SENATE APPROVES BILL TO EXTEND THE “DOC FIX” AND DELAY ICD-10

On March 31, 2014, the Senate passed legislation to extend the current Medicare physician pay rates by 12 months. The approval came just in time to avoid the scheduled 24 percent cut under Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate (“SGR”) formula. Congress has not been able to permanently fix Medicare’s reimbursement system despite the widespread and bipartisan support for repealing the SGR.

In addition to providing this temporary patch for physician pay rates, the legislation:

  • delays the implementation of the ICD-10 coding system until October 1, 2015; 
  • delays Recovery Audit Contractor (“RAC”) enforcement of the “two midnight rule” through March 31, 2015; 
  • continues the 0.5 percent increase in Medicare pay rates through the end of 2014; 
  • boosts payment for the work component of physician fees in areas where labor cost is lower than the national average; and 
  • provides for technical corrections to the new long-term hospital (“LTCH”) criteria and modifies the moratorium on new LTCHs so that the moratorium starts earlier (as of the date of enactment rather than January 1, 2015).

A full summary of the bill is available here

HHS RELEASES HIPAA SECURITY RISK ASSESSMENT APP

On March 28, 2014, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) released a tool designed to help guide small and medium sized health care providers through the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) security risk assessment (“SRA”) process.

HIPAA requires health care providers, and other “covered entities,” to regularly review the administrative, physical and technical safeguards they have in place to protect the security of protected health information. The SRA tool and User Guide, along with an instructional video, are available on the SRA tool website.

HHS will accept comments on the SRA tool until June 2, 2014.