Posts Tagged Medicaid

Alabama Medicaid Agency Updates

Alabama Medicaid Agency Updates

Short-Acting Opioid Naïve Limits — Effective Nov. 1

Effective Nov. 1, 2018, the Alabama Medicaid Agency will begin implementing limits on short-acting opiates for opioid naïve recipients. The Agency defines “opioid naïve” as a recipient with no opioid claim in the past 180 days.

Edit Details:

  • A 7-day supply limit for adults age 19 and older
  • A 5-day supply limit for children age 18 and younger
  • A maximum of 50 morphine milligram equivalents (MME) per day allowed on a claim for an opioid naïve recipient
  • Any claim for a short-acting opioid for an opioid naïve recipient exceeding the maximum days’ supply limit or MME limit will be denied.
  • Claims prescribed by oncologists will bypass the edit.
  • Long-term care and hospice recipients are excluded.
  • Refills of remaining quantities and/or new prescriptions filled within 180 days of the initial opioid naive claim will require an override.
  • Refills of remaining quantities of prescriptions that are partially-filled will be allowed per State and federal law* but will require an override through Medicaid. See below for more details from the State Board of Pharmacy.
  • For adults, the refill of the quantity remaining on the partial fill will not count towards the prescription limit if filled within 30 days of the original prescription. Monthly maximum unit quantities still apply.
  • Overrides for quantities exceeding the maximum days’ supply limit or MME limit may be submitted to Health Information Designs (HID). Please see the Pharmacy Override External Criteria Booklet for information about override requirements. Please refer to the following link for more information regarding overrides for opioid naïve patients: http://www.medicaid.alabama.gov/content/4.0_Programs/4.3_Pharmacy-DME.aspx.
  • A Recipient Information Sheet for prescribers and pharmacists to provide to recipients can be found at http://www.medicaid.alabama.gov/content/4.0_Programs/4.3_Pharmacy-DME.aspx.

IMPORTANT: A recipient may not pay cash for the remaining amount over 7 days for the same prescription of a Medicaid-paid opioid claim (ie a single fill/dispense/claim may not be ‘split billed’ to both Medicaid and cash). If the prescription to be paid by Medicaid exceeds the drug’s limit allowed, an override may be requested. Only if the override is denied, then the excess quantity above the maximum unit limit is deemed a non-covered service, and the recipient can be charged as a cash recipient for that amount in excess of the limit. A prescriber must not write separate prescriptions, one to be paid by Medicaid and one to be paid as cash, to circumvent the override process. FAILURE TO ABIDE BY MEDICAID POLICY MAY RESULT IN RECOUPMENTS AND/OR ADMINISTRATIVE SANCTIONS. Source: Provider Billing Manual 27.2.3 

Morphine Milligram Equivalents (MME) Information/Examples

Higher doses of opioids are associated with a higher risk of overdose and death. Even relatively low dosages (20-50 MME per day) increase risk.1

Examples of MME calculations/day include:

  • 10 tablets per day of hydrocodone/acetaminophen 5/325 = 50 MME/day
  • 6 tablets per day of hydrocodone/acetaminophen 7.5/325 = 45 MME/day
  • 5 tablets per day of hydrocodone/acetaminophen 10/325 = 50 MME/day
  • 2 tablets per day of oxycodone 15 mg = 45 MME/day
  • 3 tablets per day of oxycodone 10 mg = 45 MME/day
  • 10 tablets per day of tramadol 50 mg = 50 MME/day
  • 1 patch per 3 days of fentanyl 25mcg/hr = 60 MME/day

A link with more information regarding MME calculations is https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/pdf/calculating_total_daily_dose-a.pdf.

*Partial Filling of Schedule II Medication: Per the Alabama State Board of Pharmacy website, there has been a change in federal law regarding partial filling of Schedule II controlled substance (CS). The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) of 2016 passed the United States Senate and was signed into law on July 22, 2016. CARA allows pharmacists to partially fill Schedule II CS. According to CARA, a prescription may be partially filled if: it is written and filled according to state and federal law; the partial fill is requested by the patient or prescribing practitioner; and the total quantity dispensed does not exceed the quantity prescribed. Remaining portions of partially filled prescriptions must be filled within 30 days of the original written prescription date. There is no single specified way to fill or bill prescriptions under the CARA update.2

https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/prescribing/guideline.html
http://www.albop.com/FAQ.aspx

Override Requests
Pharmacy override requests for quantities exceeding the maximum days’ supply limit or MME limit may be submitted to Health Information Designs (HID). Please see the Pharmacy Override External Criteria instructions for information about override requirements at: http://medicaid.alabama.gov/content/9.0_Resources/9.4_Forms_Library/9.4.13_Pharmacy_Forms.aspx.

The Override Request Form is to be used by the prescriber or the dispensing pharmacy when requesting an override. The form can be found at: http://medicaid.alabama.gov/content/9.0_Resources/9.4_Forms_Library/9.4.13_Pharmacy_Forms.aspx.

Providers requesting overrides by mail or fax should send requests to:

Health Information Designs (HID)
Medicaid Pharmacy Administrative Services
P. O. Box 3210 Auburn, AL 36832-3210
Fax: 1-800-748-0116
Phone: 1-800-748-0130

Incomplete requests or those failing to meet Medicaid criteria will be denied. If the prescriber believes medical justification should be considered, the prescriber must document this on the form or submit a written letter of medical justification along with the override form to HID. Additional information may be requested. Staff physicians will review this information.

Any policy questions concerning this provider ALERT should be directed to the Pharmacy Program at (334) 242-5050. Questions regarding override procedures should be directed to the HID help desk at 1-800-748-0130.

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Brookwood Baptist Medical Center Medicare Certification Extended

Brookwood Baptist Medical Center Medicare Certification Extended

Brookwood Baptist Medical Center, the second largest hospital in the metro Birmingham area, received an 11th-hour reprieve Thursday night with regulators from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services accepted the facility’s action, thus allowing the hospital to continue its Medicare and Medicaid billing privileges. However, the facility is not out hot water just yet.

“The immediate jeopardies have been removed at this time, but the hospital remains in noncompliance status and must work to correct the deficiencies cited to protect the health and safety of the facility’s patients,” according to a CMS statement, which also noted the survey review process can be extended over the next 60 days.

Brookwood Baptist CEO Keith Parrott said the hospital will continue to fully participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs without further interruption. Even a short-term interruption in participation could pose a significant financial challenge given the large amount of revenue and jobs at stake. Parrott also said the hospital will be resurveyed in the future.

In May, Brookwood Baptist received a notice stemming from an April incident in its psychiatric unit. The May CMS order was rescinded after a follow-up inspection determined Brookwood Baptist was in compliance with guidelines. Brookwood Baptist received a termination notice in late July that gave the hospital until Aug. 9 to become compliant with CMS guidelines pertaining to government body, patients’ rights and nursing services.

It was the second notice the hospital has received this year.

According to CMS, Brookwood’s immediate jeopardy notice was based on “the hospital’s failure to staff to implement its elopement policy resulting in the death of one patient; failure of staff in the telemetry monitoring unit to notify registered nurses of a patient who had no heart rate for 15 minutes and subsequently died; and a failure of staff to notify the physician of a patient’s low blood pressure readings resulting in the patient being found unresponsive and not breathing.

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WIC Income Guidelines Increase. Are Your Patients Eligible?

WIC Income Guidelines Increase. Are Your Patients Eligible?

Alabama families may qualify for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, better known as WIC. If you are a woman who is pregnant, who had a baby within the past six months, who is breastfeeding, or who is the parent or guardian of a child up to age 5, you are encouraged to apply for WIC at your local county health department or WIC agency.

Participants in the program receive free nutrition education and breastfeeding peer counseling support. In addition, participants have the option to receive up to three months of food benefits at a time for each qualified family member. Food benefits are redeemable at WIC-authorized stores throughout Alabama.

Under the 2018 federal poverty guidelines, more families may be eligible for the program. WIC is open to participants with incomes up to 185 percent of the federal poverty level. Check the table below to see whether your family qualifies:

WIC participants must have both a limited income and a nutritional need. Families who receive Medicaid, SNAP or Family Assistance already meet the income qualifications for WIC. Even families who do not qualify for these programs may be eligible for WIC because of its higher income limits.

Amanda Martin, WIC Director, Alabama Department of Public Health, said, “WIC encourages families to be healthy by providing nutritious foods. Nutritious foods help children grow to be healthy adults and pregnant women to have healthy babies.”

For more information, please go to http://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/wic or call the statewide toll-free line at 1-888-942-4673.

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What If No One Was On Call [at the Legislature]?

What If No One Was On Call [at the Legislature]?

2018 Recap of the Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature

In times of illness, injury and emergency, patients depend on their physicians. But what if no one was on call? Public health would be in jeopardy.  However, the same holds true for the Legislature. During the 2018 session alone, if the Medical Association had not been on call advocating for you and your patients, unnecessary and costly standards of care would have been written into law, lawsuit opportunities against physicians would have increased and poorly thought out “solutions” to the drug abuse epidemic ─ that could’ve made the problem worse ─ would have become law. Keep reading to find out more.

Moving Medicine Forward

The 2018 Legislative Session is over, but continued success in the legislative arena takes constant vigilance. Click here to download our 2018 Agenda.

If no one was on call…increased state funding for upgrading the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) would not have occurred. Working with the Governor’s Opioid Task Force, the Medical Association proposed increased funding for the PDMP, to allow it to be an effective tool for physicians. As a result, the Task Force made the request its number one recommendation to the Governor and the 2019 budget for the Alabama Department of Public Health (the PDMP administrator) has a $1 million increase for making a long-overdue upgrade to the user-friendliness of the drug database.

If no one was on call…legislation helping veterans at-risk for drug abuse get the care they need and also leverage technology to combat the drug abuse epidemic would not have occurred. Through enactment of SB 200, the prescription information of VA patients will be shared between the VA and non-VA physicians and pharmacists who are outside the VA system, the same kind of information sharing of prescription data that exists for almost all other patients. Passage of SB 200 also establishes a mechanism for vetting requests for release of completely de-identified PDMP information that can be used to spot drug abuse trends and help state officials better allocate resources in combatting this epidemic. The proposals that resulted in the drafting of SB 200 originated with a recommendation from the Governor’s Opioid Task Force, one the Medical Association supported.

If no one was on call…the concerns of physicians regarding the current state of affairs surrounding the Maintenance of Certification program would not have been heard. A formal recommendation from the Medical Association’s MOC Study Committee resulted in the enactment of SJR 62 by Senators Tim Melson, M.D., Larry Stutts, M.D., and the entire Alabama Senate. The resolution was signed by Gov. Kay Ivey. SJR 62 vocalizes Alabama physicians’ frustrations with MOC and urges the American Board of Medical Specialties to honor its commitment to help reduce the burden and cost of MOC. Pursuit of a legislative resolution was just one of several recommendations from the Association’s MOC Study Committee this year.

If no one was on call…the Board of Medical Scholarship Awards could have seen its funding reduced but instead, the program retained its funding level of $1.4 million for 2019. The BMSA grants medical school loans to medical students and accepts as payment for the loan that student’s locating to a rural area to practice medicine. The BMSA is a critical tool for recruiting medical students to commit to practice in rural areas. As well, the economic footprint of every physician is at least $1 million, which improves both community health and local economies.

If no one was on call…Medicaid cuts could have been severe, possibly reducing access for patients within an already fragile system in which less than 20 percent of Alabama physicians participate. The 2019 budget has sufficient funds available for Medicaid without scheduled cuts to physicians. However, increasing Medicaid reimbursements to Medicare levels could further increase access to care for Medicaid patients and remains a Medical Association priority.

Beating Back the Lawsuit Industry

While Alabama’s medical liability laws have fostered fairness in the courtroom and improved the legal climate, each year personal injury attorneys seek to undo parts of the very law that helps keep “jackpot justice” and frivolous suits in check.

If no one was on call…bill language that could have pulled physicians into new lawsuits targeting opioid drug makers and opioid wholesale drug distributors could have been included in the final version of the legislation, whose subject matter was originally limited to placing new criminal penalties on unlawful possession, distribution and trafficking of Fentanyl. After the liability language was added on the House floor, a committee of the House and Senate removed the new cause of action language that could have affected physicians. Additionally, an unsuccessful attempt was made to amend this same bill to give law enforcement the authority to determine what is the unlawful “prescribing” or “dispensing” of prescription drugs. The final bill that passed contained neither of these elements that would have been problematic for physicians.

If no one was on call…physicians and medical practices could have been forced to provide warranty and replacement coverage for “assistive medical devices.” As originally drafted in the bill, the term “assistive medical devices” was broadly defined to include any device that improves a person’s quality of life including those implanted, sold or furnished by physicians and medical practices like joint or cochlear implants, pacemakers, hearing aids, etc. However, the Medical Association successfully sought an amendment to remove physicians, their staff and medical practices from having any new warranty or assistive device replacement responsibility under the act, and the final version doesn’t expand liability on doctors.

If no one was on call…legislation granting nurse practitioners and nurse midwives new signature authority outside of a collaborative practice and for some items prohibited under federal law – thereby significantly expanding liability for collaborating physicians – could have become law. The Medical Association successfully sought to ensure that all new signature authority granted to CRNPs and CNMs was subject to an active collaborative agreement and all additional forms or authorizations granted were consistent with federal law, protecting collaborating physicians from new liability exposure. The final bill was favorably amended with this language.

If no one was on call…physicians could have been held legally responsible for others’ mistakes including individuals following or failing to follow DNR orders on minors. The language of the final bill does not expand liability for physicians.

Protecting Public Health and Access to Quality Care

Every session, various pieces of legislation aimed at improving the health of Alabamians are proposed. At the same time however, many bills are also introduced that endanger public health and safety, like those where the Legislature attempts to set standards for medical care, which force physicians and their staffs to adhere to non-medically established criteria, wasting health care dollars, wasting patients’ and physicians’ time and exposing physicians to new liability concerns.

If no one was on callcollaborative practice in Alabama between nurse practitioners, nurse midwives and physicians could have been abolished. The legislation did not pass. Read the joint statement on the bill from the Medical Association and allied medical specialties here. The bill may return next session.

If no one was on call…legislation to give law enforcement the authority to determine what is the unlawful “prescribing” or “dispensing” of controlled substances (and making violations a Class B Felony) could have become law. The Medical Association sought changes to the bill to require prosecutors to have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a physician knowingly or intentionally prescribed controlled substances for other than a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of his or her professional practice, and also to ensure sufficient qualifications for expert witnesses. The sponsor however – arguing that expert witness testimony for prosecuting a physician should not be required – asked the bill not be passed and instead “indefinitely postponed it,” killing the bill for the 2018 session. The bill will return next session.

If no one was on callmarriage and family therapists could have been allowed unprecedented authority to diagnose and treat mental illnesses without restriction. The legislation would also have deleted numerous prohibitions in current law including prescribing drugs, using electroconvulsive therapy, admitting to a hospital and treating inpatients without medical supervision, among other things. The Medical Association offered a substitute bill that (1) ensures all diagnoses and treatment plans made by MFTs are within the MFT treatment context; (2) ensures MFTs cannot practice outside the boundaries of MFT services; (3) prohibits MFTs from practicing medicine; and, (4) ensures all the current prohibitions in state law regarding prescribing of drugs, electroconvulsive therapy and inpatient treatment remain intact. The final bill that is now law contains all of these elements.

If no one was on call…legislation creating a new state board with unprecedented authority over medical imaging could have passed. The legislation would have required x-ray operators, magnetic resonance technologists, nuclear medicine technologists, radiation therapists, radiographers and radiologist assistants to acquire a new license from a new state board, a board granted total control over the scope of practice for each licensee. Quality and access to care concerns abounded with this legislation that many saw as unnecessary. The legislation did not pass, but is likely to return next session.

If no one was on call…proposals to move the PDMP away from the Alabama Department of Public Health and instead under the authority of some other state agency or even to a private non-profit organization could have been successful. In working with the Governor’s Opioid Task Force, the Medical Association stressed the Health Department was the proper home for the PDMP and the Task Force did not recommend that the PDMP be moved elsewhere.

If no one was on call…legislation to place new requirements on and increase civil liability exposure on referring physicians under the Women’s Right to Know Act could have become law. The legislation aimed to provide a woman seeking an abortion with notice that she can change her mind at any time and be entitled to a full refund for not going through with the abortion. The Medical Association sought to fix a longstanding problem that places information-provision requirements on referring physicians under the Women’s Right to Know law. While the Association’s language was adopted, the bill failed to pass. The bill is expected to return next session.

If no one was on call…state law could have been changed to require mandatory PDMP checks on every prescription. Attempts to change this are expected in 2019.

If no one was on call…law enforcement could have been granted unfettered access to the prescriptions records of all Alabamians. Attempts to change this are expected in 2019.

Other Bills of Interest

Rural physician tax credits…legislation to increase rural physician tax credits and thereby increase access to care for rural Alabamians did not pass but will be reintroduced next session.

Infectious Disease Elimination…legislation to establish infectious disease elimination pilot programs to mitigate the spread of certain diseases failed to garner enough support to pass this session.

Data breach notification…relating to consumer protection, is known as the “data breach bill.” In the event of a data breach by a HIPAA-covered entity, as long as the entity follows HIPAA guidelines for data breaches and notifies the attorney general if the breach affects more than 1,000 people, the HIPAA-covered entity is exempt from any penalties. Now, only North Dakota lacks a “data breach” notification statute. The bill was signed by the Governor.

School-based vaccine program…a Senate Joint Resolution urging the State Department of Education and the Alabama Department of Public Health to encourage all schools to participate in a school-based vaccine program passed in 2018. The Medical Association, Alabama Academy of Pediatrics and Alabama Academy of Family Physicians issued a joint statement in opposition to the resolution.

While we remain committed to increasing vaccine rates in Alabama for the very reasons outlined in the “Whereases” of the resolution, we are very concerned about the potential disruption that a widespread school-based program could bring to local practices and the likelihood of detrimental effects of adolescents not visiting the doctor-their medical home–during the critical teen years,” the joint statement from the medical societies reads.

While Gov. Ivey did not sign the resolution, it was ratified under state law without her signature.

Workers comp…legislation to penalize an individual from obtaining workers comp benefits by fraudulent means was introduced this session. The Medical Association successfully sought an amendment to require notice to the physician of termination of a worker’s benefits and to ensure continued payment of claims submitted by a physician until that notice is received. The bill failed to see any action this session.

Genital mutilation…legislation criminalizing the genital mutilation of a minor female was introduced this session. The Medical Association successfully sought an amendment to exclude emergency situations and procedures. The bill died in the Senate during the last days of the session. It is expected to return next year.

If the Medical Association was not on call at the Legislature, countless bills expanding doctors’ liability, placing standards of care into state law, lowering the quality of care provided and diminishing the practice of medicine could have passed. At the same time, positive strides in public health – like new funding for a much-needed PDMP upgrade, better data-sharing with VA facilities and the resolution on MOC – would not have occurred. The Medical Association is Alabama physicians’ greatest resource in advocating for the practice of medicine and the patients they serve.

Questions? For more information contact Niko Corley at ncorley@alamedical.org

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Navigate the New Medicare ID Transition in 9 Steps

Navigate the New Medicare ID Transition in 9 Steps

Due to a legislative mandate in MACRA passed in 2015, Medicare will no longer use social security numbers to identify individuals. Instead, a new randomly generated Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) will be assigned to all 58 million Medicare recipients. New Medicare ID cards containing the MBI are currently being sent to recipients.

“It is a big change,” said Phillip Allen, billing service manager with MediSYS. “MACRA requires that social security numbers be removed to protect beneficiaries from social security number theft, identity theft, and illegal use of benefits.” Which is why the gender and signature line will not be printed on the new Medicare cards either.

The MBI replaces the Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) used for Medicare transactions like billing, eligibility status, and claim status. Whereas the HICN started with the 10-digit social security number and ended with a letter or two designating a policy type, the 11-digit MBI will contain both letters and numbers throughout.

The transition to these new cards is a big step for patients as well as providers. “All providers, vendors, and other stakeholders must be ready to accept, receive, and transmit the new MBI  … particularly for the new beneficiaries coming into the program,” said Monica Kay, acting director of the CMS division of program management.

Here are nine steps your practice should take to ease the transition and avoid payment delays:

  • Educate practice staff about the rollout of the new Medicare cards with the new MBIs.
  • Contact practice-management system vendors about what system changes need to be made to accommodate the MBIs.
  • Alert your Medicare patients that they will be receiving new Medicare cards with their new MBIs.
  • Remind Medicare patients to confirm that the Social Security Administration has their correct address on file to ensure that they receive their new Medicare cards.
  • Tell Medicare patients to bring their new Medicare cards to their next appointment after they receive it.
  • Begin using the new MBI in Medicare transactions as soon as it is available for the patient.
  • Monitor eligibility responses for messages that indicate the patient was mailed a new Medicare card.
  • Starting Oct. 1, 2018, monitor remittance advices for messages that provide the patient’s MBI.
  • Sign up for the MBI look-up tool via your regional MAC portal.

Posted in: Medicare, Uncategorized

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Bipartisan Budget Act Boosts Health Programs

Bipartisan Budget Act Boosts Health Programs

In a rare show of bipartisanship for the mostly polarized 115th Congress, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 is officially one for the record books. The week leading up to the final vote was far from smooth with Sen. Nancy Pelosi impressively filibustering on the floor of the U.S. Senate for eight hours to Rep. Rand Paul blocking the final vote late Thursday night/early Friday morning and forcing a six-hour government shutdown before allowing the final vote to be taken.

Now that President Trump has signed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 here’s what you need to know:

Technical Amendments to MACRA. Makes several changes to the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) that the medical community has been strongly advocating for, including:

  • Excludes Medicare Part B drug costs from MIPS payment adjustments and from the low-volume threshold determination;
  • Eliminates improvement scoring for the cost performance category for the third, fourth and fifth years of MIPS;
  • Allows CMS to reweight the cost performance category to not less than 10 percent for the third, fourth, and fifth years of MIPS;
  • Requires CMS to update on CMS’ website by Dec. 31 of each year, information on resource use measures including measures under development, the time-frame for such development, potential future resource use measure topics, a description of stakeholder engagement and the percent of expenditures under Medicare Part A and B that are covered by resource use measures.
  • Allows CMS flexibility in setting the performance threshold for years three through five to ensure a gradual and incremental transition to the performance threshold set at the mean or median for the sixth year;
  • Allows the Physician Focused Payment Model Technical Advisory Committee (PTAC) to provide initial feedback regarding the extent to which models meet criteria and an explanation of the basis for the feedback.

Physician fee schedule update (in lieu of Misvalued Codes). Reduces the Physician Fee Schedule conversion factor for 2019 from 0.5 percent to 0.25 percent. This is more favorable language than, and is in lieu of, the language in the House bill that would extend the “misvalued codes” provision for one additional year. The AMA estimated, based on the recommendations of the AMA / Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee (RUC), that the misvalued code provision in the House bill would have reduced the statutory 0.5 percent payment update in 2019 by 0.45 percent. Rejection of the misvalued code policy is an important outcome for future budget saving exercises. On a bipartisan basis, policymakers have recognized that the misvalued code “budget dial” is tapped out and should be shelved.

IPAB. Permanently repeals the Independent Payment Advisory Board. IPAB was a 15-member government agency created in 2010 by the Affordable Care Act for achieving specified savings in Medicare without affecting coverage or quality.

Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP is extended for an additional four years beyond the previous Continuing Resolution’s six-year extension, with appropriations made through 2027.

Community Health Centers. Funding for community health centers is reauthorized for two years at a level of $3.8 billion for FY 2018 and $4 billion for FY 2019.

Medicare payment cap for therapy services. Permanently repeals the outpatient therapy caps beginning on Jan. 1, 2018.

National Health Service Corps. Funding for the National Health Service Corps is extended at the FY 2015 – 2017 annual level of $310 million for two additional years.

Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education. Funding for Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education is extended for two years at an annual level of $126.5 million, more than doubling annual funding for this program.

Geographic Practice Cost Indices (GPCI) floor. Extends the work GPCI floor for two additional years through Jan. 1, 2020.

Reducing EHR Significant Hardship. Removes the current mandate that meaningful use standards become more stringent over time. This eases the burden on physicians as they would no longer have to submit and receive a hardship exception from HHS.

Closing the Donut Hole for Seniors. Closes the Medicare Part D prescription drug “donut hole” sooner than under current law by increasing the discounted price manufacturers provide from 50 percent to 70 percent.

Emergency Medicaid Funds for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Puerto Rico’s Medicaid caps for 2018 – 2019 are increased by an additional $4.8 billion. The Virgin Islands’ caps are increased over the same time period by $142.5 million. Also, 100 percent federal cost sharing for Medicaid is provided for both territories through Sept. 30, 2019.

Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF). The Senate bill reduces funding for the PPHF by $1.35 billion between FY 2018 – 2027.

Other Select Budget Agreement Provisions:

Note: there is an agreement to include these funds in the Omnibus before the March 23 deadline.

  • $6 billion in funding for the opioid crisis and for mental health
  • $4 billion to rebuild and improve VA Hospitals and clinics
  • $2 billion for NIH research (above CURES Act increases)

Click here if you would like to see how Alabama’s Congressional Delegation voted.

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Medical Association’s 2018 State and Federal Agendas

Medical Association’s 2018 State and Federal Agendas

The Medical Association Board of Censors has met and approved the Association’s 2018 State and Federal Agendas. These agendas were developed with guidance from the House of Delegates and input from individual physicians. As the Alabama Legislature and U.S. Congress begin their work for 2018, additional items affecting physicians, medical practices and patients may be added to this list.

Download the Medical Association’s 2018 State and Federal Agendas (PDF)

 

2018 STATE AGENDA

 

The Medical Association supports:

  • Ensuring legislation “first do[es] no harm”
  • Extending the Medicaid payment bump for primary care to all specialties of medicine
  • Eliminating the health insurance-coverage gap for the working poor
  • Ensuring fair payment for patient care and reducing administrative burdens on physicians and medical practices
  • Strengthening existing tort reforms and ensuring liability system stability
  • Empowering patients and their doctors in making medical decisions
  • Continued physician compounding, dispensing of drugs
  • The same standards and reimbursements for telehealth and face-to-face visits
  • Training, education and licensing transparency of all individuals involved in patient care
  • Continued self-regulation of medicine over all areas of patient care
  • Increased state funding to upgrade the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to a useful tool for physician monitoring patients at risk for drug interactions and overdose potential
  • Using data analytics to combat the drug abuse epidemic by strengthening research capabilities of pre-approved, de-identified prescription information
  • Maintaining the Alabama Department of Public Health as the repository for PDMP information to ensure continuity for prescribers and dispensers and security for patients
  • Standard opioid education in medical school so the physicians of tomorrow are prepared to face the realities and responsibilities of opioid prescribing

 

The Medical Association opposes:

  • The radical Patient Compensation System legislation
  • Legislation/initiatives increasing lawsuits against physicians
  • Non-physicians setting standards for medical care delivery
  • Tax increases disproportionately affecting physicians
  • Expanding access to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) for law enforcement
  • Statutory requirements for mandatory PDMP checks
  • Further expansion of Maintenance of Certification (MOC) requirements
  • Changes to workers’ compensation laws negatively affecting treatment of injured workers and medical practices
  • Any scope of practice expansions that endanger patients or reduces quality of care
  • Biologic substitution legislation that allows lower standards in Alabama than those set by the FDA that doesn’t provide immediate notifications to patients and their physicians when a biologic is substituted, and that increases administrative burdens on physicians and medical practices

 

2018 FEDERAL AGENDA

 

The Medical Association supports:

  • Meaningful tort reforms that maintain existing state protections
  • Reducing administrative and regulatory burdens on physicians and medical practices
  • Repeal of the Affordable Care Act and replacement with a system that:
    • Includes meaningful tort reforms that maintain existing state protections
    • Preserves employer-based health insurance
    • Protects coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions
    • Protects coverage for dependents under age 26
    • With proper oversight, allows the sale of health insurance across state lines
    • Allows for deducting individual health insurance expenses on tax returns
    • Increases allowed contributions to health savings accounts
    • Ensures access for vulnerable populations
    • Ensures universal, catastrophic coverage
    • Does not increase uncompensated care
    • Does not require adherence with insurance requirements until insurance reimbursement begins
    • Reduces administrative and regulatory burdens
  • Overhauling federal fraud and abuse programs
  • Reforming the RAC program
  • Prescription drug abuse education, prevention and treatment initiatives
  • Allowing patient private contracting in Medicare
  • Expanding veterans’ access to non-VA physicians
  • Reducing escalating prescription drug costs
  • A patient-centered MACRA framework, including non-punitive and flexible implementation of new MIPS, PQRS and MU requirements
  • Congressional reauthorization of CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) at the current enhanced funding level
  • Better interstate PDMP connectivity
  • Eliminating “pain” as the fifth vital sign
  • Repealing the “language interpreters” rule
  • Requiring all VA facilities, methadone clinics and suboxone clinics to input prescription data into state PDMPs where they are located

 

The Medical Association opposes:

  • Non-physicians setting standards for medical care delivery
  • Publication of Medicare physician payment data
  • National medical licensure that supersedes state licensure
  • Legislation/initiatives increasing lawsuits against physicians

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CMS Announces New Medicaid Policy to Combat Opioid Crisis

CMS Announces New Medicaid Policy to Combat Opioid Crisis

Just a week after President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new policy to allow states to design demonstration projects that increase access to treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD) and other substance use disorders (SUD). CMS’s new demonstration policy responds to the President’s directive and provides states with greater flexibility to design programs that improve access to high quality, clinically appropriate treatment.

Through this updated policy, states will be able to pay for a fuller continuum of care to treat SUD, including critical treatment in residential treatment facilities that Medicaid is unable to pay for without a waiver, according to a letter CMS sent to state Medicaid directors. Previously, states had been required to build out their entire delivery system for SUD treatment while also meeting rigid CMS standards before Medicaid demonstration approvals could be granted. The new policy will allow states to provide greater treatment options while improving their continuum of care over time.

According to a new study, nearly a quarter of patients on Medicaid filled a prescription for an opioid painkiller in 2015. Express Scripts, one of the largest pharmacy benefits manager of Medicaid drug benefits in the country, analyzed data on 1.8 million opioid prescriptions given to 3.1 million Medicaid enrollees in 14 states. It found that 6 percent of all Medicaid prescriptions were for opioids. Of those that acquired opioids, nearly one-third took the medications for more than 30 days.

Opioids also contributed notably to costs, accounting for 4.1 percent of plan costs overall. Medicaid enrollees are 10 times more likely to be drug addicts or substance abusers than the general population, according to the report.

In the letter, CMS said that state projects under its new program should aim to make notable improvements over the course of five years with goals to increase access, reduce overdose deaths, reduce use of the emergency department or inpatient care for drug addiction treatment and improve care coordination.

CMS also said that it will “ensure states take significant steps” to reduce opioid prescribing.

Posted in: Opioid

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CBO Analysis of Proposed CHIP Funding Bill Causes Doubt

CBO Analysis of Proposed CHIP Funding Bill Causes Doubt

More than three weeks after the deadline to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Congressional Budget Office has released an analysis of the five-year extension bill, which would extend the bill to 2022 so they can make a few changes, including revamping federal matching rates. The CBO analysis, which also indicated the proposed legislation would increase the federal deficit by $8.2 billion by 2027, is causing Alabama and other states to fear and doubt the CHIP funding.

Nationally, CHIP provides insurance for children up to age 19 whose households make up to 312 percent of the poverty line – up to $50,688 a year for a household of two, and up to $63,710 for a household of three. Qualifying families pay premiums – ranging from $52 to $104 per child per year, depending on income – as well as co-pays. ALL Kids, administered by the Alabama Department of Public Health, covers about 83,000 children, while about 70,000 CHIP recipients fall under Alabama Medicaid.

The Medical Association was a vital in creating CHIP in Alabama more than 20 years ago as a way to provide more health insurance coverage to children of families with low and moderate incomes. Although this is a nationwide crisis, Alabama’s program has funds to continue through March, while some states may lose all their funding by December.

Studies credit CHIP with a steep decline in the number of uninsured children in the country and particularly successful in Alabama. A 2014 study credited CHIP with reducing the number of uninsured children in Alabama 18 percent between 2011 and 2014.

“The benefits package for children is very comprehensive,” said Dr. Wes Stubblefield, a Florence pediatrician and president of the Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “It’s everything recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics that’s recommended as a standard of care for children for preventative care.”

The Medical Association will continue to monitor the progress of this proposed legislation and is eager to work with lawmakers toward a positive solution.

Posted in: CHIP

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UPDATE: Lawmakers Back to the Drawing Board for CHIP Funding Renewal

UPDATE: Lawmakers Back to the Drawing Board for CHIP Funding Renewal

UPDATED OCT. 12, 2017 — Legislation to renew funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program has stalled in the U.S. House as lawmakers continue debating how to pay for the program. This is the third delay requested by the Democrats as the lawmakers now work to mark up the legislation to extend funding for critical programs other than CHIP, such as Community Health Centers and to provide an additional $1 billion to Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program.

Both parties agree on the urgency of passing a CHIP bill. Federal funding for the program expired Sept. 30, and the longer Congress delays taking action, the tougher it will be on states.

Eleven states anticipate they will burn through their federal funding by the end of 2017, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, and 32 states project they will exhaust federal funds by the end of March 2018.

Click here to read House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden’s Statement on CHIP and Extending Critical Public Health Programs


OCTOBER 6, 2017 — After being unable to come together to meet a Sept. 30 deadline that would have renewed funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program for five years, lawmakers in Washington were back at the drawing board this week looking for solutions to ensure federal funding for CHIP even though the Senate Finance Committee reached a bipartisan deal in mid-September to extend funding for five years.

Earlier in September, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee reached an estimated $8 billion bipartisan agreement to renew CHIP funding for five years and phase out the 23 percent Obamacare funding bump. States would have maintained eligibility through 2019, and after that there would be no so-called maintenance of effort for children of parents with incomes more than 300 percent of the federal poverty level.

The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission has estimated that all states will exhaust their federal CHIP reserves in 2018 without an extension but warns that an extension alone will not be enough.

“If Congress extends funding but does not include the 23 percentage-point increase in the federal matching rate that was provided in the ACA, most states will still face shortfalls, since many assumed continued funding with the enhanced match rate,” it noted.

In Alabama, CHIP funding is split between Alabama Medicaid and the Alabama Department of Public Health. ADPH administers the ALL Kids program, which covers about 83,000 of Alabama’s children, while Medicaid provides covers for an additional 70,000 children.

The Medical Association, the Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, state lawmakers and a number of organizations advocating for children’s health care petitioned the Alabama Congressional Delegation to support reauthorization of a bipartisan CHIP funding bill before the Sept. 30 deadline. In a letter to the Alabama Congressional Delegation outlining support for CHIP reauthorization, the coalition cited the great strides made possible through CHIP in ensuring children have access to the care they need. As well, any reductions in federal CHIP funding could cause problems for not only Alabama’s ALL Kids program but also children enrolled in Alabama Medicaid.

Posted in: CHIP

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