On August 19, 2022, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) posted Advisory Opinion 22-16 (“AO 22-16”) to its website, a favorable opinion concluding that the OIG would not impose sanctions in connection with a program that offered $25 gift cards to Medicare Advantage (“MA”) plan enrollees who completed an online educational program about the potential risk, benefits, and expectations related to surgery. AO 22-16 is the latest in a string of recent OIG advisory opinions addressing arrangements involving remuneration to Federal health care program beneficiaries – the ninth such advisory opinion in 2022 alone.

The company that requested this advisory opinion contracts with Medicare Advantage Organizations (“MAOs”) to offer the educational program to MA plan enrollees and charges the MAOs a per-member, per-month fee for the program. MA plan enrollees who take the educational program and complete a survey receive a $25 gift card, which may be for a big box store or online retailer that offers a wide variety of items. The company that offers the educational program sends mailings and email correspondence to MA plan enrollees about the educational program but does not advertise or market the program to individuals who are not enrollees of a MA plan that has contracted with the company. The MAOs are prohibited by their contract with the company from including information about the gift cards offered under the program in marketing materials to prospective enrollees.
Continue Reading OIG Approves Gift Cards for Medicare Managed Care Enrollees Who Complete Online Education

On November 12, 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) released final guidance confirming that hospitals can be co-located with other hospitals or healthcare providers.

CMS’ aim for the guidance is to balance flexibility in service provision for providers with ensuring patient confidence in CMS’ quality of care oversight functions.

The final guidance provides direction to state surveyors in the evaluation of a hospital’s compliance with the Medicare Conditions of Participation (“CoPs”) when it is sharing space or contracted staff through service arrangements with another co-located hospital or healthcare provider.  CMS also reiterated a key tenet of co-location arrangements: that each provider must independently meet its applicable CoPs, but, overall, the final guidance is less prescriptive than the draft guidance CMS released in May 2019, and in its wake raises new questions for providers.

Continue Reading CMS Releases Long-Awaited Final Guidance on Hospital Co-Location and Space-Sharing Arrangements