Minnesota Hospital Association


November 06, 2017

MHA Newsline: Nov. 6, 2017

In this issue 

Minnesota Health Licensing Boards implement criminal background check program

Minnesota law requires that all new applicants for licensure must complete a fingerprint-based criminal background check. The Minnesota Health Licensing Boards have cooperatively established the Criminal Background Check (CBC) Program to help applicants efficiently complete this mandatory criminal background check.   

Upon receipt of an application for licensure, the required application fee and the $32 CBC fee, the CBC Program will send the applicant an instructional packet for completing the criminal background check. Applicants are responsible for having fingerprints taken promptly and for completing all required CBC paperwork to assure timely application processing.   

Mandatory criminal background checks for professions regulated by the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice (BMP) will be implemented according to the following schedule: 

  • Nov. 10: acupuncturists, traditional midwives, respiratory therapists 
  • Nov. 17: physician assistants 
  • Dec. 1: physicians, surgeons, genetic counselors

To learn more, visit the BMP websitereturn to top   

MNsure open enrollment runs through Jan. 14, 2018

Open enrollment for MNsure began Nov. 1 and runs through Jan. 14, 2018. Those who want coverage that begins Jan. 1, 2018, must enroll by Dec. 20, 2017.   

Visit the MNsure website to compare plans from multiple companies and estimate out-of-pocket costs. Current enrollees can check to see if their 2017 plan will be available in 2018.   

MNsure has a statewide network of expert assisters to help Minnesotans apply and enroll in person and over the phone. In addition, there are enrollment events in communities around the state.   

Minnesotans can call MNsure’s Contact Center at 1-855-366-7873 or 651-539-2099. The center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. return to top   

CMS releases OPPS and PFS final rules, cuts 340B Program payments

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) final rule for calendar year (CY) 2018, which finalized the agency’s proposal to reduce 340B Drug Pricing Program payments for physician-administered drugs by about 28 percent.   

Under the final rule, CMS will reduce payments for separately payable, non-pass-through drugs (other than vaccines) purchased through the 340B Program to the rate of the average sales price (ASP) minus 22.5 percent from the current ASP plus 6 percent. Sole community hospitals in rural areas, PPS-exempt cancer hospitals and children’s hospitals will be excepted from this policy for CY 2018. Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) are also exempt from the Medicare 340B Program payment cut.   

CMS is implementing the payment reduction in a budget-neutral manner by offsetting the estimated $1.6 billion in reductions in drug payments by redistributing that amount to other non-drug services within the OPPS, meaning hospitals that do not participate in the 340B Program will see their Medicare rate increase slightly. The hospital industry has said it will work with Congress to address the CMS-finalized cuts.   

CMS also released the Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) final rule, which will increase physician payment rates by about 0.41 percent for CY 2018 compared to CY 2017, after applying a 0.5 percent payment increase required by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) and a coding adjustment required under the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014.   

Learn more about the OPPS and PFS final rulesreturn to top   

Opioid commission releases recommendations

The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis on Nov. 1 released final recommendations for addressing the nation’s opioid epidemic. President Trump and Congress now have the opportunity to review the recommendations and determine whether to appropriate funding.   

The commission made 56 recommendations in four categories: federal funding and programs; opioid addiction prevention; opioid addiction treatment, overdose reversal and recovery; and research and development.   

The recommendations include improving access to treatment for individuals using opioids, modifying reimbursement policies that discourage the use of non-opioid treatments for pain, developing a national curriculum and standard of care for opioid prescribers and requiring opioid prescribers to participate in continuing medical education.   

The commission also recommended that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) remove pain questions on patient satisfaction surveys. 

Read the recommendationsreturn to top   

MHA submits comments in support of improving HIE in Minnesota

Last week, MHA submitted comments regarding a health information exchange (HIE) study from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). At the end of this study, MDH gave a list of options for addressing the barriers to HIE presented by the misalignment of the Minnesota Health Records Act (MHRA) and HIPAA. MHA strongly supports full alignment between MHRA and HIPAA. Several health care providers as well as advocacy groups such as the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce also support full alignment.   

In addition to the list of options, the study also made several recommendations that do not require legislative action, each of which MHA supported. The centerpiece recommendation is the establishment of a task force to develop a business plan for and establish an HIE model that better connects the current networks, with an initial focus on addressing the opioid epidemic use case.   

MHA was involved on the steering group that MDH established for this study and also participated through discussions at the E-Health Advisory Group. If you have questions, please contact Mark Sonneborn, vice president, health information and analytics, MHA, 651-659-1423. return to top   

DHS commissioner urges Minnesota delegation to support health care stabilization, reauthorize CHIP

Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Emily Piper on Oct. 30 wrote to Minnesota’s congressional delegation regarding Affordable Care Act (ACA) cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments, the Minnesota reinsurance waiver and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).   

Piper shared that MinnesotaCare is in danger of losing substantial federal funding. Discontinued CSR payments were estimated to fund approximately 25 percent of MinnesotaCare’s cost in the coming year. MinnesotaCare funding will be further reduced as a condition of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) funding the state’s 1332 reinsurance waiver. The elimination of the CSR payments and the cuts called for by the reinsurance waiver will reduce federal support for MinnesotaCare by $742 million between 2018-21.   

Piper urged the delegation to support the Bipartisan Health Care Stabilization Act of 2017, which includes language that ensures BHP funding is eligible for pass-through payments under the 1332 waiver. If this bill were to become law, Minnesota would receive $436 million between 2018-22.   

In addition, Piper reiterated concerns that Minnesota will exhaust its CHIP funding before Congress acts to reauthorize the program and asked the delegation to reauthorize CHIP. Currently, Minnesota’s CHIP covers children in families with incomes between 275 and 283 percent of federal poverty level (FPL) and pregnant women ineligible for Medicaid with incomes up to 278 percent FPL.   

On Nov. 3, the House voted to extend CHIP funding for five years and delay the Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payment cuts for two years. Fifteen Democrats, including Rep. Collin Peterson, joined all Republicans in voting for the CHAMPIONING HEALTHY KIDS Act (H.R. 3922). It is unlikely the Senate will consider the House-passed bill, given Democratic opposition to the provisions offsetting the cost of the bill. The Senate Finance Committee approved similar legislation (S. 1827) to extend CHIP funding that does not include the controversial pay-fors. It is becoming more likely that CHIP funding will move through Congress as part of a large year-end legislative package. return to top