Call for Questions – Physician Fee Schedule Webinar

January 30, 2024

Call for Questions – Physician Fee Schedule Webinar

The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) has coordinated with the Rural Health Information (RHI) Hub and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to hold a webinar on February 27, at 3 pm ET, to discuss the CY 2024 Physician Fee Schedule final rule.

This webinar will focus heavily on the community Health Integration Services and the Behavioral Health billing codes for Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)/Mental Health Counselors (MHC). CMS will also review telehealth policies outlined in the PFS final rule.

FORHP is working to gather questions from rural stakeholders as CMS is developing the webinar in response to questions that are received.

Additional Information

Please submit questions by close of business, Thursday, February 1.

Submit Questions to Jemima Drake: jdrake@hrsa.gov

Registration for this webinar will be available soon.

HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson, Joined by Representative Lauren Underwood, Launches New National Maternal Health Initiative

January 26, 2024

HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson, Joined by Representative Lauren Underwood, Launches New National Maternal Health Initiative

On Thursday, January 25, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Administrator Carole Johnson, joined by Representative Lauren Underwood (D-IL), co-chair of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, launched a year-long Enhancing Maternal Health Initiative. The initiative will strengthen, expand, and accelerate HRSA’s maternal health work to address maternal mortality and maternal health disparities in partnership with mothers, grantees, community organizations, and state and local health officials across the country.

The kick-off event at the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington, DC, included:

  • HRSA maternal health grantees form 11 states
  • District of Columbia
  • Key national organizations
  • Experts, providers, and individuals with lived experience
    • Attendees shared personal perspectives on maternal health care and support
    • Innovative ways HRSA grantees are making an impact on maternal health
    • How maternal mental health is addressed.

HRSA’s Enhancing Maternal Health initiative aims to:

  • Achieve measurable progress in maximizing the impact of HRSA grants and programs to address maternal mortality and improve maternal health
  • Foster new partnerships and collaborations among HRSA grantees in high need, high opportunity jurisdictions to address maternal mortality and improve maternal health
  • Strengthen HRSA’s internal capacity to maximize the impact of HRSA’s maternal health grants, programs and resources

This initiative focuses on parts of the country where:

  • HRSA has significant investments
  • There are significant opportunities for new partnerships and collaborations
  • There is high need
    • Arizona
    • Alabama
    • Georgia
    • Illinois
    • Kentucky
    • Maryland
    • Michigan
    • Missouri
    • Montana
    • North Carolina
    • Oregon
    • District of Columbia

HRSA brings grantees from across the states of focus to foster cross-program and cross-state relationships, to drive progress in maternal health and end the maternal mortality crisis.

Learn More about the HRSA Maternal Health work

Rural Hospitals Caught in Aging Infrastructure Conundrum

January 18, 2024

Rural Hospitals Caught in Aging Infrastructure Conundrum

An increase in costs amid lower payments from insurance plans makes it harder for small hospitals to fund large capital improvement projects that would better serve their community.

Additionally, a KFF report shows 9 percent of hospitals had “vulnerable” cash-on-hand levels in 2022, and Western Pennsylvania hospitals are facing pushback over bed capacity. Finally, NRHA Partner TruBridge discusses how to empower effective rural health care revenue cycles.

Act by 11:59 p.m. CST January 20 to save on registration for NRHA’s 35th Rural Health Policy Institute, where hundreds of advocates will educate Congress on keeping rural facilities open and up to date, February 13-15 in Washington D.C.

See Articles for Full details

Learn More about NRHA’s 35th Rural Policy Institute

HHS Releases Healthcare Sector Cybersecurity Strategy

January 16, 2024

HHS Releases Healthcare Sector Cybersecurity Strategy

While cybersecurity attacks on hospitals and other health care-related entities are not new, in recent years we have begun to see a steady increase of attacks. According to the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), from 2018 to 2022, there was a 93% increase in large security breaches within healthcare entities.

When health care systems undergo a cybersecurity attack, not only are patients’ sensitive information put at risk, but there can be an impact on direct patient care that can last weeks, such as:

  • delayed procedures
  • patients being routed to other facilities, and
  • canceled appointments.

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released an outline of its strategy to address cybersecurity moving forward, in the December 2023 report titled Healthcare Sector Cybersecurity: Introduction to the Strategy of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Health Industry Cybersecurity Practices

Guidance for medical device manufacturers or pre-market cybersecurity recommendations

Now Available – IRF and LTCH Provider Preview Reports

December 15, 2023

Now Available – IRF and LTCH Provider Preview Reports

The Long-Term Care Hospital (LTCH) Provider Preview Reports have been updated and are now available. These reports contain provider performance scores for quality measures, which will be published on Care Compare and Provider Data Catalog (PDC) during the March 2024 refresh.

The data contained within the Preview Reports are based on quality assessment data submitted by LTCHs from:

  • Quarter 3, 2022 through Quarter 2, 2023, and
  • LTCH Change in Mobility measure, Quarter 3, 2021 through Quarter 2, 2023.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) measures reflect data from:

  • Quarter 2, 2022 through Quarter 1, 2023 for the Clostridium Difficile Infection (CDI),
  • Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections (CAUTI), and Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infections (CLABSI) measures, Quarter 4, 2022 through Quarter 1, 2023 for the Healthcare Personnel (HCP) Influenza measure, and
  • Quarter 2, 2023 for the COVID-19 Vaccination Coverage among Healthcare Personnel (HCP) measure.

The data for the claims-based measures will display data from Quarter 4, 2020 through Quarter 3, 2022 for this refresh.

Providers have until January 16, 2024, to review their performance data. Only updates/corrections to the underlying assessment data before the final data submission deadline will be reflected in the publicly reported data on Care Compare.

If a provider updates assessment data after the final data submission deadline, the updated data will only be reflected in the Facility-Level Quality Measure (QM) report and Patient-Level QM report. Updates submitted after the final data submission deadline will not be reflected in the Provider Preview Reports or on the Care Compare website. However, providers can request Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) review of their data during the preview period if they believe the quality measure scores that are displayed within their Preview Reports are inaccurate.

For more information, please visit the CMS LTCH QRP Public Reporting website.

For more information, please visit the CMS IRF QRP Public Reporting website.

Survey Results: Rural Physician and Advanced Practice Provider Compensation

December 6, 2023

Survey Results: Rural Physician and Advanced Practice Provider Compensation

The first-of-its-kind survey provides a path forward for rural healthcare organizations by outlining provider compensation trends, best practices and potential challenges leaders might face when recruiting and retaining top talent in rural healthcare.

Key Takeaways from Survey

  • The majority of provider compensation is not tied to incentives
  • Salary variability continues to increase
  • Salary increase are not necessarily tied to position shortages
  • Independent and affiliated rural hospitals may not know what they are paying providers covered under Professional Service Agreements (PSAs)

See Survey Results

OIG Issues Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) Alert

December 1, 2023

OIG Issues Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) Alert

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) is alerting the public about a fraud scheme involving monthly billing for remote patient monitoring. Please educate staff and patients with this important information.

Legitimate RPM involves using medical devices such as scales, glucose monitors, blood pressure cuffs, cardiac rhythm devices, and other equipment to remotely monitor for anomalies in patients with chronic medical conditions. This new treatment is beneficial for those whose condition might deteriorate quickly, where monitoring can reduce complications, hospitalizations or death.

However, the OIG has found unscrupulous companies are signing up Medicare enrollees for this service, regardless of medical necessity. Most often, the monthly monitoring never happens, but the enrollee is billed monthly anyway.

  • Scammers target Medicare enrollees through calls, texts, and Internet ads
  • Scammers steal Medicare numbers and other personal information
  • Scammers then bill Medicare for services that are unnecessary or never provided

Report Fraud

Learn More

American Institute of Healthcare Compliance – Evaluation and Management (E/M) Visits

December 1, 2023

American Institute of Healthcare Compliance – Evaluation and Management (E/M) Visits

Beginning January 1, 2024, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) is finalizing implementation of a separate add-on payment for healthcare common procedure coding system (HCPCS) code G2211.

  • This add-on code will better recognize the resource costs associated with evaluation and management visits for primary care and longitudinal care.
  • Generally, it will be applicable for outpatient and office visits as an additional payment, recognizing the inherent costs involved when clinicians are the continuing focal point for all needed services, or are part of ongoing care related to a patient’s single, serious condition or a complex condition.

Split (or shared) Evaluation and Management (e/M) visits

Split (or shared) E/M visits refer to visits provided in part by physicians and in part by other nonphysician practitioners in hospitals and other institutional settings.

  • For CY 2024, CMS is finalizing a revision to the definition of “substantive portion” of a split (or shared) visit to include the revisions to the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) guidelines, such that for Medicare billing purposes, the “substantive portion” means more than half of the total time spent by the physician or nonphysician practitioner performing the split (or shared) visit, or a substantive part of the medical decision making.
  • This responds to public comments asking that it be allowed that either time or medical decision making to serve as the substantive portion of a split (or shared) visit.

Click here for more PFS information from CMS

Click here for the November press release which provides a summary of changes

Inflation Reduction Act – Funding and Tax Credits for Rural Health Organizations

November 22, 2023

Inflation Reduction Act – Funding and Tax Credits for Rural Health Organizations

On Friday October 20th, Assistant Secretary for Health, Admiral Rachel Levine announced that OCCHE will be launching a “catalytic program” early in 2024 to support health care providers and especially safety net organizations in taking advantage of the tax credits, grants and other supports made available by the historic Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). This legislation creates unprecedented opportunities for health sector organizations to make investments in clean energy, building efficiency, infrastructure resilience and more.

OCCHE’s planned initiative will occur through collaboration with federal partners including the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy and will feature national webinars as well as breakout sessions by provider type to help organizations’ assess their needs and opportunities.

Sign Up for the November 30 information session in which you will learn more details on this initiative.

When: November 30, 11:00 a.m. CT

Sign Up Now