This week the Office of Inspector General published an interesting Advisory Opinion (AO 12-22) dealing with a cardiology co-management agreement between a hospital and a private cardiology group practice.

Under the arrangement, the hospital would compensate the physicians for certain management, oversight, strategic planning and medical direction services in connection with the hospital’s four catheterization labs.

The Compensation payable to the physicians would consist of a fixed guaranteed amount and potential performance bonuses based on achieving specific patient satisfaction, quality and cost-saving targets.

Based on a number of safeguards within the arrangement, including that the bonus criteria were developed by a committee including providers outside the cardiology group and that the group’s performance and compensation would be reviewed by an independent consultant, the OIG stated that it would not impose sanctions on the requesting parties.

Although the Advisory Opinion is fact specific, as one of the first opinions dealing with co-management arrangements, it offers providers significant insight into how the OIG is likely to view these types of arrangements going forward.
 

Several federal agencies have just issued much awaited proposed guidance regarding Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) under the Medicare Shared Savings Program. The guidance includes the following:

1. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued proposed regulations that would establish accountable care organizations (ACOs) under the Medicare Shared Savings Program. The CMS proposed rule is available online at http://www.cms.gov/sharedsavingsprogram

2. CMS and HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) jointly issued a notice with comment period outlining proposals for waivers under the Stark law, the anti-kickback statute, and certain provisions of the civil monetary penalty law in connection with the Shared Savings Program. The joint notice with comment period is available online at http://www.ofr.gov/inspection.aspx?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

3. The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice jointly issued a "Proposed Statement of Enforcement Policy Regarding Accountable Care Organizations Participating in the Medicare Shared Savings Program" (Antitrust Policy Statement). The Antitrust Policy Statement is available online at: http://www.ftc.gov/opp/aco/

4. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued a notice requesting comments regarding the need for guidance on participation by tax-exempt organizations in the Shared Savings Program through ACOs. The IRS notice is available online at http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=222814,00.html