MHA Monday Report Jan. 16, 2023

MHA Monday Report

capitol buildingNew State Legislative Session Begins

The new session for the 102nd Michigan Legislature kicked off during the week of Jan. 9 with swearing in ceremonies in both the House and Senate. Michigan Democrats in the majority started the session by introducing legislation to repeal right …


Rural Emergency Hospital Webinar on Requirements and Conversion Process

Hospitals interested in learning more about the new Rural Emergency Hospital (REH) designation are encouraged to attend an upcoming webinar from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. ET Jan. 18 hosted by Mathematica and the Rural Health Redesign Center (RHRC) for …


MDHHS Expands Behavioral Health Service Providers Covered by Medicaid

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued a bulletin Jan. 5 to expand the types of providers who can perform Medicaid-covered, non-physician outpatient behavioral health services. Effective Feb. 4, Medicaid will cover and reimburse outpatient behavioral health …


Federal Court Rules on 340B Underpayment Remedy

A recent United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruling allows the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to propose a remedy for hospital 340B drug underpayments for calendar years 2018 to 2021. …


Hospitals Pursue Health Equity to Honor Martin Luther King Jr.

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.” As we honor Dr. King today and the legacy he created striving for racial equality, the MHA and …


The Keckley Report

Paul KeckleyThe Escalating, Ironic Tension Between Insurers and Hospitals

“Blistering attacks on hospitals were a staple in media coverage in 2022. Comparatively, health insurers escaped unscathed. …

The near-term tension between hospitals and insurers will continue as affordability and transparency concerns mount. In tandem, government efforts to shift incentives to value-based payment models will expand as large employers and national plans implement more aggressive risk sharing agreements. The roles of the two sectors will converge in response to market demand. In anticipation, Deloitte, among others, merged its payer and provider practices to prepare its clients for the change. …”

Paul Keckley, Jan. 9, 2023


News to Know

MHA offices will be closed and no formal meetings will be scheduled Jan. 16 in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Rural Emergency Hospital Webinar on Requirements and Conversion Process

Hospitals interested in learning more about the new Rural Emergency Hospital (REH) designation are encouraged to attend an upcoming webinar from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. ET Jan. 18 hosted by Mathematica and the Rural Health Redesign Center (RHRC) for an overview of the REH designation.

Participants will learn about REH requirements and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ conditions for REH participation and payment. Presenters will also describe how the RHDC and its partners can assist entities through the REH conversion process and access ongoing transition support.

There is no cost to participate, but registration is required. Members with questions about the REH designation should contact Lauren LaPine.

Governor Signs Several MHA Priorities Into Law

Gov. Whitmer signed several bills into law Dec. 22 that were supported by the MHA and passed during the lame-duck session. Among these were expansions to the Michigan Reconnect Program, legislation to allow for a new rural emergency hospital licensure designation and interstate licensure opportunities for psychologists.

House Bills (HBs) 6129 and 6130legislation to expand the Michigan Reconnect program – were signed by the governor. The Michigan Reconnect program is a post-secondary scholarship program designed to provide funding to learners over the age of 25 interested in pursuing credentials or post-secondary degrees at community colleges or eligible training programs. Introduced by Reps. Ben Frederick (R-Owosso) and Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing), the package allows for several additional certifications to qualify for the scholarships including high-demand healthcare credentials. The MHA was supportive of the bills and will continue to advocate for future changes to lower the age of qualification for the program.

The legislation needed for hospitals to begin converting to Rural Emergency Hospitals (REHs) in Michigan was also signed into law. Due to limited session days left, the language to allow for REH licensure in Michigan was officially included in Senate Bill (SB) 183. REHs are a new federal designation that will require hospitals to give up inpatient services in exchange for improved federal outpatient reimbursement. Members with questions about the federal rules for REH designation can contact Lauren LaPine at the MHA for more information.

Legislation to allow Michigan to join the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT) was also approved by the governor. This will bring Michigan in line with 26 other states to create an expedited pathway to licensure for psychologists who wish to practice telepsychiatry across state lines. HBs 5488 and 5489 were introduced by Reps. Bronna Kahle (R-Adrian) and Felicia Brabec (D-Pittsfield Township) and supported by the MHA to help increase access to behavioral health services in Michigan.

Members with questions on these bills or any other lame duck action may reach out to Adam Carlson at the MHA.

 

Rural Emergency Hospital Legislation Passed in Michigan

The legislation needed for hospitals to begin converting to Rural Emergency Hospitals (REH) in Michigan was sent to the Governor’s desk Dec. 6 for final approval. Due to limited session days left, the language to allow for REH licensure in Michigan was officially included in Senate Bill (SB) 183. After the REH amendments were adopted, SB 183 passed with overwhelming support in both the State House and Senate.

The MHA has been actively working with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) and the Whitmer administration’s legal team on REH licensure during the legislative process and have received positive indications of the administration’s support for SB 183.

Member hospitals considering conversion to an REH are encouraged to review the final rules by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Some key changes outlined in the final rule include:

  • Clarification that REHs can operate provider-based rural health clinics (RHCs) and that REHs are considered hospitals with less than 50 beds for purposes of the payment limit exception. Provider-based RHCs will maintain their excepted status upon a hospital’s REH conversion.
  • A roughly $4,000 per month increase in monthly facility payments due to a misstep in the methodology that the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) highlighted in the MHA comment on the proposed rule.
  • The CMS agreed with the NRHA that one-lane federal highways should be excluded from the definition of primary roads. Primary roads are now defined as state or federal highways with two or more lanes in either direction.

Additionally, the CMS has released initial information on the application process. There will also be an application process at the state level through LARA. This application is still in development.

Members considering converting to the REH designation should contact Lauren LaPine at the MHA for support in navigating this process.

 

 

 

 

 

Legislature Returns to Continue Healthcare-related Work

The Legislature returned the week of Sept.19 to continue work on several pieces of legislation that the MHA is currently monitoring. Committees met in both the House and Senate, taking up legislation that included several new bills supported by the MHA in the areas of behavioral health, rural emergency hospitals, speech-language pathologist licensure and telemedicine.

In the House Health Policy Committee, initial testimony was taken on new legislation to make changes to the preadmission screening process for behavioral health patients. House Bill (HB 6355), introduced by Rep. Graham Filler (R-St. Johns) and supported by the MHA, would memorialize the requirement for preadmission screening units operated by the Community Mental Health (CMH) services program to provide a mental health assessment within three hours of being notified by a hospital of the patient’s need. If a preadmission screening unit is unable to perform the assessment within the three-hour time frame, HB 6355 would also allow for a clinically qualified individual at a hospital who is available to perform the required assessment.

Kathy Dollard, Psychologist and Director of behavioral health for MyMichigan Health, joined the committee to testify in support of HB 6355.

Kathy Dollard, psychologist and director of behavioral health for MyMichigan Health, joined the committee to testify in support of HB 6355. “Strengthening our behavioral health system includes strengthening our behavioral health workforce and that can start with creative solutions like providing clinically qualified hospital personnel the ability to conduct pre-admission screenings,” said Dollard. No votes were held on HB 6355 at this initial hearing.

MHA staff also provided testimony during committee on HB 6380. Introduced by Rep. Andrew Fink (R-Hillsdale), HB 6380 would make the necessary changes to state law to allow for Michigan hospitals to pursue a new federal designation of “Rural Emergency Hospital” (REH) status. A REH designation comes with significant requirements such as limiting total beds to 50, maintaining an average length of stay of 24 hours or less and a required transfer agreement with a level I or II trauma center. Hospitals that choose to convert to a REH will receive enhanced federal reimbursement to provide critical emergency and outpatient services, especially in geographic areas.

Lauren LaPine and Elizabeth Kutter of the MHA testified in support of HB 6380.

Lauren LaPine, director of small and rural hospital programs, MHA, and Elizabeth Kutter, senior director of advocacy, MHA, testified in support of the legislation. “HB 6380 provides rural hospitals in our state with the ability to continue providing care in our most rural communities,” said LaPine. No votes were taken on HB 6380.

Initial testimony on two bills that were previously reviewed by MHA’s Legislative Policy Panel also occurred during committee. Senate Bill (SB) 811, introduced by Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington), would extend the length of time for an individual to complete a temporary Speech-Language Pathologist license and extend the length of time those temporary licenses are valid. The MHA is supportive of SB 811, which did not see any votes this week.

House committee members also took initial testimony on SB 450, which would ensure that visitors of cognitively impaired patients are permitted in healthcare facilities. Introduced by Sen. Jim Stamas (R-Midland), the bill would prohibit the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) or a local health officer from issuing an order that prohibits a patient representative from visiting a cognitively impaired individual in a healthcare facility. As written, the legislation does not prevent a healthcare facility from implementing reasonable safety measures for visitors and will still allow for facilities to limit the number of representatives per patient. The MHA is neutral on the bill and will continue to monitor any action taken.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee took initial testimony on SB 1135, which was introduced by Sen. Mike MacDonald (R-Macomb Township). SB 1135 would specify that previous expansions to Medicaid telemedicine coverage also apply to the Healthy Michigan Program and Michigan’s medical assistance program. Most notably, the legislation would require continued coverage for audio-only telemedicine services. The MHA is supportive of SB 1135, which would continue virtual care policies that have proved to be effective and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the Senate’s Regulatory Reform Committee, testimony was taken on another MHA-supported bill to regulate the sale of kratom in Michigan. Kratom is a substance of concern with opiate-like effects that has no approved medical use in the United States. HB 5477, introduced by Rep. Lori Stone (D-Warren), would create a license for kratom sales and manufacturing, require testing of products and require new safety warnings on kratom substances sold in Michigan. While the MHA prefers a federal Schedule I ban of the drug, the association is supportive of HB 5477, which will help limit adolescent addiction and prevent adulterated products from being on the market.

Members with questions on these bills or any other state legislation should contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.

CMS Seeks Comment on Rural Emergency Hospital Proposed Rule

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released a proposed rule to obtain comment on potential Conditions of Participation (CoPs) for critical access hospitals (CAHs) and certain rural hospitals seeking to convert from their current status to be designated as a Rural Emergency Hospital (REH). REHs are a new provider type authorized by the Consolidated Appropriations Act passed Dec. 27, 2020, to address concern regarding the closure of rural hospitals across the country. This new designation provides an opportunity for CAHs and rural hospitals with 50 or fewer beds to continue providing essential services in their communities effective Jan. 1, 2023. REHs would be required to:

  • Discontinue providing acute care inpatient services.
  • Provide 24-hour emergency services, observation care and can choose to offer additional outpatient services.
  • Have an annual per patient average stay of 24 hours or less.
  • Have a transfer agreement with a Level I or II trauma center but not precluded from having agreements with Level III or IV trauma centers.

The CMS recently included payment policies related to the new REH in the 2023 Medicare outpatient prospective payment system (OPPS) proposed rule. Medicare outpatient services provided by a REH will be paid 105% of the Medicare OPPS rate with the REH also receiving a monthly facility payment. The CMS proposes a monthly payment of $268,294 for each REH in 2023, with this amount increased annually based on the hospital market basket change.

The CMS proposes that REHs may provide outpatient services that are not paid under the OPPS such as laboratory services paid under the Clinical Lab Fee Schedule (CLFS), which would be paid at the CLFS rate. REHs can also provide distinct part skilled nursing facility (SNF) services which would be paid based on the SNF prospective payment system. Services paid outside of the OPPS such as lab and SNF would not receive the additional 5% payment. The CMS also seeks input on quality measures recommended by the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services, and additional suggested measures for the REH quality reporting program. The CMS is seeking additional comments on behavioral and mental health, rural virtual care and maternal health services.

Comments on the proposed CoP rule are due Aug. 29, while comments regarding payment provisions included in the OPPS proposed rule are due Sept. 13. The CMS is expected to release a final OPPS rule around Nov. 1. Members with questions should contact Lauren LaPine at the MHA.

Proposal Released to Update Medicare Outpatient Prospective Payment System

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released a proposed rule to update the Medicare fee-for-service outpatient prospective payment system (OPPS) effective Jan. 1, 2023.

The CMS notes that the agency did not rework the proposed rule to incorporate the recent Supreme Court decision to restore payments for 340B drugs. While the rule proposes to continue paying average sales price (ASP) minus 22.5% for 340B drugs, the CMS notes that the agency expects to revert to the previous policy of paying ASP plus 6%. The CMS anticipates offsetting the 340B payment increase estimated at $1.96 billion nationally by reducing the proposed conversion factor. The CMS indicated the reduced conversion factor would be $83.28, which is 1.1% lower than the current factor of $84.18.

Other provisions of the proposal include:

  • Establishing the new rural emergency hospitals (REH) model with proposals regarding payment policy, quality measures and enrollment policies
  • Exempting rural sole community hospitals (SCHs) from the site neutral clinic visit cuts and instead paying the full OPPS rate for visits provided at grandfathered off-campus hospital outpatient departments
  • Increasing the cost outlier threshold by 35% from the current $6,175 to $8,350 to maintain outlier payments at the targeted 1% of total OPPS payments, resulting in fewer cases qualifying for an outlier payment.
  • Updating the inpatient only list to remove 10 services and add eight services.
  • Implementing a permanent 5% cap on wage index decreases.
  • Adding one procedure, a lymph node biopsy or excision, to the Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) Covered Procedures List.
  • Requiring prior authorization for an additional service category,­ facet joint interventions, beginning dates of service on or after March 1, 2023.
  • Proposing separate payment in the ASC setting for four non-opioid pain management drugs that function as surgical supplies.
  • Continuing payment for remote behavioral health services beyond the end of the public health emergency.
  • Implementing a payment adjustment for additional costs incurred for domestically manufactured National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-approved surgical N95 respirators with payments provided biweekly as interim lump-sum payments to the hospitals and reconciled at cost report settlement.
  • Changes to the hospital outpatient quality reporting (OQR) program including:
  • Making the Cataracts: Improvement in Patient’s Visual Function within 90 Days Following Cataract Surgery (OP-31) measure voluntary rather than mandatory beginning with the 2025 reporting period and 2027 payment determination.
  • Aligning the hospital OQR program patient encounter quarters for chart-abstracted measures to the calendar year for annual payment update determinations.
  • Seeking comment on the future reimplementation of the Hospital Outpatient Volume on Selected Outpatient Surgical Procedures (OP-26) measure or the future adoption of another volume indicator as a quality measure.
  • A request for information on improving health equity.

The MHA will provide hospitals with an estimated impact analysis in the coming weeks. Comments are due to the CMS Sept. 13. The MHA will release its draft comment letter prior to the due date and encourages members to review the proposed rule and contact Vickie Kunz regarding issues identified by Sept. 2. The CMS is expected to release a final rule around Nov. 1.

Member Feedback Requested on Rural Emergency Hospital Proposed Rule

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a proposed rule June 30 that would establish conditions of participation (CoPs) that Rural Emergency Hospitals (REHs) must meet to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. This proposed rule also includes changes to the Critical Access Hospital CoPs. Proposed payment and enrollment policies, quality measure specifications and quality reporting requirements for REHs will be included in future rulemaking. The CMS also modifies the provider agreement regulations to include REHs. The public comment period will end Aug. 29.

The MHA has been working closely with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) over the past few months to develop the licensure criteria and conversion process for eligible facilities in Michigan to convert to an REH after Jan. 1, 2023. The MHA will develop a comment letter in response to the proposed rule and share a draft with small/rural members prior to submission. To include input from Michigan hospitals eligible to convert to an REH in its comments, the MHA has created a brief survey to collect critical feedback that should be submitted by Aug. 1. Members with questions or concerns are encouraged to contact Lauren LaPine at the MHA.