HHS Office of Inspector General flags MACRA vulnerabilities related to clinician awareness, program integrity

The Health & Human Services (HHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) in December 2017 released a report indicating that with regard to the implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) continues to face vulnerabilities related to clinician awareness of MACRA’s Quality Payment Program (QPP) and program integrity to avoid fraud and improper Medicare Part B payment adjustments.

In a similar report from 2016, HHS OIG highlighted vulnerabilities related to providing guidance and technical assistance to clinicians and to developing information technology (IT) systems to support data reporting, scoring and Part B payment adjustments. HHS OIG found that CMS has made “significant efforts” to address these vulnerabilities.

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Judge allows 340B drug payment cuts for 2018 to proceed pending a final ruling

On December 29, 2017, a ruling by a US District Court Judge denied a preliminary injunction to the cuts to Medicare Part B reimbursement rates for 340B drugs pending a final legal decision in a suit filed by a group of about 30 affected hospitals and related associations. The plaintiffs initially filed suit on November 13, with an initial hearing held on December 21 in which the plaintiffs advocated for a preliminary injunction of the rule. In denying of the preliminary injunction, the rate cuts took effect on January 1, 2018.

The suit stems from a provision in the Medicare Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) final rule issued on November 1, 2017. In the final rule, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) announced that it would no longer reimburse certain 340B-purchased drugs at the standard Part B rate of Average Sales Price (ASP) plus 6 percent, instead paying a rate of ASP minus 22.5 percent.

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