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NABH Highlights Residential Treatment as Critical Service for Youth in New White Paper

NABH is pleased to share with you Residential Treatment: A Vital Component of the Behavioral Healthcare Continuum, a white paper that emphasizes the importance and effectiveness of psychiatric residential treatment services for children and adolescents.

Together the NABH team and Youth Services Committee developed the paper as a resource for policymakers, regulators, the media, and other stakeholders to help explain how and why residential treatment is a vital component in the behavioral healthcare continuum—and how children and adolescents benefit from services in this setting.

NABH has posted the paper on the association’s new Youth Services page, which also includes shareable social media messages about the paper’s content for members to post on Twitter and LinkedIn. We urge you to share the link to the new page and the messages with your teams.

If you have questions about the paper or a comment to share with the Youth Services Committee, please contact John Snook, NABH’s director of government relations and strategic initiatives, who serves as the association’s staff liaison to the committee.

As always, thank you for the work you do each day to advance NABH’s mission and vision!

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CMS Proposes 2.1% Payment Increase to Per-Diem Base Rate for IPFs in FY 2022 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on April 7 proposed a 2.1-percent, Medicare payment increase to the per-diem base rate for inpatient psychiatric facilities (IPF) for fiscal year (FY) 2022.

This adjustment would increase the per-diem base rate to $833.50 from $815.22 and the electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) rate to $358.84 from $350.97.

CMS proposed several changes for inpatient psychiatric care in 2022, such as aligning an IPF policy regarding displaced residents from IPF closures and closures of IPF teaching programs with the policy changes that the agency made final in its FY 2021 IPPS rule.

In its FY 2022 proposed rule, CMS recommended the following changes to the IPF Quality Reporting Program:

  • Starting in FY 2023, the agency would add a requirement to report Covid-19 Vaccination Coverage Among Healthcare Personnel in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Healthcare Safety Network web portal;
  • For FY 2024, CMS would substitute the Follow-up After Psychiatric Hospitalization (FAPH) measure for the Follow-up After Hospitalization for Mental Illness (FUH) measure. The FAPH includes patients with substance use disorders and also expands the provider types who can provide follow-up care to include primary care providers;
  • For FY 2024, the agency would remove the three following measures:
    • Alcohol Use Brief Intervention Provided or Offered and Alcohol Use Brief Intervention Provided (SUB-2/2a),
    • Tobacco Use Brief Intervention Provided or Offered and Tobacco Use Brief Intervention Provided (TOB-2/2a), and
    • Timely Transmission of Transition Record -Discharges from an Inpatient Facility to Home/Self Care or Any Other Site of Care.

CMS is requesting information about how to develop a patient experience-of-care measure, as well as comments on including a patient-reported outcomes measure that assesses functional outcomes. The agency also wants feedback on measures either included in the IPFQRP now or that could be added that would be appropriate for digital data collection.

The agency is also seeking comment about how to modify reporting in a way that would improve collecting information on health disparities. CMS asked specifically for feedback on stratification of quality measure results by dual eligibility, race and ethnicity, improving demographic data collection, and potential creation of a facility equity score synthesizing results across multiple social risk factors.

CMS will accept public comments on the rule until June 7.

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U.S. Labor Department Issues Guidance on Parity Compliance

The U.S. Labor Department (DOL) has issued guidance on new implementation requirements for the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) that the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act requires.

Enacted on Dec. 27, 2020, the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act requires group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance to perform and document analyses of how they comply with MHPAEA in their application of non-quantitative treatment limits (NQTLs) to mental health/substance use disorder (MH/SUD) benefits, compared with their application of NQTLs to medical/surgical benefits.

As of Feb. 10, 2021, health plans and insurers must make these comparative analyses available upon request to three federal agencies that oversee MHPAEA implementation: DOL, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Treasury Department.

The required NQTL analyses by health plans and insurance issuers must include the following information:

  1. A description of the NQTL, plan terms, and policies at issue;
  2. Identification of the MH/SUD and medical/surgical benefits to which the NQTL applies;
  3. The factors used in applying the NQTLs to MH/SUD benefits and medical or surgical benefits;
  4. The evidentiary standards used for these factors;
  5. The comparative analyses demonstrating that the processes, strategies, evidentiary standards, and other factors used to apply the NQTLs to MH/SUD benefits, as written and in operation, are comparable to, and are applied no more stringently than, the processes, strategies, evidentiary standards, and other factors used to apply the NQTLs to medical/surgical benefits in the benefits classification; and
  6. The specific findings and conclusions reached by the plan or issuer, including any results of the analyses that indicate that the plan or coverage is or is not in compliance with the MHPAEA requirements.

The new law also requires the federal agencies to share findings regarding these analyses of MHPAEA compliance with the state governments where the plans or issuers are located and submit an annual report to Congress on these findings.

The guidance provides additional detail regarding the following topics:

  1. What information plans and issuers must make available to support their their comparative analyses demonstrating compliance with MHPAEA in their use of NQTLs;
  2. Examples illustrating when the federal agencies might determine that a comparative analysis of NQTLs is insufficiently specific and detailed;
  3. The types of documents that plans and issuers should be prepared to make available to the federal agencies to support their analyses and conclusions regarding their NQTL comparative analyses;
  4. What actions the federal agencies will take if they determine that a plan or issuer has not submitted sufficient information or is not in compliance with MHPAEA;
  5. Whether state agencies and plan participants and beneficiaries may request to see a plan or issuer’s comparative analysis of its use of NQTLs;
  6. Which specific NQTLs the federal agencies plan to focus on in the near term when requesting comparative analyses from plans and issuers for review, namely:
    • Prior authorization requirements for in-network and out-of-network inpatient services,
    • Concurrent review for in-network and out-of-network inpatient and outpatient services,
    • Standards for provider admission to participate in a network, including reimbursement rates, and
    • Out-of-network reimbursement rates (plan methods for determining usual, customary, and reasonable charges).
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Biden Administration Releases Drug-Policy Priorities for Year One

The Biden administration on Thursday released a statement outlining its first-year, drug-policy priorities to address America’s overdose and addiction crises.

White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Acting Director Regina LaBelle noted in an announcement that these priorities will complement President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which includes an investment of nearly $4 billion in behavioral health services.

In the next year, the ONDCP will work across government to implement seven priorities:

  • Expanding access to evidence-based treatment
  • Advancing racial equity in our approach to drug policy
  • Enhancing evidence-based harm reduction efforts
  • Supporting evidence-based prevention efforts to reduce youth substance use
  • Reducing the supply of illicit substances
  • Advancing recovery-ready workplaces and expanding the addiction workforce
  • Expanding access to recovery support services

The strategy identified several issues that NABH has discussed with the ONDCP, including, but not limited to, enforcing parity, improving reimbursement for services, permitting medications through telehealth without an in-person evaluation, and removing policy barriers to using contingency management and motivational incentives.

In addition, harm reduction appears to have a more visible role in the Biden administration than with previous administrations, as do issues related to workforce, recovery-ready workplaces, and recovery-support services.

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HHS-OIG Requests Recommendations for New or Updated Safe Harbor Provisions

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) on Wednesday requested proposals and recommendations to develop new, or to modify existing, safe harbor provisions under the Social Security Acts federal anti-kickback statute.

The statute applies criminal penalties for whoever knowingly—and willingly—offers, pays, solicits, or receives money to induce or reward the referral for, or purchase of, items and services that are reimbursed under any federal healthcare program. Because of the statute’s broad reach, there was concern that the statute included relatively harmless business arrangements.

This has had an especially negative effect on implementing “contingency management/motivational incentive treatment” practices in which individuals receive small rewards for improving treatment outcomes. Contingency management is an evidence-based practice that the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration developed as a joint initiative in 2001.

This treatment intervention is especially critical for individuals with stimulant use disorders, for which there are no effective treatment medications. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdoses involving psychostimulants increased 33.3% between April 2019 and April 2020, the highest percentage increase of all categories of drugs involved in overdoses for that time period.

Healthcare providers and others could comply with safe harbor conditions so that they are not subject to the federal anti-kickback statute.

The OIG will accept comments on the proposed rule until Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021. Click here to learn how to submit recommendations.

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Biden Chooses California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to Lead HHS

President-elect Joseph Biden has selected Xavier Becerra, California’s attorney general, as his nominee to lead U.S. Health and Human Services Department (HHS).

Becerra, who represented California in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 to 2017, was chairman of the House Democratic Caucus from 2013 to 2017 and served on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. He earned his bachelor and law degrees from Stanford. If confirmed, Becerra would be the first Latino to lead HHS.

A fierce champion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Becerra is leading 20 states and Washington, D.C.  to protect the seminal 2010 healthcare law from being dismantled. He would also oversee the department at a critical time during the Covid-19 pandemic, as caseloads surge and a massive vaccination effort is set to launch soon.

Meanwhile, Biden chose Vivek Murthy, M.D. to reprise his role as U.S. Surgeon General. Murthy served as the nation’s 19th U.S. Surgeon General during the Obama administration from December 2014 until January 2017. Murthy completed his internal medicine residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and also led and managed medical teams as a faculty member.

Biden also named Rochelle Walensky, M.D., M.P.H., chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Walensky also serves as professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and is an expert on AIDS and HIV.

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HHS to Host Hospital Data Reporting Webinar on Nov. 13 

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department (HHS) will host a webinar on Friday, Nov. 13 at 1 p.m. ET to review the updated guidance for hospital data reporting requirements during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This webinar is the fourth webinar HHS has hosted to provide guidance to the nation’s healthcare providers on this topic and will include a question-and-answer period.

Click here to register and here for the webinar slide deck.

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CMS Corrects Announcement to Say Providers Cannot Use PRF When Repaying Medicare Loans

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) has corrected a misstatement in its Oct. 8 news release to say the nation’s healthcare providers and suppliers cannot use Provider Relief Funds (PRF) to repay Medicare loans the agency has made during the Covid public health emergency.

The correction first appeared in an FAQ on Oct. 9. CMS subsequently corrected its original news release

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CMS Gives Medicare Part A & B Providers One More Year to Repay AAP Loans

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) said Thursday it will give Medicare Part A and B providers and suppliers an additional year to repay loans the agency made to them during the Covid-19 public health emergency (PHE).

CMS had advanced payments to Medicare Part A and B providers and suppliers through the Accelerated and Advance Payment (AAP) program to help cover costs as the PHE disrupted healthcare services this year. Initially CMS had required providers to start making repayments in August 2020.

“CMS’ advanced payments were loans given to providers and suppliers to avoid having to close their doors and potentially causing a disruption in service for seniors,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in an announcement. “While we are seeing patients return to hospitals and doctors providing care we are not yet back to normal,” she added.

According to the agency’s new terms, after that first year, CMS will automatically recoup 25% of Medicare payments otherwise owed to the provider or supplier for 11 months. After that period, CMS will increase the recoupment amount to 50% for another six months.

CMS said it will send letters to providers who have any outstanding balances after the entire period—a total of 29 months— informing them that repayment will be subject to a 4% interest rate. Those letters will also include guidance on how to request an Extended Repayment Schedule (ERS) due to financial hardship. The agency’s announcement urged providers and suppliers to contact their Medicare Administrative Contractor for information about how to request an ERS.

An ERS will allow a provider or supplier to repay these debts over the course of three to five years. CMS also said providers and suppliers may use Provider Relief Funds to repay these Medicare loans.

CMS said it will communicate with each provider and supplier about the amount they owe and all applicable terms in the coming weeks.

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New CMS Guidance Requires Psychiatric Hospitals to Report Covid-19 Data Weekly

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released guidance that requires Medicare- and Medicaid-participating psychiatric hospitals to report Covid-19 data to the agency on a weekly basis.

CMS published an interim final rule in early September that said hospitals would be required to submit Covid-19 data during the public health emergency in a frequent, standardized way that the U.S. Health and Human Services Department (HHS) secretary specified.

This week’s awaited guidance makes it clear that the nation’s psychiatric hospitals—along with rehabilitation hospitals—need to report their data weekly, and not on a daily basis as other hospital types are required to do.

The agency listed the required data in new guidance and also developed an infographic that highlights when the agency plans to alert hospitals about gaps in reporting and compliance. Links to these new materials are also available our Covid-19 resources webpage.

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