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AHA Files Lawsuit Contesting the Two-Midnight Rule

With the “doc-fix” bill extending the enforcement delay of the two-midnight rule to March 31, 2015, the American Hospital Association (AHA) has decided to use that time challenging the new inpatient admission rules. Earlier this week, AHA filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia challenging the “arbitrary standards and documentations requirements” of the new inpatient admission rules which “deprive hospitals of Medicare reimbursement to which they are entitled.”

Specifically, AHA is challenging the definition of “inpatient” under the two-midnight rule, alleging that CMS’s “inpatient” definition requiring a patient to spend two nights in the hospital is arbitrary and capricious because it bears no resemblance to the actual definition of “inpatient” and CMS has made no attempt to explain its reasoning for adopting such a meaning. Additionally, AHA is challenging the Final Rule’s application of the one year time limit to file a Part B claim when a Part A inpatient claim is denied as not being medically necessary and reasonable. Recovery audit contractors (RACs) typically conduct post-payment reviews of inpatient hospital admissions with dates of admission in which the one year rebilling deadline has already elapsed. Finally, AHA asserts that CMS’s new requirement that all short-stay inpatient admissions include a physician order for admission as a condition of Part A payment is unlawful. Through its lawsuit, AHA seeks for the court to vacate and set aside the two-midnight rule, the one year time limit, and the physician order policy.

Wachler & Associates will continue to monitor the current AHA lawsuit, as well as any further developments regarding CMS’s new inpatient admission policies. If you have any questions pertaining to the two-midnight rule or the physician certification and order requirements, please contact an experienced health care attorney at Wachler & Associates via phone at 248-544-0888 or via email at wapc@wachler.com.