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BILLING

Newly proposed Medicare Part B Physician Fee Schedule contemplates Making COVID-19 telehealth changes permanent

On July 13, 2021, CMS published its proposed physician fee schedule rule for FY 2022. One of the key items is the proposal to make the temporary change allowing Medicare providers to deliver healthcare services via telehealth a permanent part of Medicare Part B. The Proposed Medicare Changes During the public health emergency (PHE), Congress added the home of the beneficiary as a permissible originating site for telehealth services for the purposes of diagnosis, evaluation or treatment of a mental health disorder. In addition to updating the fee schedule, the proposed CY2022 rule would allow certain services added to the Medicare telehealth list to remain on the list until the end of December 2023. This would allow CMS to continue to evaluate whether the temporary expansion of telehealth services adopted… . . . read more.

YOUR CAREER

Listening as if you mean it: an important managerial skill

By Lynne Curry It’s easy to give an excuse for not listening. You don’t have time; the speaker rambles or bores you. You already know what you’re about to hear. It’s harder to admit you’re a poor listener—isn’t listening something we do all the time? No. The opposite proves true. Most of us find it hard to listen to someone who has something to say we don’t want to hear. We instinctively interrupt, tune out, or wait until the speaker finishes and then say what we wanted to say in the first place. The result—we miss hearing information we later wish we’d heard; we fall easily into “yes…but” arguments in which neither you nor the other person comes to terms with each other’s viewpoint. We sacrifice opportunities to draw out… . . . read more.

QPP

First snapshot ready for APM status and data

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has updated its Quality Payment Program Participation Status Tool based on the first snapshot of Alternative Payment Model (APM) data. The first snapshot, posted July 8,  includes data from Medicare Part B claims with dates of service between Jan. 1, 2021 and March 31, 2021. The tool includes 2021 Qualifying APM Participant (QP) status and Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) APM participation status. To learn more about how CMS determines QP and the APM participation status for each snapshot, visit the APM Determination webpage on the QPP website. What does QP status mean? If you qualify as a QP, this means you are: Eligible for the 5% APM incentive bonus; Eligible for APM-specific rewards; and Exempt from participating in MIPS. How do I check my QP… . . . read more.

BILLING

New federal rule to protect consumers from surprise medical bills

The Biden-Harris Administration has announced a rule to protect consumers from surprise medical bills. The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor, and Treasury, and the Office of Personnel Management, issued “Requirements Related to Surprise Billing; Part I,” an interim final rule that will restrict excessive out of pocket costs to consumers from surprise billing and balance billing. Surprise billing happens when people unknowingly get care from providers that are outside of their health plan’s network and can happen for both emergency and non-emergency care. Balance billing, when a provider charges a patient the remainder of what their insurance does not pay, is currently prohibited in both Medicare and Medicaid. This rule will extend similar protections to Americans insured through employer-sponsored and commercial health plans. “No patient should… . . . read more.

WORKPLACE SAFETY

FDA reverses course on healthcare worker re-use of N95 masks

For decades, the N95 filtered mask has been a vital piece of personal protective equipment for frontline medical workers. But for months, shortages of that precious item which was previously taken for granted left countless health care workers defenseless from exposure to the coronavirus. The good news is that the N95 shortages have finally abated, with surplus stockpiles enough to last three to 12 months. As a result, federal regulators are beginning to unwind some of the health and safety shortcuts they authorized labs to take to deal with the lack of adequate N95 supplies. The FDA calls for ending N95 recycling & sharing National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) standards dictate that N95 masks be used once and then thrown away. But as an emergency response to… . . . read more.

MANAGING STAFF

Staffers push back about returning to work

By Lynne Curry Question: We’re getting enormous pushback from our staff to an email we sent out stating that billing and clerical employees need to return to the workplace. At the same time, our organization can’t survive if we let all the employees who want to work from home do so. It’s not fair to our patients or the employees who show up at work. Further, when I call those who allegedly work full time but at home during the workday, they often let slip the fact that they’re not working. I’ve been told, “let me turn down the TV” or “sorry I didn’t answer right away, I was out in the garden.” Those who want to work from home insist they’re afraid they’ll catch COVID if they return to… . . . read more.

MANAGING PATIENTS

How medical practices can improve pricing transparency

By Tolu Ajiboye At least 10 million Americans have lost their health insurance due to the coronavirus pandemic and no longer have employer-sponsored health coverage linked to job loss as a result of the pandemic. With these shifts, more and more patients are paying for healthcare services out-of-pocket. Patients’ price sensitivity will also likely be heightened by these circumstances, which could have a negative impact on medication adherence. Consequently, it is critically important for medical practices to assess their current price transparency level and develop ways to improve it. Recent data reveals that nearly all patients want information about costs for healthcare services. An Accenture survey reported that “91% of consumers would like pricing information from providers in advance of care”. Here are some ways you can increase price transparency… . . . read more.

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Disability discrimination and lookism in the workplace

By Mike O’Brien EEOC sues a work placement agency on behalf of disabled workers for disability discrimination The EEOC announced this week that it has filed suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) against a Hawaii work placement agency for disabled workers. The suit alleges that the agency refused to provide sign language interpreters for deaf employees, despite repeated requests by several deaf individuals. The workers had asked for interpreters to be present at staff meetings where matters such as work safety, protocols, and assignments were discussed. Despite these requests for accommodation, the agency declined to provide interpreters and instead gave the deaf workers written notes and handouts, or asked a deaf employee to interpret for other deaf employees. The EEOC asserts that these accommodations were ineffective and that as a… . . . read more.

MANAGING THE OFFICE

Manual tasks office managers can do away with

By Tolu Ajiboye As an office manager, your task list is endless. You have to manage appointment scheduling, patient intake, billing, and so much more. On top of this, you have to ensure that these specific processes—and the practice operations as a whole— are continuously optimized to cut costs and grow the practice.  Accordingly, you’re likely on the lookout for ways you can replace manual processes with more efficient, technology-driven ones. Here’s a list of manual tasks you don’t have to handle anymore: Paper-based patient intake Manual, paper-based patient intake processes are energy and time inefficient. They require manual (and sometimes double) entry of patient information. They also increase the likelihood of errors making it onto your system. Instead, you can get online intake forms automatically sent to patients ahead… . . . read more.

MANAGING STAFF

Performance reviews: Dread them? Ditch them? Replace them?

By Lynne Curry Do you dread filling out annual performance reviews? Do you wonder about their effectiveness? You aren’t the only one with doubts. A Gallup survey reports that only 14% of employees strongly agree their performance reviews inspire improvement.1 According to 58% of executives surveyed, their company’s current performance management system produces neither higher performance nor employee engagement.2 And 8 out of  10 (83%) of HR managers surveyed report that their company’s performance assessment systems need to be overhauled.3 What’s wrong with most reviews? They don’t fix poor performers. Some managers fear giving negative ratings and may give problem employees “meets expectations” or higher ratings. This leads some mediocre employees to feel “I’m doing everything right; I don’t need to change.” This can result in legal difficulty should the employer later… . . . read more.


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