Through the Medicare Benefit (MA) annual enrollment interval, well being care suppliers could also be seeking to inform their sufferers of their MA choices. Beneath are 5 concerns to bear in mind when sharing data associated to MA organizations with sufferers.
1. Know what the MA advertising guidelines permit and prohibit.
The Facilities for Medicare & Medicaid Providers (CMS) regulates MA advertising by means of laws and the Medicare Communications and Advertising Pointers Guide. The aim of those guidelines is to keep up acceptable beneficiary safeguards whereas not impeding the supplier/affected person relationship. Usually talking, CMS has liberalized the MA advertising guidelines over the previous few years. For instance, as of February 2022, the advertising guidelines:
- Now not state that plans should make sure that the suppliers stay impartial;
- Now not require the supplier to make advertising supplies obtainable in widespread areas for all plans with which the supplier participates; and
- Now not require that affiliation bulletins state that the supplier may additionally contract with different plans.
So as to perceive the necessities these guidelines impose on a supplier, it’s needed to grasp the variations between “advertising” and “communications” and the variations between “provider-initiated actions” and “plan-initiated actions”. The foundations governing advertising are extra restrictive than the foundations governing communications, and the foundations governing plan-initiated actions are extra restrictive than the foundations governing provider-initiated actions. For instance:
- Advertising supplies can’t be supplied in examination rooms however communication supplies can; and
- If an exercise is plan-initiated, the plan should make sure that the supplier stays impartial, but when an exercise is provider-initiated, the supplier can focus on the deserves of a plan when answering questions within the examination room.
As well as, CMS has particular guidelines that ought to be reviewed for supplier and MA plan co-branding and supplier affiliation bulletins.
And at last, suppliers ought to be conscious that “advertising” actions could also be restricted exterior of sure CMS allowed enrollment durations (e.g., annual enrollment interval which happens from October 15 by means of December 7).
We additionally word that the MA guidelines are imposed upon the MA plans solely and never on the suppliers; nonetheless, non-compliance might have severe repercussions similar to termination of the supplier settlement, breach of contract, or indemnification claims.
2. Guarantee HIPAA compliance.
Suppliers ought to make sure that any advertising/communications to sufferers concerning MA plans complies with HIPAA. For instance, a supplier ought to guarantee HIPAA compliance earlier than utilizing affected person lists to mail advertising supplies to sufferers that describe the MA plan’s advantages and cost-sharing.
3. Verify supplier agreements.
You will need to test every supplier settlement to determine whether or not any contractual roadblocks exist. For instance, a supplier settlement might prohibit advertising of any MA plans or might require approval of any communications with sufferers concerning the MA plan.
4. Verify in case your actions rise to the extent of promoting, soliciting, or negotiating insurance coverage.
If a supplier’s actions rise to the extent of promoting, soliciting, or negotiating insurance coverage, then state insurance coverage legal guidelines might require the supplier to acquire a producer’s license previous to participating in such actions.
5. Guarantee compliance earlier than receiving compensation for advertising.
Suppliers ought to be cautious earlier than accepting compensation for MA advertising actions. A fraud and abuse evaluation ought to be carried out previous to receiving such compensation and the receipt of compensation might consequence within the supplier being thought of a 3rd celebration advertising group (TPMO). CMS developed necessities for TPMOs efficient in June 2022 to guard in opposition to pushy advertising techniques, and these necessities impose a number of obligations upon TPMOs similar to required disclaimers and recording of all calls.
You will need to take into account the above elements when sharing data associated to MA organizations with sufferers. Whereas CMS has liberalized the foundations lately, there are nonetheless important limitations to recollect with a purpose to keep compliant with related legal guidelines, MA supplier agreements, and the Medicare Communications and Advertising Pointers Guide.
Kevin Kifer, Nicole Jobe and Catherine Feorene are members of Thompson Coburn’s Well being Legislation Apply Group.