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Updated Guidance on Ohio Department of Medicaid Telehealth Rules During the Covid-19 Public Health Emergency

In its initial response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Ohio Department of Medicaid (“ODM”) issued emergency rule 5160-1-21, which dramatically expanded reimbursable telehealth services, telehealth providers, allowable technology, location of both providers and patients, and covered billing provider types. See BMD’s initial COVID-19 and Telehealth Resource Guide here. This emergency rule provides wide flexibility for patients to receive necessary healthcare services while Ohio’s Stay-At-Home Order remains in place. Regulations are continually changing in response to the public health crisis, and on April 13, 2020, ODM issued new guidance further expanding telehealth services reimbursable under Ohio’s Medicaid program.

  1. Expanded Telehealth Services, Providers, and Billing Provider Types

First, ODM is now covering the following telehealth services:

  • Limited oral evaluation
  • Hospice home care and long-term care
  • Direct skilled nursing services in the home health or hospice setting
  • Services of home health or hospice aides
  • Additional occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech language pathology, and audiology services
  • End stage renal disease (ESRD) related services

Second, the following practitioner types are now allowed to provide telehealth services and seek reimbursement from ODM:

  • Dentists
  • Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses working in a hospice or home health setting
  • Licensed and credentialed health professionals working in a hospital or nursing facility setting
  • Home health and hospice aides

Finally, the following provider types may now bill for covered services:

  • Professional dental groups
  • Home health and hospice agencies 
  1. Updated Billing Guidance

Most important in this update is the new billing guidance from ODM. This guidance will help ensure that providers are appropriately reimbursed for services provided to Medicaid beneficiaries through telehealth during this emergency. For all services, excluding ESRD-related services and some skilled therapy services (which will be updated at a later date), the telehealth changes found in 5160-1-21 will be implemented in the claims processing systems on Wednesday, April 15, 2020. This will be updated for fee-for-service, the Managed Care Plans, and MyCare Ohio Plans.

Once the system updates are in place, providers are encouraged to follow the new billing guidelines, which can be found here for non-OHMAS certified providers, and here for OHMAS certified providers. 

  1. Reminder on Previous Medicaid Telehealth Expansion

Pursuant to the emergency rule from ODM, the definition of telehealth now includes the use of telephone calls, fax, email, and other communication methods that may not have audio and video elements. Medicaid beneficiaries can be in any location and receive telehealth services, including homes, schools, temporary housing, hospitals, nursing facilities, group homes, and any other location, except for a prison or correctional facility. Likewise, eligible providers can deliver telehealth services from any location, including their own home offices and other non-institutional settings. Telehealth services are available even if the patient and provider do not have a pre-existing relationship.

For more information of Medicaid reimbursement during the COVID-19 public health emergency, please visit the Updated Telehealth Rule FAQs or contact a BMD health care attorney. 

“I’m Out Of Here!” Now What?

We all know that the healthcare industry is experiencing a wave of integration. This trend has been evident for many years. Fewer physicians are willing to assume the legal, financial and other business risks associated with owning their own practices. More and more physicians, including anesthesiologists, are becoming employed by large physician groups, health systems and national providers. This shift necessarily involves not only entry into new employment arrangements but also the termination of existing relationships. And those terminations are often governed by written employment agreements, state and federal healthcare laws and employer benefit plans and other policies and procedures. Before pursuing their next opportunity, physicians should pause for a moment and first attend to the arrangement that they are leaving. Departing physicians need to understand their legal rights and obligations when leaving their current employment relationships in order to avoid unintended consequences and detrimental missteps along the way. Here are a few words of practical advice for physicians contemplating an exit from their current employment arrangements.

Investment Training for the Second and Third Generations

Consider this scenario. Mom and Dad started the business from the ground up. Over the decades it has expanded into a money-making machine. They are able to sell the business and it results in a multimillion-dollar payday for their labors. The excess money has allowed Mom and Dad to invest with various financial advising firms, several fund management groups, and directly with new startups and joint ventures. Their experience has made them savvy investors, with a detailed understanding of how much to invest, when, and where. They cannot justify formation of a full family office with dedicated investors to manage the funds, but Mom and Dad have set up a trust fund for the children to allow these investments to continue to grow over the years. Eventually, Mom and Dad pass. Their children enjoy the fruits of their labors, and, by the time the grandchildren are adults, Mom and Dad's savvy investments are gone.

Provider Relief Funds – Continued Confusion Regarding Reporting Requirements and Lost Revenues

In Fall 2020, HHS issued multiple rounds of guidance and FAQs regarding the reporting requirements for the Provider Relief Funds, the most recently published notice being November 2, 2020 and December 11, 2020. Specifically, the reporting portal for the use of the funds in 2020 was scheduled to open on January 15, 2021. Although there was much speculation as to whether this would occur. And, as of the date of this article, the portal was not opened.

Ohio S.B. 310 Loosens Practice Barrier for Advanced Practice Providers

S.B. 310, signed by Ohio Governor DeWine and effective from December 29, 2020 until May 1, 2021, provides flexibility regarding the regulatorily mandated supervision and collaboration agreements for physician assistants, certified nurse-midwives, clinical nurse specialists and certified nurse practitioners working in a hospital or other health care facility. Originally drafted as a bill to distribute federal COVID funding to local subdivisions, the healthcare related provisions were added to help relieve some of the stresses hospitals and other healthcare facilities are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

HHS Issues Opinion Regarding Illegal Attempts by Drug Manufacturers to Deny 340B Discounts under Contract Pharmacy Arrangements

The federal 340B discount drug program is a safety net for many federally qualified health centers, disproportionate share hospitals, and other covered entities. This program allows these providers to obtain discount pricing on drugs which in turn allows the providers to better serve their patient populations and provide their patients with access to vital health care services. Over the years, the 340B program has undergone intense scrutiny, particularly by drug manufacturers who are required by federal law to provide the discounted pricing.