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Rural Health Policy News

News stories from the past 60 days.

Public Inspection: CMS: Medicare Program; Revisions to Payment Policies under the Physician Fee Schedule and Other Revisions to Part B for CY 2019; Medicare Shared Savings Program Requirements; Quality Payment Program; and Medicaid Promoting Interoperability Program Federal Register
Jul 13, 2018 - Pre-publication notice of proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services making changes to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule and other Medicare Part B payment policies. Provides information on payment for rural facilities and providers throughout. Comments on the proposed rule are due by September 10, 2018. Official publication of this notice is scheduled for July 27, 2018.
Source: Federal Register
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CMS Proposes Historic Changes to Modernize Medicare and Restore the Doctor-Patient Relationship
Jul 12, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released proposed rule changes to the Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) and the Quality Payment Program (QPP) in an effort to increase the amount of time that doctors and other clinicians can spend with their patients by reducing the burden of paperwork and use electronic health records (EHRs) to document clinically meaningful information in addition to information related to billing. These proposals would also modernize Medicare payment policies to promote access to virtual care and make changes to quality reporting requirements to focus on measures that most significantly impact health outcomes, among other things.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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CMS Announces New Funding Opportunity Announcement for the Federally-Facilitated Exchange Navigator Program
Jul 10, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a funding opportunity for the Federally-facilitated Exchange (FFE) Navigator Program for plan year 2019. CMS expects to award a minimum of $100,000 in each of the 34 FFE states, and may award up to $10 million total for a one year period of performance.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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CMS Proposes Rule Change to Protect Medicaid Provider Payments
Jul 10, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a proposed rule change to the Medicaid Provider Reassignment regulation. In 2014, this regulation was revised with a new exception authorizing the state to divert Medicaid payments to third parties to fund other costs on behalf of providers. This rule would eliminate that exception in an effort to ensure that taxpayer dollars dedicated to providing healthcare services for low-income patients are not diverted inappropriately. CMS is accepting comments on this proposed rule change.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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CMS Rural Health Strategy Applies Rural Lens to Agency Initiatives and Programs
Jul 10, 2018 - Discusses the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Rural Health Council's recently released Rural Health Strategy. This agency-wide strategy is intended to inform CMS's work as it relates to rural health.
Source: Quality Improvement Organizations
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Statement by FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., On Balancing Access to Appropriate Treatment for Patients with Chronic and End-of-life Pain with Need to Take Steps to Stem Misuse and Abuse of Opioids
Jul 9, 2018 - Statement from Scott Gottlieb, M.D., Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Discusses the difficulty of balancing the needs of patients with chronic pain or coping with pain at the end of life with efforts to address the opioid epidemic. Includes steps the FDA is taking to strike that balance.
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration
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CMS Aiding Small, Rural Practices Can Improve MIPS Participation
Jul 6, 2018 - Details a recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) which found that small and rural practices are more likely to struggle with Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) participation, because of challenges related to legacy program requirements, a lack of financial and staff resources, and technology issues.
Source: EHR Intelligence
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CMS: Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request Federal Register
Jul 3, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is seeking comment by September 4, 2018 on the Medicare Advantage Qualifying Payment Arrangement Incentive (MAQI) Demonstration. The MAQI demonstration would exempt clinicians who participate to a sufficient degree in certain payment arrangements with Medicare Advantage Organizations (MAOs) from the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) reporting requirements and payment adjustment.
Source: Federal Register
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CMS Advances Demonstration to Waive MIPS Requirements for Clinicians in Certain At-Risk Medicare Advantage Plans
Jun 29, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is advancing the Medicare Advantage Qualifying Payment Arrangement Incentive (MAQI) Demonstration. This would waive Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) requirements for clinicians who participate sufficiently in certain Medicare advantage plans that involve taking on risk.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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FCC: Promoting Telehealth in Rural America Federal Register
Jun 29, 2018 - Rule from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) raising the annual program funding cap of the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program and applying it to the current funding year to fully fund eligible funding requests for funding year (FY) 2017. This rule also adjusts the funding cap to reflect inflation and establishes a process to carry forward unused funds from past funding years for use in future funding years.
Source: Federal Register
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CMS Announces Initiatives to Strengthen Medicaid Program Integrity
Jun 26, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have announced new initiatives to improve transparency and accountability in the Medicaid program. These initiatives also seek to strengthen data and provide innovative analytic tools. New initiatives include auditing of state claims for federal match funds and medical loss ratios, and audits of state beneficiary eligibility determinations, among other things.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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CMS: Medicare Program; Request for Information Regarding the Physician Self-Referral Law Federal Register
Jun 25, 2018 - Request for information from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on how to address any undue regulatory impact and burden of the physician self-referral law, also known as the Stark Law. Comments accepted through August 24, 2018.
Source: Federal Register
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CMS Seeks Public Input on Reducing the Regulatory Burdens of the Stark Law
Jun 20, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is seeking recommendations from the public on how to address any undue impact and burden of the physician self-referral law, also known as the Stark Law, with a focus on how the law may impede care coordination. This is part of an ongoing effort by the administration to reduce regulatory burdens. Comments are due by August 24, 2018.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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CMS: Medicare Program; Contract Year 2019 Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage, Medicare Cost Plan, Medicare Fee-for-Service, the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Programs, and the PACE Program; Correction Federal Register
Jun 15, 2018 - Correction of technical and typographical errors in a final rule published on April 16, 2018. The original rule revised the Medicare Advantage (MA) program (Part C) regulations and Prescription Drug Benefit program (Part D) to implement provisions designed to reduce beneficiary misuse or overdose of opioids as part of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). It included information on changes to improve program integrity policies related to payments in MA, Medicare cost plan, Part D, and PACE programs, among other things. It also included CMS's response to comments submitted on the final rule, including its effect on small and rural providers. The rule, and these corrections, are effective June 15, 2018.
Source: Federal Register
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The Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program Has Succeeded for Beneficiaries and the Medicare Program
Jun 15, 2018 - Blog post from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) on the chapter in their June 15th report to the Congress that assessed the effects of the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP). Congress mandated MedPAC to study whether reductions in readmission rates under the HRRP caused increased utilization of outpatient and emergency services.
Source: The MedPAC Blog
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HHS: Regulatory Agenda Federal Register
Jun 11, 2018 - Semiannual regulatory agenda from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) outlining the rulemaking activities HHS expects to undertake in the foreseeable future. Includes abstracts for prospective HHS rules that are expected to have major economic impacts on a substantial number of small entities.
Source: Federal Register
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HHS: Facilitation of Public-Private Dialogue to Increase Innovation and Investment in the Healthcare Sector Federal Register
Jun 7, 2018 - The Office of the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is planning a workgroup to facilitate constructive, high-level dialogue between HHS leadership and those focused on innovating and investing in the healthcare industry. HHS is seeking comments through Friday, July 6, 2018 on the structure of the workgroup and on opportunities for increased engagement and dialogue between HHS and those focused on innovating and investing in the healthcare industry.
Source: Federal Register
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President Trump’s Executive Order Supporting Mental Health Care for Transitioning Service Members Now Underway
May 31, 2018 - In January 2018, President Trump signed an executive order directing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to collaborate to provide improved access to mental healthcare and suicide resources to veterans with a focus on the first year following military service. The VA has announced that the White House has approved an interagency plan to implement this directive.
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
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Last Updated: 7/13/2018