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Facts on the ground are changing in real time, but some trends clearly show what you can expect after the end of the COVID public health emergency (PHE): a return to pre-COVID standards in many legal and regulatory areas, while patients who no longer have free COVID-related services will likely seek them from physician practices.
Medicare expanded the services non-physician practitioners (NPP) can perform during the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE). A recent CMS change request serves as a reminder that some of the flexibilities are now permanent, even after the PHE ends May 11, 2023.
The latest MedPAC report to Congress, released March 15, includes a proposal to boost physicians' 2024 Medicare payments based on the Medicare Economic Index (MEI). This has intrigued industry groups, although they aren’t satisfied with the numbers. The Medicare watchdog also suggests standing bonuses for some care delivered to poorer patients and reiterates its concerns about Medicare Advantage.
Certain aspects of the anti-kickback statute (AKS) and the Stark law were subject to COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) waivers. These flexibilities are set to expire with the end of the PHE on May 11. After that date, organizations must comply with these laws as they did prior to the issuing of the PHE waivers in March 2020.
Denials spiked for a variety of services performed in the hospital outpatient setting even as utilization tumbled, and a Medicare prior authorization policy may be one reason behind the change.


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