Posted by kemanuel
Many of my clients come to me because a managed care organization (MCO) terminated or refused to renew their Medicaid contracts. These actions by the MCOs cause great financial distress and, most of the time, put the health care provider out of business. My team and I file preliminary injunctions in order to maintain status quo (i.e., allow the provider to continue to bill for and receive reimbursement for services rendered) until an administrative law judge (ALJ) can determine whether the termination (or refusal to contract with) was arbitrary, capricious, or, even, authorized by law.
With so many behavioral health care providers receiving terminations, I wondered…Do Medicaid recipients have adequate access to care? Are there enough behavioral health care providers to meet the need? I only know of one person who could feed hundreds with one loaf of bread and one fish – and He never worked for the MCOs!
On April 25, 2016, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released its massive Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) managed care final rule (“Final Rule”).
Network adequacy is addressed. States are required to develop and make publicly available time and distance network adequacy standards for primary care (adult and pediatric), OB/GYN, behavioral health, adult and pediatric specialist, hospital, pharmacy, and pediatric dental providers, and for additional provider types as determined by CMS.
Currently, 39 states and the District of Columbia contract with private managed care plans to furnish services to Medicaid beneficiaries, and almost two thirds of the 72 million Medicaid beneficiaries are enrolled in managed care.
However, Section 30A of the Social Security Act, while important, delineates no repercussions for violating such access requirements. You could say that the section “has no teeth,” meaning there is no defined penalty for a violation. Even more “toothless” is Section 30A’s lack of definition of what IS an adequate network? There is no publication that states what ratio of provider to recipient is acceptable.
Enter stage right: Final Rule.
The Final Rule requires states to consider certain criteria when determining adequacy of networks in managed care. Notice – I did not write the MCOs are to consider certain criteria in determining network adequacy. I have high hopes that the Final Rule will instill accountability and responsibility on our single state entity to maintain constant supervision on the MCOs [insert sarcastic laughter].
The regulation lists factors states are to consider in setting standards, including the ability of providers to communicate with limited English proficient enrollees, accommodation of disabilities, and “the availability of triage lines or screening systems, as well as the use of telemedicine, e-visits, and/or other evolving and innovative technological solutions.” If states create exceptions from network adequacy standards, they must monitor enrollee access on an ongoing basis.
The Final Rule marks the first major overhaul of the Medicaid and CHIP programs in more than a decade. It requires states to establish network adequacy standards in Medicaid and CHIP managed care for providers. § 457.1230(a) states that “[t]he State must ensure that the services are available and accessible to enrollees as provided in § 438.206 of this chapter.” (emphasis added).
Perhaps now the MCOs will be audited! Amen!
Posted in "Single State Agency", Access to Care, Accountability, Affordable Care Act, Alliance, Behavioral health, Cardinal Innovations, CenterPoint, CMS, CMS Proposal, EastPointe, ECBH, Federal Government, Final Rulings, Knicole Emanuel, Managed Care, MCO, Medicaid, Medicaid Advocate, Medicaid Appeals, Medicaid Attorney, Medicaid Contracts, Medicaid Providers, Medicaid Services, Mental Health Problems, Mental Illness, NC, NC DHHS, North Carolina, Partners, Sandhills
Tags: Access to Care, Administrative Law Judge, § 457.1230, Behavioral health, Behavioral Health Care Providers, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, CMS, CMS final rule, Code of Federal Regulations, Division of Medical Assistance, DMA, Gordon & Rees, Health care, Health care provider, health care providers, Knicole Emanuel, Managed care, Managed Care Organizations, MCO, MCO provider networks, Medicaid, Medicaid Contracts, Medicaid recipients, Medicaid Services, NC DHHS, NC Medicaid, North Carolina, Social Security Act