either shut down workplaces or disconnected employees from each other. In 2021, the agency received a total of approximately 61,000 workplace discrimination charges - the fewest in 25 years by a wide margin. For reference, the agency received over 67,000 charges in 2020, and averaged almost 90,000 charges per year over the previous 10 years.

Ohio’s Managed Care Overhaul Delayed – New Implementation Timeline

At the direction of Governor Mike DeWine, the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) launched the Medicaid Managed Care Procurement process in 2019. ODM’s stated vision for the procurement was to focus on people and not just the business of managed care. This is the first structural change to Ohio’s managed care system since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) approval of Ohio’s Medicaid program in 2005. Initially, all of the new managed care programs were supposed to be implemented starting on July 1, 2022. However, ODM Director Maureen Corcoran recently confirmed that this date will be pushed back for several managed care-related programs.

Laboratory Specimen Collection Arrangements with Contract Hospitals - OIG Advisory Opinion 22-09

On April 28, 2022, the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) published an Advisory Opinion[1] in which it evaluated a proposed arrangement where a network of clinical laboratories (the “Requestor”) would compensate hospitals (each a “Contract Hospital”) for specimen collection, processing, and handling services (“Collection Services”) for laboratory tests furnished by the Requestor (the “Proposed Arrangement”). The OIG concluded that the Proposed Arrangement would generate prohibited remuneration under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS”) if the requisite intent were present. This is due to both the possibility that the proposed per-patient-encounter fee would be used to induce or reward referrals to Requestor and the associated risk of improperly steering patients to Requestor.

Property Owner Protection from Tax Valuation Challenges

New legislation provides significant new protections for commercial property owners against challenges to valuation primarily by local school boards and prohibiting side agreements to avoid tax valuation changes. The Ohio Legislature has approved House Bill 126 which will go into effect July 2022 but will effectively apply to the 2023 tax valuation year.