CMS has proposed that they improve their payments to rural hospitals, in an effort to improve rural health in the US. While this isn’t directly relevant to ESRD, it will certainly be relevant whenever a kidney patient needs services at a hospital in a rural area. Find the Proposed Rule and Request for Comment at https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2018-05-07/pdf/2018-08705.pdf, and a Notice of Corrections at https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2018-06-20/pdf/2018-13152.pdf. Comments are due by June 25, 2019. For background information see https://www.cms.gov/blog/putting-our-rethinking-rural-health-strategy-action and https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/AcuteInpatientPPS/FY2019-IPPS-Proposed-Rule-Home-Page-Items/FY2019-IPPS-Proposed-Rule-Regulations.html?DLPage=1&DLEntries=10&DLSort=0&DLSortDir=ascending.
CMS has announced that the comment period for their Proposed Rules on Interoperability of Electronic Medical Records has been extended to June 3, 2019. The Proposed Rules are aimed at promoting the ability of different health information technologies to communicate with one another, and at enabling patients to electronically access their health information. Find the Proposed Rules at https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2019/02/11/hhs-proposes-new-rules-improve-interoperability-electronic-health-information.html.
The extension of the public comment period coincides with release, from the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, of:
- The second draft of the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (https://www.healthit.gov/topic/interoperability/trusted-exchange-framework-and-common-agreement)
- The related Notice of Funding Opportunity (https://www.healthit.gov/topic/onc-funding-opportunities/trusted-exchange-framework-and-common-agreement-recognized)
For More Information see:
- Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to Improve the Interoperability of Health Information webpage (https://www.healthit.gov/topic/laws-regulation-and-policy/notice-proposed-rulemaking-improve-interoperability-health)
- CMS Advances Interoperability & Patient Access to Health Data through New Proposals fact sheet (https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/cms-advances-interoperability-patient-access-health-data-through-new-proposals)
- CMS Interoperability website (https://www.cms.gov/Center/Special-Topic/Interoperability-Center.html)
The August issue of the CROWNWeb Newsletter is now available at http://mycrownweb.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/August_2018_Newsletter_Version_3.4.pdf. This issue features:
- Introduction to EQRS
- August 6-September 5, 2018 QIP Preview Period (including links to handy tools)
- August 9-10, 2018 EQRS 2.0 training
- Facility Security Officials
- May-August 2018 Clinical Closure deadlines
- August 23, 2018 CROWNWeb Town Hall
- The usual list of links to important CROWNWeb tools
CMS has published information about helping patients avoid fraud and scams, which may be particularly important with the release of the New Medicare Cards.
Medicare will never call beneficiaries uninvited and ask for personal or private information to get their new Medicare Number and card. Scam artists may try to get personal information (like their current Medicare Number) by contacting them about their new card. If your Medicare patient is asked for their information, for money, or someone threatens to cancel their health benefits if they don’t share their personal information, have them call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
The new Medicare Number is also called the Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) and is replacing the current Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) on Medicare health insurance cards. Medicare will continue to accept the HICN through the transition period; see https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/New-Medicare-Card/index.html#target. Identity theft resources for people with Medicare can be found at https://www.medicare.gov/forms-help-and-resources/identity-theft/identity-theft.html.
CROWNWeb will host a March 29, 2018 Town Hall call on Submission of Batch Data, New Medicare Cards and Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers, 2018 Form 2728 progress, and other current topics. For details and registration see http://mycrownweb.org/pcw_community_events/crownweb-town-hall-event-batch-data/.
CMS has announced the appointment of a Provider Ombudsman for the New Medicare Card, to serve as a resource for the provider community. The Ombudsman will ensure that CMS hears and understands any implementation problems experienced by clinicians, hospitals, suppliers, and other providers, will communicate about the New Medicare Card to providers, and help to develop solutions to any implementation problems that arise. To reach the Provider Ombudsman, contact: NMCProviderQuestions@cms.hhs.gov .
The Medicare Beneficiary Ombudsman and other CMS staff will address inquiries from Medicare beneficiaries and their representatives through existing inquiry processes. For more information on the Beneficiary Ombudsman see https://www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/11173.pdf and https://www.medicare.gov/claims-and-appeals/medicare-rights/get-help/ombudsman.html .
CMS has unveiled the design for the new Medicare cards that will be mailed to beneficiaries between April 2018 and April 2019. For security, the new cards will not contain Social Security Numbers, but a randomly-assigned number instead. The old cards should be shredded or otherwise destroyed. For the CMS press release on the design of the new cards, see https://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Press-releases/2017-Press-releases-items/2017-09-14.html .