CMS Proposes Updated Hospice Payment Rules for 2023

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) has released its annual proposed payment update for hospices for the upcoming fiscal year. Under 87 FR 19442, CMS would raise hospice payments by 2.7 percent, or $580 million, in fiscal year 2023. CMS has further proposed capping annual hospice wage index adjustments to broadly check against payments decreasing more than 5 percent year-over-year. Additionally, CMS sought comments from hospices on their health equity initiatives and a structural composite measure concept to inform future measure developments. CMS issued a fact sheet on the proposed rule.

HHS Publishes Best Practices Guidance for Health System Cybersecurity

The United States Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) Health Sector Cybersecurity Coordination Center recently published guidance to help healthcare organizations improve their overall strength, protocols and prevention abilities for cyberattacks. The HHS guidance outlines the best practices for healthcare organizations to protect against cyberthreats, consisting of six key recommendations:

  1. Conduct regular security posture assessments.
  2. Frequently monitor networks and software for vulnerabilities.
  3. Identify which departments own what risk and assign management to those certain responsibilities.
  4. Monitor any gaps in security controls.
  5. Have an incident response plan and a discovery recovery plan.
  6. Create security metrics.

Adherence to best practice guidance can help healthcare systems minimize cybersecurity threats and offset scrutiny in the event of a successful breach.

Supreme Court Upholds HHS Calculation for Medicare Payment to Hospitals Serving Low-Income Patients

On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court upheld HHS’ approach to calculating certain Medicare payments to hospitals that serve a large number of low-income patients. At issue was a rule finalized in 2005 that changed how HHS calculates disproportionate share hospital (“DSH”) adjustments, which are additional payments made to hospitals serving large numbers of low-income patients in order to offset losses. The 2005 rule changed HHS’ formula for calculating the additional payments. Petitioners seeking to have the 2005 rule vacated argued it resulted in under-counting of low-income patients and less payments to hospitals serving large low-income populations.