Medicare Program; Request for an Exception to the Prohibition on Expansion of Facility Capacity Under the Hospital Ownership and Rural Provider Exceptions to the Physician Self-Referral Prohibition, 5463-5465 [2016-01830]

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 21 (Tuesday, February 2, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 5463-5465]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-01830]


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DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

[CMS-1661-NC]


Medicare Program; Request for an Exception to the Prohibition on 
Expansion of Facility Capacity Under the Hospital Ownership and Rural 
Provider Exceptions to the Physician Self-Referral Prohibition

AGENCY: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), HHS.

ACTION: Notice with request for comment.

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SUMMARY: The Social Security Act (the Act) prohibits a physician-owned 
hospital from expanding its facility capacity, unless the Secretary of 
the Department of Health and Human Services (the Secretary) grants the 
hospital's request for an exception to that prohibition after 
considering input on the hospital's request from individuals and 
entities in the community where the hospital is located. The Centers 
for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has received a request from a 
physician-owned hospital for an exception to the prohibition against 
expansion of facility capacity. This notice solicits comments on the 
request from individuals and entities in the community in which the 
physician-owned hospital is located. Community input may inform our 
determination regarding whether the requesting hospital qualifies for 
an exception to the prohibition against expansion of facility capacity.

DATES: Comment Date: To be assured consideration, comments must be 
received at one of the addresses provided below, no later than 5 p.m. 
on March 3, 2016.

ADDRESSES: In commenting, please refer to file code CMS-1661-NC. 
Because of staff and resource limitations, we cannot accept comments by 
facsimile (FAX) transmission.
    You may submit comments in one of four ways (please choose only one 
of the ways listed):
    1. Electronically. You may submit electronic comments on this 
regulation to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the ``Submit a 
comment'' instructions.
    2. By regular mail. You may mail written comments to the following 
address only: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of 
Health and Human Services, Attention: CMS-1661-NC, P.O. Box 8010, 
Baltimore, MD 21244-8010.
    Please allow sufficient time for mailed comments to be received 
before the close of the comment period.
    3. By express or overnight mail. You may send written comments to 
the following address only: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 
Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: CMS-1661-NC, Mail 
Stop C4-26-05, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21244-1850.
    4. By hand or courier. Alternatively, you may deliver (by hand or 
courier) your written comments only to the following addresses:
    a. For delivery in Washington, DC-- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid 
Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Room 445-G, Hubert 
H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 
20201.
    (Because access to the interior of the Hubert H. Humphrey Building 
is not readily available to persons without Federal government 
identification, commenters are encouraged to leave their comments in 
the CMS drop slots located in the main lobby of the building. A stamp-
in clock is available for persons wishing to retain a proof of filing 
by stamping in and retaining an extra copy of the comments being 
filed.)
    b. For delivery in Baltimore, MD--Centers for Medicare & Medicaid 
Services, Department of Health and Human Services, 7500 Security 
Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21244-1850.
    If you intend to deliver your comments to the Baltimore address, 
call telephone number (410) 786-9994 in advance to schedule your 
arrival with one of our staff members.
    Comments erroneously mailed to the addresses indicated as 
appropriate for hand or courier delivery may be delayed and received 
after the comment period.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: POH-ExceptionRequests@cms.hhs.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Inspection of Public Comments

    All comments received before the close of the comment period are 
available for viewing by the public, including any personally 
identifiable or confidential business information that is included in a 
comment. We post all comments received before the close of the comment 
period on the following Web site as soon as possible after they have 
been received: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the search 
instructions on that Web site to view public comments.
    We will allow stakeholders 30 days from the date of this notice to 
submit written comments. Comments received timely will be available for 
public inspection as they are received, generally beginning 
approximately 3 weeks after publication of this notice, at the 
headquarters of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 7500 
Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21244, Monday through Friday of 
each week from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. To schedule an appointment to view 
public comments, please phone 1-800-743-3951.

I. Background

    Section 1877 of the Social Security Act (the Act), also known as 
the physician self-referral law--(1) prohibits a physician from making 
referrals for certain ``designated health services'' (DHS) payable by 
Medicare to an entity with which he or she (or an immediate family 
member) has a financial relationship (ownership or compensation), 
unless the requirements of an applicable exception are satisfied; and 
(2) prohibits the entity from filing claims with Medicare (or billing 
another individual, entity, or third party payer) for those DHS 
furnished as a result of a prohibited referral.
    Section 1877(d)(2) of the Act provides an exception for physician 
ownership or investment interests in rural providers (the ``rural 
provider exception''). In order for an entity to qualify for the rural 
provider exception, the DHS must be furnished in a rural area (as 
defined in section 1886(d)(2) of the Act) and substantially all the DHS 
furnished by the entity must be furnished to individuals residing in a 
rural area.
    Section 1877(d)(3) of the Act provides an exception, known as the 
hospital ownership exception, for physician ownership or investment 
interests held in a hospital located outside of Puerto Rico, provided 
that the referring physician is authorized to perform services at the 
hospital and the ownership or investment interest is in the hospital 
itself (and not merely in a subdivision of the hospital).
    Section 6001(a)(3) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care 
Act (Pub. L. 111-148) as amended by the Health Care and Education 
Reconciliation Act of 2010 (Pub. L. 111-152) (hereafter referred to 
together as ``the Affordable Care Act'') amended the rural provider and 
hospital ownership exceptions to the physician self-referral 
prohibition to impose additional restrictions on physician ownership 
and investment in hospitals and rural providers. Since March 23, 2010, 
a physician-owned hospital that seeks to

[[Page 5464]]

avail itself of either exception is prohibited from expanding facility 
capacity unless it qualifies as an ``applicable hospital'' or ``high 
Medicaid facility'' (as defined in sections 1877(i)(3)(E), (F) of the 
Act and 42 CFR 411.362(c)(2), (3) of our regulations) and has been 
granted an exception to the prohibition by the Secretary of the 
Department of Health and Human Services (the Secretary). Section 
1877(i)(3)(A)(ii) of the Act provides that individuals and entities in 
the community in which the provider requesting the exception is located 
must have an opportunity to provide input with respect to the 
provider's application for the exception. For further information, we 
refer readers to the CMS Web site at: http://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Fraud-and-Abuse/PhysicianSelfReferral/Physician_Owned_Hospitals.html.

II. Exception Request Process

    On November 30, 2011, we published a final rule in the Federal 
Register (76 FR 74122, 74517 through 74525) that, among other things, 
finalized Sec.  411.362(c), which specified the process for submitting, 
commenting on, and reviewing a request for an exception to the 
prohibition on expansion of facility capacity. We published a 
subsequent final rule in the Federal Register on November 10, 2014 (79 
FR 66770) that made certain revisions. These revisions include, among 
other things, permitting the use of data from an external data source 
or data from the Hospital Cost Report Information System (HCRIS) for 
specific eligibility criteria.
    As stated in regulations at Sec.  411.362(c)(5), we will solicit 
community input on the request for an exception by publishing a notice 
of the request in the Federal Register. Individuals and entities in the 
hospital's community will have 30 days to submit comments on the 
request. Community input must take the form of written comments and may 
include documentation demonstrating that the physician-owned hospital 
requesting the exception does or does not qualify as an ``applicable 
hospital'' or ``high Medicaid facility,'' as such terms are defined in 
Sec.  411.362(c)(2) and (3). In the November 30, 2011 final rule (76 FR 
74522), we gave examples of community input, such as documentation 
demonstrating that the hospital does not satisfy one or more of the 
data criteria or that the hospital discriminates against beneficiaries 
of Federal health programs; however, we noted that these were examples 
only and that we will not restrict the type of community input that may 
be submitted. If we receive timely comments from the community, we will 
notify the hospital, and the hospital will have 30 days after such 
notice to submit a rebuttal statement (Sec.  411.362(c)(5)(ii)).
    A request for an exception to the facility expansion prohibition is 
considered complete as follows:
     If the request, any written comments, and any rebuttal 
statement include only HCRIS data: (1) The end of the 30-day comment 
period if CMS receives no written comments from the community; or (2) 
the end of the 30-day rebuttal period if CMS receives written comments 
from the community, regardless of whether the physician-owned hospital 
submitting the request submits a rebuttal statement (Sec.  
411.362(c)(5)(i)).
     If the request, any written comments, or any rebuttal 
statement include data from an external data source, no later than: (1) 
180 days after the end of the 30-day comment period if CMS receives no 
written comments from the community; and (2) 180 days after the end of 
the 30-day rebuttal period if CMS receives written comments from the 
community, regardless of whether the physician-owned hospital 
submitting the request submits a rebuttal statement (Sec.  
411.362(c)(5)(ii)).
    If we grant the request for an exception to the prohibition on 
expansion of facility capacity, the expansion may occur only in 
facilities on the hospital's main campus and may not result in the 
number of operating rooms, procedure rooms, and beds for which the 
hospital is licensed to exceed 200 percent of the hospital's baseline 
number of operating rooms, procedure rooms, and beds (Sec.  
411.362(c)(6)). The CMS decision to grant or deny a hospital's request 
for an exception to the prohibition on expansion of facility capacity 
must be published in the Federal Register in accordance with our 
regulations at Sec.  411.362(c)(7).

III. Hospital Exception Request

    As permitted by section 1877(i)(3) of the Act and our regulations 
at Sec.  411.362(c), the following physician-owned hospital has 
requested an exception to the prohibition on expansion of facility 
capacity:
    Name of Facility: Rockwall Regional Hospital, LLC, d/b/a Texas 
Health Presbyterian Hospital Rockwall.
    Location: 3150 Horizon Road, Rockwall County, Texas 75032-7805.
    Basis for Exception Request: Applicable Hospital.
    We seek comments on this request from individuals and entities in 
the community in which the hospital is located. We encourage interested 
parties to review the hospital's request, which is posted on the CMS 
Web site at: http://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Fraud-and-Abuse/PhysicianSelfReferral/Physician_Owned_Hospitals.html. We especially 
welcome comments regarding whether the hospital qualifies as an 
applicable hospital. Under Sec.  411.362(c)(2), an applicable hospital 
is a hospital that satisfies all of the following criteria:
     The hospital is located in a county that has a percentage 
increase in population that is at least 150 percent of the percentage 
increase in population of the State in which the hospital is located 
during the most recent 5-year period for which data are available as of 
the date that the hospital submits its request.
     The hospital has an annual percent of total inpatient 
admissions under Medicaid that is equal to or greater than the average 
percent with respect to such admissions for all hospitals located in 
the county in which the hospital is located during the most recent 12-
month period for which data are available as of the date that the 
hospital submits its request. The most recent 12-month period for which 
data are available means the most recent 12-month period for which the 
data source used contains all data from the requesting hospital and 
each hospital located in the same county as the requesting hospital.
     The hospital does not discriminate against beneficiaries 
of Federal health care programs and does not permit physicians 
practicing at the hospital to discriminate against such beneficiaries.
     The hospital is located in a State in which the average 
bed capacity in the State is less than the national average bed 
capacity during the most recent fiscal year for which HCRIS, as of the 
date that the hospital submits its request, contains data from a 
sufficient number of hospitals to determine a State's average bed 
capacity and the national average bed capacity.
     The hospital has an average bed occupancy rate that is 
greater than the average bed occupancy rate in the State in which the 
hospital is located during the most recent fiscal year for which HCRIS, 
as of the date that the hospital submits its request, contains data 
from a sufficient number of hospitals to determine the requesting 
hospital's average bed occupancy rate and the relevant State's average 
bed occupancy rate.
    Individuals and entities wishing to submit comments on the 
hospital's request should review the DATES and

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ADDRESSES sections above and state whether or not they are in the 
community in which the hospital is located.

IV. Collection of Information Requirements

    This document does not impose information collection requirements, 
that is, reporting, recordkeeping or third-party disclosure 
requirements. Consequently, there is no need for review by the Office 
of Management and Budget under the authority of the Paperwork Reduction 
Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.).

V. Response to Public Comments

    Because of the large number of public comments we normally receive 
on Federal Register documents, we are not able to acknowledge or 
respond to them individually. We will consider all comments we receive 
by the date and time specified in the DATES section of this preamble, 
and, when we proceed with a subsequent document, we will respond to the 
comments in the preamble to that document.

    Dated: January 6, 2016.
Andrew M. Slavitt,
Acting Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
[FR Doc. 2016-01830 Filed 2-1-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4120-01-P