In keeping with President Biden’s Competition Executive Order, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will be releasing a final rule that will further advance its commitment to increasing price transparency, holding hospitals accountable and ensuring consumers have the information they need to make fully informed decisions regarding their health care. The Calendar Year (CY) 2022 Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) and Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) Payment System Final Rule with Comment Period will strengthen enforcement of price transparency requirements for hospitals, and increase Medicare beneficiary quality and safety by halting the phased elimination of the Inpatient Only (IPO) list for surgical procedures.
“CMS is committed to promoting and driving price transparency, and we take seriously concerns we have heard from consumers that hospitals are not making clear, accessible pricing information available online, as they have been required to do since January 1, 2021,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “We are also taking actions to enhance patient safety and quality care.”
Beginning January 1, 2022, CMS will increase the penalty for some hospitals that do not comply with the Hospital Price Transparency final rule. Specifically, CMS is setting a minimum civil monetary penalty of $300 per day that will apply to smaller hospitals with a bed count of 30 or fewer, and a penalty of $10 per bed per day for hospitals with a bed count greater than 30, not to exceed a maximum daily dollar amount of $5,500. Under this approach, for a full calendar year of noncompliance, the minimum total penalty amount would be $109,500 per hospital, and the maximum total penalty amount would be $2,007,500 per hospital.
Hospital price transparency helps people know what a hospital charges for the items and services they provide, an important factor given that health care costs can cause significant financial burdens for consumers. While enforcement activities are necessary to drive compliance with price transparency, CMS is also committed to working with hospitals to help them meet those requirements.
Enhancing Beneficiary Protections
CMS is also enhancing beneficiary protections by finalizing policies that will allow for a more evidence-based approach in determining whether procedures should be payable in the outpatient setting. In the CY 2021 OPPS/ASC final rule, CMS finalized a policy to eliminate the IPO list over a three-year period, removing 298 services in the first phase of the elimination. A large number of stakeholder comments opposed elimination of the list, primarily due to safety concerns with performing certain procedures in an outpatient setting.
For CY 2022, CMS is halting the elimination of the IPO list and, after review of the services removed from the list in CY 2021, CMS is adding all but a small number of procedures back to the list. CMS is also reinstating the ASC Covered Procedures List (CPL) criteria that were in effect in CY 2020 and adopting a process for stakeholders to nominate procedures they believe meet the requirements to be added to the ASC CPL.
Health Equity, Access to Emergency Care in Rural Areas and Lessons from COVID-19
In the OPPS/ASC Payment System proposed rule, CMS also issued Requests for Information (RFIs) and solicited comments on a number of potential proposals and actions to further the vision of advancing health equity, driving high-quality, person-centered care, and promoting affordability and sustainability. The comments will help inform future rulemaking around these topics. Future rulemaking will include additional opportunities for public comments.
- Health equity: CMS received input on ways to make reporting of health disparities based on social risk factors and race and ethnicity more comprehensive and actionable by including additional demographic data points (e.g., race, ethnicity, Medicare/Medicaid dual eligible status, disability status, LGBTQ+, and socioeconomic status).
- Access to emergency care in rural areas: the proposed rule included an RFI on Rural Emergency Hospitals (REHs). CMS received robust comments in response to this RFI and looks forward to taking each of those comments into consideration during the rulemaking process for the development of the REH requirements.
- Lessons from COVID-19: CMS solicited comments on the extent to which hospitals are using flexibilities offered during the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) to provide mental health services remotely and whether CMS should consider changes to account for shifting practice patterns. In addition, comments were received on the collection and reporting of COVID-19 vaccination status of hospital outpatient department and ASC staff, and making this information available to the public so consumers know how many workers are vaccinated in different health care settings.
For a fact sheet on the CY 2022 OPPS/ASC Payment System Final Rule (CMS-1753-F), please visit: https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/cy-2022-medicare-hospital-outpatient-prospective-payment-system-and-ambulatory-surgical-center-0
The OPPS/ASC Payment System Final Rule is displayed at the Federal Register, and can be downloaded from the Federal Register at: https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection/2021-24011/medicare-program-hospital-outpatient-prospective-payment-and-ambulatory-surgical-center-payment.