Skip to Content

Proposed Rule

Medicare Program: Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment and Ambulatory Surgical Center Payment Systems and Quality Reporting Programs; Price Transparency of Hospital Standard Charges; Radiation Oncology Model; Request for Information on Rural Emergency Hospitals

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Document Statistics
Document page views are updated periodically throughout the day and are cumulative counts for this document. Counts are subject to sampling, reprocessing and revision (up or down) throughout the day.
Enhanced Content

Relevant information about this document from Regulations.gov provides additional context. This information is not part of the official Federal Register document.

Published Document

This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

Start Preamble Start Printed Page 42018

AGENCY:

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Depatment of Health and Human Services (HHS).

ACTION:

Proposed rule.

SUMMARY:

This proposed rule would revise the Medicare hospital outpatient prospective payment system (OPPS) and the Medicare ambulatory surgical center (ASC) payment system for Calendar Year (CY) 2022 based on our continuing experience with these systems. In this proposed rule, we describe the proposed changes to the amounts and factors used to determine the payment rates for Medicare services paid under the OPPS and those paid under the ASC payment system. Also, this proposed rule would update and refine the requirements for the Hospital Outpatient Quality Reporting (OQR) Program and the ASC Quality Reporting (ASCQR) Program, update Hospital Price Transparency requirements, and update and refine the design of the Radiation Oncology Model. Finally, this proposed rule includes a Request for Information (RFI) focusing on the health and safety standards, quality measures and reporting requirements, and payment policies for Rural Emergency Hospitals (REHs), a new Medicare provider type. The RFI will be used to inform future rulemaking for REHs.

DATES:

To be assured consideration, comments must be received at one of the addresses provided below, by September 17, 2021.

ADDRESSES:

In commenting, please refer to file code CMS-1753-P when commenting on the issues in this proposed rule. Because of staff and resource limitations, we cannot accept comments by facsimile (FAX) transmission.

Comments, including mass comment submissions, must be submitted in one of the following three ways (please choose only one of the ways listed):

1. Electronically. You may (and we encourage you to) submit electronic comments on this regulation to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions under the “submit a comment” tab.

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-1753-P, P.O. Box 8010, Baltimore, MD 21244-1850.

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 via express or overnight mail to the following address ONLY: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: CMS-1753-P, Mail Stop C4-26-05, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21244-1850.

b. For delivery in Baltimore, MD—Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21244-1850.

For information on viewing public comments, we refer readers to the beginning of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Advisory Panel on Hospital Outpatient Payment (HOP Panel), contact the HOP Panel mailbox at APCPanel@cms.hhs.gov.

Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) Payment System, contact Scott Talaga via email at Scott.Talaga@cms.hhs.gov or Mitali Dayal via email at Mitali.Dayal2@cms.hhs.gov.

Ambulatory Surgical Center Quality Reporting (ASCQR) Program Administration, Validation, and Reconsideration Issues, contact Anita Bhatia via email at Anita.Bhatia@cms.hhs.gov.

Ambulatory Surgical Center Quality Reporting (ASCQR) Program Measures, contact Cyra Duncan via email Cyra.Duncan@cms.hhs.gov.

Blood and Blood Products, contact Josh McFeeters via email at Joshua.McFeeters@cms.hhs.gov.

Cancer Hospital Payments, contact Scott Talaga via email at Scott.Talaga@cms.hhs.gov.

CMS Web Posting of the OPPS and ASC Payment Files, contact Chuck Braver via email at Chuck.Braver@cms.hhs.gov.

Composite APCs (Low Dose Brachytherapy and Multiple Imaging), contact Au'Sha Washington via email at AuSha.Washington@cms.hhs.gov.

Comprehensive APCs (C-APCs), contact Mitali Dayal via email at Mitali.Dayal2@cms.hhs.gov.

Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting Program—Administration Issues, contact Julia Venanzi, julia.venanzi@cms.hhs.gov.

Hospital Outpatient Quality Reporting (OQR) Program Administration, Validation, and Reconsideration Issues, contact Shaili Patel via email Shaili.Patel@cms.hhs.gov.

Hospital Outpatient Quality Reporting (OQR) Program Measures, contact Janis Grady via email Janis.Grady@cms.hhs.gov.

Hospital Outpatient Visits (Emergency Department Visits and Critical Care Visits), contact Elise Barringer via email at Elise.Barringer@cms.hhs.gov.

Hospital Price Transparency, contact the Hospital Price Transparency email box at PriceTransparencyHospitalCharges@cms.hhs.gov.

Inpatient Only (IPO) Procedures List, contact Au'Sha Washington via email at Ausha.Washington@cms.hhs.gov, or Allison Bramlett via email Allison.Bramlett@cms.hhs.gov, Lela Strong-Holloway via email Lela.Strong@cms.hhs.gov, or Abigail Cesnik at Abigail.Cesnik@cms.hhs.gov.

Medical Review of Certain Inpatient Hospital Admissions under Medicare Part A for CY 2021 and Subsequent Years (2-Midnight Rule), contact Elise Barringer via email at Elise.Barringer@cms.hhs.gov.

New Technology Intraocular Lenses (NTIOLs), contact Scott Talaga via email at Scott.Talaga@cms.hhs.gov.

No Cost/Full Credit and Partial Credit Devices, contact Scott Talaga via email at Scott.Talaga@cms.hhs.gov.

OPPS Brachytherapy, contact Scott Talaga via email at Scott.Talaga@cms.hhs.gov.

OPPS Data (APC Weights, Conversion Factor, Copayments, Cost-to-Charge Ratios (CCRs), Data Claims, Geometric Mean Calculation, Outlier Payments, and Wage Index), contact Erick Chuang via email at Erick.Chuang@cms.hhs.gov, or Scott Talaga via email at Scott.Talaga@cms.hhs.gov, or Josh McFeeters via email at Joshua.McFeeters@cms.hhs.gov.

OPPS Drugs, Radiopharmaceuticals, Biologicals, and Biosimilar Products, contact Josh McFeeters via email at Joshua.McFeeters@cms.hhs.gov, or Gil Ngan via email at Gil.Ngan@cms.hhs.gov, or Cory Duke via email at Cory.Duke@cms.hhs.gov, or Au'Sha Start Printed Page 42019Washington via email at Ausha.Washington@cms.hhs.gov.

OPPS New Technology Procedures/Services, contact the New Technology APC mailbox at NewTechAPCapplications@cms.hhs.gov.

OPPS Packaged Items/Services, contact Mitali Dayal via email at Mitali.Dayal2@cms.hhs.gov or Cory Duke via email at Cory.Duke@cms.hhs.gov.

OPPS Pass-Through Devices, contact the Device Pass-Through mailbox at DevicePTapplications@cms.hhs.gov.

OPPS Status Indicators (SI) and Comment Indicators (CI), contact Marina Kushnirova via email at Marina.Kushnirova@cms.hhs.gov.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) and Community Mental Health Center (CMHC) Issues, contact the PHP Payment Policy Mailbox at PHPPaymentPolicy@cms.hhs.gov.

Rural Hospital Payments, contact Josh McFeeters via email at Joshua.McFeeters@cms.hhs.gov.

Skin Substitutes, contact Josh McFeeters via email at Joshua.McFeeters@cms.hhs.gov.

Supervision of Outpatient Therapeutic Services in Hospitals and CAHs, contact Josh McFeeters via email at Joshua.McFeeters@cms.hhs.gov.

All Other Issues Related to Hospital Outpatient and Ambulatory Surgical Center Payments Not Previously Identified, contact Elise Barringer via email at Elise.Barringer@cms.hhs.gov or at 410-786-9222.

RO Model, contact RadiationTherapy@cms.hhs.gov or at 844-711-2664, Option 5.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

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 website as soon as possible after they have been received: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the search instructions on that website to view public comments. CMS will not post on Regulations.gov public comments that make threats to individuals or institutions or suggest that the individual will take actions to harm the individual. CMS continues to encourage individuals not to submit duplicative comments. We will post acceptable comments from multiple unique commenters even if the content is identical or nearly identical to other comments.

Addenda Available Only Through the Internet on the CMS Website

In the past, a majority of the Addenda referred to in our OPPS/ASC proposed and final rules were published in the Federal Register as part of the annual rulemakings. However, beginning with the CY 2012 OPPS/ASC proposed rule, all of the Addenda no longer appear in the Federal Register as part of the annual OPPS/ASC proposed and final rules to decrease administrative burden and reduce costs associated with publishing lengthy tables. Instead, these Addenda are published and available only on the CMS website. The Addenda relating to the OPPS are available at: https://www.cms.gov/​Medicare/​Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/​HospitalOutpatientPPS/​Hospital-Outpatient-Regulations-and-Notices.

The Addenda relating to the ASC payment system are available at: https://www.cms.gov/​Medicare/​Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/​ASCPayment/​ASC-Regulations-and-Notices.

Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) Copyright Notice

Throughout this proposed rule, we use CPT codes and descriptions to refer to a variety of services. We note that CPT codes and descriptions are copyright 2019 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. CPT is a registered trademark of the American Medical Association (AMA). Applicable Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR and Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations (DFAR) apply.

Table of Contents

I. Summary and Background

A. Executive Summary of This Document

B. Legislative and Regulatory Authority for the Hospital OPPS

C. Excluded OPPS Services and Hospitals

D. Prior Rulemaking

E. Advisory Panel on Hospital Outpatient Payment (the HOP Panel or the Panel)

F. Public Comments Received on the CY 2021 OPPS/ASC Final Rule with Comment Period

II. Proposed Updates Affecting OPPS Payments

A. Proposed Recalibration of APC Relative Payment Weights

B. Proposed Conversion Factor Update

C. Proposed Wage Index Changes

D. Proposed Statewide Average Default Cost-to-Charge Ratios (CCRs)

E. Proposed Adjustment for Rural Sole Community Hospitals (SCHs) and Essential Access Community Hospitals (EACHs) under Section 1833(t)(13)(B) of the Act for CY 2021

F. Proposed Payment Adjustment for Certain Cancer Hospitals for CY 2021

G. Proposed Hospital Outpatient Outlier Payments

H. Proposed Calculation of an Adjusted Medicare Payment From the National Unadjusted Medicare Payment

I. Proposed Beneficiary Copayments

III. Proposed OPPS Ambulatory Payment Classification (APC) Group Policies

A. Proposed OPPS Treatment of New and Revised HCPCS Codes

B. Proposed OPPS Changes—Variations Within APCs

C. Proposed New Technology APCs

D. Proposed OPPS APC-Specific Policies

IV. Proposed OPPS Payment for Devices

A. Proposed Pass-Through Payments for Devices

B. Proposed Device-Intensive Procedures

V. Proposed OPPS Payment Changes for Drugs, Biologicals, and Radiopharmaceuticals

A. Proposed OPPS Transitional Pass-Through Payment for Additional Costs of Drugs, Biologicals, and Radiopharmaceuticals

B. Proposed OPPS Payment for Drugs, Biologicals, and Radiopharmaceuticals Without Pass-Through Payment Status

VI. Estimate of OPPS Transitional Pass-Through Spending for Drugs, Biologicals, Radiopharmaceuticals, and Devices

A. Background

B. Proposed Estimate of Pass-Through Spending

VII. Proposed OPPS Payment for Hospital Outpatient Visits and Critical Care Services

VIII. Payment for Partial Hospitalization Services

A. Background

B. Proposed PHP APC Update for CY 2021

C. Proposed Outlier Policy for CMHCs

IX. Proposed Services That Would Be Paid Only as Inpatient Services

A. Background

B. Proposed Changes to the Inpatient Only (IPO) List

C. Comment Solicitation

X. Proposed Nonrecurring Policy Changes

A. Proposed Changes in the Level of Supervision of Outpatient Therapeutic Services in Hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs)

B. Proposed Medical Review of Certain Inpatient Hospital Admissions Under Medicare Part A for CY 2021 and Subsequent Years

XI. Proposed CY 2021 OPPS Payment Status and Comment Indicators

A. Proposed CY 2021 OPPS Payment Status Indicator Definitions

B. Proposed CY 2021 Comment Indicator Definitions

XII. MedPAC Recommendations

A. Proposed OPPS Payment Rates Update

B. Proposed ASC Conversion Factor Update

C. Proposed ASC Cost Data

XIII. Proposed Updates to the Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) Payment System

A. Background

B. Proposed ASC Treatment of New and Revised Codes

C. Proposed Update to the List of ASC Covered Surgical Procedures and Covered Ancillary Services

D. Proposed Update and Payment for ASC Covered Surgical Procedures and Covered Ancillary ServicesStart Printed Page 42020

E. Proposed New Technology Intraocular Lenses (NTIOLs)

F. Proposed ASC Payment and Comment Indicators

G. Proposed Calculation of the ASC Payment Rates and the ASC Conversion Factor

XIV. Advancing to Digital Quality Measurement and the Use of Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) in Outpatient Quality Programs—Request for Information

XV. Proposed Requirements for the Hospital Outpatient Quality Reporting (OQR) Program

A. Background

B. Proposed Hospital OQR Program Quality Measures

C. Administrative Requirements

D. Form, Manner, and Timing of Data Submitted for the Hospital OQR Program

E. Proposed Payment Reduction for Hospitals That Fail To Meet the Hospital OQR Program Requirements for the CY 2021 Payment Determination

XVI. Requirements for the Ambulatory Surgical Center Quality Reporting (ASCQR) Program

A. Background

B. Proposed ASCQR Program Quality Measures

C. Administrative Requirements

D. Form, Manner, and Timing of Data Submitted for the ASCQR Program

E. Proposed Payment Reduction for ASCs That Fail To Meet the ASCQR Program Requirements

XVII. Request for Information on Rural Emergency Hospitals

A. Background

B. Solicitation of Public Comments

C. RO Model Proposed Regulations

XVIII. Radiation Oncology Model

A. Introduction

B. Background

XIX. Proposed Updates to Requirements for Hospitals To Make Public a List of Their Standard Charges

A. Introduction and Overview

B. Proposal To Increase the Civil Monetary Penalty Using a Scaling Factor

C. Proposal To Deem Certain State Forensic Hospitals as Having Met Requirements

D. Proposals Prohibiting Additional Barriers To Accessing the Machine-Readable File

E. Clarifications and Requests for Comment

XX. Additional Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting (IQR) Program Policies

XXI. Additional Medicare Promoting Interoperability Program Policies

XXII. Files Available to the Public via the Internet

XXIII. Collection of Information Requirements

A. Statutory Requirement for Solicitation of Comments

B. ICRs for the Hospital OQR Program

C. ICRs for the ASCQR Program

D. ICRs for [placeholder for any rider]

E. Total Reduction in Burden Hours and in Costs

XXIV. Response to Comments

XXV. Economic Analyses

A. Statement of Need

B. Overall Impact for the Provisions of This Proposed Rule

C. Detailed Economic Analyses

D. Regulatory Review Costs

E. Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) Analysis

F. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act Analysis

G. Federalism Analysis

I. Summary and Background

A. Executive Summary of This Document

1. Purpose

In this proposed rule, we propose to update the payment policies and payment rates for services furnished to Medicare beneficiaries in hospital outpatient departments (HOPDs) and ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs), beginning January 1, 2022. Section 1833(t) of the Social Security Act (the Act) requires us to annually review and update the payment rates for services payable under the Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS). Specifically, section 1833(t)(9)(A) of the Act requires the Secretary to review certain components of the OPPS not less often than annually, and to revise the groups, the relative payment weights, and the wage and other adjustments that take into account changes in medical practices, changes in technology, and the addition of new services, new cost data, and other relevant information and factors. In addition, under section 1833(i)(D)(v) of the Act, we annually review and update the ASC payment rates. This proposed rule also includes additional policy changes made in accordance with our experience with the OPPS and the ASC payment system and recent changes in our statutory authority. We describe these and various other statutory authorities in the relevant sections of this proposed rule. In addition, this proposed rule would update and refine the requirements for the Hospital Outpatient Quality Reporting (OQR) Program and the ASC Quality Reporting (ASCQR) Program.

2. Summary of the Major Provisions

  • OPPS Update: For 2022, we propose to increase the payment rates under the OPPS by an Outpatient Department (OPD) fee schedule increase factor of 2.3 percent. This increase factor is based on the proposed hospital inpatient market basket percentage increase of 2.5 percent for inpatient services paid under the hospital inpatient prospective payment system (IPPS) reduced by a proposed productivity adjustment of 0.2 percentage point. Based on this update, we estimate that total payments to OPPS providers (including beneficiary cost-sharing and estimated changes in enrollment, utilization, and case-mix) for calendar year (CY) 2022 would be approximately $82.704 billion, an increase of approximately $10.757 billion compared to estimated CY 2021 OPPS payments.

We propose to continue to implement the statutory 2.0 percentage point reduction in payments for hospitals that fail to meet the hospital outpatient quality reporting requirements by applying a reporting factor of 0.9805 to the OPPS payments and copayments for all applicable services.

  • Data used in CY 2022 OPPS/ASC Ratesetting: To set CY 2022 OPPS and ASC payment rates, we would normally use the most updated claims and cost report data available. However, because the CY 2020 claims data includes services furnished during the COVID-19 PHE, which significantly affected outpatient service utilization, we have determined that CY 2019 data would better approximate expected CY 2022 outpatient service utilization than CY 2020 data. As a result, we are proposing to utilize CY 2019 data to set CY 2022 OPPS and ASC payment rates.
  • Partial Hospitalization Update: For the CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule, CMS is proposing to use the CMHC and hospital-based PHP (HB PHP) geometric mean per diem costs, consistent with existing methodology, but with a cost floor that would maintain the per diem costs finalized in CY 2021. CMS is also proposing to use CY 2019 claims and cost report data for each provider type. This proposal is consistent with a broader CY 2022 OPPS ratesetting proposal to use claims and cost report data prior to the PHE.
  • Changes to the Inpatient Only (IPO) List: For 2022, we propose to halt the elimination of the IPO list and, after clinical review of the services removed from the IPO list in CY 2021 against our longstanding criteria for removal, we propose to add the 298 services removed from the IPO list in CY 2021 back to the IPO list beginning in CY 2022. CMS is also proposing to codify in regulation the five longstanding criteria used to determine whether a procedure or service should be removed from the IPO list. In addition, we solicit comment on several policy modifications including whether CMS should maintain the longer-term objective of eliminating the IPO list or maintain the IPO list but continue to systematically scale the list back so that inpatient only designations are consistent with current standards of practice.
  • Medical Review of Certain Inpatient Hospital Admissions under Medicare Part A for CY 2021 and Subsequent Years (2-Midnight Rule): For CY 2022, Start Printed Page 42021we propose to exempt procedures that are removed from the inpatient only (IPO) list under the OPPS beginning on or January 1, 2021, from site-of-service claim denials, Beneficiary and Family-Centered Care Quality Improvement Organization (BFCC-QIO) referrals to Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) for persistent noncompliance with the 2-midnight rule, and RAC reviews for “patient status” (that is, site-of-service) for a time period of 2 years.
  • 340B -Acquired Drugs: We propose to continue our current policy of paying an adjusted amount of ASP minus 22.5 percent for drugs and biologicals acquired under the 340B program. We are proposing to continue to exempt Rural SCHs, PPS-exempt cancer hospitals and children's hospitals from our 340B payment policy.
  • Device Pass-Through Payment Applications: For CY 2022, we received eight applications for device pass-through payments. One of these applications (the Shockwave C2 Coronary Intravascular Lithotripsy (IVL) catheter) received preliminary approval for pass-through payment status through our quarterly review process. We are soliciting public comment on all eight of these applications and final determinations on these applications will be made in the CY 2022 OPPS/ASC final rule.
  • Equitable Adjustment for Device Category, Drugs, and Biologicals with Expiring Pass-through Status: As a result of our proposal to use CY 2019 claims data, rather than CY 2020 claims data, to inform CY 2022 ratesetting, we are proposing to use our equitable adjustment authority under 1833(t)(2)(E) to provide up to four quarters of separate payment for 27 drugs and biologicals and one device category whose pass-through payment status will expire between December 31, 2021 and September 30, 2022.
  • Cancer Hospital Payment Adjustment: For 2022, we propose to continue to provide additional payments to cancer hospitals so that a cancer hospital's payment-to-cost ratio (PCR) after the additional payments is equal to the weighted average PCR for the other OPPS hospitals using the most recently submitted or settled cost report data. However, section 16002(b) of the 21st Century Cures Act requires that this weighted average PCR be reduced by 1.0 percentage point. Based on the data and the required 1.0 percentage point reduction, we propose that a target PCR of 0.89 would be used to determine the CY 2022 cancer hospital payment adjustment to be paid at cost report settlement. That is, the payment adjustments will be the additional payments needed to result in a PCR equal to 0.89 for each cancer hospital.
  • ASC Payment Update: For CYs 2019 through 2023, we adopted a policy to update the ASC payment system using the hospital market basket update. Using the hospital market basket methodology, for CY 2022, we propose to increase payment rates under the ASC payment system by 2.3 percent for ASCs that meet the quality reporting requirements under the ASCQR Program. This proposed increase is based on a hospital market basket percentage increase of 2.5 percent reduced by a proposed productivity adjustment of 0.2 percentage point. Based on this proposed update, we estimate that total payments to ASCs (including beneficiary cost-sharing and estimated changes in enrollment, utilization, and case-mix) for CY 2022 would be approximately 5.16 billion, a decrease of approximately 20 million compared to estimated CY 2021 Medicare payments.
  • ASC Payment Policy for Non-Opioid Pain Management Drugs and Biologicals under Section 6082 of the SUPPORT Act (Section 1833(t)(22) of the Social Security Act): Under section 1833(t)(22)(A) of the Act, the Secretary was required to conduct a review (part of which may include a request for information) of payments for opioids and evidence-based non-opioid alternatives for pain management (including drugs and devices, nerve blocks, surgical injections, and neuromodulation) with a goal of ensuring that there are not financial incentives to use opioids instead of non-opioid alternatives. Section 1833(t)(22)(A)(ii) provides that the Secretary may, as the Secretary determines appropriate, conduct subsequent reviews of such payment.

In accordance with our review, for CY 2022, we are proposing to continue to pay separately for two drugs currently receiving separate payment in the ASC setting as non-opioid pain management drugs that function as surgical supplies. For CY 2022, we propose to modify the current non-opioid pain management payment policy and regulatory text to require that evidence-based non opioid alternatives for pain management must have Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, an FDA-approved indication for pain management or analgesia, and for the drugs and biologicals to have a per-day cost in excess of the OPPS drug packaging threshold, which is proposed at $130 for CY 2022 and described in section V.B.1.a., to qualify under this policy. Further, we are soliciting comment on potential additional requirements the Secretary should consider establishing for this policy as well as whether any additional products meet the proposed criteria for CY 2022.

  • Changes to the List of ASC Covered Surgical Procedures: For CY 2022, we are proposing to re-adopt the ASC Covered Procedures List (CPL) criteria that were in effect in CY 2020 and to remove 258 of the 267 procedures that were added to the ASC CPL in CY 2021. We are requesting comments on whether any of the 258 procedures meet the CY 2020 criteria that we are proposing to reinstate. We are also proposing to change the notification process adopted in CY 2021 to a nomination process, under which stakeholders could nominate procedures they believe meet the requirements to be added to the ASC CPL. The formal nomination process would begin in CY 2023.

Hospital Outpatient Quality Reporting (OQR) Program: For the Hospital OQR Program, we are proposing changes for the CY 2023, CY 2024, CY 2025, and CY 2026 payment determinations and subsequent years. For the Hospital OQR Program measure set, we are proposing to: (1) Remove the OP-02: Fibrinolytic Therapy Received Within 30 Minutes of ED Arrival measure beginning with the CY 2025 payment determination; (2) remove the OP-03: Median Time to Transfer to Another Facility for Acute Coronary Intervention measure beginning with the CY 2025 payment determination; (3) adopt the COVID-19 Vaccination Coverage Among Health Care Personnel (HCP) measure beginning with the CY 2024 payment determination; (4) adopt the Breast Screening Recall Rates measure beginning with the CY 2023 payment determination; (5) adopt the ST-Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) electronic clinical quality measure (eCQM) beginning with voluntary reporting for the CY 2023 reporting period and mandatory reporting beginning with the CY 2024 reporting period/CY 2026 payment determination; (6) make voluntary the reporting of the OP-37a-e: Outpatient and Ambulatory Surgery Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (OAS CAHPS) Survey-based measures beginning with the CY 2023 reporting period and mandatory beginning with the CY 2024 reporting period/CY 2026 payment determination; and (7) make mandatory the reporting of the OP-31: Cataracts: Improvement in Patient's Visual Function within 90 Days Following Cataract Surgery measure beginning with the CY 2025 payment determination. In addition, we are proposing data submission Start Printed Page 42022requirements for the OAS CAHPS Survey-based measures and the COVID-19 Vaccination Coverage Among HCP measure. Similarly, we are proposing data submission and certification requirements for eCQMs and expanding our Extraordinary Circumstances Exemption (ECE) policy to these measures.

Beginning with the CY 2024 payment determination, we are proposing three updates to our validation requirements by proposing to: (1) Use electronic file submissions for chart-abstracted measure medical record requests; (2) change the chart validation requirements and methods; and (3) update the targeting criteria. We are also requesting comment from stakeholders on: (1) The potential future development and inclusion of a patient-reported outcomes measure following elective total hip and/or total knee arthroplasty (THA/TKA); (2) the possibility of expanding our current disparities methods to include reporting by race and ethnicity; and (3) the possibility of hospital collection of standardized demographic information for quality reporting and measure stratification. We are also requesting feedback across programs on potential actions and priority areas that would enable the continued transformation of our quality measurement toward greater digital capture of data and use of the FHIR standard.

  • Ambulatory Surgical Center Quality Reporting (ASCQR) Program: For the ASCQR Program, we are proposing changes for the CY 2024, CY 2025, and CY 2026 payment determinations and subsequent years. For the ASCQR Program measure set, we are proposing to: (1) Adopt the COVID-19 Vaccination Coverage Among HCP measure beginning with the CY 2024 payment determination; (2) resume data collection for four measures beginning with the CY 2025 payment determination: (a) ASC-1: Patient Burn; (b) ASC-2: Patient Fall; (c) ASC-3: Wrong Site, Wrong Side, Wrong Patient, Wrong Procedure, Wrong Implant; and (d) ASC-4: All-Cause Hospital Transfer/Admission; (3) require the ASC-11: Cataracts: Improvement in Patient's Visual Function within 90 Days Following Cataract Surgery measure beginning with the CY 2025 payment determination; and (4) require the ASC-15a-e: OAS CAHPS Survey-based measures with voluntary reporting beginning with the CY 2023 reporting period and mandatory reporting beginning with the CY 2024 reporting period/CY 2026 payment determination. In addition, we are proposing data submission requirements for the OAS CAHPS Survey-based measures and the COVID-19 Vaccination Coverage Among HCP measure.

We are requesting stakeholder comment on: (1) The potential future development and inclusion of a patient-reported outcomes measure following elective THA/TKA; (2) potential measurement approaches or social risk factors that influence health disparities in the ASC setting; and (3) the future inclusion of a measure to assess pain management surgical procedures performed in ASCs. In this proposed rule, we are also requesting feedback across programs on potential actions and priority areas that would enable the continued transformation of our quality measurement toward greater digital capture of data and use of the FHIR standard.

  • Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting (IQR) Program Update: In this proposed rule, we are requesting information from stakeholders on potential measure updates on reporting and submission requirements for the Safe Use of Opioids—Concurrent Prescribing eCQM.
  • Updates to Requirements for Hospitals to Make Public a List of Their Standard Charges: We are proposing to amend several hospital price transparency policies codified at 45 CFR part 180 in order to encourage compliance. We are proposing to: (1) Increase the amount of the penalties for noncompliance through the use of a proposed scaling factor based on hospital bed count; (2) deem state forensic hospitals that meet certain requirements to be in compliance with the requirements of 45 CFR part 180; and (3) prohibit certain conduct that we have concluded are barriers to accessing the standard charge information. In addition, we clarify the expected output of hospital online price estimator tools when hospitals choose to use an online price estimator tool in lieu of posting its standard charges for the required shoppable services in a consumer-friendly format. Finally, we seek comment on a variety of issues that we may consider in future rulemaking, including improving standardization of the data disclosed by hospitals.
  • Request for Information on Rural Emergency Hospitals (REHs):

Congress enacted section 125 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) of 2021, which establishes REHs as a new provider type. In accordance with the statutory requirements in the CAA, REHs will provide emergency department services, observation care, and, at the election of the REH, other medical and health services on an outpatient basis, as specified by the Secretary through rulemaking. Additionally, REHs must not provide acute care inpatient services, with the exception of skilled nursing facility services furnished in a distinct part unit. The REH must have a staffed emergency department 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with staffing requirements similar to those for Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs). The CAA provides that the statutory provisions governing Medicare payment to REHs shall apply to items and services furnished on or after January 1, 2023. We are seeking public comment via a Request for Information on the health and safety standards, payment policies, the REH enrollment process, and quality measures and reporting requirements for REHs to inform our policy making as we establish this new provider type.

  • Radiation Oncology Model (RO Model): Section 133 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA), 2021 (Pub. L. 116-260), enacted on December 27, 2020, included a provision that prohibits the RO Model from beginning before January 1, 2022. This law supersedes the RO Model delayed start date established in the CY 2021 OPPS/ASC final rule. In this proposed rule, we are proposing provisions related to the additional delayed implementation due to the CAA, 2021, as well as modifications to certain RO Model policies not related to the delay. These proposals if finalized would necessitate modifying 42 CFR 512.205, 512.210, 512.217, 512.220, 512.230, 512.240, 512.245, 512.250, 512.255, 512.275, 512.280, and 512.285 and add 42 CFR 512.292 and 512.294.
  • Comment Solicitation on Temporary Policies for the PHE for COVID-19: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, CMS undertook emergency rulemaking to implement a number of flexibilities to address the pandemic, such as preventing spread of the infection and supporting diagnosis of COVID-19. While many of these flexibilities will expire at the conclusion of the PHE, we are seeking comment on whether there are certain policies that should be made permanent. Specifically, we are seeking comment on services furnished by hospital staff to beneficiaries in their homes through use of communication technology, direct supervision when the supervising practitioner is available through two-way, audio/video communication technology, and code and payment for COVID-19 specimen collection.
  • Changes to Beneficiary Coinsurance for Colorectal Cancer Screening Test: Section 122 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) of 2021 amends section 1833(a) of the Act to Start Printed Page 42023offer a special coinsurance rule for screening flexible sigmoidoscopies and screening colonoscopies regardless of the code that is billed for the establishment of a diagnosis as a result of the test, or for the removal of tissue or other matter or other procedure, that is furnished in connection with, as a result of, and in the same clinical encounter as the colorectal cancer screening test. We propose that all surgical services furnished on the same date as a planned screening colonoscopy or planned flexible sigmoidoscopy could be viewed as being furnished in connection with, as a result of, and in the same clinical encounter as the screening test for purposes of determining the coinsurance required of Medicare beneficiaries for planned colorectal cancer screening tests that result in additional procedures furnished in the same clinical encounter.

3. Summary of Costs and Benefit

In sections XXIV. and XXV. of this proposed rule, we set forth a detailed analysis of the regulatory and federalism impacts that the changes would have on affected entities and beneficiaries. Key estimated impacts are described below.

a. Impacts of All OPPS Changes

Table U1 in section XXIV.B of this proposed rule displays the distributional impact of all the OPPS changes on various groups of hospitals and CMHCs for CY 2021 compared to all estimated OPPS payments in CY 2020. We estimate that the policies in this proposed rule would result in a 1.8 percent overall increase in OPPS payments to providers. We estimate that total OPPS payments for CY 2021, including beneficiary cost-sharing, to the approximately 3,662 facilities paid under the OPPS (including general acute care hospitals, children's hospitals, cancer hospitals, and CMHCs) would increase by approximately $1.3 billion compared to CY 2020 payments, excluding our estimated changes in enrollment, utilization, and case-mix.

We estimated the isolated impact of our OPPS policies on CMHCs because CMHCs are only paid for partial hospitalization services under the OPPS. Continuing the provider-specific structure we adopted beginning in CY 2011, and basing payment fully on the type of provider furnishing the service, we estimate a 1.6 percent increase in CY 2021 payments to CMHCs relative to their CY 2020 payments.

b. Impacts of the Proposed Updated Wage Indexes

We estimate that our proposed update of the wage indexes based on the FY 2022 IPPS proposed rule wage indexes would result in no change for urban hospitals under the OPPS and no change for rural hospitals. These wage indexes include the continued implementation of the OMB labor market area delineations based on 2010 Decennial Census data, with updates, as discussed in section II.C. of this proposed rule.

c. Impacts of the Proposed Rural Adjustment and the Cancer Hospital Payment Adjustment

There are no significant impacts of our CY 2022 payment policies for hospitals that are eligible for the rural adjustment or for the cancer hospital payment adjustment. We are not proposing to make any change in policies for determining the rural hospital payment adjustments. While we propose to implement the reduction to the cancer hospital payment adjustment for CY 2022 required by section 1833(t)(18)(C) of the Act, as added by section 16002(b) of the 21st Century Cures Act, the target payment-to-cost ratio (PCR) for CY 2021 is 0.89, equivalent to the 0.89 target PCR for CY 2021, and therefore has no budget neutrality adjustment.

d. Impacts of the Proposed OPD Fee Schedule Increase Factor

For the CY 2021 OPPS/ASC, we propose to establish an OPD fee schedule increase factor of 2.3 percent and apply that increase factor to the conversion factor for CY 2021. As a result of the OPD fee schedule increase factor and other budget neutrality adjustments, we estimate that urban hospitals will experience an increase in payments of approximately 2.3 percent and that rural hospitals would experience an increase in payments of 2.3 percent. Classifying hospitals by teaching status, we estimate nonteaching hospitals would experience an increase in payments of 2.5 percent, minor teaching hospitals would experience an increase in payments of 2.3 percent, and major teaching hospitals would experience an increase in payments of 2.2 percent. We also classified hospitals by the type of ownership. We estimate that hospitals with voluntary ownership would experience an increase of 2.3 percent in payments, while hospitals with government ownership would experience an increase of 2.4 percent in payments. We estimate that hospitals with proprietary ownership would experience an increase of 2.5 percent in payments.

e. Impacts of the Proposed ASC Payment Update

For impact purposes, the surgical procedures on the ASC covered surgical procedure list are aggregated into surgical specialty groups using CPT and HCPCS code range definitions. The percentage change in estimated total payments by specialty groups under the CY 2022 payment rates, compared to estimated CY 2021 payment rates, generally ranges between an increase of 2 and 4 percent, depending on the service, with some exceptions. We estimate the impact of applying the hospital market basket update to ASC payment rates would increase payments by $90 million under the ASC payment system in CY 2022.

B. Legislative and Regulatory Authority for the Hospital OPPS

When Title XVIII of the Act was enacted, Medicare payment for hospital outpatient services was based on hospital-specific costs. In an effort to ensure that Medicare and its beneficiaries pay appropriately for services and to encourage more efficient delivery of care, the Congress mandated replacement of the reasonable cost-based payment methodology with a prospective payment system (PPS). The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (BBA) (Pub. L. 105-33) added section 1833(t) to the Act, authorizing implementation of a PPS for hospital outpatient services. The OPPS was first implemented for services furnished on or after August 1, 2000. Implementing regulations for the OPPS are located at 42 CFR parts 410 and 419.

The Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Balanced Budget Refinement Act of 1999 (BBRA) (Pub. L. 106-113) made major changes in the hospital OPPS. The following Acts made additional changes to the OPPS: The Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Benefits Improvement and Protection Act of 2000 (BIPA) (Pub. L. 106-554); the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA) (Pub. L. 108-173); the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA) (Pub. L. 109-171), enacted on February 8, 2006; the Medicare Improvements and Extension Act under Division B of Title I of the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 (MIEA-TRHCA) (Pub. L. 109-432), enacted on December 20, 2006; the Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Extension Act of 2007 (MMSEA) (Pub. L. 110-173), enacted on December 29, 2007; the Medicare Improvements Start Printed Page 42024for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA) (Pub. L. 110-275), enacted on July 15, 2008; the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Pub. L. 111-148), enacted on March 23, 2010, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (Pub. L. 111-152), enacted on March 30, 2010 (these two public laws are collectively known as the Affordable Care Act); the Medicare and Medicaid Extenders Act of 2010 (MMEA, Pub. L. 111-309); the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011 (TPTCCA, Pub. L. 112-78), enacted on December 23, 2011; the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (MCTRJCA, Pub. L. 112-96), enacted on February 22, 2012; the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (Pub. L. 112-240), enacted January 2, 2013; the Pathway for SGR Reform Act of 2013 (Pub. L. 113-67) enacted on December 26, 2013; the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (PAMA, Pub. L. 113-93), enacted on March 27, 2014; the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015 (Pub. L. 114-10), enacted April 16, 2015; the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (Pub. L. 114-74), enacted November 2, 2015; the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (Pub. L. 114-113), enacted on December 18, 2015, the 21st Century Cures Act (Pub. L. 114-255), enacted on December 13, 2016; the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (Pub. L. 115-141), enacted on March 23, 2018; the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act (Pub. L. 115-271), enacted on October 24, 2018; the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (Pub. L. 116-94), enacted on December 20, 2019; the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (Pub. L. 116-136), enacted on March 27, 2020; and the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (Pub. L. 116-260), enacted on December 27, 2020.

Under the OPPS, we generally pay for hospital Part B services on a rate-per-service basis that varies according to the APC group to which the service is assigned. We use the Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) (which includes certain Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes) to identify and group the services within each APC. The OPPS includes payment for most hospital outpatient services, except those identified in section I.C. of this proposed rule. Section 1833(t)(1)(B) of the Act provides for payment under the OPPS for hospital outpatient services designated by the Secretary (which includes partial hospitalization services furnished by CMHCs), and certain inpatient hospital services that are paid under Medicare Part B.

The OPPS rate is an unadjusted national payment amount that includes the Medicare payment and the beneficiary copayment. This rate is divided into a labor-related amount and a nonlabor-related amount. The labor-related amount is adjusted for area wage differences using the hospital inpatient wage index value for the locality in which the hospital or CMHC is located.

All services and items within an APC group are comparable clinically and with respect to resource use, as required by section 1833(t)(2)(B) of the Act. In accordance with section 1833(t)(2)(B) of the Act, subject to certain exceptions, items and services within an APC group cannot be considered comparable with respect to the use of resources if the highest median cost (or mean cost, if elected by the Secretary) for an item or service in the APC group is more than 2 times greater than the lowest median cost (or mean cost, if elected by the Secretary) for an item or service within the same APC group (referred to as the “2 times rule”). In implementing this provision, we generally use the cost of the item or service assigned to an APC group.

For new technology items and services, special payments under the OPPS may be made in one of two ways. Section 1833(t)(6) of the Act provides for temporary additional payments, which we refer to as “transitional pass-through payments,” for at least 2 but not more than 3 years for certain drugs, biological agents, brachytherapy devices used for the treatment of cancer, and categories of other medical devices. For new technology services that are not eligible for transitional pass-through payments, and for which we lack sufficient clinical information and cost data to appropriately assign them to a clinical APC group, we have established special APC groups based on costs, which we refer to as New Technology APCs. These New Technology APCs are designated by cost bands which allow us to provide appropriate and consistent payment for designated new procedures that are not yet reflected in our claims data. Similar to pass-through payments, an assignment to a New Technology APC is temporary; that is, we retain a service within a New Technology APC until we acquire sufficient data to assign it to a clinically appropriate APC group.

C. Excluded OPPS Services and Hospitals

Section 1833(t)(1)(B)(i) of the Act authorizes the Secretary to designate the hospital outpatient services that are paid under the OPPS. While most hospital outpatient services are payable under the OPPS, section 1833(t)(1)(B)(iv) of the Act excludes payment for ambulance, physical and occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology services, for which payment is made under a fee schedule. It also excludes screening mammography, diagnostic mammography, and effective January 1, 2011, an annual wellness visit providing personalized prevention plan services. The Secretary exercises the authority granted under the statute to also exclude from the OPPS certain services that are paid under fee schedules or other payment systems. Such excluded services include, for example, the professional services of physicians and nonphysician practitioners paid under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS); certain laboratory services paid under the Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule (CLFS); services for beneficiaries with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) that are paid under the ESRD prospective payment system; and services and procedures that require an inpatient stay that are paid under the hospital IPPS. In addition, section 1833(t)(1)(B)(v) of the Act does not include applicable items and services (as defined in subparagraph (A) of paragraph (21)) that are furnished on or after January 1, 2017 by an off-campus outpatient department of a provider (as defined in subparagraph (B) of paragraph (21)). We set forth the services that are excluded from payment under the OPPS in regulations at 42 CFR 419.22.

Under § 419.20(b) of the regulations, we specify the types of hospitals that are excluded from payment under the OPPS. These excluded hospitals are:

  • Critical access hospitals (CAHs);
  • Hospitals located in Maryland and paid under Maryland's All-Payer or Total Cost of Care Model;
  • Hospitals located outside of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico; and
  • Indian Health Service (IHS) hospitals.

D. Prior Rulemaking

On April 7, 2000, we published in the Federal Register a final rule with comment period (65 FR 18434) to implement a prospective payment system for hospital outpatient services. The hospital OPPS was first implemented for services furnished on or after August 1, 2000. Section 1833(t)(9)(A) of the Act requires the Secretary to review certain components of the OPPS, not less often than Start Printed Page 42025annually, and to revise the groups, the relative payment weights, and the wage and other adjustments to take into account changes in medical practices, changes in technology, the addition of new services, new cost data, and other relevant information and factors.

Since initially implementing the OPPS, we have published final rules in the Federal Register annually to implement statutory requirements and changes arising from our continuing experience with this system. These rules can be viewed on the CMS website at: https://www.cms.gov/​Medicare/​Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/​HospitalOutpatientPPS/​Hospital-Outpatient-Regulations-and-Notices.html.

E. Advisory Panel on Hospital Outpatient Payment (the HOP Panel or the Panel)

1. Authority of the Panel

Section 1833(t)(9)(A) of the Act, as amended by section 201(h) of Public Law 106-113, and redesignated by section 202(a)(2) of Public Law 106-113, requires that we consult with an expert outside advisory panel composed of an appropriate selection of representatives of providers to annually review (and advise the Secretary concerning) the clinical integrity of the payment groups and their weights under the OPPS. In CY 2000, based on section 1833(t)(9)(A) of the Act, the Secretary established the Advisory Panel on Ambulatory Payment Classification Groups (APC Panel) to fulfill this requirement. In CY 2011, based on section 222 of the Public Health Service Act, which gives discretionary authority to the Secretary to convene advisory councils and committees, the Secretary expanded the panel's scope to include the supervision of hospital outpatient therapeutic services in addition to the APC groups and weights. To reflect this new role of the panel, the Secretary changed the panel's name to the Advisory Panel on Hospital Outpatient Payment (the HOP Panel or the Panel). The HOP Panel is not restricted to using data compiled by CMS, and in conducting its review, it may use data collected or developed by organizations outside the Department.

2. Establishment of the Panel

On November 21, 2000, the Secretary signed the initial charter establishing the Panel, and, at that time, named the APC Panel. This expert panel is composed of appropriate representatives of providers (currently employed full-time, not as consultants, in their respective areas of expertise) who review clinical data and advise CMS about the clinical integrity of the APC groups and their payment weights. Since CY 2012, the Panel also is charged with advising the Secretary on the appropriate level of supervision for individual hospital outpatient therapeutic services. The Panel is technical in nature, and it is governed by the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). The current charter specifies, among other requirements, that the Panel—

  • May advise on the clinical integrity of Ambulatory Payment Classification (APC) groups and their associated weights;
  • May advise on the appropriate supervision level for hospital outpatient services;
  • May advise on OPPS APC rates for ASC covered surgical procedures;
  • Continues to be technical in nature;
  • Is governed by the provisions of the FACA;
  • Has a Designated Federal Official (DFO); and
  • Is chaired by a Federal Official designated by the Secretary.

The Panel's charter was amended on November 15, 2011, renaming the Panel and expanding the Panel's authority to include supervision of hospital outpatient therapeutic services and to add critical access hospital (CAH) representation to its membership. The Panel's charter was also amended on November 6, 2014 (80 FR 23009), and the number of members was revised from up to 19 to up to 15 members. The Panel's current charter was approved on November 20, 2020, for a 2-year period.

The current Panel membership and other information pertaining to the Panel, including its charter, Federal Register notices, membership, meeting dates, agenda topics, and meeting reports, can be viewed on the CMS website at: https://www.cms.gov/​Regulations-and-Guidance/​Guidance/​FACA/​AdvisoryPanelonAmbulatoryPaymentClassificationGroups.html.

3. Panel Meetings and Organizational Structure

The Panel has held many meetings, with the last meeting taking place on August 31, 2020. Prior to each meeting, we publish a notice in the Federal Register to announce the meeting, new members, and any other changes of which the public should be aware. Beginning in CY 2017, we have transitioned to one meeting per year (81 FR 31941). In CY 2018, we published a Federal Register notice requesting nominations to fill vacancies on the Panel (83 FR 3715). As published in this notice, CMS is accepting nominations on a continuous basis.

In addition, the Panel has established an administrative structure that, in part, currently includes the use of three subcommittee workgroups to provide preparatory meeting and subject support to the larger panel. The three current subcommittees include the following:

  • APC Groups and Status Indicator Assignments Subcommittee, which advises and provides recommendations to the Panel on the appropriate status indicators to be assigned to HCPCS codes, including but not limited to whether a HCPCS code or a category of codes should be packaged or separately paid, as well as the appropriate APC assignment of HCPCS codes regarding services for which separate payment is made;
  • Data Subcommittee, which is responsible for studying the data issues confronting the Panel and for recommending options for resolving them; and
  • Visits and Observation Subcommittee, which reviews and makes recommendations to the Panel on all technical issues pertaining to observation services and hospital outpatient visits paid under the OPPS.

Each of these workgroup subcommittees was established by a majority vote from the full Panel during a scheduled Panel meeting, and the Panel recommended at the August 31, 2020, meeting that the subcommittees continue. We accepted this recommendation.

Discussions of the other recommendations made by the Panel at the August 31, 2020 Panel meeting, namely APC assignments for certain CPT codes, a comprehensive APC for skin substitute products, a comprehensive APC for autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, and packaging policies, were discussed in relevant specific sections in the CY 2021 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (85 FR 85866). For discussions of earlier Panel meetings and recommendations, we refer readers to previously published OPPS/ASC proposed and final rules, the CMS website mentioned earlier in this section, and the FACA database at http://facadatabase.gov.

F. Public Comments Received on the CY 2020 OPPS/ASC Final Rule With Comment Period

We received approximately 32 timely pieces of correspondence on the CY 2021 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period that appeared in the Federal Register on December 2, 2020 (85 FR 85866), most of which were Start Printed Page 42026outside of the scope of the final rule. In-scope comments related to the interim APC assignments and/or status indicators of new or replacement Level II HCPCS codes (identified with comment indicator “NI” in OPPS Addendum B, ASC Addendum AA, and ASC Addendum BB to that final rule).

II. Proposed Updates Affecting OPPS Payments

A. Proposed Recalibration of APC Relative Payment Weights

1. Database Construction

a. Use of CY 2019 Data in the CY 2022 OPPS Ratesetting

We primarily use two data sources in OPPS ratesetting: Claims data and cost report data. Our goal is always to use the best available data overall for ratesetting. Ordinarily, the best available full year of claims data would be 2 years prior to the calendar year that is the subject of the rulemaking. As discussed in further detail in Section X.E. of this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule, given our concerns with CY 2020 data as a result of the COVID-19 PHE, in general, we are proposing to use CY 2019 claims data and the data components related to it in establishing the CY 2022 OPPS.

b. Database Source and Methodology

Section 1833(t)(9)(A) of the Act requires that the Secretary review not less often than annually and revise the relative payment weights for APCs. In the April 7, 2000 OPPS final rule with comment period (65 FR 18482), we explained in detail how we calculated the relative payment weights that were implemented on August 1, 2000 for each APC group.

For the CY 2022 OPPS, we propose to recalibrate the APC relative payment weights for services furnished on or after January 1, 2022, and before January 1, 2023 (CY 2022), using the same basic methodology that we described in the CY 2021 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (85 FR 85873), using CY 2019 claims data. That is, we propose to recalibrate the relative payment weights for each APC based on claims and cost report data for hospital outpatient department (HOPD) services to construct a database for calculating APC group weights.

For the purpose of recalibrating the proposed APC relative payment weights for CY 2022, we began with approximately 180 million final action claims (claims for which all disputes and adjustments have been resolved and payment has been made) for HOPD services furnished on or after January 1, 2019, and before January 1, 2020, before applying our exclusionary criteria and other methodological adjustments. After the application of those data processing changes, we used approximately 93 million final action claims to develop the proposed CY 2022 OPPS payment weights. For exact numbers of claims used and additional details on the claims accounting process, we refer readers to the claims accounting narrative under supporting documentation for this proposed rule on the CMS website at: http://www.cms.gov/​Medicare/​Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/​HospitalOutpatientPPS/​index.html.

Addendum N to this proposed rule (which is available via the internet on the CMS website) includes the proposed list of bypass codes for CY 2022. The proposed list of bypass codes contains codes that are reported on claims for services in CY 2019 and, therefore, includes codes that were in effect in CY 2019 and used for billing. We propose to retain deleted bypass codes on the proposed CY 2022 bypass list because these codes existed in CY 2019 and were covered OPD services in that period, and CY 2019 claims data were used to calculate proposed CY 2022 payment rates. Keeping these deleted bypass codes on the bypass list potentially allows us to create more “pseudo” single procedure claims for ratesetting purposes. “Overlap bypass codes” that are members of the proposed multiple imaging composite APCs are identified by asterisks (*) in the third column of Addendum N to the proposed rule. HCPCS codes that we propose to add for CY 2022 are identified by asterisks (*) in the fourth column of Addendum N.

c. Proposed Calculation and Use of Cost-to-Charge Ratios (CCRs)

For 2022, we propose to continue to use the hospital-specific overall ancillary and departmental cost-to-charge ratios (CCRs) to convert charges to estimated costs through application of a revenue code-to-cost center crosswalk. To calculate the APC costs on which the CY 2022 APC payment rates are based, we calculated hospital-specific overall ancillary CCRs and hospital-specific departmental CCRs for each hospital for which we had CY 2019 claims data by comparing these claims data to hospital cost reports available for the CY 2021 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period ratesetting, which, in most cases, are from CY 2019. For the proposed CY 2022 OPPS payment rates, we used the set of CY 2019 claims processed through June 30, 2020. We applied the hospital-specific CCR to the hospital's charges at the most detailed level possible, based on a revenue code-to-cost center crosswalk that contains a hierarchy of CCRs used to estimate costs from charges for each revenue code. To ensure the completeness of the revenue code-to-cost center crosswalk, we reviewed changes to the list of revenue codes for CY 2019 (the year of claims data we used to calculate the proposed CY 2022 OPPS payment rates) and updates to the NUBC 2020 Data Specifications Manual. That crosswalk is available for review and continuous comment on the CMS website at: http://www.cms.gov/​Medicare/​Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/​HospitalOutpatientPPS/​index.html.

In accordance with our longstanding policy, we calculate CCRs for the standard and nonstandard cost centers accepted by the electronic cost report database. In general, the most detailed level at which we calculate CCRs is the hospital-specific departmental level. For a discussion of the hospital-specific overall ancillary CCR calculation, we refer readers to the CY 2007 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (71 FR 67983 through 67985). The calculation of blood costs is a longstanding exception (since the CY 2005 OPPS) to this general methodology for calculation of CCRs used for converting charges to costs on each claim. This exception is discussed in detail in the CY 2007 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period and discussed further in section II.A.2.a.(1) of this proposed rule.

In the CY 2014 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (78 FR 74840 through 74847), we finalized our policy of creating new cost centers and distinct CCRs for implantable devices, magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs), computed tomography (CT) scans, and cardiac catheterization. However, in response to comments we received from our CY 2014 OPPS/ASC proposed rule, we finalized a policy in the CY 2014 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (78 FR 74847) to remove claims from providers that use a cost allocation method of “square feet” to calculate CCRs used to estimate costs associated with the APCs for CT and MRI. As finalized in the CY 2020 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (84 FR 61152), beginning in CY 2021, we use all claims with valid CT and MRI cost center CCRs, including those that use a “square feet” cost allocation method, to estimate costs for the CT and MRI APCs.

2. Proposed Data Development and Calculation of Costs Used for Ratesetting

In this section of this proposed rule, we discuss the use of claims to calculate the OPPS payment rates for CY 2022. Start Printed Page 42027The Hospital OPPS page on the CMS website on which this proposed rule is posted (http://www.cms.gov/​Medicare/​Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/​HospitalOutpatientPPS/​index.html) provides an accounting of claims used in the development of the proposed payment rates. That accounting provides additional detail regarding the number of claims derived at each stage of the process. In addition, later in this section we discuss the file of claims that comprises the data set that is available upon payment of an administrative fee under a CMS data use agreement. The CMS website, http://www.cms.gov/​Medicare/​Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/​HospitalOutpatientPPS/​index.html, includes information about obtaining the “OPPS Limited Data Set,” which now includes the additional variables previously available only in the OPPS Identifiable Data Set, including ICD-10-CM diagnosis codes and revenue code payment amounts. This file is derived from the CY 2019 claims that were used to calculate the proposed payment rates for this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule.

Previously, the OPPS established the scaled relative weights on which payments are based using APC median costs, a process described in the CY 2012 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (76 FR 74188). However, as discussed in more detail in section II.A.2.f. of the CY 2013 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (77 FR 68259 through 68271), we finalized the use of geometric mean costs to calculate the relative weights on which the CY 2013 OPPS payment rates were based. While this policy changed the cost metric on which the relative payments are based, the data process in general remained the same under the methodologies that we used to obtain appropriate claims data and accurate cost information in determining estimated service cost. For 2022, we propose to continue to use geometric mean costs to calculate the relative weights on which the proposed CY 2022 OPPS payment rates are based.

We used the methodology described in sections II.A.2.a. through II.A.2.c. of this proposed rule to calculate the costs we used to establish the proposed relative payment weights used in calculating the OPPS payment rates for CY 2022 shown in Addenda A and B to this proposed rule (which are available via the internet on the CMS website). We refer readers to section II.A.4. of this proposed rule for a discussion of the conversion of APC costs to scaled payment weights.

We note that under the OPPS, CY 2019 was the first year in which the claims data used for setting payment rates (CY 2017 data) contained lines with the modifier “PN”, which indicates nonexcepted items and services furnished and billed by off-campus provider-based departments (PBDs) of hospitals. Because nonexcepted services are not paid under the OPPS, in the CY 2019 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (83 FR 58832), we finalized a policy to remove those claim lines reported with modifier “PN” from the claims data used in ratesetting for the CY 2019 OPPS and subsequent years. For the CY 2022 OPPS, we will continue to remove claim lines with modifier “PN” from the ratesetting process.

For details of the claims accounting process used in this proposed rule, we refer readers to the claims accounting narrative under supporting documentation for this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule on the CMS website at: http://www.cms.gov/​Medicare/​Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/​HospitalOutpatientPPS/​index.html.

a. Proposed Calculation of Single Procedure APC Criteria-Based Costs

(1) Blood and Blood Products

Since the implementation of the OPPS in August 2000, we have made separate payments for blood and blood products through APCs rather than packaging payment for them into payments for the procedures with which they are administered. Hospital payments for the costs of blood and blood products, as well as for the costs of collecting, processing, and storing blood and blood products, are made through the OPPS payments for specific blood product APCs.

We propose to continue to establish payment rates for blood and blood products using our blood-specific CCR methodology, which utilizes actual or simulated CCRs from the most recently available hospital cost reports to convert hospital charges for blood and blood products to costs. This methodology has been our standard ratesetting methodology for blood and blood products since CY 2005. It was developed in response to data analysis indicating that there was a significant difference in CCRs for those hospitals with and without blood-specific cost centers, and past public comments indicating that the former OPPS policy of defaulting to the overall hospital CCR for hospitals not reporting a blood-specific cost center often resulted in an underestimation of the true hospital costs for blood and blood products. Specifically, to address the differences in CCRs and to better reflect hospitals' costs, we propose to continue to simulate blood CCRs for each hospital that does not report a blood cost center by calculating the ratio of the blood-specific CCRs to hospitals' overall CCRs for those hospitals that do report costs and charges for blood cost centers. We also propose to apply this mean ratio to the overall CCRs of hospitals not reporting costs and charges for blood cost centers on their cost reports to simulate blood-specific CCRs for those hospitals. We propose to calculate the costs upon which the proposed CY 2022 payment rates for blood and blood products are based using the actual blood-specific CCR for hospitals that reported costs and charges for a blood cost center and a hospital-specific, simulated blood-specific CCR for hospitals that did not report costs and charges for a blood cost center.

We continue to believe that the hospital-specific, simulated blood-specific, CCR methodology better responds to the absence of a blood-specific CCR for a hospital than alternative methodologies, such as defaulting to the overall hospital CCR or applying an average blood-specific CCR across hospitals. Because this methodology takes into account the unique charging and cost accounting structure of each hospital, we believe that it yields more accurate estimated costs for these products. We continue to believe that using this methodology in CY 2022 would result in costs for blood and blood products that appropriately reflect the relative estimated costs of these products for hospitals without blood cost centers and, therefore, for these blood products in general.

We note that we defined a comprehensive APC (C-APC) as a classification for the provision of a primary service and all adjunctive services provided to support the delivery of the primary service. Under this policy, we include the costs of blood and blood products when calculating the overall costs of these C-APCs. We propose to continue to apply the blood-specific CCR methodology described in this section when calculating the costs of the blood and blood products that appear on claims with services assigned to the C-APCs. Because the costs of blood and blood products would be reflected in the overall costs of the C-APCs (and, as a result, in the proposed payment rates of the C-APCs), we propose not to make separate payments for blood and blood products when they appear on the same claims as services assigned to the C-APCs (we refer readers to the CY 2015 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (79 FR 66795 through 66796) for Start Printed Page 42028more information about our policy not to make separate payments for blood and blood products when they appear on the same claims as services assigned to a C-APC).

We refer readers to Addendum B of this proposed rule (which is available via the internet on the CMS website) for the proposed CY 2022 payment rates for blood and blood products (which are generally identified with status indicator “R”). For a more detailed discussion of the blood-specific CCR methodology, we refer readers to the CY 2005 OPPS proposed rule (69 FR 50524 through 50525). For a full history of OPPS payment for blood and blood products, we refer readers to the CY 2008 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (72 FR 66807 through 66810).

For CY 2022, we propose to continue to establish payment rates for blood and blood products using our blood-specific CCR methodology.

(2) Brachytherapy Sources

Section 1833(t)(2)(H) of the Act mandates the creation of additional groups of covered OPD services that classify devices of brachytherapy consisting of a seed or seeds (or radioactive source) (“brachytherapy sources”) separately from other services or groups of services. The statute provides certain criteria for the additional groups. For the history of OPPS payment for brachytherapy sources, we refer readers to prior OPPS final rules, such as the CY 2012 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (77 FR 68240 through 68241). As we have stated in prior OPPS updates, we believe that adopting the general OPPS prospective payment methodology for brachytherapy sources is appropriate for a number of reasons (77 FR 68240). The general OPPS methodology uses costs based on claims data to set the relative payment weights for hospital outpatient services. This payment methodology results in more consistent, predictable, and equitable payment amounts per source across hospitals by averaging the extremely high and low values, in contrast to payment based on hospitals' charges adjusted to costs. We believe that the OPPS methodology, as opposed to payment based on hospitals' charges adjusted to cost, also would provide hospitals with incentives for efficiency in the provision of brachytherapy services to Medicare beneficiaries. Moreover, this approach is consistent with our payment methodology for the vast majority of items and services paid under the OPPS. We refer readers to the CY 2016 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (80 FR 70323 through 70325) for further discussion of the history of OPPS payment for brachytherapy sources.

For CY 2022, except where otherwise indicated, we propose to use the costs derived from CY 2019 claims data to set the proposed CY 2022 payment rates for brachytherapy sources because CY 2019 is the year of data we propose to use to set the proposed payment rates for most other items and services that would be paid under the CY 2022 OPPS. With the exception of the proposed payment rate for brachytherapy source C2645 (Brachytherapy planar source, palladium-103, per square millimeter) and brachytherapy source C2636 (Brachytherapy linear source, non-stranded, palladium-103, per 1 mm), we propose to base the payment rates for brachytherapy sources on the geometric mean unit costs for each source, consistent with the methodology that we propose for other items and services paid under the OPPS, as discussed in section II.A.2. of this proposed rule. We also propose to continue the other payment policies for brachytherapy sources that we finalized and first implemented in the CY 2010 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (74 FR 60537). We propose to pay for the stranded and nonstranded not otherwise specified (NOS) codes, HCPCS codes C2698 (Brachytherapy source, stranded, not otherwise specified, per source) and C2699 (Brachytherapy source, non-stranded, not otherwise specified, per source), at a rate equal to the lowest stranded or nonstranded prospective payment rate for such sources, respectively, on a per-source basis (as opposed to, for example, a per mCi), which is based on the policy we established in the CY 2008 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (72 FR 66785). We also propose to continue the policy we first implemented in the CY 2010 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (74 FR 60537) regarding payment for new brachytherapy sources for which we have no claims data, based on the same reasons we discussed in the CY 2008 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (72 FR 66786; which was delayed until January 1, 2010 by section 142 of Pub. L. 110-275). Specifically, this policy is intended to enable us to assign new HCPCS codes for new brachytherapy sources to their own APCs, with prospective payment rates set based on our consideration of external data and other relevant information regarding the expected costs of the sources to hospitals. The proposed CY 2022 payment rates for brachytherapy sources are included in Addendum B to this proposed rule (which is available via the internet on the CMS website) and identified with status indicator “U”.

For CY 2018, we assigned status indicator “U” (Brachytherapy Sources, Paid under OPPS; separate APC payment) to HCPCS code C2645 (Brachytherapy planar source, palladium-103, per square millimeter) in the absence of claims data and established a payment rate using external data (invoice price) at $4.69 per mm2. For CY 2019, in the absence of sufficient claims data, we continued to establish a payment rate for C2645 at $4.69 per mm2. Our CY 2018 claims data available for the final CY 2020 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period included two claims with a geometric mean cost for HCPCS code C2645 of $1.02 per mm2. In response to comments from stakeholders, we agreed with commenters that given the limited claims data available and a new outpatient indication for C2645, a payment rate for HCPCS code C2645 based on the geometric mean cost of 1.02 per mm2 may not adequately reflect the cost of HCPCS code C2645. In the CY 2020 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period, we finalized our policy to use our equitable adjustment authority under section 1833(t)(2)(E) of the Act, which states that the Secretary shall establish, in a budget neutral manner, other adjustments as determined to be necessary to ensure equitable payments, to maintain the CY 2019 payment rate of $4.69 per mm2 for HCPCS code C2645 for CY 2020. Similarly, in the absence of sufficient claims data to establish an APC payment rate, in the CY 2021 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period, we finalized our policy to use our equitable adjustment authority under section 1833(t)(2)(E) of the Act to maintain the CY 2019 payment rate of $4.69 per mm2 for HCPCS code C2645 for CY 2021.

As discussed in Section X.E. of this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule, given our concerns with CY 2020 data as a result of the COVID-19 PHE, in general we are proposing to use CY 2019 claims data and the data components related to it in establishing the CY 2022 OPPS. Therefore, we are proposing to use our equitable adjustment authority under section 1833(t)(2)(E) of the Act to maintain the CY 2019 payment rate of $4.69 per mm2 for HCPCS code C2645 for CY 2022.

Additionally, for CY 2022 and subsequent calendar years, as discussed in Section X.C., we are proposing to establish a Low Volume APC policy for New Technology APCs, clinical APCs, and brachytherapy APCs. For these Start Printed Page 42029APCs with fewer than 100 single claims that can be used for ratesetting purposes in the existing claims year, we are proposing to use up to four years of claims data to establish a payment rate for each item or service as we currently do for low volume services assigned to New Technology APCs. Further, we propose to calculate the cost for Low Volume APCs based on the greatest of the arithmetic mean cost, median cost, or geometric mean cost. We are proposing to designate 5 brachytherapy APCs as Low Volume APCs for CY 2022. For more information on our Low Volume APC proposal, see Section X.C. of this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule.

We continue to invite hospitals and other parties to submit recommendations to us for new codes to describe new brachytherapy sources. Such recommendations should be directed via email to outpatientpps@cms.hhs.gov or by mail to the Division of Outpatient Care, Mail Stop C4-01-26, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21244. We will continue to add new brachytherapy source codes and descriptors to our systems for payment on a quarterly basis.

b. Comprehensive APCs (C-APCs) for CY 2022

(1) Background

In the CY 2014 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (78 FR 74861 through 74910), we finalized a comprehensive payment policy that packages payment for adjunctive and secondary items, services, and procedures into the most costly primary procedure under the OPPS at the claim level. The policy was finalized in CY 2014 but the effective date was delayed until January 1, 2015 to allow additional time for further analysis, opportunity for public comment, and systems preparation. The comprehensive APC (C-APC) policy was implemented effective January 1, 2015, with modifications and clarifications in response to public comments received regarding specific provisions of the C-APC policy (79 FR 66798 through 66810).

A C-APC is defined as a classification for the provision of a primary service and all adjunctive services provided to support the delivery of the primary service. We established C-APCs as a category broadly for OPPS payment and implemented 25 C-APCs beginning in CY 2015 (79 FR 66809 through 66810). In the CY 2016 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (80 FR 70332), we finalized 10 additional C-APCs to be paid under the existing C-APC payment policy and added 1 additional level to both the Orthopedic Surgery and Vascular Procedures clinical families, which increased the total number of C-APCs to 37 for CY 2016. In the CY 2017 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (81 FR 79584 through 79585), we finalized another 25 C-APCs for a total of 62 C-APCs. In the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period, we did not change the total number of C-APCs from 62. In the CY 2019 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period, we created 3 new C-APCs, increasing the total number to 65 (83 FR 58844 through 58846). In the CY 2020 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period, we created two new C-APCs, increasing the total number to 67 C-APCs (84 FR 61158 through 61166). Most recently, in the CY 2021 OPPS/ASC final rule, we created two new C-APCs, increasing the total number to 69 C-APCs (85 FR 85885).

Under our C-APC policy, we designate a service described by a HCPCS code assigned to a C-APC as the primary service when the service is identified by OPPS status indicator “J1”. When such a primary service is reported on a hospital outpatient claim, taking into consideration the few exceptions that are discussed below, we make payment for all other items and services reported on the hospital outpatient claim as being integral, ancillary, supportive, dependent, and adjunctive to the primary service (hereinafter collectively referred to as “adjunctive services”) and representing components of a complete comprehensive service (78 FR 74865 and 79 FR 66799). Payments for adjunctive services are packaged into the payments for the primary services. This results in a single prospective payment for each of the primary, comprehensive services based on the costs of all reported services at the claim level.

Services excluded from the C-APC policy under the OPPS include services that are not covered OPD services, services that cannot by statute be paid for under the OPPS, and services that are required by statute to be separately paid. This includes certain mammography and ambulance services that are not covered OPD services in accordance with section 1833(t)(1)(B)(iv) of the Act; brachytherapy seeds, which also are required by statute to receive separate payment under section 1833(t)(2)(H) of the Act; pass-through payment drugs and devices, which also require separate payment under section 1833(t)(6) of the Act; self-administered drugs (SADs) that are not otherwise packaged as supplies because they are not covered under Medicare Part B under section 1861(s)(2)(B) of the Act; and certain preventive services (78 FR 74865 and 79 FR 66800 through 66801). A list of services excluded from the C-APC policy is included in Addendum J to this proposed rule (which is available via the internet on the CMS website).

In the interim final rule with request for comments (IFC) entitled, “Additional Policy and Regulatory Revisions in Response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency”, published on November 6, 2020, we stated that, effective for services furnished on or after the effective date of the IFC and until the end of the PHE for COVID-19, there is an exception to the OPPS C-APC policy to ensure separate payment for new COVID-19 treatments that meet certain criteria (85 FR 71158 through 71160). Under this exception, any new COVID-19 treatment that meets the following two criteria will, for the remainder of the PHE for COVID-19, always be separately paid and will not be packaged into a C-APC when it is provided on the same claim as the primary C-APC service. First, the treatment must be a drug or biological product (which could include a blood product) authorized to treat COVID-19, as indicated in section “I. Criteria for Issuance of Authorization” of the FDA letter of authorization for the emergency use of the drug or biological product, or the drug or biological product must be approved by the FDA for treating COVID-19. Second, the emergency use authorization (EUA) for the drug or biological product (which could include a blood product) must authorize the use of the product in the outpatient setting or not limit its use to the inpatient setting, or the product must be approved by the FDA to treat COVID-19 disease and not limit its use to the inpatient setting. For further information regarding the exception to the C-APC policy for COVID-19 treatments, please refer to the November 6, 2020 IFC (85 FR 71158 through 71160).

The C-APC policy payment methodology set forth in the CY 2014 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period for the C-APCs and modified and implemented beginning in CY 2015 is summarized as follows (78 FR 74887 and 79 FR 66800):

Basic Methodology. As stated in the CY 2015 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period, we define the C-APC payment policy as including all covered OPD services on a hospital outpatient claim reporting a primary service that is assigned to status indicator “J1”, excluding services that are not covered Start Printed Page 42030OPD services or that cannot by statute be paid for under the OPPS. Services and procedures described by HCPCS codes assigned to status indicator “J1” are assigned to C-APCs based on our usual APC assignment methodology by evaluating the geometric mean costs of the primary service claims to establish resource similarity and the clinical characteristics of each procedure to establish clinical similarity within each APC.

In the CY 2016 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period, we expanded the C-APC payment methodology to qualifying extended assessment and management encounters through the “Comprehensive Observation Services” C-APC (C-APC 8011). Services within this APC are assigned status indicator “J2”. Specifically, we make a payment through C-APC 8011 for a claim that:

  • Does not contain a procedure described by a HCPCS code to which we have assigned status indicator “T;”
  • Contains 8 or more units of services described by HCPCS code G0378 (Hospital observation services, per hour);
  • Contains services provided on the same date of service or 1 day before the date of service for HCPCS code G0378 that are described by one of the following codes: HCPCS code G0379 (Direct admission of patient for hospital observation care) on the same date of service as HCPCS code G0378; CPT code 99281 (Emergency department visit for the evaluation and management of a patient (Level 1)); CPT code 99282 (Emergency department visit for the evaluation and management of a patient (Level 2)); CPT code 99283 (Emergency department visit for the evaluation and management of a patient (Level 3)); CPT code 99284 (Emergency department visit for the evaluation and management of a patient (Level 4)); CPT code 99285 (Emergency department visit for the evaluation and management of a patient (Level 5)) or HCPCS code G0380 (Type B emergency department visit (Level 1)); HCPCS code G0381 (Type B emergency department visit (Level 2)); HCPCS code G0382 (Type B emergency department visit (Level 3)); HCPCS code G0383 (Type B emergency department visit (Level 4)); HCPCS code G0384 (Type B emergency department visit (Level 5)); CPT code 99291 (Critical care, evaluation and management of the critically ill or critically injured patient; first 30-74 minutes); or HCPCS code G0463 (Hospital outpatient clinic visit for assessment and management of a patient); and
  • Does not contain services described by a HCPCS code to which we have assigned status indicator “J1”.

The assignment of status indicator “J2” to a specific set of services performed in combination with each other allows for all other OPPS payable services and items reported on the claim (excluding services that are not covered OPD services or that cannot by statute be paid for under the OPPS) to be deemed adjunctive services representing components of a comprehensive service and resulting in a single prospective payment for the comprehensive service based on the costs of all reported services on the claim (80 FR 70333 through 70336).

Services included under the C-APC payment packaging policy, that is, services that are typically adjunctive to the primary service and provided during the delivery of the comprehensive service, include diagnostic procedures, laboratory tests, and other diagnostic tests and treatments that assist in the delivery of the primary procedure; visits and evaluations performed in association with the procedure; uncoded services and supplies used during the service; durable medical equipment as well as prosthetic and orthotic items and supplies when provided as part of the outpatient service; and any other components reported by HCPCS codes that represent services that are provided during the complete comprehensive service (78 FR 74865 and 79 FR 66800).

In addition, payment for hospital outpatient department services that are similar to therapy services and delivered either by therapists or nontherapists is included as part of the payment for the packaged complete comprehensive service. These services that are provided during the perioperative period are adjunctive services and are deemed not to be therapy services as described in section 1834(k) of the Act, regardless of whether the services are delivered by therapists or other nontherapist health care workers. We have previously noted that therapy services are those provided by therapists under a plan of care in accordance with section 1835(a)(2)(C) and section 1835(a)(2)(D) of the Act and are paid for under section 1834(k) of the Act, subject to annual therapy caps as applicable (78 FR 74867 and 79 FR 66800). However, certain other services similar to therapy services are considered and paid for as hospital outpatient department services. Payment for these nontherapy outpatient department services that are reported with therapy codes and provided with a comprehensive service is included in the payment for the packaged complete comprehensive service. We note that these services, even though they are reported with therapy codes, are hospital outpatient department services and not therapy services. We refer readers to the July 2016 OPPS Change Request 9658 (Transmittal 3523) for further instructions on reporting these services in the context of a C-APC service.

Items included in the packaged payment provided in conjunction with the primary service also include all drugs, biologicals, and radiopharmaceuticals, regardless of cost, except those drugs with pass-through payment status and SADs, unless they function as packaged supplies (78 FR 74868 through 74869 and 74909 and 79 FR 66800). We refer readers to Section 50.2M, Chapter 15, of the Medicare Benefit Policy Manual for a description of our policy on SADs treated as hospital outpatient supplies, including lists of SADs that function as supplies and those that do not function as supplies.

We define each hospital outpatient claim reporting a single unit of a single primary service assigned to status indicator “J1” as a single “J1” unit procedure claim (78 FR 74871 and 79 FR 66801). Line item charges for services included on the C-APC claim are converted to line item costs, which are then summed to develop the estimated APC costs. These claims are then assigned one unit of the service with status indicator “J1” and later used to develop the geometric mean costs for the C-APC relative payment weights. (We note that we use the term “comprehensive” to describe the geometric mean cost of a claim reporting “J1” service(s) or the geometric mean cost of a C-APC, inclusive of all of the items and services included in the C-APC service payment bundle.) Charges for services that would otherwise be separately payable are added to the charges for the primary service. This process differs from our traditional cost accounting methodology only in that all such services on the claim are packaged (except certain services as described above). We apply our standard data trims, which exclude claims with extremely high primary units or extreme costs.

The comprehensive geometric mean costs are used to establish resource similarity and, along with clinical similarity, dictate the assignment of the primary services to the C-APCs. We establish a ranking of each primary service (single unit only) to be assigned to status indicator “J1” according to its comprehensive geometric mean costs. For the minority of claims reporting more than one primary service assigned to status indicator “J1” or units thereof, Start Printed Page 42031we identify one “J1” service as the primary service for the claim based on our cost-based ranking of primary services. We then assign these multiple “J1” procedure claims to the C-APC to which the service designated as the primary service is assigned. If the reported “J1” services on a claim map to different C-APCs, we designate the “J1” service assigned to the C-APC with the highest comprehensive geometric mean cost as the primary service for that claim. If the reported multiple “J1” services on a claim map to the same C-APC, we designate the most costly service (at the HCPCS code level) as the primary service for that claim. This process results in initial assignments of claims for the primary services assigned to status indicator “J1” to the most appropriate C-APCs based on both single and multiple procedure claims reporting these services and clinical and resource homogeneity.

Complexity Adjustments. We use complexity adjustments to provide increased payment for certain comprehensive services. We apply a complexity adjustment by promoting qualifying paired “J1” service code combinations or paired code combinations of “J1” services and certain add-on codes (as described further below) from the originating C-APC (the C-APC to which the designated primary service is first assigned) to the next higher paying C-APC in the same clinical family of C-APCs. We apply this type of complexity adjustment when the paired code combination represents a complex, costly form or version of the primary service according to the following criteria:

  • Frequency of 25 or more claims reporting the code combination (frequency threshold); and
  • Violation of the 2 times rule, as stated in section 1833(t)(2) of the Act and section III.B.2. of this proposed rule, in the originating C-APC (cost threshold).

These criteria identify paired code combinations that occur commonly and exhibit materially greater resource requirements than the primary service. The CY 2017 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (81 FR 79582) included a revision to the complexity adjustment eligibility criteria. Specifically, we finalized a policy to discontinue the requirement that a code combination (that qualifies for a complexity adjustment by satisfying the frequency and cost criteria thresholds described above) also not create a 2 times rule violation in the higher level or receiving APC.

After designating a single primary service for a claim, we evaluate that service in combination with each of the other procedure codes reported on the claim assigned to status indicator “J1” (or certain add-on codes) to determine if there are paired code combinations that meet the complexity adjustment criteria. For a new HCPCS code, we determine initial C-APC assignment and qualification for a complexity adjustment using the best available information, crosswalking the new HCPCS code to a predecessor code(s) when appropriate.

Once we have determined that a particular code combination of “J1” services (or combinations of “J1” services reported in conjunction with certain add-on codes) represents a complex version of the primary service because it is sufficiently costly, frequent, and a subset of the primary comprehensive service overall according to the criteria described above, we promote the claim including the complex version of the primary service as described by the code combination to the next higher cost C-APC within the clinical family, unless the primary service is already assigned to the highest cost APC within the C-APC clinical family or assigned to the only C-APC in a clinical family. We do not create new APCs with a comprehensive geometric mean cost that is higher than the highest geometric mean cost (or only) C-APC in a clinical family just to accommodate potential complexity adjustments. Therefore, the highest payment for any claim including a code combination for services assigned to a C-APC would be the highest paying C-APC in the clinical family (79 FR 66802).

We package payment for all add-on codes into the payment for the C-APC. However, certain primary service add-on combinations may qualify for a complexity adjustment. As noted in the CY 2016 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (80 FR 70331), all add-on codes that can be appropriately reported in combination with a base code that describes a primary “J1” service are evaluated for a complexity adjustment.

To determine which combinations of primary service codes reported in conjunction with an add-on code may qualify for a complexity adjustment for 2022, we propose to apply the frequency and cost criteria thresholds discussed above, testing claims reporting one unit of a single primary service assigned to status indicator “J1” and any number of units of a single add-on code for the primary “J1” service. If the frequency and cost criteria thresholds for a complexity adjustment are met and reassignment to the next higher cost APC in the clinical family is appropriate (based on meeting the criteria outlined above), we make a complexity adjustment for the code combination; that is, we reassign the primary service code reported in conjunction with the add-on code to the next higher cost C-APC within the same clinical family of C-APCs. As previously stated, we package payment for add-on codes into the C-APC payment rate. If any add-on code reported in conjunction with the “J1” primary service code does not qualify for a complexity adjustment, payment for the add-on service continues to be packaged into the payment for the primary service and is not reassigned to the next higher cost C-APC. We list the complexity adjustments for “J1” and add-on code combinations for CY 2022, along with all of the other proposed complexity adjustments, in Addendum J to this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule (which is available via the internet on the CMS website).

Addendum J to this proposed rule includes the cost statistics for each code combination that would qualify for a complexity adjustment (including primary code and add-on code combinations). Addendum J to this proposed rule also contains summary cost statistics for each of the paired code combinations that describe a complex code combination that would qualify for a complexity adjustment and are proposed to be reassigned to the next higher cost C-APC within the clinical family. The combined statistics for all proposed reassigned complex code combinations are represented by an alphanumeric code with the first 4 digits of the designated primary service followed by a letter. For example, the proposed geometric mean cost listed in Addendum J for the code combination described by complexity adjustment assignment 3320R, which is assigned to C-APC 5224 (Level 4 Pacemaker and Similar Procedures), includes all paired code combinations that are proposed to be reassigned to C-APC 5224 when CPT code 33208 is the primary code. Providing the information contained in Addendum J to this proposed rule allows stakeholders the opportunity to better assess the impact associated with the proposed reassignment of claims with each of the paired code combinations eligible for a complexity adjustment.Start Printed Page 42032

(2) Exclusion of Procedures Assigned to New Technology APCs From the C-APC Policy

Services that are assigned to New Technology APCs are typically new procedures that do not have sufficient claims history to establish an accurate payment for the procedures. Beginning in CY 2002, we retain services within New Technology APC groups until we gather sufficient claims data to enable us to assign the service to an appropriate clinical APC. This policy allows us to move a service from a New Technology APC in less than 2 years if sufficient data are available. It also allows us to retain a service in a New Technology APC for more than 2 years if sufficient data upon which to base a decision for reassignment have not been collected (82 FR 59277).

The C-APC payment policy packages payment for adjunctive and secondary items, services, and procedures into the most costly primary procedure under the OPPS at the claim level. Prior to CY 2019, when a procedure assigned to a New Technology APC was included on the claim with a primary procedure, identified by OPPS status indicator “J1”, payment for the new technology service was typically packaged into the payment for the primary procedure. Because the new technology service was not separately paid in this scenario, the overall number of single claims available to determine an appropriate clinical APC for the new service was reduced. This was contrary to the objective of the New Technology APC payment policy, which is to gather sufficient claims data to enable us to assign the service to an appropriate clinical APC.

To address this issue and ensure that there is sufficient claims data for services assigned to New Technology APCs, in the CY 2019 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (83 FR 58847), we finalized excluding payment for any procedure that is assigned to a New Technology APC (APCs 1491 through 1599 and APCs 1901 through 1908) from being packaged when included on a claim with a “J1” service assigned to a C-APC. In the CY 2020 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period, we finalized that payment for services assigned to a New Technology APC would be excluded from being packaged into the payment for comprehensive observation services assigned status indicator “J2” when they are included on a claim with a “J2” service starting in CY 2020 (84 FR 61167). We proposed to continue to exclude payment for any procedure that is assigned to a New Technology APC (APCs 1491 through 1599 and APCs 1901 through 1908) from being packaged when included on a claim with a “J1” or “J2” service assigned to a C-APC.

(3) Additional C-APCs for CY 2022

For CY 2022 and subsequent years, we propose to continue to apply the C-APC payment policy methodology. We refer readers to the CY 2017 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (81 FR 79583) for a discussion of the C-APC payment policy methodology and revisions.

Each year, in accordance with section 1833(t)(9)(A) of the Act, we review and revise the services within each APC group and the APC assignments under the OPPS. As a result of our annual review of the services and the APC assignments under the OPPS, we are not proposing to convert any standard APCs to C-APCs in CY 2022, thus we propose that the number of C-APCs for CY 2022 would be the same as the number for CY 2021, which is 69 C-APCs.

Table 1 lists the proposed C-APCs for CY 2022, all of which were established in past rules. All C-APCs are displayed in Addendum J to this proposed rule (which is available via the internet on the CMS website). Addendum J to this proposed rule also contains all of the data related to the C-APC payment policy methodology, including the list of complexity adjustments and other information.

Start Printed Page 42033

Start Printed Page 42034

c. Proposed Calculation of Composite APC Criteria-Based Costs

As discussed in the CY 2008 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (72 FR 66613), we believe it is important that the OPPS enhance incentives for hospitals to provide necessary, high quality care as efficiently as possible. For CY 2008, we developed composite APCs to provide a single payment for groups of services that are typically performed together during a single clinical encounter and that result in the provision of a complete service. Start Printed Page 42035Combining payment for multiple, independent services into a single OPPS payment in this way enables hospitals to manage their resources with maximum flexibility by monitoring and adjusting the volume and efficiency of services themselves. An additional advantage to the composite APC model is that we can use data from correctly coded multiple procedure claims to calculate payment rates for the specified combinations of services, rather than relying upon single procedure claims which may be low in volume and/or incorrectly coded. Under the OPPS, we currently have composite policies for mental health services and multiple imaging services. (We note that, in the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period, we finalized a policy to delete the composite APC 8001 (LDR Prostate Brachytherapy Composite) for CY 2018 and subsequent years.) We refer readers to the CY 2008 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (72 FR 66611 through 66614 and 66650 through 66652) for a full discussion of the development of the composite APC methodology, and the CY 2012 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (76 FR 74163) and the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (82 FR 59241 through 59242 and 59246 through 52950) for more recent background.

(1) Mental Health Services Composite APC

We propose to continue our longstanding policy of limiting the aggregate payment for specified less resource-intensive mental health services furnished on the same date to the payment for a day of partial hospitalization services provided by a hospital, which we consider to be the most resource-intensive of all outpatient mental health services. We refer readers to the April 7, 2000 OPPS final rule with comment period (65 FR 18452 through 18455) for the initial discussion of this longstanding policy and the CY 2012 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (76 FR 74168) for more recent background.

In the CY 2017 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (81 FR 79588 through 79589), we finalized a policy to combine the existing Level 1 and Level 2 hospital-based PHP APCs into a single hospital-based PHP APC, and thereby discontinue APCs 5861 (Level 1—Partial Hospitalization (3 services) for Hospital-Based PHPs) and 5862 (Level—2 Partial Hospitalization (4 or more services) for Hospital-Based PHPs) and replace them with APC 5863 (Partial Hospitalization (3 or more services per day)).

In the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC proposed rule and final rule with comment period (82 FR 33580 through 33581 and 59246 through 59247, respectively), we proposed and finalized the policy for CY 2018 and subsequent years that, when the aggregate payment for specified mental health services provided by one hospital to a single beneficiary on a single date of service, based on the payment rates associated with the APCs for the individual services, exceeds the maximum per diem payment rate for partial hospitalization services provided by a hospital, those specified mental health services will be paid through composite APC 8010 (Mental Health Services Composite). In addition, we set the payment rate for composite APC 8010 for CY 2018 at the same payment rate that will be paid for APC 5863, which is the maximum partial hospitalization per diem payment rate for a hospital, and finalized a policy that the hospital will continue to be paid the payment rate for composite APC 8010. Under this policy, the I/OCE will continue to determine whether to pay for these specified mental health services individually, or to make a single payment at the same payment rate established for APC 5863 for all of the specified mental health services furnished by the hospital on that single date of service. We continue to believe that the costs associated with administering a partial hospitalization program at a hospital represent the most resource intensive of all outpatient mental health services. Therefore, we do not believe that we should pay more for mental health services under the OPPS than the highest partial hospitalization per diem payment rate for hospitals.

We propose that when the aggregate payment for specified mental health services provided by one hospital to a single beneficiary on a single date of service, based on the payment rates associated with the APCs for the individual services, exceeds the maximum per diem payment rate for partial hospitalization services provided by a hospital, those specified mental health services would be paid through composite APC 8010 for CY 2022. In addition, we propose to set the proposed payment rate for composite APC 8010 at the same payment rate that we proposed for APC 5863, which is the maximum partial hospitalization per diem payment rate for a hospital, and that the hospital continue to be paid the proposed payment rate for composite APC 8010.

(2) Multiple Imaging Composite APCs (APCs 8004, 8005, 8006, 8007, and 8008)

Effective January 1, 2009, we provide a single payment each time a hospital submits a claim for more than one imaging procedure within an imaging family on the same date of service, to reflect and promote the efficiencies hospitals can achieve when performing multiple imaging procedures during a single session (73 FR 41448 through 41450). We utilize three imaging families based on imaging modality for purposes of this methodology: (1) Ultrasound; (2) computed tomography (CT) and computed tomographic angiography (CTA); and (3) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetic resonance angiography (MRA). The HCPCS codes subject to the multiple imaging composite policy and their respective families are listed in Table 2 below.

While there are three imaging families, there are five multiple imaging composite APCs due to the statutory requirement under section 1833(t)(2)(G) of the Act that we differentiate payment for OPPS imaging services provided with and without contrast. While the ultrasound procedures included under the policy do not involve contrast, both CT/CTA and MRI/MRA scans can be provided either with or without contrast. The five multiple imaging composite APCs established in CY 2009 are:

  • APC 8004 (Ultrasound Composite);
  • APC 8005 (CT and CTA without Contrast Composite);
  • APC 8006 (CT and CTA with Contrast Composite);
  • APC 8007 (MRI and MRA without Contrast Composite); and
  • APC 8008 (MRI and MRA with Contrast Composite).

We define the single imaging session for the “with contrast” composite APCs as having at least one or more imaging procedures from the same family performed with contrast on the same date of service. For example, if the hospital performs an MRI without contrast during the same session as at least one other MRI with contrast, the hospital will receive payment based on the payment rate for APC 8008, the “with contrast” composite APC.

We make a single payment for those imaging procedures that qualify for payment based on the composite APC payment rate, which includes any packaged services furnished on the same date of service. The standard (noncomposite) APC assignments continue to apply for single imaging procedures and multiple imaging Start Printed Page 42036procedures performed across families. For a full discussion of the development of the multiple imaging composite APC methodology, we refer readers to the CY 2009 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (73 FR 68559 through 68569).

For CY 2022, we propose to continue to pay for all multiple imaging procedures within an imaging family performed on the same date of service using the multiple imaging composite APC payment methodology. We continue to believe that this policy would reflect and promote the efficiencies hospitals can achieve when performing multiple imaging procedures during a single session.

For CY 2022, except where otherwise indicated, we propose to use the costs derived from CY 2019 claims data to set the proposed CY 2022 payment rates. Therefore, for CY 2022, the payment rates for the five multiple imaging composite APCs (APCs 8004, 8005, 8006, 8007, and 8008) are based on proposed geometric mean costs calculated from CY 2019 claims available for this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule that qualified for composite payment under the current policy (that is, those claims reporting more than one procedure within the same family on a single date of service). To calculate the proposed geometric mean costs, we used the same methodology that we have used to calculate the geometric mean costs for these composite APCs since CY 2014, as described in the CY 2014 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (78 FR 74918). The imaging HCPCS codes referred to as “overlap bypass codes” that we removed from the bypass list for purposes of calculating the proposed multiple imaging composite APC geometric mean costs, in accordance with our established methodology as stated in the CY 2014 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (78 FR 74918), are identified by asterisks in Addendum N to this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule (which is available via the internet on the CMS website) and are discussed in more detail in section II.A.1.b. of this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule.

For this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule, we were able to identify approximately 1.04 million “single session” claims out of an estimated 2.2 million potential claims for payment through composite APCs from our ratesetting claims data, which represents approximately 47 percent of all eligible claims, to calculate the proposed CY 2022 geometric mean costs for the multiple imaging composite APCs. Table 2 of this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule lists the proposed HCPCS codes that would be subject to the multiple imaging composite APC policy and their respective families and approximate composite APC proposed geometric mean costs for CY 2022.

Start Printed Page 42037

Start Printed Page 42038

Start Printed Page 42039

Start Printed Page 42040

3. Proposed Changes to Packaged Items and Services

a. Background and Rationale for Packaging in the OPPS

Like other prospective payment systems, the OPPS relies on the concept of averaging to establish a payment rate for services. The payment may be more or less than the estimated cost of providing a specific service or a bundle of specific services for a particular beneficiary. The OPPS packages payments for multiple interrelated items and services into a single payment to create incentives for hospitals to furnish services most efficiently and to manage their resources with maximum flexibility. Our packaging policies support our strategic goal of using larger payment bundles in the OPPS to maximize hospitals' incentives to provide care in the most efficient manner. For example, where there are a variety of devices, drugs, items, and supplies that could be used to furnish a service, some of which are more costly than others, packaging encourages hospitals to use the most cost efficient item that meets the patient's needs, rather than to routinely use a more expensive item, which may occur if separate payment is provided for the item.

Packaging also encourages hospitals to effectively negotiate with manufacturers and suppliers to reduce the purchase price of items and services Start Printed Page 42041or to explore alternative group purchasing arrangements, thereby encouraging the most economical health care delivery. Similarly, packaging encourages hospitals to establish protocols that ensure that necessary services are furnished, while scrutinizing the services ordered by practitioners to maximize the efficient use of hospital resources. Packaging payments into larger payment bundles promotes the predictability and accuracy of payment for services over time. Finally, packaging may reduce the importance of refining service-specific payment because packaged payments include costs associated with higher cost cases requiring many ancillary items and services and lower cost cases requiring fewer ancillary items and services. Because packaging encourages efficiency and is an essential component of a prospective payment system, packaging payments for items and services that are typically integral, ancillary, supportive, dependent, or adjunctive to a primary service has been a fundamental part of the OPPS since its implementation in August 2000. For an extensive discussion of the history and background of the OPPS packaging policy, we refer readers to the CY 2000 OPPS final rule (65 FR 18434), the CY 2008 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (72 FR 66580), the CY 2014 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (78 FR 74925), the CY 2015 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (79 FR 66817), the CY 2016 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (80 FR 70343), the CY 2017 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (81 FR 79592), the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (82 FR 59250), the CY 2019 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (83 FR 58854), the CY 2020 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (84 FR 61173), and the CY 2021 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (85 FR 85894). As we continue to develop larger payment groups that more broadly reflect services provided in an encounter or episode of care, we have expanded the OPPS packaging policies. Most, but not necessarily all, categories of items and services currently packaged in the OPPS are listed in 42 CFR 419.2(b). Our overarching goal is to make payments for all services under the OPPS more consistent with those of a prospective payment system and less like those of a per-service fee schedule, which pays separately for each coded item. As a part of this effort, we have continued to examine the payment for items and services provided under the OPPS to determine which OPPS services can be packaged to further achieve the objective of advancing the OPPS toward a more prospective payment system.

For CY 2022, we examined the items and services currently provided under the OPPS, reviewing categories of integral, ancillary, supportive, dependent, or adjunctive items and services for which we believe payment would be appropriately packaged into payment for the primary service that they support. Specifically, we examined the HCPCS code definitions (including CPT code descriptors) and hospital outpatient department billing patterns to determine whether there were categories of codes for which packaging would be appropriate according to existing OPPS packaging policies or a logical expansion of those existing OPPS packaging policies.

For CY 2022, we propose no changes to the overall packaging policy previously discussed. We propose to continue to conditionally package the costs of selected newly identified ancillary services into payment for a primary service where we believe that the packaged item or service is integral, ancillary, supportive, dependent, or adjunctive to the provision of care that was reported by the primary service HCPCS code. Below we discuss a proposed change to an ASC payment system packaging policy for CY 2022 and solicit comment on potential additional changes to that policy and application of that policy to the OPPS.

b. Proposed Payment Policy for Non-Opioid Pain Management Drugs and Biologicals That Function as Surgical Supplies Under the ASC Payment System

(1) Background on OPPS/ASC Non-Opioid Pain Management Packaging Policies

In the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC proposed rule (82 FR 33588), within the framework of existing packaging categories, such as drugs that function as supplies in a surgical procedure or diagnostic test or procedure, we requested stakeholder feedback on common clinical scenarios involving currently packaged items and services described by HCPCS codes that stakeholders believe should not be packaged under the OPPS. We also expressed interest in stakeholder feedback on common clinical scenarios involving separately payable HCPCS codes for which payment would be most appropriately packaged under the OPPS. Commenters who responded to the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC proposed rule expressed a variety of views on packaging under the OPPS. While several commenters were in support of maintaining packaging policies, most of the public comments ranged from requests to unpackage most items and services that are unconditionally packaged under the OPPS, including drugs and devices, to specific requests for separate payment for a particular drug or device.

In the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (82 FR 52485), we reiterated our position with regard to payment for Exparel®, a non-opioid analgesic that functions as a surgical supply, stating that we believed that payment for this drug is appropriately packaged with the primary surgical procedure. We also stated in the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period that we would continue to explore and evaluate packaging policies under the OPPS and consider these policies in future rulemaking.

In the CY 2019 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (83 FR 58855), we explained that, in addition to stakeholder feedback regarding OPPS packaging policies, the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis (the Commission)[1] had recently recommended that CMS examine payment policies for certain drugs that function as a supply, specifically non-opioid pain management treatments. The Commission was established in 2017 to study the scope and effectiveness of the Federal response to drug addiction and the opioid crisis and to make recommendations to the President for improving the Federal response to the crisis. The Commission's report included a recommendation for CMS to “. . . review and modify ratesetting policies that discourage the use of non-opioid treatments for pain, such as certain bundled payments that make alternative treatment options cost prohibitive for hospitals and doctors, particularly those options for treating immediate postsurgical pain. . . .” We explained that, as discussed in the CY 2019 OPPS/ASC proposed rule (83 FR 37068 through 37071), in response to stakeholder comments on the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC proposed rule and in light of the recommendations regarding payment policies for certain drugs, we had recently evaluated the impact of our packaging policy for drugs that function as a supply when used in a surgical Start Printed Page 42042procedure on the utilization of these drugs in both the hospital outpatient department and the ASC setting. We stated that, although we found increases in utilization of Exparel when it was paid under the OPPS, we noticed decreased utilization of Exparel under the ASC payment system. Accordingly, in the CY 2019 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (83 FR 58855 through 58860), we finalized a policy to unpackage and pay separately at ASP plus 6 percent for non-opioid pain management drugs that function as surgical supplies when they are furnished in the ASC setting for CY 2019, due to decreased utilization in the ASC setting. Historically, we stated that we consider all items related to the surgical outcome and provided during the hospital stay in which the surgery is performed, including postsurgical pain management drugs, to be part of the surgery for purposes of our drug and biological surgical supply packaging policy (79 FR 66875).

On October 24, 2018, the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities (SUPPORT) Act (Pub. L. 115-271) was enacted. Section 1833(t)(22)(A)(i) of the Act, as added by section 6082(a) of the SUPPORT Act, states that the Secretary must review payments under the OPPS for opioids and evidence-based non-opioid alternatives for pain management (including drugs and devices, nerve blocks, surgical injections, and neuromodulation) with a goal of ensuring that there are not financial incentives to use opioids instead of non-opioid alternatives. As part of this review, under section 1833(t)(22)(A)(iii) of the Act, the Secretary must consider the extent to which revisions to such payments (such as the creation of additional groups of covered OPD services to separately classify those procedures that utilize opioids and non-opioid alternatives for pain management) would reduce the payment incentives for using opioids instead of non-opioid alternatives for pain management. In conducting this review and considering any revisions, the Secretary must focus on covered OPD services (or groups of services) assigned to C-APCs, APCs that include surgical services, or services determined by the Secretary that generally involve treatment for pain management. If the Secretary identifies revisions to payments pursuant to section 1833(t)(22)(A)(iii) of the Act, section 1833(t)(22)(C) of the Act requires the Secretary to, as determined appropriate, begin making revisions for services furnished on or after January 1, 2020. Revisions under this paragraph are required to be treated as adjustments for purposes of paragraph (9)(B), which requires any adjustments to be made in a budget neutral manner. Section 1833(i)(8), as added by section 6082(b) of the SUPPORT Act, requires the Secretary to conduct a similar type of review as required for the OPPS and to make revisions to the ASC payment system in an appropriate manner, as determined by the Secretary.

For the CY 2020 OPPS/ASC proposed rule (84 FR 39423 through 39427), as required by section 1833(t)(22)(A)(i) of the Act, we reviewed payments under the OPPS for opioids and evidence-based non-opioid alternatives for pain management (including drugs and devices, nerve blocks, surgical injections, and neuromodulation) with a goal of ensuring that there are not financial incentives to use opioids instead of non-opioid alternatives. We used currently available data to analyze the payment and utilization patterns associated with specific non-opioid alternatives, including drugs that function as a supply, nerve blocks, and neuromodulation products, to determine whether our packaging policies may have reduced the use of non-opioid alternatives. For the CY 2020 OPPS/ASC proposed rule (84 FR 39423 through 39427), we proposed to continue our policy to pay separately at ASP plus 6 percent for non-opioid pain management drugs that function as surgical supplies in the performance of surgical procedures when they are furnished in the ASC setting and to continue to package payment for non-opioid pain management drugs that function as surgical supplies in the performance of surgical procedures in the hospital outpatient department setting for CY 2020. In the CY 2020 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (84 FR 61173 through 61180), after reviewing data from stakeholders and Medicare claims data, we did not find compelling evidence to suggest that revisions to our OPPS payment policies for non-opioid pain management alternatives were necessary for CY 2020. We finalized our proposal to continue to unpackage and pay separately at ASP plus 6 percent for non-opioid pain management drugs that function as surgical supplies when furnished in the ASC setting for CY 2020. Under this policy, for CY 2020, the only drug that qualified for separate payment in the ASC setting as a non-opioid pain management drug that functions as a surgical supply was Exparel.

In the CY 2021 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (85 FR 85896 to 85899), we continued the policy to pay separately at ASP plus 6 percent for non-opioid pain management drugs that function as surgical supplies in the performance of surgical procedures when they are furnished in the ASC setting and to continue to package payment for non-opioid pain management drugs that function as surgical supplies in the performance of surgical procedures in the hospital outpatient department setting for CY 2021. For CY 2021, only two drug products met the criteria as non-opioid pain management drugs that function as surgical supplies in the ASC setting, and thus receive separate payment under the ASC payment system. These drugs are Exparel and Omidria.

(2) CY 2022 Evaluation of Payments for Opioids and Non-Opioid Alternatives for Pain Management and Comment Solicitation on Extending the Policy to the OPPS

As noted in the background above, over the past several years we have reviewed non-opioid alternatives and evaluated the impact of our packaging policies on access to these products. In our previous evaluations, we used currently available data to analyze the payment and utilization patterns associated with specific non-opioid alternatives, including drugs that function as a supply, nerve blocks, and neuromodulation products, to determine whether our packaging policies may have reduced the use of non-opioid alternatives. In the CY 2021 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (85 FR 85896 to 85899), we stated that we would continue to analyze the issue of access to non-opioid pain management alternatives in the HOPD and the ASC settings as part of any reviews we conduct under section 1833(t)(22)(A)(ii), with a specific focus on whether there is evidence that our current payment policies are creating access barriers for other non-opioid pain management alternatives for which there is evidence-based support that these products help to deter or avoid prescription opioid use and opioid use disorder.

For CY 2022, we conducted a subsequent review of payments for opioids and non-opioid alternatives as authorized by section 1833(t)(22)(A)(ii). We analyzed utilization patterns in both the HOPD and ASC settings for multiple non-opioid pain management drugs, including the two drugs that are receiving separate payment when furnished in the ASC setting under our current policy for CY 2021: Exparel and Omidria. The results of our CY 2022 review were similar to the results of our Start Printed Page 42043reviews in previous years. Generally, utilization of non-opioid pain management drugs continued to increase year after year in the HOPD setting, where payment for these non-opioid alternatives is packaged with the payment for the associated surgical procedure. In the ASC setting, where Exparel and Omidria are separately paid, we also saw utilization increases for these two drugs. However, in the ASC setting, the rate of increase in utilization is much more substantial than in the HOPD setting. In particular, in the HOPD setting where payment for Exparel is packaged, utilization of Exparel increased from 19.7 million units in 2019 to 21.8 million units in 2020, whereas utilization of Exparel increased from 1.5 million units in 2019 to 3.3 million units in 2020 in the ASC setting, where Exparel is separately paid. We note that a number of reasons could explain this discrepancy other than our policy to pay separately for Exparel under the ASC payment system, including evolving clinical practice in the ASC setting, which could increase the number of surgeries performed in ASCs for which Exparel is an appropriate pain management drug.

We have consistently explained, including as recently as in the CY 2021 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (85 FR 85894), that our packaging policies support our strategic goal of using larger payment bundles in the OPPS to maximize hospitals' incentives to provide care in the most efficient manner. For example, where there are a variety of devices, drugs, items, and supplies that could be used to furnish a service, some of which are more costly than others, packaging encourages hospitals to use the most cost-efficient item that meets the patient's needs, rather than to routinely use a more expensive item, which may occur if separate payment is provided for the item. We have not found conclusive evidence to support the notion that the OPPS packaging policy, under which non-opioid drugs and biologicals are packaged when they function as a supply in a surgical procedure, has created financial incentives to use opioids instead of evidence-based non-opioid alternatives for pain management. For example, we have not observed decreased utilization of non-opioid alternatives for pain management in the HOPD setting. Therefore, for CY 2022, we are proposing to continue to package payment for non-opioid pain management drugs that function as surgical supplies in the performance of surgical procedures in the hospital outpatient department setting.

As explained earlier in this section, while packaging encourages efficiency and is a fundamental component of a prospective payment system, where there is an overriding policy objective to reduce disincentives for use of non-opioid products to the extent possible, we believe it may be appropriate to establish payment that reduces disincentives for use of non-opioid drugs and biologicals for pain management when there is evidence that use of those products reduces unnecessary opioid use. For these reasons, we are soliciting comment as to whether we should expand our current policy that only applies in the ASC setting—to pay separately at ASP plus 6 percent for non-opioid pain management drugs that function as surgical supplies in the performance of surgical procedures when they are furnished in the ASC setting—to the HOPD setting. We are interested in learning from stakeholders whether similar disincentives for the use of non-opioid pain management drugs and biologicals identified in the ASC setting exist in the HOPD setting. Previously, in the CY 2019 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (83 FR 59067), we identified several disincentives that were unique to the ASC setting compared to the HOPD setting, including the fact that ASCs tend to provide specialized care and a more limited range of services in comparison to hospital outpatient departments. Also, ASCs are paid, in aggregate, approximately 55 percent of the OPPS rate. Therefore, fluctuations in payment rates for specific services may affect these providers more acutely than hospital outpatient departments; and ASCs may be less likely to choose to furnish non-opioid postsurgical pain management treatments, which are typically more expensive than opioids, as a result. Additionally, we are seeking comment on what evidence supports the expansion of this policy to the HOPD setting, including the clinical benefit that Medicare beneficiaries may receive from the availability of separate or modified payment for these products in the HOPD setting.

Finally, we are seeking comment on if we should treat products the same depending on the setting, ASC or HOPD. For example, we are seeking comment on whether products should have the same eligibility requirements to qualify for revised payment in the ASC and the HOPD settings. We are additionally seeking comment on how the additional comment solicitations described below, which refer to the ASC setting, could also be applied to the HOPD setting.

(3) Proposed Criteria for Eligibility for Separate Payment Under the ASC Payment System for Non-Opioid Pain Management Drugs and Biologicals That Function as Surgical Supplies

As described in section 1833(t)(22)(A)(i) of the Act, the Secretary shall conduct a review of payments for opioids and evidence-based non-opioid alternatives for pain management with a goal of ensuring that there are not financial incentives to use opioids instead of non-opioid alternatives. In any future reviews the Secretary may determine appropriate to conduct under section 1833(t)(22)(A)(ii) of the Act, we believe it is important to establish the evidence-base for non-opioid alternatives for pain management when evaluating whether current payment policies result in an incentive for providers to use opioids instead of such evidence-based non-opioid alternatives for pain management. Accordingly, for CY 2022 and subsequent years, we are proposing two criteria that non-opioid pain management drugs and biologicals would be required to meet to be eligible for a payment revision under the ASC payment system in accordance with section 1833(t)(22)(C). The proposed criteria are intended to identify non-opioid pain management drugs and biologicals that function as supplies in surgical procedures for which revised payment under the ASC payment system would be appropriate.

Specifically, for CY 2022, we are proposing the following criteria that non-opioid pain management drugs and biologicals would be required to meet to be eligible for separate payment under the ASC payment system in accordance with section 1833(t)(22)(C):

Criterion 1: FDA Approval and Indication for Pain Management or Analgesia

We propose that the drug or biological product must be safe and effective, as determined by the FDA. We propose that the drug must be approved under a new drug application under section 505(c) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), generic drug application under an abbreviated new drug application under section 505(j), or, in the case of a biological product, be licensed under section 351 of the Public Health Service Act. We further propose that the drug or biological must also have an FDA-approved indication for pain management or analgesia. We believe FDA approval is an appropriate requirement for a drug or biological to Start Printed Page 42044be eligible for this policy because the FDA reviews drugs and biologicals for safety and effectiveness, which would allow us to identify safe and effective non-opioid products to which this separate payment policy should apply. Given that the FDA has an existing and detailed review process already in place to review drugs and biologicals, we believe it would be appropriate and administratively efficient to utilize FDA approval as a requirement to ensure that the drugs and biologicals approved under this policy are generally safe and effective for beneficiaries. We believe the vast majority of drugs and biologicals on the market have undergone FDA review and approval, and we do not anticipate this criterion would prevent otherwise eligible drugs or biologicals from qualifying. In addition, section 1833(t)(22)(C) of the Act, our current policy, and our proposed policy all focus on pain management products. Specifically, section 1833(t)(22)(C) of the Act refers to reviews of opioid and evidence-based non opioid products for pain management. Therefore, we propose to require an FDA-approved indication for pain management or analgesia for a drug or biological to qualify as a pain management product. The FDA approval process would allow us to confirm that a drug or biological is, in fact, a non-opioid. Drugs and biologicals that are approved as opioids or opioid agonists, or that receive an opioid-related approval from the FDA would not be eligible for separate payment under this policy.

Criterion 2: Cost of the Product

Currently, under the OPPS, drugs that are not policy-packaged are subject to the drug packaging threshold. In accordance with section 1833(t)(16)(B) of the Act, the threshold for establishing separate APCs for payment of drugs and biologicals was set at $50 per administration during CYs 2005 and 2006. We set the packaging threshold for establishing separate APCs for drugs and biologicals through annual notice and comment rulemaking. (Please see section V.B.1.a. of this proposed rule for additional details on the drug packaging threshold policy). The proposed per-day drug packaging threshold for CY 2022 is $130.

As our second criterion, we are proposing that a drug or biological would only be eligible for a payment revision under the ASC payment system in accordance with section 1833(t)(22)(C) if its per-day cost exceeds the drug packaging threshold described in section V.B.1.a. of this rule. We believe this is an appropriate requirement because we believe that not all non-opioid alternative treatments are equally disincentivized by our packaging policies. In particular, the cost of non-opioid drugs and biologicals below the packaging threshold of $130 per day does not generally have a significant impact on the overall procedure costs, and we believe use of these drugs and biologicals is unlikely to be disincentivized by CMS packaging policies. However, when the per-day cost of the drug is above the drug packaging threshold, the cost of these drugs or biologicals generally has a significant impact on the overall procedure costs. Section 1833(t)(22)(A)(i) of the Act discusses financial incentives to use opioids instead of non-opioid alternative treatments. As such, we do not believe non-opioid pain management drugs that are lower in cost are generally disincentivized by our packaging policies, as their cost is more easily absorbed into the payment for the primary procedure in which they are used when compared to drugs and biologicals above the threshold. We are proposing to use the existing OPPS drug packaging threshold as it is familiar to stakeholders and its application to drugs and biologicals under this policy creates uniformity across the OPPS and ASC payment systems. Therefore, CMS is proposing that drugs and biologicals would be required to have a per-day cost that exceeds the drug packaging threshold that CMS sets annually through notice and comment rulemaking.

We also believe the use of this threshold as an eligibility criterion for drugs under consideration for a payment revision under this policy is appropriate, as it conforms with the broader goals of the OPPS and ASC payment systems. Like other prospective payment systems, the OPPS relies on the concept of averaging to establish a payment rate for services. The payment may be more or less than the estimated cost of providing a specific service or a bundle of specific services for a particular beneficiary. The OPPS packages payments for multiple interrelated items and services into a single payment to create incentives for hospitals to furnish services most efficiently and to manage their resources with maximum flexibility. Our packaging policies, including the drug packaging threshold, support our strategic goal of using larger payment bundles to maximize hospitals' incentives to provide care in the most efficient manner. Packaging payments into larger payment bundles promotes the predictability and accuracy of payment for services over time. For the reasons mentioned above, we believe it to be appropriate to package drugs under consideration for this policy which fall below the OPPS drug packaging threshold.

We propose that non-opioid drugs and biologicals currently receiving transitional drug pass-through status in the OPPS would not be candidates for this policy as they are already paid separately under the OPPS and ASC payment system. Please see section V.A., Proposed OPPS Transitional Pass-Through Payment for Additional Costs of Drugs, Biologicals, and Radiopharmaceuticals, of this proposed rule for additional details on transitional pass-through payments for drugs and biologicals. We propose that once transitional drug pass-through status expires, the non-opioid drug or biological may qualify for separate payment under the ASC payment system if it meets the proposed eligibility requirements.

We seek comment on whether there are any other non-opioid drug or biological products that would meet the proposed criteria if finalized.

(4) Proposed Regulation Text Changes

We propose to codify our proposed criteria for separate payment for qualifying non-opioid pain management drugs and biologicals that function as surgical supplies in the regulation text for the ASC payment system in a new § 416.174. In particular, we propose to provide in a new § 416.174(a)(1) that non-opioid pain management drugs or biologicals that function as a supply in a surgical procedure are eligible for separate payment if they are approved under a new drug application under section 505(c) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), generic drug application under an abbreviated new drug application under section 505(j), or, in the case of a biological product, are licensed under section 351 of the Public Health Service Act. Section 416.174(a)(1) would also provide that the drug or biological must have an FDA-approved indication for pain management or analgesia. New § 416.174(a)(2) would require that the per-day cost of the drug or biological must exceed the OPPS drug packaging threshold set annually through notice and comment rulemaking.

We also propose to amend § 416.164(b)(6) to provide that non-opioid pain management drugs and biologicals that function as a supply when used in a surgical procedure as determined by CMS under § 416.174 are ancillary items that are integral to a Start Printed Page 42045covered surgical procedure and for which separate payment is allowed. We also propose to amend § 416.171(b)(1) to provide that the payment rate for non-opioid pain management drugs and biologicals that function as a supply when used in a surgical procedure as determined by CMS under § 416.174 are paid an amount derived from the payment rate for the equivalent item or service under the OPPS, and if such a payment amount is unavailable, are contractor priced.

(5) Eligibility for Separate Payment in CY 2022 for Exparel, Omidria, and Other Non-Opioid Products for Pain Management

As discussed in the CY 2021 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period, there are two products receiving separate payment in the ASC setting under our current policy to pay separately for non-opioid pain management treatments that function as surgical supplies when furnished in the ASC setting (85 FR 86171). These two products are Exparel (HCPCS Code C9290, Injection, bupivacaine liposome, 1 mg) and Omidria (HCPCS Code J1097, phenylephrine 10.16 mg/ml and ketorolac 2.88 mg/ml ophthalmic irrigation solution, 1 ml). Based on the current information available to us, as we explain below, we are proposing that both products would be eligible for separate payment in CY 2022 under our proposed policy. We have included our initial evaluation of these two products below.

(a) Eligibility for Separate Payment in CY 2022 for Exparel Under the Proposed Eligibility Criteria

We are proposing that Exparel would continue to receive separate payment in the ASC setting as a non-opioid pain management drug that functions as a surgical supply for CY 2022. Based on CMS's internal review, we believe Exparel meets criterion 1. Exparel was approved by the FDA with a New Drug Application (NDA #022496) on 10/28/2011.[2] Exparel's FDA-approved indication is “in patients 6 years of age and older for single-dose infiltration to produce postsurgical local analgesia (1). In adults as an interscalene brachial plexus nerve block to produce postsurgical regional analgesia”.[3] No component of Exparel is opioid-based. Accordingly, we propose that Exparel meets criterion one.

As discussed in section (3) above, for criterion two we are proposing that a drug or biological would only be eligible for separate payment under this policy if its per-day cost exceeds the drug packaging threshold described in section V.B.1.a. of this rule. The proposed per day cost threshold for CY 2022 is $130. Using the methodology described at V.B.1.a., the per day cost of Exparel exceeds the $130 per day cost threshold. Therefore, we propose that Exparel meets criterion two.

Therefore, we are proposing that Exparel meets criteria one and two, and should receive separate payment under the ASC payment system for CY 2022.

(b) Eligibility for Separate Payment for Omidria in CY 2022 Under the Proposed Eligibility Criteria

We are proposing that Omidria would continue to receive separate payment in the ASC setting as a non-opioid pain management drug that functions as a surgical supply for CY 2022. Based on our internal review, we believe Omidria would meet criterion one. Omidria was approved by the FDA with a New Drug Application (NDA #205388) on 5/30/2014.[4] Additionally, Omidria's FDA-approved indication is as “an alpha 1-adrenergic receptor agonist and nonselective cyclooxygenase inhibitor indicated for: Maintaining pupil size by preventing intraoperative miosis; Reducing postoperative pain”.[5] No component of Omidria is opioid-based. Therefore, we propose that Omidria would meet proposed criterion one.

Using the methodology described at V.B.1.a., the per day cost of Omidria exceeds the $130 per day cost threshold. Therefore, we propose that Omidria meets criterion two. Therefore, we are proposing that Omidria meets criteria one and two, and should receive separate payment under the ASC payment system for CY 2022.

(6) Comment Solicitation on Policy Modifications and Potential Additional Criteria for Revised Payment for Non-Opioid Pain Management Treatments

In addition to the proposed eligibility criteria above, we are also soliciting comment on potential policy modifications and additional criteria that may help further align this policy with the intent of section 1833(t)(22) of the Act. Below we discuss potential additional criteria. We note that, depending on the public comments we receive and our continued consideration of these potential criteria, we may adopt these criteria as part of our final policy and include them in the final regulation text; accordingly, we are providing substantial details, explanations, and considerations about these potential criteria. We welcome input from stakeholders on these and any additional policy modifications or criteria they believe would enhance our proposed policy. We are also soliciting comment on other barriers to access to non-opioid pain management products that may exist, and to what extent our policies under the OPPS or ASC payment system could be modified to address these barriers.

(a) Utilization of the Product

We have historically used utilization as a metric to determine whether a change in our payment policy was necessary to determine whether our policies create a disincentive to use non-opioid alternatives. For example, as previously discussed, Exparel's decreasing utilization in the ASC setting caused us to propose to pay separately for non-opioid pain management drugs that function as surgical supplies in the ASC setting. We have used currently available claims data in prior years to analyze the payment and utilization patterns associated with specific non-opioid alternatives to determine whether our packaging policies may have reduced the use of non-opioid alternatives. We believe that higher utilization may be a potential indicator that the packaged payment is not causing an access to care issue and that the payment rate for the primary procedure adequately reflects the cost of the drug or biological. We also believe decreased utilization could potentially indicate that our packaging policy is discouraging use of drug or biological and that providers are choosing less expensive treatments. We note that it is difficult to attribute product-specific changes in utilization to our packaging policies alone. Nonetheless, while we acknowledge certain limitations of utilization data, we believe analyzing utilization either on a product-specific basis or on a broader basis could be an important criterion in determining whether separate payment is warranted for a non-opioid pain management alternative.

Therefore, we are soliciting comment on whether specific evidence of reduced utilization should be part of our evaluation and determination of whether a non-opioid pain management product should qualify for modified Start Printed Page 42046payment. This data may help to demonstrate that our packaging policies are causing an access issue for these products. Additionally, we realize that new products to the market may not have utilization data available, or reliable utilization data may be difficult to obtain for some products; therefore, we are also requesting comment on whether utilization data requirements should vary based on the newness of a product or its FDA marketing approval date.

(b) FDA Indication for Pain Management or Analgesia for the Drug or Biological Product

As previously discussed, section 1833(t)(22)(A) of the Act specifically refers to reviews of opioid and evidence-based non opioid products for pain management. We believe the majority of drugs and biologicals that would meet the requirements of our proposed policy would already have FDA approval as a pain management drug or as an analgesic. However, we acknowledge there may be other non-opioid products that would benefit from inclusion under this policy, but do not have a specific FDA-approved indication for pain management or analgesia, and would not satisfy criterion 1. Therefore, we are soliciting comment on whether we should allow certain FDA-approved drugs and biologicals to be eligible for separate payment under this policy without a specific FDA-approved indication for pain management or as an analgesic drug. In lieu of an FDA indication for pain management or analgesia, we are seeking comment on whether it would be appropriate to approve a product for inclusion under this policy if the pain-management or analgesia attributes of the drug or biological are recognized by a medical compendium. Similarly, we are seeking comment as to whether we should consider specialty society or national organization (such as a national surgery organization) recommendations of non-opioid pain management products that function as surgical supplies and reduce opioid use in the ASC setting, as evidence that a product meets criterion one, where a drug or biological does not have an FDA indication for pain management or analgesia.

(c) Peer-Reviewed Literature Requirement Comment Solicitation

We note that section 1833(t)(22)(B) requires the Secretary to focus on covered OPD services (or groups of services) assigned to a comprehensive ambulatory payment classification, ambulatory payment classifications that primarily include surgical services, and other services determined by the Secretary that generally involve treatment for pain management. We are also soliciting comment as to whether we should only adopt a payment revision to drugs and biologicals that function as surgical supplies in the ASC setting when those products have evidence in peer reviewed literature supporting that the product actually decreases opioid. We believe this may be appropriate to ensure Medicare payment policies would not financially incentivize use of opioids rather than evidence-based non-opioid alternative treatments, as required by section 1833(t)(22)(A)(iii) of the Act. Specifically, we are seeking comment as to whether the drug or biological's use in a surgical procedure as a non-opioid pain management product should be supported by peer-reviewed literature demonstrating a clinically significant decrease in opioid usage compared to the standard of care, and we are seeking comment on whether such decreases in opioid usage should be sustained decreases that continue into the post-operative period.

Additionally, we are seeking input from commenters as to what they believe the requirements for peer-reviewed literature requirements should be. For example, we are seeking stakeholder feedback as to whether peer-reviewed literature should demonstrate that use of the drug or biological results in at least one, or several, of the following: Decreased post-operative opioid use following surgery; decreased opioid misuse following surgery; or decreased opioid use disorder and dependency following surgery.

Additionally, we ask stakeholders if specific thresholds are necessary to determine whether these decreases are statistically and clinically significant and whether the decreases should simply be measured against placebo or the standard of care. We also request information on how stakeholders would define the standard of care in these circumstances. When evaluating literature, we would expect to examine the study methods, sample size, limitations, possible conflicts of interest, patient populations studied, and how the evidence supports the conclusion that the product can serve as a non-opioid pain management product and provide a clinically significant reduction in opioid use that continues into the post-operative period. However, we welcome input from stakeholders about additional aspects of these studies that they believe CMS should focus on for this potential criterion. Additionally, we would expect to use our discretion to assess whether the submitted studies meet these criteria, as well as for clinical applicability, literature integrity, and potential biases in consultation with our clinical advisors.

In order to provide stakeholders with some examples of what supporting evidence CMS may consider for this potential criterion, we believe it would be helpful for CMS to receive literature demonstrating that use of a non-opioid drug or biological results in a statistically and clinically significant decreased day supply of outpatient opioids prescribed after surgery discharge compared to the generally accepted standard of care, or a statistically and clinically significant decreased morphine milligram equivalents (MME) per opioid dose prescribed after surgery discharge compared to the generally accepted standard of care. We would consider the generally accepted standard of care to include pain management therapy a patient would receive in the absence of the non-opioid alternative, such as the use of localized analgesia and/or an opioid. As previously discussed, we would then expect the use of a non-opioid pain management drug or biological to result in a decline in opioids used compared to the pain management therapy a patient would receive in the absence of the non-opioid alternative. We would expect this decline in opioids to include a decreased number of opioids received by a patient intraoperatively, post-operatively, and most significantly at discharge. We are soliciting comment on additional examples or measures that would be beneficial for CMS to take into consideration. Additionally, we are seeking comment on whether we should require a specific objective measure for this criterion. We also seek input on how to assess whether changes are statistically and clinically significant. We request comment on whether stakeholders believe evidence of statistical significance should be sufficient, or whether stakeholders believe the literature should also demonstrate clinically significant differences between treatment groups as well.

(d) Alternative Payment Mechanisms for Non-Opioid Drugs and Biologicals

As previously discussed, for CY 2022, we are proposing to pay separately at ASP plus 6 percent for non-opioid pain management drugs and biologicals that function as surgical supplies in the performance of surgical procedures when they are furnished in the ASC setting and meet our other proposed Start Printed Page 42047criteria. Section 1833(t)(22)(A)(iii) requires the Secretary to consider the extent to which revisions payments (such as the creation of additional groups of covered OPD services to classify separately those procedures that utilize opioids and non-opioid alternatives for pain management) would reduce payment incentives to use opioids instead of non-opioid alternatives for pain management. Accordingly, separate payment is not the only possible revision that may be appropriate. We seek comment on additional payment mechanisms that may be appropriate aside from separate payment. For instance, we request feedback from stakeholders as to whether a single, flat add-on payment, or separate APC assignment, for products or procedures that use a product that meets eligibility criteria would be preferable to separate payment. We note that any revisions the Secretary determines appropriate under section 1833(t)(22)(C) must be applied in a budget neutral manner under section 1833(t)(9)(B). We also seek input from stakeholders on any other innovative payment mechanisms for eligible non-opioid drugs and biologicals for pain management.

(e) Non-Drug Products

We are also interested in information on any non-opioid non-drug products that function as surgical supplies commenters believe should be eligible for separate payment under this policy. Although we have not currently identified any non-opioid pain management non-drug products that are disincentivized by CMS packaging policies based on utilization data, we believe it is reasonable to assume that if disincentives exist for the use of non-opioid pain management drugs and biological products under the ASC payment system, they may also exist for non-opioid, non-drug products under the ASC payment system. If this is the case, we would like to address these disincentives given the severity, and importance of combatting, the opioid epidemic, regardless of whether the non-opioid product is a drug, biological, or non-drug product. We remain interested as to whether there are any non-opioid, non-drug products that may meet the proposed eligibility criteria and should qualify for separate or modified payment as discussed in section (d) above, in the ASC setting. Similarly, we are also seeking comment on if there are unique qualities of non-drug products that would make revised payment in the HOPD setting appropriate instead of, or in addition to, the ASC setting.

We are also soliciting comment on whether it is appropriate to require non-drug products to meet the same criteria being proposed for drugs and biologicals. Additionally, we are seeking comment from stakeholders on whether they believe it would be appropriate to create a broad category for non-drug products, or if a more limited category, such as for devices, would be appropriate. Specifically, we are seeking comment on whether there is information in the FDA approval for devices that would be an appropriate criterion to determine eligibility for separate payment, similar to how we are proposing to require FDA approval with an indication for pain management or analgesia for drugs and biologicals. We are also seeking comment on whether, if the non-drug product is a “device” as defined in section 201(h) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the device should have received FDA premarket approval, grant of a de novo request, 510(k) clearance or meet an exemption from premarket review. We are soliciting comment on all aspects of an extension of our current policy to include appropriate products that are not drugs or biologicals.

We are also soliciting comment as to how peer-reviewed literature and utilization claims data could be used as potential criteria for a policy that would apply to non-drug products. Additionally, should a payment revision be determined necessary, we are seeking comment on appropriate payment mechanisms for non-opioid, non-drug products, including assigning the non-drug product to its own APC to ensure that the product is paid separately or establishing an add-on adjustment for the cost of the non-drug product in addition to the payment for the APC to which the non-drug product is assigned. Additionally, we seek comment on whether it would be appropriate to subject non-drug products to a cost threshold similar to the one we are proposing to apply to drugs and biologicals.

4. Calculation of OPPS Scaled Payment Weights

We established a policy in the CY 2013 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (77 FR 68283) of using geometric mean-based APC costs to calculate relative payment weights under the OPPS. In the CY 2021 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (85 FR 85902 through 85903), we applied this policy and calculated the relative payment weights for each APC for CY 2021 that were shown in Addenda A and B to that final rule with comment period (which were made available via the internet on the CMS website) using the APC costs discussed in sections II.A.1. and II.A.2. of that final rule with comment period. For CY 2022, as we did for CY 2021, we propose to continue to apply the policy established in CY 2013 and calculate relative payment weights for each APC for CY 2022 using geometric mean-based APC costs.

For CY 2012 and CY 2013, outpatient clinic visits were assigned to one of five levels of clinic visit APCs, with APC 0606 representing a mid-level clinic visit. In the CY 2014 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (78 FR 75036 through 75043), we finalized a policy that created alphanumeric HCPCS code G0463 (Hospital outpatient clinic visit for assessment and management of a patient), representing any and all clinic visits under the OPPS. HCPCS code G0463 was assigned to APC 0634 (Hospital Clinic Visits). We also finalized a policy to use CY 2012 claims data to develop the CY 2014 OPPS payment rates for HCPCS code G0463 based on the total geometric mean cost of the levels one through five CPT E/M codes for clinic visits previously recognized under the OPPS (CPT codes 99201 through 99205 and 99211 through 99215). In addition, we finalized a policy to no longer recognize a distinction between new and established patient clinic visits.

For CY 2016, we deleted APC 0634 and reassigned the outpatient clinic visit HCPCS code G0463 to APC 5012 (Level 2 Examinations and Related Services) (80 FR 70372). For CY 2022, as we did for CY 2021, we propose to continue to standardize all of the relative payment weights to APC 5012. We believe that standardizing relative payment weights to the geometric mean of the APC to which HCPCS code G0463 is assigned maintains consistency in calculating unscaled weights that represent the cost of some of the most frequently provided OPPS services. For CY 2022, as we did for CY 2021, we propose to assign APC 5012 a relative payment weight of 1.00 and to divide the geometric mean cost of each APC by the geometric mean cost for APC 5012 to derive the unscaled relative payment weight for each APC. The choice of the APC on which to standardize the relative payment weights does not affect payments made under the OPPS because we scale the weights for budget neutrality.

We note that in the CY 2019 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (83 FR 59004 through 59015) and the CY 2020 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (84 FR 61365 through 61369), we discuss our policy, implemented on January 1, 2019, to Start Printed Page 42048control for unnecessary increases in the volume of covered outpatient department services by paying for clinic visits furnished at excepted off-campus provider-based department (PBD) at a reduced rate. While the volume associated with these visits is included in the impact model, and thus used in calculating the weight scalar, the policy has a negligible effect on the scalar. Specifically, under this policy, there is no change to the relativity of the OPPS payment weights because the adjustment is made at the payment level rather than in the cost modeling. Further, under this policy, the savings that result from the change in payments for these clinic visits are not budget neutral. Therefore, the impact of this policy will generally not be reflected in the budget neutrality adjustments, whether the adjustment is to the OPPS relative weights or to the OPPS conversion factor. For a full discussion of this policy, we refer readers to the CY 2020 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (84 FR 61142).

Section 1833(t)(9)(B) of the Act requires that APC reclassification and recalibration changes, wage index changes, and other adjustments be made in a budget neutral manner. Budget neutrality ensures that the estimated aggregate weight under the OPPS for CY 2022 is neither greater than nor less than the estimated aggregate weight that would have been calculated without the changes. To comply with this requirement concerning the APC changes, we propose to compare the estimated aggregate weight using the CY 2021 scaled relative payment weights to the estimated aggregate weight using the proposed CY 2022 unscaled relative payment weights.

For CY 2021, we multiplied the CY 2021 scaled APC relative payment weight applicable to a service paid under the OPPS by the volume of that service from CY 2019 claims to calculate the total relative payment weight for each service. We then added together the total relative payment weight for each of these services in order to calculate an estimated aggregate weight for the year. For CY 2022, we propose to apply the same process using the estimated CY 2022 unscaled relative payment weights rather than scaled relative payment weights. We propose to calculate the weight scalar by dividing the CY 2021 estimated aggregate weight by the unscaled CY 2022 estimated aggregate weight.

For a detailed discussion of the weight scalar calculation, we refer readers to the OPPS claims accounting document available on the CMS website at: https://www.cms.gov/​Medicare/​Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/​HospitalOutpatientPPS/​index.html. Click on the CY 2022 OPPS proposed rule link and open the claims accounting document link at the bottom of the page.

We propose to compare the estimated unscaled relative payment weights in CY 2022 to the estimated total relative payment weights in CY 2021 using CY 2019 claims data, holding all other components of the payment system constant to isolate changes in total weight. Based on this comparison, we propose to adjust the calculated CY 2022 unscaled relative payment weights for purposes of budget neutrality. We propose to adjust the estimated CY 2022 unscaled relative payment weights by multiplying them by a proposed weight scalar of 1.4436 to ensure that the proposed CY 2022 relative payment weights are scaled to be budget neutral. The proposed CY 2022 relative payment weights listed in Addenda A and B to this proposed rule (which are available via the internet on the CMS website) are scaled and incorporate the recalibration adjustments discussed in sections II.A.1. and II.A.2. of this proposed rule.

Section 1833(t)(14) of the Act provides the payment rates for certain SCODs. Section 1833(t)(14)(H) of the Act provides that additional expenditures resulting from this paragraph shall not be taken into account in establishing the conversion factor, weighting, and other adjustment factors for 2004 and 2005 under paragraph (9), but shall be taken into account for subsequent years. Therefore, the cost of those SCODs (as discussed in section V.B.2. of proposed rule) is included in the budget neutrality calculations for the CY 2022 OPPS.

B. Proposed Conversion Factor Update

Section 1833(t)(3)(C)(ii) of the Act requires the Secretary to update the conversion factor used to determine the payment rates under the OPPS on an annual basis by applying the OPD fee schedule increase factor. For purposes of section 1833(t)(3)(C)(iv) of the Act, subject to sections 1833(t)(17) and 1833(t)(3)(F) of the Act, the OPD fee schedule increase factor is equal to the hospital inpatient market basket percentage increase applicable to hospital discharges under section 1886(b)(3)(B)(iii) of the Act. In the FY 2022 IPPS/LTCH PPS proposed rule (86 FR 25435), consistent with current law, based on IHS Global, Inc.'s fourth quarter 2020 forecast of the FY 2022 market basket increase, the proposed FY 2022 IPPS market basket update was 2.5 percent.

Specifically, section 1833(t)(3)(F)(i) of the Act requires that, for 2012 and subsequent years, the OPD fee schedule increase factor under subparagraph (C)(iv) be reduced by the productivity adjustment described in section 1886(b)(3)(B)(xi)(II) of the Act. Section 1886(b)(3)(B)(xi)(II) of the Act defines the productivity adjustment as equal to the 10-year moving average of changes in annual economy-wide, private nonfarm business multifactor productivity (MFP) (as projected by the Secretary for the 10-year period ending with the applicable fiscal year, year, cost reporting period, or other annual period) (the “MFP adjustment”). In the FY 2012 IPPS/LTCH PPS final rule (76 FR 51689 through 51692), we finalized our methodology for calculating and applying the MFP adjustment, and then revised this methodology, as discussed in the FY 2016 IPPS/LTCH PPS final rule (80 FR 49509). In the FY 2022 IPPS/LTCH PPS proposed rule (86 FR 25435), the proposed MFP adjustment for FY 2022 was 0.2 percentage point.

Therefore, we propose that the MFP adjustment for the CY 2022 OPPS is 0.2 percentage point. We also propose that if more recent data become subsequently available after the publication of this proposed rule (for example, a more recent estimate of the market basket increase and/or the MFP adjustment), we will use such updated data, if appropriate, to determine the CY 2022 market basket update and the MFP adjustment, which are components in calculating the OPD fee schedule increase factor under sections 1833(t)(3)(C)(iv) and 1833(t)(3)(F) of the Act, in the CY 2022 OPPS/ASC final rule.

We note that section 1833(t)(3)(F) of the Act provides that application of this subparagraph may result in the OPD fee schedule increase factor under section 1833(t)(3)(C)(iv) of the Act being less than 0.0 percent for a year, and may result in OPPS payment rates being less than rates for the preceding year. As described in further detail below, we propose for CY 2022 an OPD fee schedule increase factor of 2.3 percent for the CY 2022 OPPS (which is the proposed estimate of the hospital inpatient market basket percentage increase of 2.5 percent, less the proposed 0.2 percentage point MFP adjustment).

We propose that hospitals that fail to meet the Hospital OQR Program reporting requirements would be subject to an additional reduction of 2.0 percentage points from the OPD fee schedule increase factor adjustment to the conversion factor that would be used to calculate the OPPS payment Start Printed Page 42049rates for their services, as required by section 1833(t)(17) of the Act. For further discussion of the Hospital OQR Program, we refer readers to section XIV. of the proposed rule.

To set the OPPS conversion factor for 2022, we propose to increase the CY 2021 conversion factor of $82.797 by 2.3 percent. In accordance with section 1833(t)(9)(B) of the Act, we propose further to adjust the conversion factor for CY 2022 to ensure that any revisions made to the wage index and rural adjustment are made on a budget neutral basis. We propose to calculate an overall budget neutrality factor of 1.0012 for wage index changes by comparing proposed total estimated payments from our simulation model using the proposed FY 2022 IPPS wage indexes to those payments using the FY 2021 IPPS wage indexes, as adopted on a calendar year basis for the OPPS.

For the CY 2022 OPPS, we propose to maintain the current rural adjustment policy, as discussed in section II.E. of this proposed rule. Therefore, the proposed budget neutrality factor for the rural adjustment is 1.0000.

We propose to continue previously established policies for implementing the cancer hospital payment adjustment described in section 1833(t)(18) of the Act, as discussed in section II.F. of this proposed rule. We propose to calculate a CY 2022 budget neutrality adjustment factor for the cancer hospital payment adjustment by comparing estimated total CY 2022 payments under section 1833(t) of the Act, including the proposed CY 2022 cancer hospital payment adjustment, to estimated CY 2022 total payments using the CY 2021 final cancer hospital payment adjustment, as required under section 1833(t)(18)(B) of the Act. The proposed CY 2022 estimated payments applying the proposed CY 2022 cancer hospital payment adjustment were the same as estimated payments applying the CY 2021 final cancer hospital payment adjustment. Therefore, we propose to apply a budget neutrality adjustment factor of 1.0000 to the conversion factor for the cancer hospital payment adjustment. In accordance with section 1833(t)(18)(C), as added by section 16002(b) of the 21st Century Cures Act (Pub. L. 114-255), we are applying a budget neutrality factor calculated as if the proposed cancer hospital adjustment target payment-to-cost ratio was 0.90, not the 0.89 target payment-to-cost ratio we applied as stated in section II.F. of the proposed rule.

For this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule, we estimated that proposed pass-through spending for drugs, biologicals, and devices for CY 2022 would equal approximately $1.03 billion, which represented 1.24 percent of total projected CY 2022 OPPS spending. Therefore, the proposed conversion factor would be adjusted by the difference between the 0.92 percent estimate of pass-through spending for CY 2021 and the 1.24 percent estimate of proposed pass-through spending for CY 2022, resulting in a proposed decrease to the conversion factor for CY 2022 of 0.32 percent.

Proposed estimated payments for outliers would remain at 1.0 percent of total OPPS payments for CY 2022. We estimate for the proposed rule that outlier payments would be 1.06 percent of total OPPS payments in CY 2021; the 1.00 percent for proposed outlier payments in CY 2022 would constitute a 0.06 percent decrease in payment in CY 2022 relative to CY 2021.

For this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule, we also propose that hospitals that fail to meet the reporting requirements of the Hospital OQR Program would continue to be subject to a further reduction of 2.0 percentage points to the OPD fee schedule increase factor. For hospitals that fail to meet the requirements of the Hospital OQR Program, we propose to make all other adjustments discussed above, but use a reduced OPD fee schedule update factor of 0.3 percent (that is, the proposed OPD fee schedule increase factor of 2.3 percent further reduced by 2.0 percentage points). This would result in a proposed reduced conversion factor for CY 2022 of $82.810 for hospitals that fail to meet the Hospital OQR Program requirements (a difference of −1.647 in the conversion factor relative to hospitals that met the requirements).

In summary, for 2022, we propose to use a reduced conversion factor of $82.810 in the calculation of payments for hospitals that fail to meet the Hospital OQR Program requirements (a difference of −1.647 in the conversion factor relative to hospitals that met the requirements).

For 2022, we propose to use a conversion factor of $84.457 in the calculation of the national unadjusted payment rates for those items and services for which payment rates are calculated using geometric mean costs; that is, the proposed OPD fee schedule increase factor of 2.3 percent for CY 2022, the required proposed wage index budget neutrality adjustment of approximately 1.0012, the proposed cancer hospital payment adjustment of 1.0000, and the proposed adjustment of 0.32 percentage point of projected OPPS spending for the difference in pass-through spending that resulted in a proposed conversion factor for CY 2022 of $84.457.

C. Proposed Wage Index Changes

Section 1833(t)(2)(D) of the Act requires the Secretary to determine a wage adjustment factor to adjust the portion of payment and coinsurance attributable to labor-related costs for relative differences in labor and labor-related costs across geographic regions in a budget neutral manner (codified at 42 CFR 419.43(a)). This portion of the OPPS payment rate is called the OPPS labor-related share. Budget neutrality is discussed in section II.B. of this proposed rule.

The OPPS labor-related share is 60 percent of the national OPPS payment. This labor-related share is based on a regression analysis that determined that, for all hospitals, approximately 60 percent of the costs of services paid under the OPPS were attributable to wage costs. We confirmed that this labor-related share for outpatient services is appropriate during our regression analysis for the payment adjustment for rural hospitals in the CY 2006 OPPS final rule with comment period (70 FR 68553). We propose to continue this policy for the CY 2022 OPPS. We refer readers to section II.H. of this proposed rule for a description and an example of how the wage index for a particular hospital is used to determine payment for the hospital.

As discussed in the claims accounting narrative included with the supporting documentation for this proposed rule (which is available via the internet on the CMS website), for estimating APC costs, we would standardize 60 percent of estimated claims costs for geographic area wage variation using the same FY 2022 pre-reclassified wage index that we would use under the IPPS to standardize costs. This standardization process removes the effects of differences in area wage levels from the determination of a national unadjusted OPPS payment rate and copayment amount.

Under 42 CFR 419.41(c)(1) and 419.43(c) (published in the OPPS April 7, 2000 final rule with comment period (65 FR 18495 and 18545)), the OPPS adopted the final fiscal year IPPS post-reclassified wage index as the calendar year wage index for adjusting the OPPS standard payment amounts for labor market differences. Therefore, the wage index that applies to a particular acute care, short-stay hospital under the IPPS also applies to that hospital under the OPPS. As initially explained in the September 8, 1998 OPPS proposed rule (63 FR 47576), we believe that using the IPPS wage index as the source of an Start Printed Page 42050adjustment factor for the OPPS is reasonable and logical, given the inseparable, subordinate status of the HOPD within the hospital overall. In accordance with section 1886(d)(3)(E) of the Act, the IPPS wage index is updated annually.

The Affordable Care Act contained several provisions affecting the wage index. These provisions were discussed in the CY 2012 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (76 FR 74191). Section 10324 of the Affordable Care Act added section 1886(d)(3)(E)(iii)(II) to the Act, which defines a frontier State and amended section 1833(t) of the Act to add paragraph (19), which requires a frontier State wage index floor of 1.00 in certain cases, and states that the frontier State floor shall not be applied in a budget neutral manner. We codified these requirements at § 419.43(c)(2) and (3) of our regulations. For 2022, we propose to implement this provision in the same manner as we have since CY 2011. Under this policy, the frontier State hospitals would receive a wage index of 1.00 if the otherwise applicable wage index (including reclassification, the rural floor, and rural floor budget neutrality) is less than 1.00. Because the HOPD receives a wage index based on the geographic location of the specific inpatient hospital with which it is associated, the frontier State wage index adjustment applicable for the inpatient hospital also would apply for any associated HOPD. We refer readers to the FY 2011 through FY 2021 IPPS/LTCH PPS final rules for discussions regarding this provision, including our methodology for identifying which areas meet the definition of “frontier States” as provided for in section 1886(d)(3)(E)(iii)(II) of the Act: for FY 2011, 75 FR 50160 through 50161; for FY 2012, 76 FR 51793, 51795, and 51825; for FY 2013, 77 FR 53369 through 53370; for FY 2014, 78 FR 50590 through 50591; for FY 2015, 79 FR 49971; for FY 2016, 80 FR 49498; for FY 2017, 81 FR 56922; for FY 2018, 82 FR 38142; for FY 2019, 83 FR 41380; for FY 2020, 84 FR 42312; and for FY 2021, 85 FR 58765.

In addition to the changes required by the Affordable Care Act, we note that the proposed FY 2022 IPPS wage indexes continue to reflect a number of adjustments implemented in past years, including, but not limited to, reclassification of hospitals to different geographic areas, the rural floor provisions, an adjustment for occupational mix, an adjustment to the wage index based on commuting patterns of employees (the out-migration adjustment), and an adjustment to the wage index for certain low wage index hospitals to help address wage index disparities between low and high wage index hospitals. In addition, in the FY 2022 IPPS/LTCH PPS proposed rule (86 FR 25405 through 25407), we proposed to implement section 9831 of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (Pub. L. 117-2) which reinstates the imputed floor wage index adjustment under the IPPS for hospitals in all-urban states effective for discharges on or after October 1, 2021 (FY 2022) using the methodology described in § 412.64(h)(4)(vi) as in effect for FY 2018. Specifically, section 1886(d)(3)(E)(iv)(I) and (II) of the Act, as added by section 9831 of the American Rescue Plan Act, provides that for discharges occurring on or after October 1, 2021, the area wage index applicable under the IPPS to any hospital in an all-urban State may not be less than the minimum area wage index for the fiscal year for hospitals in that State established using the methodology described in § 412.64(h)(4)(vi) as in effect for FY 2018. We further noted in the FY 2022 IPPS/LTCH PPS proposed rule that, given the recent enactment of section 9831 of Public Law 117-2 on March 11, 2021, there was not sufficient time available to incorporate the changes required by this statutory provision (the reinstatement of the imputed floor wage index) into the calculation of the IPPS provider wage index for the FY 2022 IPPS/LTCH PPS proposed rule, and we stated that we would include the imputed floor wage index adjustment in the calculation of the IPPS provider wage index in the FY 2022 IPPS/LTCH PPS final rule. We note that CMS posted, concurrent with the issuance of the FY 2022 IPPS/LTCH proposed rule, estimated imputed floor values by state in a separate data file on the FY 2022 IPPS Proposed Rule web page on the CMS website at https://www.cms.gov/​Medicare/​Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/​AcuteInpatientPPS/​index. In addition, we stated in the FY 2022 IPPS/LTCH PPS proposed rule that, based on data available for the FY 2022 IPPS/LTCH PPS proposed rule, the following States would be all-urban States as defined in section 1886(d)(3)(E)(iv)(IV) of the Act, and thus hospitals in such States would be eligible to receive an increase in their wage index due to application of the imputed floor for FY 2022: New Jersey, Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut, and Washington, DC. We refer readers to the FY 2022 IPPS/LTCH PPS proposed rule (86 FR 25396 through 25417) for a detailed discussion of all proposed changes to the FY 2022 IPPS wage indexes.

Furthermore, as discussed in the FY 2015 IPPS/LTCH PPS final rule (79 FR 49951 through 49963) and in each subsequent IPPS/LTCH PPS final rule, including the FY 2021 IPPS/LTCH PPS final rule (85 FR 58743 through 58755), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued revisions to the labor market area delineations on February 28, 2013 (based on 2010 Decennial Census data) that included a number of significant changes, such as new Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs), urban counties that became rural, rural counties that became urban, and existing CBSAs that were split apart (OMB Bulletin 13-01). This bulletin can be found at: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/​sites/​default/​files/​omb/​bulletins/​2013/​b13-01.pdf. In the FY 2015 IPPS/LTCH PPS final rule (79 FR 49950 through 49985), for purposes of the IPPS, we adopted the use of the OMB statistical area delineations contained in OMB Bulletin No. 13-01, effective October 1, 2014. For purposes of the OPPS, in the CY 2015 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (79 FR 66826 through 66828), we adopted the use of the OMB statistical area delineations contained in OMB Bulletin No. 13-01, effective January 1, 2015, beginning with the CY 2015 OPPS wage indexes. In the FY 2017 IPPS/LTCH PPS final rule (81 FR 56913), we adopted revisions to statistical areas contained in OMB Bulletin No. 15-01, issued on July 15, 2015, which provided updates to and superseded OMB Bulletin No. 13-01 that was issued on February 28, 2013. For purposes of the OPPS, in the CY 2017 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (81 FR 79598), we adopted the revisions to the OMB statistical area delineations contained in OMB Bulletin No. 15-01, effective January 1, 2017, beginning with the CY 2017 OPPS wage indexes.

On August 15, 2017, OMB issued OMB Bulletin No. 17-01, which provided updates to and superseded OMB Bulletin No. 15-01 that was issued on July 15, 2015. The attachments to OMB Bulletin No. 17-01 provided detailed information on the update to the statistical areas since July 15, 2015, and were based on the application of the 2010 Standards for Delineating Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas to Census Bureau population estimates for July 1, 2014 and July 1, 2015. For purposes of the OPPS, in the CY 2019 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (83 FR 58863 through 58865), we adopted the updates set forth in OMB Bulletin No. 17-01, Start Printed Page 42051effective January 1, 2019, beginning with the CY 2019 wage index.

On April 10, 2018, OMB issued OMB Bulletin No. 18-03 which superseded the August 15, 2017 OMB Bulletin No. 17-01. On September 14, 2018, OMB issued OMB Bulletin No. 18-04 which superseded the April 10, 2018 OMB Bulletin No. 18-03. Typically, interim OMB bulletins (those issued between decennial censuses) have only contained minor modifications to labor market delineations. However, the April 10, 2018 OMB Bulletin No. 18-03 and the September 14, 2018 OMB Bulletin No. 18-04 included more modifications to the labor market areas than are typical for OMB bulletins issued between decennial censuses, including some new CBSAs, urban counties that became rural, rural counties that became urban, and some existing CBSAs that were split apart. In addition, some of these modifications had a number of downstream effects, such as reclassification changes. These bulletins established revised delineations for Metropolitan Statistical Areas, Micropolitan Statistical Areas, and Combined Statistical Areas, and provided guidance on the use of the delineations of these statistical areas. For purposes of the OPPS, in the CY 2021 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (85 FR 85907 through 85908), we adopted the updates set forth in OMB Bulletin No. 18-04 effective January 1, 2021, beginning with the CY 2021 wage index. For a complete discussion of the adoption of the updates set forth in OMB Bulletin No. 18-04, we refer readers to the CY 2021 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period.

On March 6, 2020, OMB issued Bulletin No. 20-01, which provided updates to and superseded OMB Bulletin No. 18-04 that was issued on September 14, 2018. The attachments to OMB Bulletin No. 20-01 provided detailed information on the updates to statistical areas since September 14, 2018, and were based on the application of the 2010 Standards for Delineating Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas to Census Bureau population estimates for July 1, 2017 and July 1, 2018. (For a copy of this bulletin, we refer readers to the following website: https://www.whitehouse.gov/​wp-content/​uploads/​2020/​03/​Bulletin-20-01.pdf.) In OMB Bulletin No. 20-01, OMB announced one new Micropolitan Statistical Area, one new component of an existing Combined Statistical Area and changes to New England City and Town Area (NECTA) delineations. As we stated in the FY 2022 IPPS/LTCH PPS proposed rule (86 FR 25397), after reviewing OMB Bulletin No. 20-01, we determined that the changes in Bulletin 20-01 encompassed delineation changes that would not affect the Medicare IPPS wage index for FY 2022. Specifically, the updates consisted of changes to NECTA delineations and the creation of a new Micropolitan Statistical Area, which was then added as a new component to an existing Micropolitan Statistical Area. The Medicare wage index does not utilize NECTA definitions, and, as most recently discussed in FY 2021 IPPS/LTCH PPS final rule (85 FR 58746), we include hospitals located in Micropolitan Statistical areas in each State's rural wage index. Therefore, consistent with our discussion in the FY 2022 IPPS/LTCH PPS proposed rule, while we propose to adopt the updates set forth in OMB Bulletin No. 20-01 consistent with our longstanding policy of adopting OMB delineation updates, we note that specific OPPS wage index updates would not be necessary for CY 2022 as a result of adopting these OMB updates. In other words, these OMB updates would not affect any hospital's geographic area for purposes of the OPPS wage index calculation for CY 2022.

For CY 2022, we would continue to use the OMB delineations that were adopted beginning with FY 2015 (based on the revised delineations issued in OMB Bulletin No. 13-01) to calculate the area wage indexes, with updates as reflected in OMB Bulletin Nos. 15-01, 17-01, and 18-04.

We note that, in connection with our adoption in FY 2021 of the updates in OMB Bulletin 18-04, we adopted a policy to place a 5 percent cap, for FY 2021, on any decrease in a hospital's wage index from the hospital's final wage index in FY 2020 so that a hospital's final wage index for FY 2021 would not be less than 95 percent of its final wage index for FY 2020. We refer the reader to the FY 2021 IPPS/LTCH PPS final rule (85 FR 58753 through 58755) for a complete discussion of this transition. As finalized in the FY 2021 IPPS/LTCH PPS final rule, this transition is set to expire at the end of FY 2021. However, as discussed in the FY 2022 IPPS/LTCH PPS proposed rule (86 FR 25397), given the unprecedented nature of the ongoing COVID-19 PHE, we sought comment in the FY 2022 IPPS/LTCH PPS proposed rule on whether it would be appropriate to continue to apply a transition for the FY 2022 IPPS wage index for hospitals negatively impacted by our adoption of the updates in OMB Bulletin 18-04. For example, we stated that such an extended transition could potentially take the form of holding the FY 2022 IPPS wage index for those hospitals harmless from any reduction relative to their FY 2021 wage index. We further stated that if we were to apply a transition to the FY 2022 IPPS wage index for hospitals negatively impacted by our adoption of the updates in OMB Bulletin 18-04, we also sought comment on making this transition budget neutral under the IPPS, as is our usual practice, in the same manner that the FY 2021 IPPS wage index transition was made budget neutral as discussed in the FY 2021 IPPS/LTCH PPS final rule (85 FR 58755).

CBSAs are made up of one or more constituent counties. Each CBSA and constituent county has its own unique identifying codes. The FY 2018 IPPS/LTCH PPS final rule (82 FR 38130) discussed the two different lists of codes to identify counties: Social Security Administration (SSA) codes and Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) codes. Historically, CMS listed and used SSA and FIPS county codes to identify and crosswalk counties to CBSA codes for purposes of the IPPS and OPPS wage indexes. However, the SSA county codes are no longer being maintained and updated, although the FIPS codes continue to be maintained by the U.S. Census Bureau. The Census Bureau's most current statistical area information is derived from ongoing census data received since 2010; the most recent data are from 2015. The Census Bureau maintains a complete list of changes to counties or county equivalent entities on the website at: https://www.census.gov/​geo/​reference/​county-changes.html (which, as of May 6, 2019, migrated to: https://www.census.gov/​programs-surveys/​geography.html). In the FY 2018 IPPS/LTCH PPS final rule (82 FR 38130), for purposes of crosswalking counties to CBSAs for the IPPS wage index, we finalized our proposal to discontinue the use of the SSA county codes and begin using only the FIPS county codes. Similarly, for the purposes of crosswalking counties to CBSAs for the OPPS wage index, in the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (82 FR 59260), we finalized our proposal to discontinue the use of SSA county codes and begin using only the FIPS county codes. For CY 2022, under the OPPS, we are continuing to use only the FIPS county codes for purposes of crosswalking counties to CBSAs.

We propose to use the FY 2022 IPPS post-reclassified wage index for urban and rural areas as the wage index for the OPPS to determine the wage adjustments for both the OPPS payment Start Printed Page 42052rate and the copayment rate for CY 2022. Therefore, any adjustments for the FY 2022 IPPS post-reclassified wage index, including, but not limited to, the imputed floor adjustment and any transition that may be applied (as discussed previously), would be reflected in the final CY 2022 OPPS wage index beginning on January 1, 2022. (We refer readers to the FY 2022 IPPS/LTCH PPS proposed rule (86 FR 25396 through 25417) and the proposed FY 2022 hospital wage index files posted on the CMS website.) With regard to budget neutrality for the CY 2022 OPPS wage index, we refer readers to section II.B. of this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule. We continue to believe that using the IPPS post-reclassified wage index as the source of an adjustment factor for the OPPS is reasonable and logical, given the inseparable, subordinate status of the HOPD within the hospital overall.

Hospitals that are paid under the OPPS, but not under the IPPS, do not have an assigned hospital wage index under the IPPS. Therefore, for non-IPPS hospitals paid under the OPPS, it is our longstanding policy to assign the wage index that would be applicable if the hospital was paid under the IPPS, based on its geographic location and any applicable wage index adjustments. In this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule, we propose to continue this policy for CY 2022, and are including below a brief summary of the major proposed FY 2022 IPPS wage index policies and adjustments that we propose to apply to these hospitals under the OPPS for CY 2022. We referred readers to the FY 2022 IPPS/LTCH PPS proposed rule (86 FR 25396 through 25417) for a detailed discussion of the proposed changes to the FY 2022 IPPS wage indexes.

It has been our longstanding policy to allow non-IPPS hospitals paid under the OPPS to qualify for the out-migration adjustment if they are located in a section 505 out-migration county (section 505 of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA)). Applying this adjustment is consistent with our policy of adopting IPPS wage index policies for hospitals paid under the OPPS. We note that, because non-IPPS hospitals cannot reclassify, they are eligible for the out-migration wage index adjustment if they are located in a section 505 out-migration county. This is the same out-migration adjustment policy that would apply if the hospital were paid under the IPPS. For CY 2022, we propose to continue our policy of allowing non-IPPS hospitals paid under the OPPS to qualify for the outmigration adjustment if they are located in a section 505 out-migration county (section 505 of the MMA). Furthermore, we propose that the wage index that would apply for CY 2022 to non-IPPS hospitals paid under the OPPS would continue to include the rural floor adjustment and any adjustments applied to the IPPS wage index to address wage index disparities. In addition, the wage index that would apply to non-IPPS hospitals paid under the OPPS would include any transition we may finalize for the FY 2022 IPPS wage index as discussed previously.

For CMHCs, for CY 2022, we propose to continue to calculate the wage index by using the post-reclassification IPPS wage index based on the CBSA where the CMHC is located. Furthermore, we propose that the wage index that would apply to CMHCs for CY 2022 would continue to include the rural floor adjustment and any adjustments applied to the IPPS wage index to address wage index disparities. In addition, the wage index that would apply to CMHCs would include any transition we may finalize for the FY 2022 IPPS wage index as discussed above. Also, we propose that the wage index that would apply to CMHCs would not include the outmigration adjustment because that adjustment only applies to hospitals.

Table 4A associated with the FY 2022 IPPS/LTCH PPS proposed rule (available via the internet on the CMS website at: https://www.cms.gov/​Medicare/​Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/​AcuteInpatientPPS/​index) identifies counties that would be eligible for the out-migration adjustment. Table 2 associated with the FY 2022 IPPS/LTCH PPS proposed rule (available for download via the website above) identifies IPPS hospitals that would receive the out-migration adjustment for FY 2022. We are including the outmigration adjustment information from Table 2 associated with the FY 2022 IPPS/LTCH PPS proposed rule as Addendum L to this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule with the addition of non-IPPS hospitals that would receive the section 505 outmigration adjustment under this proposed rule. Addendum L is available via the internet on the CMS website. We refer readers to the CMS website for the OPPS at: https://www.cms.gov/​Medicare/​Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/​HospitalOutpatientPPS/​index. At this link, readers will find a link to the proposed FY 2022 IPPS wage index tables and Addendum L.

D. Proposed Statewide Average Default Cost-to-Charge Ratios (CCRs)

In addition to using CCRs to estimate costs from charges on claims for ratesetting, we use overall hospital-specific CCRs calculated from the hospital's most recent cost report to determine outlier payments, payments for pass-through devices, and monthly interim transitional corridor payments under the OPPS during the PPS year. For certain hospitals, under the regulations at 42 CFR 419.43(d)(5)(iii), we use the statewide average default CCRs to determine the payments mentioned earlier if it is not possible to determine an accurate CCR for a hospital in certain circumstances. This includes hospitals that are new, hospitals that have not accepted assignment of an existing hospital's provider agreement, and hospitals that have not yet submitted a cost report. We also use the statewide average default CCRs to determine payments for hospitals whose CCR falls outside the predetermined ceiling threshold for a valid CCR or for hospitals in which the most recent cost report reflects an all-inclusive rate status (Medicare Claims Processing Manual (Pub. 100-04), Chapter 4, Section 10.11).

We discussed our policy for using default CCRs, including setting the ceiling threshold for a valid CCR, in the CY 2009 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (73 FR 68594 through 68599) in the context of our adoption of an outlier reconciliation policy for cost reports beginning on or after January 1, 2009. For details on our process for calculating the statewide average CCRs, we refer readers to the CY 2022 OPPS proposed rule Claims Accounting Narrative that is posted on our website. We propose to calculate the default ratios for CY 2022 using cost report data from the same set of cost reports we originally used in the CY 2021 OPPS ratesetting, consistent with the broader proposal regarding 2022 OPPS ratesetting discussed in section X.E. of this proposed rule.

We no longer publish a table in the Federal Register containing the statewide average CCRs in the annual OPPS proposed rule and final rule with comment period. These CCRs with the upper limit will be available for download with each OPPS CY proposed rule and final rule on the CMS website. We refer readers to our website at: https://www.cms.gov/​Medicare/​Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/​HospitalOutpatientPPS/​Hospital-Outpatient-Regulations-and-Notices.html; click on the link on the left of the page titled “Hospital Outpatient Regulations and Notices” and then select the relevant regulation to download the statewide CCRs and upper limit in the Downloads section of the web page.Start Printed Page 42053

E. Proposed Adjustment for Rural Sole Community Hospitals (SCHs) and Essential Access Community Hospitals (EACHs) Under Section 1833(t)(13)(B) of the Act for CY 2022

In the CY 2006 OPPS final rule with comment period (70 FR 68556), we finalized a payment increase for rural sole community hospitals (SCHs) of 7.1 percent for all services and procedures paid under the OPPS, excluding drugs, biologicals, brachytherapy sources, and devices paid under the pass-through payment policy, in accordance with section 1833(t)(13)(B) of the Act, as added by section 411 of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA) (Pub. L. 108-173). Section 1833(t)(13) of the Act provided the Secretary the authority to make an adjustment to OPPS payments for rural hospitals, effective January 1, 2006, if justified by a study of the difference in costs by APC between hospitals in rural areas and hospitals in urban areas. Our analysis showed a difference in costs for rural SCHs. Therefore, for the CY 2006 OPPS, we finalized a payment adjustment for rural SCHs of 7.1 percent for all services and procedures paid under the OPPS, excluding separately payable drugs and biologicals, brachytherapy sources, items paid at charges reduced to costs, and devices paid under the pass-through payment policy, in accordance with section 1833(t)(13)(B) of the Act.

In the CY 2007 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (71 FR 68010 and 68227), for purposes of receiving this rural adjustment, we revised our regulations at § 419.43(g) to clarify that essential access community hospitals (EACHs) are also eligible to receive the rural SCH adjustment, assuming these entities otherwise meet the rural adjustment criteria. Currently, two hospitals are classified as EACHs, and as of CY 1998, under section 4201(c) of Public Law 105-33, a hospital can no longer become newly classified as an EACH.

This adjustment for rural SCHs is budget neutral and applied before calculating outlier payments and copayments. We stated in the CY 2006 OPPS final rule with comment period (70 FR 68560) that we would not reestablish the adjustment amount on an annual basis, but we may review the adjustment in the future and, if appropriate, would revise the adjustment. We provided the same 7.1 percent adjustment to rural SCHs, including EACHs, again in CYs 2008 through 2021. Further, in the CY 2009 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (73 FR 68590), we updated the regulations at § 419.43(g)(4) to specify, in general terms, that items paid at charges adjusted to costs by application of a hospital-specific CCR are excluded from the 7.1 percent payment adjustment.

For CY 2022, we propose to continue the current policy of a 7.1 percent payment adjustment that is done in a budget neutral manner for rural SCHs, including EACHs, for all services and procedures paid under the OPPS, excluding separately payable drugs and biologicals, brachytherapy sources, items paid at charges reduced to costs, and devices paid under the pass-through payment policy.

F. Proposed Payment Adjustment for Certain Cancer Hospitals for CY 2021

1. Background

Since the inception of the OPPS, which was authorized by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (BBA) (Pub. L. 105-33), Medicare has paid the 11 hospitals that meet the criteria for cancer hospitals identified in section 1886(d)(1)(B)(v) of the Act under the OPPS for covered outpatient hospital services. These cancer hospitals are exempted from payment under the IPPS. With the Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP Balanced Budget Refinement Act of 1999 (Pub. L. 106-113), the Congress added section 1833(t)(7), “Transitional Adjustment to Limit Decline in Payment,” to the Act, which requires the Secretary to determine OPPS payments to cancer and children's hospitals based on their pre-BBA payment amount (these hospitals are often referred to under this policy as “held harmless” and their payments are often referred to as “hold harmless” payments).

As required under section 1833(t)(7)(D)(ii) of the Act, a cancer hospital receives the full amount of the difference between payments for covered outpatient services under the OPPS and a “pre-BBA amount.” That is, cancer hospitals are permanently held harmless to their “pre-BBA amount,” and they receive transitional outpatient payments (TOPs) or hold harmless payments to ensure that they do not receive a payment that is lower in amount under the OPPS than the payment amount they would have received before implementation of the OPPS, as set forth in section 1833(t)(7)(F) of the Act. The “pre-BBA amount” is the product of the hospital's reasonable costs for covered outpatient services occurring in the current year and the base payment-to-cost ratio (PCR) for the hospital defined in section 1833(t)(7)(F)(ii) of the Act. The “pre-BBA amount” and the determination of the base PCR are defined at § 419.70(f). TOPs are calculated on Worksheet E, Part B, of the Hospital Cost Report or the Hospital Health Care Complex Cost Report (Form CMS-2552-96 or Form CMS-2552-10, respectively), as applicable each year. Section 1833(t)(7)(I) of the Act exempts TOPs from budget neutrality calculations.

Section 3138 of the Affordable Care Act amended section 1833(t) of the Act by adding a new paragraph (18), which instructs the Secretary to conduct a study to determine if, under the OPPS, outpatient costs incurred by cancer hospitals described in section 1886(d)(1)(B)(v) of the Act with respect to APC groups exceed outpatient costs incurred by other hospitals furnishing services under section 1833(t) of the Act, as determined appropriate by the Secretary. Section 1833(t)(18)(A) of the Act requires the Secretary to take into consideration the cost of drugs and biologicals incurred by cancer hospitals and other hospitals. Section 1833(t)(18)(B) of the Act provides that, if the Secretary determines that cancer hospitals' costs are higher than those of other hospitals, the Secretary shall provide an appropriate adjustment under section 1833(t)(2)(E) of the Act to reflect these higher costs. In 2011, after conducting the study required by section 1833(t)(18)(A) of the Act, we determined that outpatient costs incurred by the 11 specified cancer hospitals were greater than the costs incurred by other OPPS hospitals. For a complete discussion regarding the cancer hospital cost study, we refer readers to the CY 2012 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (76 FR 74200 through 74201).

Based on these findings, we finalized a policy to provide a payment adjustment to the 11 specified cancer hospitals that reflects their higher outpatient costs, as discussed in the CY 2012 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (76 FR 74202 through 74206). Specifically, we adopted a policy to provide additional payments to the cancer hospitals so that each cancer hospital's final PCR for services provided in a given calendar year is equal to the weighted average PCR (which we refer to as the “target PCR”) for other hospitals paid under the OPPS. The target PCR is set in advance of the calendar year and is calculated using the most recently submitted or settled cost report data that are available at the time of final rulemaking for the calendar year. The amount of the payment adjustment is made on an aggregate basis at cost report settlement. We note that the changes made by section Start Printed Page 420541833(t)(18) of the Act do not affect the existing statutory provisions that provide for TOPs for cancer hospitals. The TOPs are assessed, as usual, after all payments, including the cancer hospital payment adjustment, have been made for a cost reporting period. Table 3 displays the target PCR for purposes of the cancer hospital adjustment for CY 2012 through CY 2021.

2. Proposed Policy for CY 2022

Section 16002(b) of the 21st Century Cures Act (Pub. L. 114-255) amended section 1833(t)(18) of the Act by adding subparagraph (C), which requires that in applying § 419.43(i) (that is, the payment adjustment for certain cancer hospitals) for services furnished on or after January 1, 2018, the target PCR adjustment be reduced by 1.0 percentage point less than what would otherwise apply. Section 16002(b) also provides that, in addition to the percentage reduction, the Secretary may consider making an additional percentage point reduction to the target PCR that takes into account payment rates for applicable items and services described under section 1833(t)(21)(C) of the Act for hospitals that are not cancer hospitals described under section 1886(d)(1)(B)(v) of the Act. Further, in making any budget neutrality adjustment under section 1833(t) of the Act, the Secretary shall not take into account the reduced expenditures that result from application of section 1833(t)(18)(C) of the Act.

We propose to provide additional payments to the 11 specified cancer hospitals so that each cancer hospital's final PCR is equal to the weighted average PCR (or “target PCR”) for the other OPPS hospitals, using the most recent submitted or settled cost report data that were available at the time of the development of the proposed rule, reduced by 1.0 percentage point, to comply with section 16002(b) of the 21st Century Cures Act. We are not proposing an additional reduction beyond the 1.0 percentage point reduction required by section 16002(b) for CY 2022.

Under our established policy, to calculate the proposed CY 2022 target PCR, we would use the same extract of cost report data from HCRIS used to estimate costs for the CY 2022 OPPS which would be the most recently available hospital cost reports which, in most cases, would be from CY 2020. However, as discussed in Section II.A.1.a of this proposed rule, given our concerns with CY 2020 claims data as a result of the PHE, we believe a target PCR based on CY 2020 claims and the most recently available cost reports may provide a less accurate estimation of cancer hospital PCRs and non-cancer hospital PCRs than the data used for the CY 2021 rulemaking cycle. Therefore, for CY 2022, we are proposing to continue to use the CY 2021 target PCR of 0.89. This proposed CY 2022 target PCR of 0.89 includes the 1.0 percentage point reduction required by section 16002(b) of the 21st Century Cures Act for CY 2022. For a description of the CY 2021 target PCR calculation, we refer readers to the CY 2021 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (84 FR 85912 through 85914).

Table 4 shows the estimated percentage increase in OPPS payments to each cancer hospital for CY 2022, due to the cancer hospital payment adjustment policy. The actual amount of the CY 2022 cancer hospital payment adjustment for each cancer hospital will be determined at cost report settlement and will depend on each hospital's CY 2022 payments and costs. We note that the requirements contained in section 1833(t)(18) of the Act do not affect the existing statutory provisions that provide for TOPs for cancer hospitals. The TOPs will be assessed, as usual, after all payments, including the cancer hospital payment adjustment, have been made for a cost reporting period.

Start Printed Page 42055

G. Proposed Hospital Outpatient Outlier Payments

1. Background

The OPPS provides outlier payments to hospitals to help mitigate the financial risk associated with high-cost and complex procedures, where a very costly service could present a hospital with significant financial loss. As explained in the CY 2015 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (79 FR 66832 through 66834), we set our projected target for aggregate outlier payments at 1.0 percent of the estimated aggregate total payments under the OPPS for the prospective year. Outlier payments are provided on a service-by-service basis when the cost of a service exceeds the APC payment amount multiplier threshold (the APC payment amount multiplied by a certain amount) as well as the APC payment amount plus a fixed-dollar amount threshold (the APC payment plus a certain amount of dollars). In CY 2021, the outlier threshold was met when the hospital's cost of furnishing a service exceeded 1.75 times (the multiplier threshold) the APC payment amount and exceeded the APC payment amount plus $5,300 (the fixed-dollar amount threshold) (85 FR 85914 through 85916). If the cost of a service exceeds both the multiplier threshold and the fixed-dollar threshold, the outlier payment is calculated as 50 percent of the amount by which the cost of furnishing the service exceeds 1.75 times the APC payment amount. Beginning with CY 2009 payments, outlier payments are subject to a reconciliation process similar to the IPPS outlier reconciliation process for cost reports, as discussed in the CY 2009 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (73 FR 68594 through 68599).

It has been our policy to report the actual amount of outlier payments as a percent of total spending in the claims being used to model the OPPS. Our estimate of total outlier payments as a percent of total CY 2019 OPPS payments, using CY 2019 claims available for this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule, is approximately 1.0 percent of the total aggregated OPPS payments. Therefore, for CY 2019, we estimated that we paid the outlier target of 1.0 percent of total aggregated OPPS payments. Using an updated claims dataset for this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule, we estimate that we paid approximately 0.92 percent of the total aggregated OPPS payments in outliers for CY 2019.

For this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule, using CY 2019 claims data and CY 2021 payment rates, we estimated that the aggregate outlier payments for CY 2021 would be approximately 1.06 percent of the total CY 2021 OPPS payments. We provided estimated CY 2021 outlier payments for hospitals and CMHCs with claims included in the claims data that we used to model impacts in the Hospital-Specific Impacts—Provider-Specific Data file on the CMS website at: https://www.cms.gov/​Medicare/​Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/​HospitalOutpatientPPS/​index.html.

2. Outlier Calculation for CY 2022

For CY 2022, we propose to continue our policy of estimating outlier payments to be 1.0 percent of the estimated aggregate total payments under the OPPS. We propose that a portion of that 1.0 percent, an amount equal to less than 0.01 percent of outlier payments (or 0.0001 percent of total OPPS payments), would be allocated to CMHCs for PHP outlier payments. This is the amount of estimated outlier payments that would result from the proposed CMHC outlier threshold as a proportion of total estimated OPPS outlier payments. We propose to continue our longstanding policy that if a CMHC's cost for partial hospitalization services, paid under APC 5853 (Partial Start Printed Page 42056Hospitalization for CMHCs), exceeds 3.40 times the payment rate for proposed APC 5853, the outlier payment would be calculated as 50 percent of the amount by which the cost exceeds 3.40 times the proposed APC 5853 payment rate.

For further discussion of CMHC outlier payments, we refer readers to section VIII.C. of this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule.

To ensure that the estimated CY 2022 aggregate outlier payments would equal 1.0 percent of estimated aggregate total payments under the OPPS, we propose that the hospital outlier threshold be set so that outlier payments would be triggered when a hospital's cost of furnishing a service exceeds 1.75 times the APC payment amount and exceeds the APC payment amount plus $6,100.

We calculated the proposed fixed-dollar threshold of $6,100 using the standard methodology most recently used for CY 2021 (85 FR 85914 through 85916). For purposes of estimating outlier payments for the proposed rule, we used the hospital-specific overall ancillary CCRs available in the April 2020 update to the Outpatient Provider-Specific File (OPSF). The OPSF contains provider-specific data, such as the most current CCRs, which are maintained by the MACs and used by the OPPS Pricer to pay claims. The claims that we use to model each OPPS update lag by 2 years.

In order to estimate the CY 2022 hospital outlier payments for the proposed rule, we inflated the charges on the CY 2019 claims using the same inflation factor of 1.20469 that we used to estimate the IPPS fixed-dollar outlier threshold for the FY 2022 IPPS/LTCH PPS proposed rule (86 FR 25718). We used an inflation factor of 1.13218 to estimate CY 2021 charges from the CY 2019 charges reported on CY 2019 claims. The methodology for determining this charge inflation factor is discussed in the FY 2021 IPPS/LTCH PPS final rule (85 FR 59039). As we stated in the CY 2005 OPPS final rule with comment period (69 FR 65845), we believe that the use of these charge inflation factors is appropriate for the OPPS because, with the exception of the inpatient routine service cost centers, hospitals use the same ancillary and outpatient cost centers to capture costs and charges for inpatient and outpatient services.

As noted in the CY 2007 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (71 FR 68011), we are concerned that we could systematically overestimate the OPPS hospital outlier threshold if we did not apply a CCR inflation adjustment factor. Therefore, we propose to apply the same CCR inflation adjustment factor that we propose to apply for the FY 2022 IPPS outlier calculation to the CCRs used to simulate the proposed CY 2022 OPPS outlier payments to determine the fixed-dollar threshold. Specifically, for CY 2022, we propose to apply an adjustment factor of 0.94964 to the CCRs that were in the April 2020 OPSF to trend them forward from CY 2020 to CY 2022. The methodology for calculating the proposed adjustment is discussed in the FY 2022 IPPS/LTCH PPS proposed rule (86 FR 25717 through 25719).

To model hospital outlier payments for this proposed rule, we applied the overall CCRs from the April 2021 OPSF after adjustment (using the proposed CCR inflation adjustment factor of 0.94964 to approximate CY 2022 CCRs) to charges on CY 2019 claims that were adjusted (using the proposed charge inflation factor of 1.20469 to approximate CY 2022 charges). We simulated aggregated CY 2021 hospital outlier payments using these costs for several different fixed-dollar thresholds, holding the 1.75 multiplier threshold constant and assuming that outlier payments would continue to be made at 50 percent of the amount by which the cost of furnishing the service would exceed 1.75 times the APC payment amount, until the total outlier payments equaled 1.0 percent of aggregated estimated total CY 2021 OPPS payments. We estimated that a proposed fixed-dollar threshold of $6,100, combined with the proposed multiplier threshold of 1.75 times the APC payment rate, would allocate 1.0 percent of aggregated total OPPS payments to outlier payments. For CMHCs, we propose that, if a CMHC's cost for partial hospitalization services, paid under APC 5853, exceeds 3.40 times the payment rate for APC 5853, the outlier payment would be calculated as 50 percent of the amount by which the cost exceeds 3.40 times the APC 5853 payment rate.

Section 1833(t)(17)(A) of the Act, which applies to hospitals, as defined under section 1886(d)(1)(B) of the Act, requires that hospitals that fail to report data required for the quality measures selected by the Secretary, in the form and manner required by the Secretary under section 1833(t)(17)(B) of the Act, incur a 2.0 percentage point reduction to their OPD fee schedule increase factor; that is, the annual payment update factor. The application of a reduced OPD fee schedule increase factor results in reduced national unadjusted payment rates that will apply to certain outpatient items and services furnished by hospitals that are required to report outpatient quality data and that fail to meet the Hospital OQR Program requirements. For hospitals that fail to meet the Hospital OQR Program requirements, we propose to continue the policy that we implemented in CY 2010 that the hospitals' costs will be compared to the reduced payments for purposes of outlier eligibility and payment calculation. For more information on the Hospital OQR Program, we refer readers to section XIV. of this proposed rule.

H. Proposed Calculation of an Adjusted Medicare Payment From the National Unadjusted Medicare Payment

The basic methodology for determining prospective payment rates for HOPD services under the OPPS is set forth in existing regulations at 42 CFR part 419, subparts C and D. For this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule, the payment rate for most services and procedures for which payment is made under the OPPS is the product of the conversion factor calculated in accordance with section II.B. of this proposed rule and the relative payment weight determined under section II.A. of this proposed rule. Therefore, the proposed national unadjusted payment rate for most APCs contained in Addendum A to this proposed rule (which is available via the internet on the CMS website) and for most HCPCS codes to which separate payment under the OPPS has been assigned in Addendum B to this proposed rule (which is available via the internet on the CMS website) was calculated by multiplying the proposed CY 2022 scaled weight for the APC by the CY 2022 conversion factor.

We note that section 1833(t)(17) of the Act, which applies to hospitals, as defined under section 1886(d)(1)(B) of the Act, requires that hospitals that fail to submit data required to be submitted on quality measures selected by the Secretary, in the form and manner and at a time specified by the Secretary, incur a reduction of 2.0 percentage points to their OPD fee schedule increase factor, that is, the annual payment update factor. The application of a reduced OPD fee schedule increase factor results in reduced national unadjusted payment rates that apply to certain outpatient items and services provided by hospitals that are required to report outpatient quality data and that fail to meet the Hospital OQR Program (formerly referred to as the Hospital Outpatient Quality Data Reporting Program (HOP QDRP)) requirements. For further discussion of the payment reduction for hospitals that fail to meet the requirements of the Start Printed Page 42057Hospital OQR Program, we refer readers to section XIV of this proposed rule.

We demonstrate the steps used to determine the APC payments that will be made in a CY under the OPPS to a hospital that fulfills the Hospital OQR Program requirements and to a hospital that fails to meet the Hospital OQR Program requirements for a service that has any of the following status indicator assignments: “J1”, “J2”, “P”, “Q1”, “Q2”, “Q3”, “Q4”, “R”, “S”, “T”, “U”, or “V” (as defined in Addendum D1 to the proposed rule, which is available via the internet on the CMS website), in a circumstance in which the multiple procedure discount does not apply, the procedure is not bilateral, and conditionally packaged services (status indicator of “Q1” and “Q2”) qualify for separate payment. We note that, although blood and blood products with status indicator “R” and brachytherapy sources with status indicator “U” are not subject to wage adjustment, they are subject to reduced payments when a hospital fails to meet the Hospital OQR Program requirements.

Individual providers interested in calculating the payment amount that they will receive for a specific service from the national unadjusted payment rates presented in Addenda A and B to the proposed rule (which are available via the internet on the CMS website) should follow the formulas presented in the following steps. For purposes of the payment calculations below, we refer to the national unadjusted payment rate for hospitals that meet the requirements of the Hospital OQR Program as the “full” national unadjusted payment rate. We refer to the national unadjusted payment rate for hospitals that fail to meet the requirements of the Hospital OQR Program as the “reduced” national unadjusted payment rate. The reduced national unadjusted payment rate is calculated by multiplying the reporting ratio of 0.9805 times the “full” national unadjusted payment rate. The national unadjusted payment rate used in the calculations below is either the full national unadjusted payment rate or the reduced national unadjusted payment rate, depending on whether the hospital met its Hospital OQR Program requirements to receive the full CY 2022 OPPS fee schedule increase factor.

Step 1. Calculate 60 percent (the labor-related portion) of the national unadjusted payment rate. Since the initial implementation of the OPPS, we have used 60 percent to represent our estimate of that portion of costs attributable, on average, to labor. We refer readers to the April 7, 2000 OPPS final rule with comment period (65 FR 18496 through 18497) for a detailed discussion of how we derived this percentage. During our regression analysis for the payment adjustment for rural hospitals in the CY 2006 OPPS final rule with comment period (70 FR 68553), we confirmed that this labor-related share for hospital outpatient services is appropriate.

The formula below is a mathematical representation of Step 1 and identifies the labor-related portion of a specific payment rate for a specific service.

X is the labor-related portion of the national unadjusted payment rate.

X = .60 * (national unadjusted payment rate).

Step 2. Determine the wage index area in which the hospital is located and identify the wage index level that applies to the specific hospital. We note that, for the CY 2021 OPPS wage index (85 FR 85907 through 85908), we adopted the updated OMB delineations based on OMB Bulletin No. 18-04 and related IPPS wage index adjustments finalized in the FY 2021 IPPS/LTCH PPS final rule. The wage index values assigned to each area would reflect the geographic statistical areas (which are based upon OMB standards) to which hospitals are assigned for FY 2022 under the IPPS, reclassifications through the Medicare Geographic Classification Review Board (MGCRB), section 1886(d)(8)(B) “Lugar” hospitals, and reclassifications under section 1886(d)(8)(E) of the Act, as implemented in § 412.103 of the regulations. We propose to continue to apply for the CY 2022 OPPS wage index any adjustments for the FY 2022 IPPS post-reclassified wage index, including, but not limited to, the rural floor adjustment, a wage index floor of 1.00 in frontier states, in accordance with section 10324 of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, and an adjustment to the wage index for certain low wage index hospitals. For further discussion of the wage index we propose to apply for the CY 2022 OPPS, we refer readers to section II.C. of this proposed rule.

Step 3. Adjust the wage index of hospitals located in certain qualifying counties that have a relatively high percentage of hospital employees who reside in the county, but who work in a different county with a higher wage index, in accordance with section 505 of Public Law 108-173. Addendum L to this proposed rule (which is available via the internet on the CMS website) contains the qualifying counties and the associated wage index increase developed for the proposed FY 2022 IPPS wage index, which are listed in Table 2 associated with the FY 2022 IPPS/LTCH PPS proposed rule and available via the internet on the CMS website at: http://www.cms.gov/​Medicare/​Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/​AcuteInpatientPPS/​index.html. (Click on the link on the left side of the screen titled “FY 2022 IPPS Proposed Rule Home Page” and select “FY 2022 Proposed Rule Tables.”) This step is to be followed only if the hospital is not reclassified or redesignated under section 1886(d)(8) or section 1886(d)(10) of the Act.

Step 4. Multiply the applicable wage index determined under Steps 2 and 3 by the amount determined under Step 1 that represents the labor-related portion of the national unadjusted payment rate.

The formula below is a mathematical representation of Step 4 and adjusts the labor-related portion of the national unadjusted payment rate for the specific service by the wage index.

Xais the labor-related portion of the national unadjusted payment rate (wage adjusted).

Xa = .60 * (national unadjusted payment rate) * applicable wage index.

Step 5. Calculate 40 percent (the nonlabor-related portion) of the national unadjusted payment rate and add that amount to the resulting product of Step 4. The result is the wage index adjusted payment rate for the relevant wage index area.

The formula below is a mathematical representation of Step 5 and calculates the remaining portion of the national payment rate, the amount not attributable to labor, and the adjusted payment for the specific service.

Y is the nonlabor-related portion of the national unadjusted payment rate.

Y = .40 * (national unadjusted payment rate).

Adjusted Medicare Payment = Y + Xa.

Step 6. If a provider is an SCH, as set forth in the regulations at § 412.92, or an EACH, which is considered to be an SCH under section 1886(d)(5)(D)(iii)(III) of the Act, and located in a rural area, as defined in § 412.64(b), or is treated as being located in a rural area under § 412.103, multiply the wage index adjusted payment rate by 1.071 to calculate the total payment.

The formula below is a mathematical representation of Step 6 and applies the rural adjustment for rural SCHs.

Adjusted Medicare Payment (SCH or EACH) = Adjusted Medicare Payment * 1.071.

We are providing examples below of the calculation of both the full and reduced national unadjusted payment rates that will apply to certain outpatient items and services performed by hospitals that meet and that fail to meet the Hospital OQR Program requirements, using the steps outlined previously. For purposes of this Start Printed Page 42058example, we are using a provider that is located in Brooklyn, New York that is assigned to CBSA 35614. This provider bills one service that is assigned to APC 5071 (Level 1 Excision/Biopsy/Incision and Drainage). The proposed CY 2022 full national unadjusted payment rate for APC 5071 is $638.48. The proposed reduced national unadjusted payment rate for APC 5071 for a hospital that fails to meet the Hospital OQR Program requirements is $626.03. This proposed reduced rate is calculated by multiplying the reporting ratio of 0.9805 by the full unadjusted payment rate for APC 5071.

The proposed FY 2022 wage index for a provider located in CBSA 35614 in New York, which includes the proposed adoption of IPPS 2022 wage index policies, is 1.3404. The labor-related portion of the proposed full national unadjusted payment is approximately $513.49 (.60 * $638.48 * 1.3404). The labor-related portion of the proposed reduced national unadjusted payment is approximately $503.48 (.60 * $626.03 * 1.3404). The nonlabor-related portion of the proposed full national unadjusted payment is approximately $255.39 (.40 * $638.48). The nonlabor-related portion of the proposed reduced national unadjusted payment is approximately $250.41 (.40 * $626.03). The sum of the labor-related and nonlabor-related portions of the proposed full national adjusted payment is approximately $768.88 ($513.49 + $255.39). The sum of the portions of the proposed reduced national adjusted payment is approximately $753.89 ($503.48 + $250.41).

I. Proposed Beneficiary Copayments

1. Background

Section 1833(t)(3)(B) of the Act requires the Secretary to set rules for determining the unadjusted copayment amounts to be paid by beneficiaries for covered OPD services. Section 1833(t)(8)(C)(ii) of the Act specifies that the Secretary must reduce the national unadjusted copayment amount for a covered OPD service (or group of such services) furnished in a year in a manner so that the effective copayment rate (determined on a national unadjusted basis) for that service in the year does not exceed a specified percentage. As specified in section 1833(t)(8)(C)(ii)(V) of the Act, the effective copayment rate for a covered OPD service paid under the OPPS in CY 2006, and in CYs thereafter, shall not exceed 40 percent of the APC payment rate.

Section 1833(t)(3)(B)(ii) of the Act provides that, for a covered OPD service (or group of such services) furnished in a year, the national unadjusted copayment amount cannot be less than 20 percent of the OPD fee schedule amount. However, section 1833(t)(8)(C)(i) of the Act limits the amount of beneficiary copayment that may be collected for a procedure (including items such as drugs and biologicals) performed in a year to the amount of the inpatient hospital deductible for that year.

Section 4104 of the Affordable Care Act eliminated the Medicare Part B coinsurance for preventive services furnished on and after January 1, 2011, that meet certain requirements, including flexible sigmoidoscopies and screening colonoscopies, and waived the Part B deductible for screening colonoscopies that become diagnostic during the procedure. Our discussion of the changes made by the Affordable Care Act with regard to copayments for preventive services furnished on and after January 1, 2011, may be found in section XII.B. of the CY 2011 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (75 FR 72013).

2. Proposed OPPS Copayment Policy

For CY 2022, we propose to determine copayment amounts for new and revised APCs using the same methodology that we implemented beginning in CY 2004. (We refer readers to the November 7, 2003 OPPS final rule with comment period (68 FR 63458).) In addition, we propose to use the same standard rounding principles that we have historically used in instances where the application of our standard copayment methodology would result in a copayment amount that is less than 20 percent and cannot be rounded, under standard rounding principles, to 20 percent. (We refer readers to the CY 2008 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (72 FR 66687) in which we discuss our rationale for applying these rounding principles.) The proposed national unadjusted copayment amounts for services payable under the OPPS that would be effective January 1, 2022 are included in Addenda A and B to the proposed rule (which are available via the internet on the CMS website).

As discussed in section XIV.E. of this proposed rule, for CY 2022, the Medicare beneficiary's minimum unadjusted copayment and national unadjusted copayment for a service to which a reduced national unadjusted payment rate applies will equal the product of the reporting ratio and the national unadjusted copayment, or the product of the reporting ratio and the minimum unadjusted copayment, respectively, for the service.

We note that OPPS copayments may increase or decrease each year based on changes in the calculated APC payment rates, due to updated cost report and claims data, and any changes to the OPPS cost modeling process. However, as described in the CY 2004 OPPS final rule with comment period, the development of the copayment methodology generally moves beneficiary copayments closer to 20 percent of OPPS APC payments (68 FR 63458 through 63459).

In the CY 2004 OPPS final rule with comment period (68 FR 63459), we adopted a new methodology to calculate unadjusted copayment amounts in situations including reorganizing APCs, and we finalized the following rules to determine copayment amounts in CY 2004 and subsequent years.

  • When an APC group consists solely of HCPCS codes that were not paid under the OPPS the prior year because they were packaged or excluded or are new codes, the unadjusted copayment amount would be 20 percent of the APC payment rate.
  • If a new APC that did not exist during the prior year is created and consists of HCPCS codes previously assigned to other APCs, the copayment amount is calculated as the product of the APC payment rate and the lowest coinsurance percentage of the codes comprising the new APC.
  • If no codes are added to or removed from an APC and, after recalibration of its relative payment weight, the new payment rate is equal to or greater than the prior year's rate, the copayment amount remains constant (unless the resulting coinsurance percentage is less than 20 percent).
  • If no codes are added to or removed from an APC and, after recalibration of its relative payment weight, the new payment rate is less than the prior year's rate, the copayment amount is calculated as the product of the new payment rate and the prior year's coinsurance percentage.
  • If HCPCS codes are added to or deleted from an APC and, after recalibrating its relative payment weight, holding its unadjusted copayment amount constant results in a decrease in the coinsurance percentage for the reconfigured APC, the copayment amount would not change (unless retaining the copayment amount would result in a coinsurance rate less than 20 percent).
  • If HCPCS codes are added to an APC and, after recalibrating its relative payment weight, holding its unadjusted copayment amount constant results in Start Printed Page 42059an increase in the coinsurance percentage for the reconfigured APC, the copayment amount would be calculated as the product of the payment rate of the reconfigured APC and the lowest coinsurance percentage of the codes being added to the reconfigured APC.

We noted in the CY 2004 OPPS final rule with comment period that we would seek to lower the copayment percentage for a service in an APC from the prior year if the copayment percentage was greater than 20 percent. We noted that this principle was consistent with section 1833(t)(8)(C)(ii) of the Act, which accelerates the reduction in the national unadjusted coinsurance rate so that beneficiary liability will eventually equal 20 percent of the OPPS payment rate for all OPPS services to which a copayment applies, and with section 1833(t)(3)(B) of the Act, which achieves a 20-percent copayment percentage when fully phased in and gives the Secretary the authority to set rules for determining copayment amounts for new services. We further noted that the use of this methodology would, in general, reduce the beneficiary coinsurance rate and copayment amount for APCs for which the payment rate changes as the result of the reconfiguration of APCs and/or recalibration of relative payment weights (68 FR 63459).

Section 122 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) of 2021 (Pub. L. 116-260), Waiving Medicare Coinsurance for Certain Colorectal Cancer Screening Tests, amends section 1833(a) of the Act to offer a special coinsurance rule for screening flexible sigmoidoscopies and screening colonoscopies, regardless of the code that is billed for the establishment of a diagnosis as a result of the test, or for the removal of tissue or other matter or other procedure, that is furnished in connection with, as a result of, and in the same clinical encounter as the colorectal cancer screening test. We refer readers to section X.B., “Changes to Beneficiary Coinsurance for Certain Colorectal Cancer Screening Tests” of this rule for additional details.

3. Proposed Calculation of an Adjusted Copayment Amount for an APC Group

Individuals interested in calculating the national copayment liability for a Medicare beneficiary for a given service provided by a hospital that met or failed to meet its Hospital OQR Program requirements should follow the formulas presented in the following steps.

Step 1. Calculate the beneficiary payment percentage for the APC by dividing the APC's national unadjusted copayment by its payment rate. For example, using APC 5071, $127.70 is approximately 20 percent of the full national unadjusted payment rate of $638.48. For APCs with only a minimum unadjusted copayment in Addenda A and B to this proposed rule (which are available via the internet on the CMS website), the beneficiary payment percentage is 20 percent.

The formula below is a mathematical representation of Step 1 and calculates the national copayment as a percentage of national payment for a given service.

B is the beneficiary payment percentage.

B = National unadjusted copayment for APC/national unadjusted payment rate for APC.

Step 2. Calculate the appropriate wage-adjusted payment rate for the APC for the provider in question, as indicated in Steps 2 through 4 under section II.H. of this proposed rule. Calculate the rural adjustment for eligible providers, as indicated in Step 6 under section II.H. of this proposed rule.

Step 3. Multiply the percentage calculated in Step 1 by the payment rate calculated in Step 2. The result is the wage-adjusted copayment amount for the APC.

The formula below is a mathematical representation of Step 3 and applies the beneficiary payment percentage to the adjusted payment rate for a service calculated under section II.H. of this proposed rule, with and without the rural adjustment, to calculate the adjusted beneficiary copayment for a given service.

Wage-adjusted copayment amount for the APC = Adjusted Medicare Payment * B.

Wage-adjusted copayment amount for the APC (SCH or EACH) = (Adjusted Medicare Payment * 1.071) * B.

Step 4. For a hospital that failed to meet its Hospital OQR Program requirements, multiply the copayment calculated in Step 3 by the reporting ratio of 0.9805.

The proposed unadjusted copayments for services payable under the OPPS that will be effective January 1, 2022, are shown in Addenda A and B to proposed rule (which are available via the internet on the CMS website). We note that the proposed national unadjusted payment rates and copayment rates shown in Addenda A and B to this proposed rule reflect the CY 2022 OPD fee schedule increase factor discussed in section II.B. of proposed rule.

In addition, as noted earlier, section 1833(t)(8)(C)(i) of the Act limits the amount of beneficiary copayment that may be collected for a procedure performed in a year to the amount of the inpatient hospital deductible for that year.

III. Proposed OPPS Ambulatory Payment Classification (APC) Group Policies

A. Proposed OPPS Treatment of New and Revised HCPCS Codes

Payments for OPPS procedures, services, and items are generally based on medical billing codes, specifically, HCPCS codes, that are reported on HOPD claims. The HCPCS is divided into two principal subsystems, referred to as Level I and Level II of the HCPCS. Level I is comprised of CPT (Current Procedural Terminology) codes, a numeric and alphanumeric coding system maintained by the American Medical Association (AMA), and consists of Category I, II, and III CPT codes. Level II, which is maintained by CMS, is a standardized coding system that is used primarily to identify products, supplies, and services not included in the CPT codes. HCPCS codes are used to report surgical procedures, medical services, items, and supplies under the hospital OPPS. Specifically, CMS recognizes the following codes on OPPS claims:

  • Category I CPT codes, which describe surgical procedures, diagnostic and therapeutic services, and vaccine codes;
  • Category III CPT codes, which describe new and emerging technologies, services, and procedures; and
  • Level II HCPCS codes (also known as alphanumeric codes), which are used primarily to identify drugs, devices, ambulance services, durable medical equipment, orthotics, prosthetics, supplies, temporary surgical procedures, and medical services not described by CPT codes.

CPT codes are established by the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Level II HCPCS codes are established by the CMS HCPCS Workgroup. These codes are updated and changed throughout the year. CPT and Level II HCPCS code changes that affect the OPPS are published through the annual rulemaking cycle and through the OPPS quarterly update Change Requests (CRs). Generally, these code changes are effective January 1, April 1, July 1, or October 1. CPT code changes are released by the AMA (via their website) while Level II HCPCS code changes are released to the public via the CMS HCPCS website. CMS recognizes the release of new CPT and Level II HCPCS codes and makes the Start Printed Page 42060codes effective (that is, the codes can be reported on Medicare claims) outside of the formal rulemaking process via OPPS quarterly update CRs. Based on our review, we assign the new codes to interim status indicators (SIs) and APCs. These interim assignments are finalized in the OPPS/ASC final rules. This quarterly process offers hospitals access to codes that more accurately describe the items or services furnished and provides payment for these items or services in a timelier manner than if we waited for the annual rulemaking process. We solicit public comments on the new CPT and Level II HCPCS codes, status indicators, and APC assignments through our annual rulemaking process.

We note that, under the OPPS, the APC assignment determines the payment rate for an item, procedure, or service. Those items, procedures, or services not exclusively paid separately under the hospital OPPS are assigned to appropriate status indicators. Certain payment status indicators provide separate payment while other payment status indicators do not. In section XI. of this proposed rule (Proposed CY 2022 OPPS Payment Status and Comment Indicators), we discuss the various proposed status indicators used under the OPPS. We also provide a complete list of proposed status indicators and their definitions in Addendum D1 to this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule.

1. April 2021 HCPCS Codes for Which We Are Soliciting Public Comments in This Proposed Rule

For the April 2021 update, 26 new HCPCS codes were established and made effective on April 1, 2021. These codes and their long descriptors are listed in Table 5 below. Through the April 2021 OPPS quarterly update CR (Transmittal 10666, Change Request 12175, dated March 8, 2021), we recognized several new HCPCS codes for separate payment under the OPPS. In this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule, we are soliciting public comments on the proposed APC and status indicator assignments for the codes listed Table 5. The proposed status indicator, APC assignment, and payment rate for each HCPCS code can be found in Addendum B to this proposed rule. The complete list of proposed status indicators and corresponding definitions used under the OPPS can be found in Addendum D1 to this proposed rule. These new codes that are effective April 1, 2021 are assigned to comment indicator “NP” in Addendum B to this proposed rule to indicate that the codes are assigned to an interim APC assignment and that comments will be accepted on their interim APC assignments. Also, the complete list of proposed comment indicators and definitions used under the OPPS can be found in Addendum D2 to this proposed rule. We note that OPPS Addendum B, Addendum D1, and Addendum D2 are available via the internet on the CMS website.

Start Printed Page 42061

Start Printed Page 42062

2. July 2021 HCPCS Codes for Which We Are Soliciting Public Comments in This Proposed Rule

For the July 2021 update, 55 new codes were established and made effective July 1, 2021. The codes and long descriptors are listed in Table 6 below. Through the July 2021 OPPS quarterly update CR (Transmittal 10825, Change Request 12316, dated June 11, 2021), we recognized several new codes for separate payment and assigned them to appropriate interim OPPS status indicators and APCs. In this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule, we are Start Printed Page 42063soliciting public comments on the proposed APC and status indicator assignments for the codes implemented on July 1, 2021, all of which are listed in Table 6. The proposed status indicator, APC assignment, and payment rate for each HCPCS code can be found in Addendum B to this proposed rule. The complete list of proposed status indicators and corresponding definitions used under the OPPS can be found in Addendum D1 to this proposed rule. These new codes that are effective July 1, 2021 are assigned to comment indicator “NP” in Addendum B to this proposed rule to indicate that the codes are assigned to an interim APC assignment and that comments will be accepted on their interim APC assignments. Also, the complete list of proposed comment indicators and definitions used under the OPPS can be found in Addendum D2 to this proposed rule. We note that OPPS Addendum B, Addendum D1, and Addendum D2 are available via the internet on the CMS website.

Start Printed Page 42064

Start Printed Page 42065

Start Printed Page 42066

Start Printed Page 42067

Start Printed Page 42068

3. October 2021 HCPCS Codes for Which We Will Be Soliciting Public Comments in the CY 2022 OPPS/ASC Final Rule With Comment Period

As has been our practice in the past, we will solicit comments on the new CPT and Level II HCPCS codes that will be effective October 1, 2021 in the CY 2022 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period, thereby allowing us to finalize the status indicators and APC assignments for the codes in the CY 2023 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period. The HCPCS codes will be released to the public through the October 2021 OPPS Update CR and the CMS HCPCS website while the CPT codes will be released to the public through the AMA website.

For CY 2022, we are proposing to continue our established policy of assigning comment indicator “NI” in Addendum B to the OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period to those new HCPCS codes that are effective October 1, 2021 to indicate that we are assigning them an interim status indicator, which is subject to public comment. We will be inviting public comments in the CY 2022 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period on the status indicator and APC assignments, which would then be finalized in the CY 2023 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period.

4. January 2022 HCPCS Codes

a. New Level II HCPCS Codes for Which We Will Be Soliciting Public Comments in the CY 2022 OPPS/ASC Final Rule With Comment Period

Consistent with past practice, we will solicit comments on the new Level II HCPCS codes that will be effective January 1, 2022 in the CY 2022 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period, thereby allowing us to finalize the status indicators and APC assignments for the codes in the CY 2023 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period. Unlike the CPT codes that are effective January 1 and are included in the OPPS/ASC proposed rules, and except for the G-codes listed in Addendum O of this proposed rule, most Level II HCPCS codes are not released until sometime around November to be effective January 1. Because these codes are not available until November, we are unable to include them in the OPPS/ASC proposed rules. Consequently, for CY 2022, we propose to include in Addendum B to the CY 2022 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period the new Level II HCPCS codes effective January 1, 2022 that would be incorporated in the January 2022 OPPS quarterly update CR. These codes will be released to the public through the January OPPS quarterly update CRs and via the CMS HCPCS website (for Level II HCPCS codes).

For CY 2022, we are proposing to continue our established policy of assigning comment indicator “NI” in Addendum B to the OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period to the new HCPCS codes that will be effective January 1, 2022 to indicate that we are assigning them an interim status indicator, which is subject to public comment. We will be inviting public comments in the CY 2022 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period on the status indicator and APC assignments, which would then be finalized in the CY 2023 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period.

b. CPT Codes for Which We Are Soliciting Public Comments in This Proposed Rule

In the CY 2015 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (79 FR 66841 through 66844), we finalized a revised process of assigning APC and status indicators for new and revised Category I and III CPT codes that would be effective January 1. Specifically, for the new/revised CPT codes that we receive in a timely manner from the AMA's CPT Editorial Panel, we finalized our proposal to include the codes that would be effective January 1 in the OPPS/ASC proposed rules, along with proposed APC and status indicator assignments for them, and to finalize the APC and status indicator assignments in the OPPS/ASC final rules beginning with the CY 2016 OPPS update. For those new/revised CPT codes that were received too late for inclusion in the OPPS/ASC proposed rule, we finalized our proposal to establish and use HCPCS G-codes that mirror the predecessor CPT codes and retain the Start Printed Page 42069current APC and status indicator assignments for a year until we can propose APC and status indicator assignments in the following year's rulemaking cycle. We note that even if we find that we need to create HCPCS G-codes in place of certain CPT codes for the PFS proposed rule, we do not anticipate that these HCPCS G-codes will always be necessary for OPPS purposes. We will make every effort to include proposed APC and status indicator assignments for all new and revised CPT codes that the AMA makes publicly available in time for us to include them in the proposed rule, and to avoid resorting to use of HCPCS G-codes and the resulting delay in utilization of the most current CPT codes. Also, we finalized our proposal to make interim APC and status indicator assignments for CPT codes that are not available in time for the proposed rule and that describe wholly new services (such as new technologies or new surgical procedures), to solicit public comments in the final rule, and to finalize the specific APC and status indicator assignments for those codes in the following year's final rule.

For the CY 2022 OPPS update, we received the CPT codes that will be effective January 1, 2022 from the AMA in time to be included in this proposed rule. The new, revised, and deleted CPT codes can be found in Addendum B to this proposed rule (which is available via the internet on the CMS website). We note that the new and revised CPT codes are assigned to comment indicator “NP” in Addendum B of this proposed rule to indicate that the code is new for the next calendar year or the code is an existing code with substantial revision to its code descriptor in the next calendar year as compared to the current calendar year with a proposed APC assignment, and that comments will be accepted on the proposed APC assignment and status indicator.

Further, we note that the CPT code descriptors that appear in Addendum B are short descriptors and do not accurately describe the complete procedure, service, or item described by the CPT code. Therefore, we are including the 5-digit placeholder codes and the long descriptors for the new and revised CY 2022 CPT codes in Addendum O to this proposed rule (which is available via the internet on the CMS website) so that the public can adequately comment on our proposed APCs and status indicator assignments. The 5-digit placeholder codes can be found in Addendum O, specifically under the column labeled “CY 2022 OPPS/ASC Proposed Rule 5-Digit AMA Placeholder Code”. The final CPT code numbers will be included in the CY 2022 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period.

In summary, we are soliciting public comments on the proposed CY 2022 status indicators and APC assignments for the new and revised CPT codes that will be effective January 1, 2022. Because the CPT codes listed in Addendum B appear with short descriptors only, we list them again in Addendum O to this proposed rule with long descriptors. In addition, we are proposing to finalize the status indicator and APC assignments for these codes (with their final CPT code numbers) in the CY 2022 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period. The proposed status indicator and APC assignment for these codes can be found in Addendum B to this proposed rule (which is available via the internet on the CMS website).

Finally, in Table 7 below, we summarize our current process for updating codes through our OPPS quarterly update CRs, seeking public comments, and finalizing the treatment of these codes under the OPPS.

Start Printed Page 42070

B. Proposed OPPS Changes—Variations Within APCs

1. Background

Section 1833(t)(2)(A) of the Act requires the Secretary to develop a classification system for covered hospital outpatient department services. Section 1833(t)(2)(B) of the Act provides that the Secretary may establish groups of covered OPD services within this classification system, so that services classified within each group are comparable clinically and with respect to the use of resources. In accordance with these provisions, we developed a grouping classification system, referred to as Ambulatory Payment Classifications (APCs), as set forth in regulations at 42 CFR 419.31. We use Level I (also known as CPT codes) and Level II HCPCS codes (also known as alphanumeric codes) to identify and group the services within each APC. The APCs are organized such that each group is homogeneous both clinically and in terms of resource use. Using this classification system, we have established distinct groups of similar services. We also have developed separate APC groups for certain medical devices, drugs, biologicals, therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals, and brachytherapy devices that are not packaged into the payment for the procedure.

We have packaged into the payment for each procedure or service within an APC group the costs associated with those items and services that are typically ancillary and supportive to a primary diagnostic or therapeutic modality and, in those cases, are an integral part of the primary service they support. Therefore, we do not make separate payment for these packaged items or services. In general, packaged items and services include, but are not limited to, the items and services listed in regulations at 42 CFR 419.2(b). A further discussion of packaged services is included in section II.A.3. of this proposed rule.

Under the OPPS, we generally pay for covered hospital outpatient services on a rate-per-service basis, where the service may be reported with one or more HCPCS codes. Payment varies according to the APC group to which the independent service or combination of services is assigned. For CY 2022, we propose that each APC relative payment weight represents the hospital cost of the services included in that APC, relative to the hospital cost of the services included in APC 5012 (Clinic Visits and Related Services). The APC relative payment weights are scaled to APC 5012 because it is the hospital clinic visit APC and clinic visits are among the most frequently furnished services in the hospital outpatient setting.

2. Application of the 2 Times Rule

Section 1833(t)(9)(A) of the Act requires the Secretary to review, not less often than annually, and revise the APC groups, the relative payment weights, and the wage and other adjustments described in paragraph (2) to take into account changes in medical practice, changes in technology, the addition of new services, new cost data, and other relevant information and factors. Section 1833(t)(9)(A) of the Act also requires the Secretary to consult with an expert outside advisory panel composed of an appropriate selection of representatives of providers to review (and advise the Secretary concerning) Start Printed Page 42071the clinical integrity of the APC groups and the relative payment weights. We note that the HOP Panel recommendations for specific services for the CY 2022 OPPS update will be discussed in the relevant specific sections throughout the CY 2022 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period.

In addition, section 1833(t)(2) of the Act provides that, subject to certain exceptions, the items and services within an APC group cannot be considered comparable with respect to the use of resources if the highest cost for an item or service in the group is more than 2 times greater than the lowest cost for an item or service within the same group (referred to as the “2 times rule”). The statute authorizes the Secretary to make exceptions to the 2 times rule in unusual cases, such as for low-volume items and services (but the Secretary may not make such an exception in the case of a drug or biological that has been designated as an orphan drug under section 526 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act). In determining the APCs with a 2 times rule violation, we consider only those HCPCS codes that are significant based on the number of claims. We note that, for purposes of identifying significant procedure codes for examination under the 2 times rule, we consider procedure codes that have more than 1,000 single major claims or procedure codes that both have more than 99 single major claims and contribute at least 2 percent of the single major claims used to establish the APC cost to be significant (75 FR 71832). This longstanding definition of when a procedure code is significant for purposes of the 2 times rule was selected because we believe that a subset of 1,000 or fewer claims is negligible within the set of approximately 100 million single procedure or single session claims we use for establishing costs. Similarly, a procedure code for which there are fewer than 99 single claims and that comprises less than 2 percent of the single major claims within an APC will have a negligible impact on the APC cost (75 FR 71832). In this section of this proposed rule, for CY 2022, we propose to make exceptions to this limit on the variation of costs within each APC group in unusual cases, such as for certain low-volume items and services.

For the CY 2022 OPPS update, we have identified the APCs with violations of the 2 times rule. Therefore, we propose changes to the procedure codes assigned to these APCs in Addendum B to this proposed rule. We note that Addendum B does not appear in the printed version of the Federal Register as part of this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule. Rather, it is published and made available via the internet on the CMS website at: https://www.cms.gov/​Medicare/​Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/​HospitalOutpatientPPS/​index.html. To eliminate a violation of the 2 times rule and improve clinical and resource homogeneity, we propose to reassign these procedure codes to new APCs that contain services that are similar with regard to both their clinical and resource characteristics. In many cases, the proposed procedure code reassignments and associated APC reconfigurations for CY 2022 included in this proposed rule are related to changes in costs of services that were observed in the CY 2019 claims data available for CY 2022 ratesetting. Addendum B to this CY 2021 OPPS/ASC proposed rule identifies with a comment indicator “CH” those procedure codes for which we propose a change to the APC assignment or status indicator, or both, that were initially assigned in the July 1, 2021 OPPS Addendum B Update (available via the internet on the CMS website at: https://www.cms.gov/​Medicare/​Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/​HospitalOutpatientPPS/​Addendum-A-and-Addendum-B-Updates.html).

3. Proposed APC Exceptions to the 2 Times Rule

Taking into account the APC changes that we propose to make for CY 2022, we reviewed all of the APCs to determine which APCs would not meet the requirements of the 2 times rule. We used the following criteria to evaluate whether to propose exceptions to the 2 times rule for affected APCs:

  • Resource homogeneity;
  • Clinical homogeneity;
  • Hospital outpatient setting utilization;
  • Frequency of service (volume); and
  • Opportunity for upcoding and code fragments.

Based on the CY 2019 claims data available for this CY 2022 proposed rule, we found 23 APCs with violations of the 2 times rule. We applied the criteria as described above to identify the APCs for which we propose to make exceptions under the 2 times rule for CY 2022, and found that all of the 23 APCs we identified meet the criteria for an exception to the 2 times rule based on the CY 2019 claims data available for this proposed rule. We did not include in that determination those APCs where a 2 times rule violation was not a relevant concept, such as APC 5401 (Dialysis), which only has two HCPCS codes assigned to it that have similar geometric mean costs and do not create a 2 times rule violation. Therefore, we have only identified those APCs, including those with criteria-based costs, such as device-dependent CPT/HCPCS codes, with violations of the 2 times rule.

We note that, for cases in which a recommendation by the HOP Panel appears to result in or allow a violation of the 2 times rule, we may accept the HOP Panel's recommendation because those recommendations are based on explicit consideration (that is, a review of the latest OPPS claims data and group discussion of the issue) of resource use, clinical homogeneity, site of service, and the quality of the claims data used to determine the APC payment rates.

Table 8 of this proposed rule lists the 23 APCs for which we propose to make an exception under the 2 times rule for CY 2021 based on the criteria cited above and claims data submitted between January 1, 2019, and December 31, 2019, and processed on or before June 30, 2020, and updated CCRs, if available. The proposed geometric mean costs for covered hospital outpatient services for these and all other APCs that were used in the development of this proposed rule can be found on the CMS website at: http://www.cms.gov/​Medicare/​Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/​HospitalOutpatientPPS/​Hospital-Outpatient-Regulations-and-Notices.html.

Start Printed Page 42072

C. Proposed New Technology APCs

1. Background

In the CY 2002 OPPS final rule (66 FR 59903), we finalized changes to the time period in which a service can be eligible for payment under a New Technology APC. Beginning in CY 2002, we retain services within New Technology APC groups until we gather sufficient claims data to enable us to assign the service to an appropriate clinical APC. This policy allows us to move a service from a New Technology APC in less than 2 years if sufficient data are available. It also allows us to retain a service in a New Technology APC for more than 2 years if sufficient data upon which to base a decision for reassignment have not been collected.

In the CY 2004 OPPS final rule with comment period (68 FR 63416), we restructured the New Technology APCs to make the cost intervals more consistent across payment levels and refined the cost bands for these APCs to retain two parallel sets of New Technology APCs, one set with a status indicator of “S” (Significant Procedures, Not Discounted when Multiple. Paid under OPPS; separate APC payment) and the other set with a status indicator of “T” (Significant Procedure, Multiple Reduction Applies. Paid under OPPS; separate APC payment). These current New Technology APC configurations allow us to price new technology services more appropriately and consistently.

For CY 2021, there were 52 New Technology APC levels, ranging from the lowest cost band assigned to APC 1491 (New Technology—Level 1A ($0-$10)) through the highest cost band assigned to APC 1908 (New Technology—Level 52 ($145,001-$160,000)). We note that the cost bands for the New Technology APCs, specifically, APCs 1491 through 1599 and 1901 through 1908, vary with increments ranging from $10 to $14,999. These cost bands identify the APCs to which new technology procedures and services with estimated service costs that fall within those cost bands are assigned under the OPPS. Payment for each APC is made at the mid-point of the APC's assigned cost band. For example, payment for New Technology APC 1507 (New Technology—Level 7 ($501—$600)) is made at $550.50.

Under the OPPS, one of our goals is to make payments that are appropriate for the services that are necessary for the treatment of Medicare beneficiaries. The OPPS, like other Medicare payment systems, is budget neutral and increases are limited to the annual hospital market basket increase reduced by the productivity adjustment. We believe that our payment rates reflect the costs that are associated with providing care to Medicare beneficiaries and are adequate to ensure access to services (80 FR 70374).

For many emerging technologies, there is a transitional period during Start Printed Page 42073which utilization may be low, often because providers are first learning about the technologies and their clinical utility. Quite often, parties request that Medicare make higher payments under the New Technology APCs for new procedures in that transitional phase. These requests, and their accompanying estimates for expected total patient utilization, often reflect very low rates of patient use of expensive equipment, resulting in high per-use costs for which requesters believe Medicare should make full payment. Medicare does not, and we believe should not, assume responsibility for more than its share of the costs of procedures based on projected utilization for Medicare beneficiaries and does not set its payment rates based on initial projections of low utilization for services that require expensive capital equipment. For the OPPS, we rely on hospitals to make informed business decisions regarding the acquisition of high-cost capital equipment, taking into consideration their knowledge about their entire patient base (Medicare beneficiaries included) and an understanding of Medicare's and other payers' payment policies. We refer readers to the CY 2013 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (77 FR 68314) for further discussion regarding this payment policy.

We note that, in a budget-neutral system, payments may not fully cover hospitals' costs in a particular circumstance, including those for the purchase and maintenance of capital equipment. We rely on hospitals to make their decisions regarding the acquisition of high-cost equipment with the understanding that the Medicare program must be careful to establish its initial payment rates, including those made through New Technology APCs, for new services that lack hospital claims data based on realistic utilization projections for all such services delivered in cost-efficient hospital outpatient settings. As the OPPS acquires claims data regarding hospital costs associated with new procedures, we regularly examine the claims data and any available new information regarding the clinical aspects of new procedures to confirm that our OPPS payments remain appropriate for procedures as they transition into mainstream medical practice (77 FR 68314). For CY 2022, we included the proposed payment rates for New Technology APCs 1491 to 1599 and 1901 through 1908 in Addendum A to this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule (which is available via the internet on the CMS website).

2. Establishing Payment Rates for Low-Volume New Technology Services

Services that are assigned to New Technology APCs are typically new services that do not have sufficient claims history to establish an accurate payment for the services. One of the objectives of establishing New Technology APCs is to generate sufficient claims data for a new service so that it can be assigned to an appropriate clinical APC. Some services that are assigned to New Technology APCs have very low annual volume, which we consider to be fewer than 100 claims. We consider services with fewer than 100 claims annually to be low-volume services because there is a higher probability that the payment data for a service may not have a normal statistical distribution, which could affect the quality of our standard cost methodology that is used to assign services to an APC. In addition, services with fewer than 100 claims per year are not generally considered to be a significant contributor to the APC ratesetting calculations and, therefore, are not included in the assessment of the 2 times rule. As we explained in the CY 2019 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (83 FR 58890), we were concerned that the methodology we use to estimate the cost of a service under the OPPS by calculating the geometric mean for all separately paid claims for a HCPCS service code from the most recent available year of claims data may not generate an accurate estimate of the actual cost of the service for these low-volume services.

In accordance with section 1833(t)(2)(B) of the Act, services classified within each APC must be comparable clinically and with respect to the use of resources. As described earlier, assigning a service to a New Technology APC allows us to gather claims data to price the service and assign it to the APC with services that use similar resources and are clinically comparable. However, where utilization of services assigned to a New Technology APC is low, it can lead to wide variation in payment rates from year to year, resulting in even lower utilization and potential barriers to access to new technologies, which ultimately limits our ability to assign the service to the appropriate clinical APC. To mitigate these issues, we determined in the CY 2019 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period that it was appropriate to utilize our equitable adjustment authority at section 1833(t)(2)(E) of the Act to adjust how we determined the costs for low-volume services assigned to New Technology APCs (83 FR 58892 through 58893). We have utilized our equitable adjustment authority at section 1833(t)(2)(E) of the Act, which states that the Secretary shall establish, in a budget neutral manner, other adjustments as determined to be necessary to ensure equitable payments, to estimate an appropriate payment amount for low-volume new technology services in the past (82 FR 59281). Although we have used this adjustment authority on a case-by-case basis in the past, we stated in the CY 2019 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period that we believed it was appropriate to adopt an adjustment for low-volume services assigned to New Technology APCs in order to mitigate the wide payment fluctuations that have occurred for new technology services with fewer than 100 claims and to provide more predictable payment for these services.

For purposes of this adjustment, we stated that we believed that it was appropriate to use up to 4 years of claims data in calculating the applicable payment rate for the prospective year, rather than using solely the most recent available year of claims data, when a service assigned to a New Technology APC has a low annual volume of claims, which, for purposes of this adjustment, we defined as fewer than 100 claims annually. We adopted a policy to consider services with fewer than 100 claims annually as low-volume services because there is a higher probability that the payment data for a service may not have a normal statistical distribution, which could affect the quality of our standard cost methodology that is used to assign services to an APC. We explained that we were concerned that the methodology we use to estimate the cost of a service under the OPPS by calculating the geometric mean for all separately paid claims for a HCPCS procedure code from the most recent available year of claims data may not generate an accurate estimate of the actual cost of the low-volume service. Using multiple years of claims data will potentially allow for more than 100 claims to be used to set the payment rate, which would, in turn, create a more statistically reliable payment rate.

In addition, to better approximate the cost of a low-volume service within a New Technology APC, we stated that we believed using the median or arithmetic mean rather than the geometric mean (which “trims” the costs of certain claims out) could be more appropriate in some circumstances, given the extremely low volume of claims. Low claim volumes increase the impact of “outlier” claims; that is, claims with either a very low or very high payment Start Printed Page 42074rate as compared to the average claim, which would have a substantial impact on any statistical methodology used to estimate the most appropriate payment rate for a service. We also explained that we believed having the flexibility to utilize an alternative statistical methodology to calculate the payment rate in the case of low-volume new technology services would help to create a more stable payment rate. Therefore, in the CY 2019 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (83 FR 58893), we established that, in each of our annual rulemakings, we would seek public comments on which statistical methodology should be used for each low-volume service assigned to a New Technology APC. In the preamble of each annual rulemaking, we stated that we would present the result of each statistical methodology and solicit public comment on which methodology should be used to establish the payment rate for a low-volume new technology service. In addition, we explained that we would use our assessment of the resources used to perform a service and guidance from the developer or manufacturer of the service, as well as other stakeholders, to determine the most appropriate payment rate. Once we identified the most appropriate payment rate for a service, we would assign the service to the New Technology APC with the cost band that includes its payment rate.

For CY 2022, we propose to continue to utilize our equitable adjustment authority under section 1833(t)(2)(E) of the Act to calculate the geometric mean, arithmetic mean, and median using up to four years of claims data to select the appropriate payment rate for purposes of assigning services with fewer than 100 claims per year to a New Technology APC. However, we propose to utilize our equitable adjustment authority through our proposed universal low volume APC policy described in section X.C. of this proposed rule. Our proposed universal low volume APC policy is similar to our current New Technology APC low volume policy with the difference between the two policies being that the universal low volume APC policy would apply to clinical APCs and brachytherapy APCs, in addition to New Technology APCs, and would use the highest of the geometric mean, arithmetic mean, or median based on up to four years of claims data to set the payment rate for the APC. For New Technology APCs with fewer than 100 single claims at the procedure level that can be used for ratesetting, we would apply our proposed methodology for determining a low volume APC's cost, choosing the “greatest of” the median, arithmetic mean, or geometric mean at the procedure level, to apply to the individual services assigned to New Technology APCs and provide the final New Technology APC assignment for each procedure. We propose to end our separate New Technology APC low volume policy if we adopt the proposed universal low volume APC policy, as it also applies to New Technology APCs.

3. Procedures Assigned to New Technology APC Groups for CY 2022

As we described in the CY 2002 OPPS final rule with comment period (66 FR 59902), we generally retain a procedure in the New Technology APC to which it is initially assigned until we have obtained sufficient claims data to justify reassignment of the procedure to a clinically appropriate APC. In addition, in cases where we find that our initial New Technology APC assignment was based on inaccurate or inadequate information (although it was the best information available at the time), where we obtain new information that was not available at the time of our initial New Technology APC assignment, or where the New Technology APCs are restructured, we may, based on more recent resource utilization information (including claims data) or the availability of refined New Technology APC cost bands, reassign the procedure or service to a different New Technology APC that more appropriately reflects its cost (66 FR 59903).

Consistent with our current policy, for CY 2022, we propose to retain services within New Technology APC groups until we obtain sufficient claims data to justify reassignment of the service to an appropriate clinical APC. The flexibility associated with this policy allows us to reassign a service from a New Technology APC in less than 2 years if we have not obtained sufficient claims data. It also allows us to retain a service in a New Technology APC for more than 2 years if we have not obtained sufficient claims data upon which to base a reassignment decision (66 FR 59902).

a. Retinal Prosthesis Implant Procedure

CPT code 0100T (Placement of a subconjunctival retinal prosthesis receiver and pulse generator, and implantation of intra-ocular retinal electrode array, with vitrectomy) describes the implantation of a retinal prosthesis, specifically, a procedure involving the use of the Argus® II Retinal Prosthesis System. This first retinal prosthesis was approved by FDA in 2013 for adult patients diagnosed with severe to profound retinitis pigmentosa. For information on the utilization and payment history of the Argus® II procedure and the Argus® II device prior to CY 2020, please refer to the CY 2021 OPPS final rule (85 FR 85937 through 85938).

For CY 2020, we identified 35 claims reporting the procedure described by CPT code 0100T for the 4-year period of CY 2015 through CY 2018. We found the geometric mean cost for the procedure described by CPT code 0100T to be approximately $146,059, the arithmetic mean cost to be approximately $152,123, and the median cost to be approximately $151,267. All of the resulting estimates from using the three statistical methodologies fell within the same New Technology APC cost band ($145,001- $160,000), where the Argus® II procedure was assigned for CY 2019. Consistent with our policy stated in section III.C.2, we presented the result of each statistical methodology in the proposed rule, and we sought public comments on which method should be used to assign procedures described by CPT code 0100T to a New Technology APC. All three potential statistical methodologies used to estimate the cost of the Argus® II procedure fell within the cost band for New Technology APC 1908, with the estimated cost being between $145,001 and $160,000. Accordingly, we assigned CPT code 0100T in APC 1908 (New Technology—Level 52 ($145,001-$160,000)), with a payment rate of $152,500.50 for CY 2020.

For CY 2021, the number of reported claims for the Argus® II procedure continued to be very low with a substantial fluctuation in cost from year to year. The high annual variability of the cost of the Argus® II procedure continued to make it difficult to establish a consistent and stable payment rate for the procedure. As previously mentioned, in accordance with section 1833(t)(2)(B) of the Act, we are required to establish that services classified within each APC are comparable clinically and with respect to the use of resources. We identified 35 claims reporting the procedure described by CPT code 0100T for the 4-year period of CY 2016 through CY 2019. We found the geometric mean cost for the procedure described by CPT code 0100T to be approximately $148,148, the arithmetic mean cost to be approximately $153,682, and the median cost to be approximately $151,974. All three potential statistical methodologies used to estimate the cost of the Argus® II procedure fell within Start Printed Page 42075the cost band for New Technology APC 1908, with the estimated cost being between $145,001 and $160,000, and accordingly, we assigned the Argus II procedure to New Technology APC 1908 for CY 2021.

For 2022, we propose to utilize our equitable adjustment authority under section 1833(t)(2)(E) of the Act to establish the universal low volume APC policy described in section X.C. of this proposed rule. Consistent with this proposed policy, we calculated the geometric mean, arithmetic mean, and median costs using multiple years of claims data to select the appropriate payment rate for purposes of assigning the Argus® II procedure (CPT code 0100T) to a New Technology APC. We propose to use claims data from CY 2016 through CY 2019, which are the last four years of available OPPS claims data that we believe are appropriate for ratesetting, to determine the proposed payment rate for the Argus® II procedure for CY 2022. The claims data are the same 35 claims that were used to determine the payment rate for CPT code 0100T in CY 2021, and the estimates of the geometric mean ($148,148), the arithmetic mean ($153,682), and the median ($151,974) are the same as the estimates for CY 2021. All three potential statistical methodologies used to estimate the cost of the Argus® II procedure are within the cost band for New Technology APC 1908, with the proposed payment rate being between $145,001 and $160,000. Accordingly, we propose to continue to assign the Argus® II procedure to New Technology APC 1908 for CY 2022. Please see Table 9 below for the proposed OPPS APC and status indicator for the Argus® II procedure (CPT code 0100T) for CY 2022.

b. Administration of Subretinal Therapies Requiring Vitrectomy (APC 1561)

Effective January 1, 2021, CMS established HCPCS code C9770 (Vitrectomy, mechanical, pars plana approach, with subretinal injection of pharmacologic/biologic agent) and assigned it to a New Technology APC based on the geometric mean cost of HCPCS code 67036. For CY 2021, HCPCS code C9770 was assigned to APC 1561 (New Technology—Level 24 ($3001-$3500)). This procedure may be used to describe the administration of CPT code J3398 (Injection, voretigene neparvovec-rzyl, 1 billion vector genomes). This procedure was previously discussed in the CY 2021 OPPS/ASC Final Rule with comment period (85 FR 85939-85940).

CPT code J3398 (Injection, voretigene neparvovec-rzyl, 1 billion vector genomes) is a gene therapy for a rare mutation-associated retinal dystrophy. Voretigene neparvovec-rzyl (Luxturna®), was approved by FDA in December of 2017, and is indicated as an adeno-associated virus vector-based gene therapy indicated for the treatment of patients with confirmed biallelic RPE65 mutation-associated retinal dystrophy.[6] This therapy is administered through a subretinal injection, which stakeholders describe as an extremely delicate and sensitive surgical procedure. The FDA package insert describes one of the steps for administering Luxturna as, “after completing a vitrectomy, identify the intended site of administration. The subretinal injection can be introduced via pars plana.”

Stakeholders, including the manufacturer of Luxturna®, recommended HCPCS code 67036 (Vitrectomy, mechanical, pars plana approach) for the administration of the gene therapy.[7] However, the manufacturer previously contended the administration was not accurately described by any existing codes as HCPCS code 67036 (Vitrectomy, mechanical, pars plana approach) does not account for the administration itself.

CMS recognized the need to accurately describe the unique administration procedure that is required to administer the therapy described by HCPCS code J3398. Therefore, in the CY 2021 OPPS/ASC proposed rule (85 FR 48832), we proposed to establish a new HCPCS code, C97X1 (Vitrectomy, mechanical, pars plana approach, with subretinal injection of pharmacologic/biologic agent) to describe this process. We stated that we believed that this new HCPCS code accurately described the unique service associated with intraocular administration of HCPCS code J3398. We recognized that HCPCS code 67036 represents a clinically similar procedure and process that approximates similar resource utilization that is associated with C97X1. However, we also recognized that it is not prudent for the code that describes the administration of this unique gene therapy, C97X1, to be assigned to the same C-APC to which HCPCS code 67036 is assigned, as this would package the primary therapy, HCPCS code J3398, into the code that represents the process to administer the gene therapy.

Therefore, for CY 2021, we proposed to assign the services described by C97X1 to a New Technology APC with Start Printed Page 42076a cost band that contains the geometric mean cost for HCPCS code 67036. The placeholder code C97X1 was replaced by C9770 in the final rule. For CY 2021, we finalized our proposal to create C9770 (Vitrectomy, mechanical, pars plana approach, with subretinal injection of pharmacologic/biologic agent), and we assigned this code to APC 1561 (New Technology—Level 24 ($3001-$3500)) using the geometric mean cost of HCPCS code 67036. See Table 10 for the finalized descriptor and APC assignment of HCPCS code C9770 for CY 2021.

For CY 2022, we are proposing to continue our policy from CY 2021 to assign the services described by HCPCS code C9770 to a New Technology APC with a cost band that contains the geometric mean cost for HCPCS code 67036. We propose to continue to assign the services described by C9770 to a New Technology APC with a payment band based on the geometric mean cost for HCPCS code 67036 based on its geometric mean cost using CY 2019 claims data for CY 2022. Based on this data, the geometric mean cost of HCPCS code 67036 is $3,434.91. Therefore, we propose to assign C9770 to the corresponding New Technology APC payment band, APC 1561 New Technology—Level 24 ($3001-$3500) with a payment rate of $3250.50. Please see Table 10 below for the proposed OPPS APC and status indicator for HCPCS code C9770 for CY 2022.

c. Bronchoscopy With Transbronchial Ablation of Lesion(s) by Microwave Energy

Effective January 1, 2019, CMS established HCPCS code C9751 (Bronchoscopy, rigid or flexible, transbronchial ablation of lesion(s) by microwave energy, including fluoroscopic guidance, when performed, with computed tomography acquisition(s) and 3-D rendering, computer-assisted, image-guided navigation, and endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) guided transtracheal and/or transbronchial sampling (for example, aspiration[s]/biopsy[ies]) and all mediastinal and/or hilar lymph node stations or structures and therapeutic intervention(s)). This microwave ablation procedure utilizes a flexible catheter to access the lung tumor via a working channel and may be used as an alternative procedure to a percutaneous microwave approach. Based on our review of the New Technology APC application for this service and the service's clinical similarity to existing services paid under the OPPS, we estimated the likely cost of the procedure would be between $8,001 and $8,500.

In claims data available for CY 2019 for the CY 2021 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period, there were 4 claims reported for bronchoscopy with transbronchial ablation of lesions by microwave energy. Given the low volume of claims for the service, we proposed for CY 2021 to apply the policy we adopted in CY 2019, under which we utilize our equitable adjustment authority under section 1833(t)(2)(E) of the Act to calculate the geometric mean, arithmetic mean, and median costs to calculate an appropriate payment rate for purposes of assigning bronchoscopy with transbronchial ablation of lesions by microwave energy to a New Technology APC. We found the geometric mean cost for the service to be approximately $2,693, the arithmetic mean cost to be approximately $3,086, and the median cost to be approximately $3,708. The median was the statistical methodology that estimated the highest cost for the service and provided a reasonable estimate of the midpoint cost of the three claims that have been paid for this service. The payment rate calculated using this methodology fell within the cost band for New Technology APC 1562 (New Technology—Level 25 ($3,501-$4,000)). Therefore, we assigned HCPCS code C9751 to APC 1562 for CY 2021.

For CY 2022, the only available claims for HCPCS code C9751 are from CY 2019. Therefore, we are proposing given the low number of claims for this procedure to utilize our equitable adjustment authority under section 1833(t)(2)(E) of the Act to calculate the geometric mean, arithmetic mean, and median costs to calculate an appropriate payment rate for purposes of assigning bronchoscopy with transbronchial ablation of lesions by microwave energy to a New Technology APC, consistent with our proposed universal low volume APC policy. Because we are using the same claims as we did for CY 2021, we found the same values for the geometric mean cost, arithmetic mean cost, and the median cost for CY 2022. Once again, the median was the statistical methodology that estimated the highest cost for the service and provides a reasonable estimate of the midpoint cost of the three claims that have been paid for this service. The payment rate calculated using this methodology falls again within the cost band for New Technology APC 1562 (New Technology—Level 25 ($3,501-$4,000)). Therefore, we propose to continue to assign HCPCS code C9751 to APC 1562 (New Technology—Level 25 ($3,501-$4,000)), with a proposed payment rate of $3,750.50 for CY 2022. Details regarding HCPCS code C9751 are included in Table 11.

Start Printed Page 42077

d. Fractional Flow Reserve Derived From Computed Tomography (FFRCT)

Fractional Flow Reserve Derived from Computed Tomography (FFRCT), also known by the trade name HeartFlow, is a noninvasive diagnostic service that allows physicians to measure coronary artery disease in a patient through the use of coronary CT scans. The HeartFlow procedure is intended for clinically stable symptomatic patients with coronary artery disease, and, in many cases, may avoid the need for an invasive coronary angiogram procedure. HeartFlow uses a proprietary data analysis process performed at a central facility to develop a three-dimensional image of a patient's coronary arteries, which allows physicians to identify the fractional flow reserve to assess whether or not patients should undergo further invasive testing (that is, a coronary angiogram).

For many services paid under the OPPS, payment for analytics that are performed after the main diagnostic/image procedure are packaged into the payment for the primary service. However, in CY 2018, we determined that HeartFlow should receive a separate payment because the service is performed by a separate entity (that is, a HeartFlow technician who conducts computer analysis offsite) rather than the provider performing the CT scan. We assigned CPT code 0503T, which describes the analytics performed, to New Technology APC 1516 (New Technology—Level 16 ($1,401-$1,500)), with a payment rate of $1,450.50 based on pricing information provided by the developer of the procedure that indicated the price of the procedure was approximately $1,500. We did not have Medicare claims data in CY 2019 for CPT code 0503T, and we continued to assign the service to New Technology APC 1516 (New Technology—Level 16 ($1,401-$1,500)), with a payment rate of $1,450.50.

CY 2020 was the first year for which we had Medicare claims data to calculate the cost of HCPCS code 0503T. For the CY 2020 OPPS/ASC final rule, there were 957 claims with CPT code 0503T of which 101 of the claims were single frequency claims that were used to calculate the geometric mean of the procedure. We planned to use the geometric mean to report the cost of HeartFlow. However, the number of single claims for CPT code 0503T was below the low-volume payment policy threshold for the proposed rule, and this number of single claims was only two claims above the threshold for the New Technology APC low-volume policy for the final rule. Therefore, we decided to use our equitable adjustment authority under section 1833(t)(2)(E) of the Act to calculate the geometric mean, arithmetic mean, and median using the CY 2018 claims data to determine an appropriate payment rate for HeartFlow using our New Technology APC low-volume payment policy. While the number of single frequency claims was just above our threshold to use the low-volume payment policy, we still had concerns about the normal cost distribution of the claims used to calculate the payment rate for HeartFlow, and we decided the low-volume payment policy would be the best approach to address those concerns.

Our analysis found that the geometric mean cost for CPT code 0503T was $768.26, the arithmetic mean cost for CPT code 0503T was $960.12, and the median cost for CPT code 0503T was $900.28. Of the three cost methods, the highest amount was for the arithmetic mean. The arithmetic mean fell within the cost band for New Technology APC 1511 (New Technology—Level 11 ($901-$1,000)) with a payment rate of $950.50. The arithmetic mean helped to account for some of the higher costs of CPT code 0503T identified by the developer and other stakeholders that may not have been reflected by either the median or the geometric mean.

For CY 2021, we observed a significant increase in the number of claims billed with CPT code 0503T. Specifically, using CY 2019 data, we identified 3,188 claims billed with CPT code 0503T including 465 single frequency claims. These totals are well above the threshold of 100 claims for a procedure to be evaluated using the New Technology APC low-volume policy. Therefore, we used our standard methodology rather than the low-volume methodology we previously used to determine the cost of CPT code 0503T. Our analysis found that the geometric mean for CPT code 0503T was $804.35, and the geometric mean cost for the service fell within the cost band for New Technology APC 1510 (New Technology—Level 10 ($801-$900)). However, providers and other stakeholders have noted that the FFRCT service costs $1,100 and that there are additional staff costs related to the submission of coronary CT image data for processing by HeartFlow.

We noted that HeartFlow is one of the first procedures utilizing artificial intelligence to be separately payable in the OPPS, and providers are still Start Printed Page 42078learning how to accurately report their charges to Medicare when billing for artificial intelligence services (85 FR 85943). This is especially the case for allocating the cost of staff resources between the HeartFlow procedure and the coronary CT imaging services. Therefore, we decided it would be appropriate to use our equitable adjustment authority under section 1833(t)(2)(E) of the Act to assign CPT code 0503T to the same New Technology APC in CY 2021 as in CY 2020 in order to provide payment stability and equitable payment for providers as they continue to become more familiar with the proper cost reporting for HeartFlow and other artificial intelligence services. Accordingly, we assigned CPT code 0503T to New Technology APC 1511 (New Technology—Level 11 ($901-$1,000)) with a payment rate of $950.50 for CY 2020, and we continued to assign CPT code 0503T to New Technology APC 1511 for CY 2021.

For CY 2022, we propose to use claims data from CY 2019 to estimate the cost of the HeartFlow service. Because we are using the same claims data as in CY 2021, these data continue to reflect that providers were learning how to accurately report their charges to Medicare when billing for artificial intelligence services. Therefore, we propose to continue to use our equitable adjustment authority under section 1833(t)(2)(E) of the Act to assign CPT code 0503T to the same New Technology APC in CY 2022 as in CY 2020 and CY 2021: New Technology APC 1511 (New Technology—Level 11 ($901-$1,000)), with a payment rate of $950.50 for CY 2022, which is the same payment rate for the service as in CY 2020 and CY 2021. Please see Table 12 below for the proposed OPPS APC and status indicator for CPT code 0503T for CY 2022.

e. Cardiac Positron Emission Tomography (PET)/Computed Tomography (CT) Studies

Effective January 1, 2020, we assigned three CPT codes (78431, 78432, and 78433) that describe the services associated with cardiac PET/CT studies to New Technology APCs. Table 13 lists the code descriptors, status indicators, and APC assignments for these CPT codes. CPT code 78431 was assigned to APC 1522 (New Technology—Level 22 ($2,001-$2,500)) with a payment rate of $2,250.50. CPT codes 78432 and 78433 were assigned to APC 1523 (New Technology—Level 23 ($2,501-$3,000)) with a payment rate of $2,750.50. We did not receive any claims data for these services for CY 2021. Therefore, we continued to assign CPT code 78431 to APC 1522 (New Technology—Level 22 ($2,001-$2,500)) with a payment rate of $2,250.50. Likewise, CPT codes 78432 and 78433 continued to be assigned to APC 1523 (New Technology—Level 23 ($2,501-$3,000)) with a payment rate of $2,750.50.

For CY 2022, we propose to use CY 2019 claims data to determine the payment rates for CPT codes 78431, 78432, and 78433. Because these codes did not become active until CY 2020, there are no claims for these three services. Accordingly, we propose to continue to assign CPT code 78431 to APC 1522 (New Technology—Level 22 ($2,001-$2,500)) with a payment rate of $2,250.50. Likewise, we propose that CPT codes 78432 and 78433 would continue to be assigned to APC 1523 (New Technology—Level 23 ($2,501-$3,000)) with a payment rate of $2,750.50. Table 13 lists code descriptors, status indicators, and APC assignments for these CPT codes. The proposed CY 2022 payment rates for CPT codes 78431, 78432, and 78433 can be found in Addendum B to the CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule.

Start Printed Page 42079

f. V-Wave Medical Interatrial Shunt Procedure

A randomized, double-blinded, controlled IDE study is currently in progress for the V-Wave interatrial shunt. The V-Wave interatrial shunt is for patients with severe symptomatic heart failure and is designed to regulate left atrial pressure in the heart. All participants who passed initial screening for the study receive a right heart catheterization procedure described by CPT code 93451 (Right heart catheterization including measurement(s) of oxygen saturation and cardiac output, when performed). Participants assigned to the experimental group also receive the V-Wave interatrial shunt procedure while participants assigned to the control group only receive right heart catheterization. The developer of V-Wave was concerned that the current coding of these services by Medicare would reveal to the study participants whether they have received the interatrial shunt because an additional procedure code, CPT code 93799 (Unlisted cardiovascular service or procedure), would be included on the claims for participants receiving the interatrial shunt. Therefore, for CY 2020, we created a temporary HCPCS code to describe the V-wave interatrial shunt procedure for both the experimental group and the control group in the study. Specifically, we established HCPCS code C9758 (Blinded procedure for NYHA class III/IV heart failure; transcatheter implantation of interatrial shunt or placebo control, including right heart catheterization, trans-esophageal echocardiography (TEE)/intracardiac echocardiography (ICE), and all imaging with or without guidance (for example, ultrasound, fluoroscopy), performed in an approved investigational device exemption (IDE) study) to describe the service, and we assigned the service to New Technology APC 1589 (New Technology—Level 38 ($10,001-$15,000)).

We stated in the CY 2021 OPPS final rule that we believe that similar resources and device costs are involved with the V-Wave interatrial shunt procedure and the Corvia Medical interatrial shunt procedure (85 FR 85946). Therefore, the difference in the payment for HCPCS codes C9758 and C9760 is based on how often the interatrial shunt is implanted when each code is billed. An interatrial shunt is implanted one-half of the time HCPCS code C9758 is billed. Accordingly, for CY 2021, we reassigned HCPCS code C9758 to New Technology APC 1590, which reflects the cost of having surgery Start Printed Page 42080every time and receiving the interatrial shunt one-half of the time when the procedure is performed.

For CY 2022, we are using the same claims data that we did for CY 2021. Because there are no claims reporting HCPCS code C9758, we are proposing to continue to assign HCPCS code C9758 to New Technology APC 1590 with a payment rate of $17,500.50 for CY 2022.

Details about the HCPCS code and its APC assignment are shown in Table 14. The proposed CY 2022 payment rate for C9758 can be found in Addendum B to the CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule.

g. Corvia Medical Interatrial Shunt Procedure

Corvia Medical is currently conducting its pivotal trial for their interatrial shunt procedure. The trial started in Quarter 1 of CY 2017 and is scheduled to continue through CY 2021.[8] On July 1, 2020, we established HCPCS code C9760 (Non-randomized, non-blinded procedure for nyha class ii, iii, iv heart failure; transcatheter implantation of interatrial shunt or placebo control, including right and left heart catheterization, transeptal puncture, trans-esophageal echocardiography (tee)/intracardiac echocardiography (ice), and all imaging with or without guidance (for example, ultrasound, fluoroscopy), performed in an approved investigational device exemption (ide) study) to facilitate the implantation of the Corvia Medical interatrial shunt.

As we stated in the CY 2021 OPPS final rule, we believe that similar resources and device costs are involved with the Corvia Medical interatrial shunt procedure and the V-Wave interatrial shunt procedure (85 FR 85947). Therefore, the difference in the payment for HCPCS codes C9760 and C9758 is based on how often the interatrial shunt is implanted when each code is billed. The Corvia Medical interatrial shunt is implanted every time HCPCS code C9760 is billed. Therefore, for CY 2021, we assigned HCPCS code C9760 to New Technology APC 1592 (New Technology—Level 41 ($25,001-$30,000)) with a payment rate of $27,500.50. We also modified the code descriptor for HCPCS code C9760 to remove the phrase “or placebo control,” from the descriptor. For CY 2022, we propose to use the same claims data as in CY 2021 to establish payment rates for services. Therefore, there are no claims for HCPCS code C9760, and we propose to continue to assign HCPCS code C9760 to New Technology APC 1592.

Details about the HCPCS code and its APC assignment are shown in Table 15. The proposed CY 2022 payment rate for C9760 can be found in Addendum B to the proposed rule.

Start Printed Page 42081

h. Supervised Visits for Esketamine Self-Administration (HCPCS Codes G2082 and G2083 APCs 1508 and 1511)

On March 5, 2019, FDA approved SpravatoTM (esketamine) nasal spray, used in conjunction with an oral antidepressant, for treatment of depression in adults who have tried other antidepressant medicines but have not benefited from them (treatment-resistant depression (TRD)). Because of the risk of serious adverse outcomes resulting from sedation and dissociation caused by Spravato administration, and the potential for abuse and misuse of the product, it is only available through a restricted distribution system under a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS). A REMS is a drug safety program that FDA can require for certain medications with serious safety concerns to help ensure the benefits of the medication outweigh its risks.

A treatment session of esketamine consists of instructed nasal self-administration by the patient, followed by a period of post-administration observation of the patient under direct supervision of a health care professional. Esketamine is a noncompetitive N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist. It is a nasal spray supplied as an aqueous solution of esketamine hydrochloride in a vial with a nasal spray device. This is the first FDA approval of esketamine for any use. Each device delivers two sprays containing a total of 28 mg of esketamine. Patients would require either two (2) devices (for a 56 mg dose) or three (3) devices (for an 84 mg dose) per treatment.

Because of the risk of serious adverse outcomes resulting from sedation and dissociation caused by Spravato administration, and the potential for abuse and misuse of the product, Spravato is only available through a restricted distribution system under a REMS; patients must be monitored by a health care provider for at least 2 hours after receiving their Spravato dose; the prescriber and patient must both sign a Patient Enrollment Form; and the product will only be administered in a certified medical office where the health care provider can monitor the patient. Please refer to the CY 2020 PFS final rule and interim final rule for more information about supervised visits for esketamine self-administration (84 FR 63102 through 63105).

To facilitate prompt beneficiary access to the new, potentially life-saving treatment for TRD using esketamine, we created two new HCPCS G codes, G2082 and G2083, effective January 1, 2020. HCPCS code G2082 is for an outpatient visit for the evaluation and management of an established patient that requires the supervision of a physician or other qualified health care professional and provision of up to 56 mg of esketamine nasal self-administration and includes 2 hours post-administration observation. HCPCS code G2082 was assigned to New Technology APC 1508 (New Technology—Level 8 ($601-$700)) with a payment rate of $650.50. HCPCS code G2083 describes a similar service to HCPCS code G2082, but involves the administration of more than 56 mg of esketamine. HCPCS code G2083 was assigned to New Technology APC 1511 (New Technology—Level 11 ($901-$1,000)) with a payment rate of $950.50.

For CY 2022, we are using CY 2019 claims data to determine the payment rates for HCPCS codes G2082 and G2083. Since these codes did not become active until CY 2020, there are no claims for these two services. Therefore, for CY 2022, we propose to continue to assign HCPCS code G2082 to New Technology APC 1508 (New Technology—Level 8 ($601-$700)) and to assign HCPCS code G2083 to New Technology APC 1511 (New Technology—Level 11 ($901-$1,000)).

Details about the HCPCS codes and their APC assignments are shown in Table 16. The proposed CY 2022 payment rate for esketamine self-administration can be found in Addendum B to the proposed rule.

Start Printed Page 42082

D. Proposed OPPS APC-Specific Policy: Stromal Vascular Fraction (SVF) Therapy

SVF therapy is intended to treat knee osteoarthritis. To process SVF, the patient's own body fat (usually from the abdomen), is recovered, and then processed to isolate a cellular product, referred to in CPT codes as an autologous cellular implant, and then injected into the knee for pain relief. SVF therapy is currently described by CPT codes 0565T and 0566T, which were effective January 1, 2020. The long descriptors for both codes are as follows:

  • 0565T: Autologous cellular implant derived from adipose tissue for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knees; tissue harvesting and cellular implant creation.
  • 0566T: Autologous cellular implant derived from adipose tissue for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knees; injection of cellular implant into knee joint including ultrasound guidance, unilateral.

For CY 2021, CPT code 0565T is assigned to APC 5733 (Level 3 Minor Procedures) with a payment rate of $55.66, and CPT code 0566T is assigned to APC 5441 (Level 1 Nerve Injections) with a payment rate of $261.17. Based on recent information from the FDA, we found there is no current FDA-approved autologous cellular product derived from autologous body fat (referred to in CPT code 0565T and 0566T as “autologous cellular implant”) associated with SVF therapy. In addition, review of the clinical trials.gov website indicate that SVF therapy is currently under clinical trial (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifiers: NCT04440189 and NCT02726945), and has not received CMS approval as investigational device exemption (IDE) studies. We note that IDE studies that have been approved and met CMS' standards for coverage are listed on the CMS Approved IDE Studies website, specifically, at https://www.cms.gov/​Medicare/​Coverage/​IDE/​Approved-IDE-Studies.

Consequently, for CY 2022, we are proposing not to pay under the OPPS for either code. Specifically, we are revising the status indicator for CPT code 0565T from “Q1” (conditionally packaged; separately payable) to “E1” to indicate that the code is not payable by Medicare. Similarly, we are revising the status indicator for CPT code 0566T from “T” (separately payable) to “E1” to indicate that the code is not payable by Medicare and deleting the APC assignment for this code.

We note that the CY 2022 proposed status indicators for CPT codes 0565T and 0566T can also be found in Addendum B to this proposed rule with comment period. In addition, we refer readers to Addendum D1 of this proposed rule with comment period for the status indicator (SI) definitions for all codes reported under the OPPS. Both Addendum B and D1 are available via the internet on the CMS website.Start Printed Page 42083

IV. OPPS Payment for Devices

A. Proposed Pass-Through Payment for Devices

1. Beginning Eligibility Date for Device Pass-Through Status and Quarterly Expiration of Device Pass-Through Payments

a. Background

The intent of transitional device pass-through payment, as implemented at § 419.66, is to facilitate access for beneficiaries to the advantages of new and truly innovative devices by allowing for adequate payment for these new devices while the necessary cost data is collected to incorporate the costs for these devices into the procedure APC rate (66 FR 55861). Under section 1833(t)(6)(B)(iii) of the Act, the period for which a device category eligible for transitional pass-through payments under the OPPS can be in effect is at least 2 years but not more than 3 years. Prior to CY 2017, our regulation at § 419.66(g) provided that this pass-through payment eligibility period began on the date CMS established a particular transitional pass-through category of devices, and we based the pass-through status expiration date for a device category on the date on which pass-through payment was effective for the category. In the CY 2017 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (81 FR 79654), in accordance with section 1833(t)(6)(B)(iii)(II) of the Act, we amended § 419.66(g) to provide that the pass-through eligibility period for a device category begins on the first date on which pass-through payment is made under the OPPS for any medical device described by such category.

In addition, prior to CY 2017, our policy was to propose and finalize the dates for expiration of pass-through status for device categories as part of the OPPS annual update. This means that device pass-through status would expire at the end of a calendar year when at least 2 years of pass-through payments had been made, regardless of the quarter in which the device was approved. In the CY 2017 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (81 FR 79655), we changed our policy to allow for quarterly expiration of pass-through payment status for devices, beginning with pass-through devices approved in CY 2017 and subsequent calendar years, to afford a pass-through payment period that is as close to a full 3 years as possible for all pass-through payment devices. We also have an established policy to package the costs of the devices that are no longer eligible for pass-through payments into the costs of the procedures with which the devices are reported in the claims data used to set the payment rates (67 FR 66763).

We refer readers to the CY 2017 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (81 FR 79648 through 79661) for a full discussion of the current device pass-through payment policy.

b. Expiration of Transitional Pass-Through Payments for Certain Devices

As stated earlier, section 1833(t)(6)(B)(iii) of the Act requires that, under the OPPS, a category of devices be eligible for transitional pass-through payments for at least 2 years, but not more than 3 years. There currently are 11 device categories eligible for pass-through payment: C1823-Generator, neurostimulator (implantable), nonrechargeable, with transvenous sensing and stimulation leads); C1824-Generator, cardiac contractility modulation (implantable); C1982-Catheter, pressure-generating, one-way valve, intermittently occlusive; C1839-Iris prosthesis; C1734-Orthopedic/device/drug matrix for opposing bone-to-bone or soft tissue-to bone (implantable); C2596-Probe, image-guided, robotic, waterjet ablation; C1748-Endoscope, single-use (that is disposable), Upper GI, imaging/illumination device (insertable); C1052-Hemostatic agent, gastrointestinal, topical, C1062-Intravertebral body fracture augmentation with implant (for example, metal, polymer); C1825-Generator, neurostimulator (implantable), nonrechargeable with carotid sinus baroreceptor stimulation lead(s); and C1761-Catheter, transluminal intravascular lithotripsy, coronary.

Below, we detail the expiration dates of pass-through payment status for each of the 11 devices currently receiving device pass-through payment.

The pass-through payment status of the device category for HCPCS code C1823 is scheduled to expire on December 31, 2021. Typically, we would propose to package the costs of the device described by C1823 into the costs related to the procedure with which the device is reported in the hospital claims data for CY 2022. The data for the CY 2022 OPPS proposed rule ratesetting for the procedure reported with C1823 would have been set using CY 2020 outpatient claims data processed through December 31, 2020, however, as described in section IV.A.3 of this proposed rule, due to the effects of the COVID-19 PHE, we are proposing to use CY 2019 claims data instead of CY 2020 claims data in establishing the CY 2022 OPPS rates and to use cost report data from the same set of cost reports originally used in final rule 2021 OPPS ratesetting. Therefore, we are proposing to use our equitable adjustment authority under section 1833(t)(2)(E) of the Act to provide separate payment for C1823 for four quarters of CY 2022 to end on December 31, 2022. This would allow for CY 2021 claims data to inform CY 2023 rate setting for the procedure reported with C1823. This is the only device whose costs would typically be packaged into the related procedure in CY 2022 using CY 2020 claims data for ratesetting and is the only device to which this proposed policy would apply. A full discussion of this proposed policy is included in section IV.A.3 of this proposed rule.

The pass-through payment status of the device category for HCPCS code C1823 will end on December 31, 2021. The pass-through payment status of the device categories for HCPCS codes C1824, C1982, C1839, C1734, and C2596 is set to expire on December 31, 2022. The pass-through payment status of the device category for HCPCS code C1748 is set to expire on June 30, 2023. The pass-through payment status of the device category for HCPCS codes C1052, C1062, and C1825 is set to expire on December 31, 2023 and the pass-through payment status of the device category for HCPCS code C1761 is set to expire on June 30, 2024. Table 17 shows the expiration of transitional pass-through payments for these devices.

Start Printed Page 42084

2. New Device Pass-Through Applications

a. Background

Section 1833(t)(6) of the Act provides for pass-through payments for devices, and section 1833(t)(6)(B) of the Act requires CMS to use categories in determining the eligibility of devices for pass-through payments. As part of implementing the statute through regulations, we have continued to believe that it is important for hospitals to receive pass-through payments for devices that offer substantial clinical improvement in the treatment of Medicare beneficiaries to facilitate access by beneficiaries to the advantages of the new technology. Conversely, we have noted that the need for additional payments for devices that offer little or no clinical improvement over previously existing devices is less apparent. In such cases, these devices can still be used by hospitals, and hospitals will be paid for them through appropriate APC payment. Moreover, a goal is to target pass-through payments for those devices where cost considerations might be most likely to interfere with patient access (66 FR 55852; 67 FR 66782; and 70 FR 68629). We note that, as discussed in section IV.A.4. of this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule, we created an alternative pathway in the CY 2020 OPPS/ASC final rule that granted fast-track device pass-through payment under the OPPS for devices approved under the FDA Breakthrough Device Program for OPPS device pass-through payment applications received on or after January 1, 2020. We refer readers to section IV.A.4. of this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule for a complete discussion of this pathway.

As specified in regulations at § 419.66(b)(1) through (3), to be eligible for transitional pass-through payment under the OPPS, a device must meet the following criteria:

  • If required by FDA, the device must have received FDA marketing authorization (except for a device that has received an FDA investigational device exemption (IDE) and has been classified as a Category B device by the FDA), or meet another appropriate FDA exemption; and the pass-through Start Printed Page 42085payment application must be submitted within 3 years from the date of the initial FDA marketing authorization, if required, unless there is a documented, verifiable delay in U.S. market availability after FDA marketing authorization is granted, in which case CMS will consider the pass-through payment application if it is submitted within 3 years from the date of market availability;
  • The device is determined to be reasonable and necessary for the diagnosis or treatment of an illness or injury or to improve the functioning of a malformed body part, as required by section 1862(a)(1)(A) of the Act; and
  • The device is an integral part of the service furnished, is used for one patient only, comes in contact with human tissue, and is surgically implanted or inserted (either permanently or temporarily), or applied in or on a wound or other skin lesion.

In addition, according to § 419.66(b)(4), a device is not eligible to be considered for device pass-through payment if it is any of the following: (1) Equipment, an instrument, apparatus, implement, or item of this type for which depreciation and financing expenses are recovered as depreciation assets as defined in Chapter 1 of the Medicare Provider Reimbursement Manual (CMS Pub. 15-1); or (2) a material or supply furnished incident to a service (for example, a suture, customized surgical kit, or clip, other than a radiological site marker).

Separately, we use the following criteria, as set forth under § 419.66(c), to determine whether a new category of pass-through payment devices should be established. The device to be included in the new category must—

  • Not be appropriately described by an existing category or by any category previously in effect established for transitional pass-through payments, and was not being paid for as an outpatient service as of December 31, 1996;
  • Have an average cost that is not “insignificant” relative to the payment amount for the procedure or service with which the device is associated as determined under § 419.66(d) by demonstrating: (1) The estimated average reasonable cost of devices in the category exceeds 25 percent of the applicable APC payment amount for the service related to the category of devices; (2) the estimated average reasonable cost of the devices in the category exceeds the cost of the device-related portion of the APC payment amount for the related service by at least 25 percent; and (3) the difference between the estimated average reasonable cost of the devices in the category and the portion of the APC payment amount for the device exceeds 10 percent of the APC payment amount for the related service (with the exception of brachytherapy and temperature-monitored cryoablation, which are exempt from the cost requirements as specified at § 419.66(c)(3) and (e)); and
  • Demonstrate a substantial clinical improvement, that is, substantially improve the diagnosis or treatment of an illness or injury or improve the functioning of a malformed body part compared to the benefits of a device or devices in a previously established category or other available treatment.

Beginning in CY 2016, we changed our device pass-through evaluation and determination process. Device pass-through applications are still submitted to CMS through the quarterly subregulatory process, but the applications will be subject to notice-and-comment rulemaking in the next applicable OPPS annual rulemaking cycle. Under this process, all applications that are preliminarily approved upon quarterly review will automatically be included in the next applicable OPPS annual rulemaking cycle, while submitters of applications that are not approved upon quarterly review will have the option of being included in the next applicable OPPS annual rulemaking cycle or withdrawing their application from consideration. Under this notice-and-comment process, applicants may submit new evidence, such as clinical trial results published in a peer-reviewed journal or other materials for consideration during the public comment process for the proposed rule. This process allows those applications that we are able to determine meet all of the criteria for device pass-through payment under the quarterly review process to receive timely pass-through payment status, while still allowing for a transparent, public review process for all applications (80 FR 70417 through 70418).

In the CY 2020 annual rulemaking process, we finalized an alternative pathway for devices that are granted a Breakthrough Device designation (84 FR 61295) and receive Food and Drug Administration (FDA) marketing authorization. Under this alternative pathway, devices that are granted an FDA Breakthrough Device designation are not evaluated in terms of the current substantial clinical improvement criterion at § 419.66(c)(2) for the purposes of determining device pass-through payment status, but do need to meet the other requirements for pass-through payment status in our regulation at § 419.66. Devices that are part of the Breakthrough Devices Program, have received FDA marketing authorization, and meet the other criteria in the regulation can be approved through the quarterly process and announced through that process (81 FR 79655). Proposals regarding these devices and whether pass-through payment status should continue to apply are included in the next applicable OPPS rulemaking cycle. This process promotes timely pass-through payment status for innovative devices, while also recognizing that such devices may not have a sufficient evidence base to demonstrate substantial clinical improvement at the time of FDA marketing authorization.

More details on the requirements for device pass-through payment applications are included on the CMS website in the application form itself at: http://www.cms.gov/​Medicare/​Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/​HospitalOutpatientPPS/​passthrough_​payment.html, in the “Downloads” section. In addition, CMS is amenable to meeting with applicants or potential applicants to discuss research trial design in advance of any device pass-through application or to discuss application criteria, including the substantial clinical improvement criterion.

b. Applications Received for Device Pass-Through Payment for CY 2022

We received eight complete applications by the March 1, 2021 quarterly deadline, which was the last quarterly deadline for applications to be received in time to be included in the CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule. We received three of the applications in the third quarter of 2020, two of the applications in the fourth quarter of 2020, and three of the applications in the first quarter of 2021. One of the applications was approved for device pass-through payment during the quarterly review process: The Shockwave C2 Coronary Intravascular Lithotripsy (IVL) catheter, which received fast-track approval under the alternative pathway effective July 1, 2021. As previously stated, all applications that are preliminarily approved upon quarterly review will automatically be included in the next applicable OPPS annual rulemaking cycle. Therefore, the Shockwave C2 Coronary Intravascular Lithotripsy (IVL) catheter is discussed below in section IV.2.b.1.

Applications received for the later deadlines for the remaining 2021 quarters (June 1, September 1, and December 1), if any, will be discussed Start Printed Page 42086in the CY 2023 OPPS/ASC proposed rule. We note that the quarterly application process and requirements have not changed in light of the addition of rulemaking review. Detailed instructions on submission of a quarterly device pass-through payment application are included on the CMS website at: https://www.cms.gov/​Medicare/​Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/​HospitalOutpatientPPS/​Downloads/​catapp.pdf.

A discussion of the applications received by the March 1, 2021 deadline is included below.

1. Alternative Pathway Device Pass-Through Applications

We received two device pass-through applications by the March 2021 quarterly application deadline for devices that have received Breakthrough Device designation from FDA and FDA marketing authorization, and therefore are eligible to apply under the alternative pathway. As stated above in section IV.2.a of this proposed rule, under this alternative pathway, devices that are granted an FDA Breakthrough Device designation are not evaluated in terms of the substantial clinical improvement criterion at § 419.66(c)(2)(i) for purposes of determining device pass-through payment status, but need to meet the other requirements for pass-through payment status in our regulation at § 419.66.

(1) RECELL System

AVITA Medical submitted an application for a new device category for transitional pass-through payment status for the RECELL System (RECELL) for CY 2022. According to the applicant, RECELL is used to process autologous donor tissue into a cell suspension autograft that is then immediately applied to the surgically prepared acute thermal burn wound.

The applicant stated RECELL is a stand-alone, single-use, battery-powered device used to process and apply an autologous skin cell suspension. According to the applicant, RECELL is a Category III medical device indicated for the treatment of acute partial-thickness and full-thickness/mixed depth thermal burn wounds and is not categorized as a skin substitute.

According to the applicant, the autograft procedure utilizing the RECELL system involves harvesting a small graft from the patient's healthy skin and placing it into the RECELL System for immediate processing into an autologous skin cell suspension. The applicant asserts that a significantly smaller autograft harvest is needed for procedures involving RECELL when compared to procedures involving a split-thickness skin graft (STSG) without RECELL; where typical STSG expansion ranges from 2:1 to 6:1, RECELL may expand skin by up to 80:1. The applicant adds the entire procedure takes place in the operating room, including surgically preparing the acute burn wound, harvesting the autograft, processing the skin cell suspension through a disaggregation process, and applying the cell suspension autograft to the wound with no culturing in a laboratory.

The applicant described the RECELL procedure in 27 steps: (1) The autograft site is identified; (2) the patient is anesthetized and prepared; (3) the nurse opens and transfers the sterile RECELL System to the operative field; (4) a self-test is performed; (5) the nurse prepares and dispenses the enzyme into the incubation well; (6) the buffer solution is drawn and dispensed into the buffering and rinsing well; (7) the RECELL processing unit is activated to heat the enzyme; (8) a thin epidermal autograft is harvested; (9) the harvested skin graft is placed in the enzyme; (10) the donor graft incubates for 15-20 minutes; (11) the sample is placed dermal side down in the mechanical scraping tray; (12) a scalpel is used to scrape the edges of the skin sample; (13) once ready, the donor skin is rinsed in the buffer solution; (14) the skin is returned to the mechanical scraping tray; (15) buffer is applied to the skin sample; (16) the skin sample is held in place with forceps; (17) the surgeon scrapes the epidermal cells; (18) the buffer syringe is used to rinse the disaggregated skin cells; (19) the surgeon draws up the autologous skin cell suspension from the tray into a syringe; (20) the suspension is then dispensed through the cell strainer to filter the suspension; (21) the filtered autologous skin cell suspension is drawn into a new 10 ml syringe; (22) the cell suspension autograft is prepared; (23) the burn wound is debrided; (24) the primary dressing (non-adherent, non-absorbent, small pore) is fixed or held only at the lower aspect of the burn wound; (25) the cell suspension autograft is applied by either spraying or dripping over the prepared wound bed; (26) after application, the primary dressing is immediately secured over the wound bed; and (27) absorbent and protective dressings are then applied as needed.

The applicant states the autologous skin cell suspension prepared using the RECELL System contains keratinocytes, fibroblasts and melanocytes. According to the applicant, keratinocytes are the primary cells of the epidermis that are responsible for healing; fibroblasts enable the creation of new extracellular matrix proteins; and melanocytes produce melanin to allow restoration of normal pigmentation. The applicant asserts the unique delivery system allows for broad and even distribution of the cell suspension autograft directly onto a prepared wound surface or in combination with a meshed skin graft.

According to the applicant, there is one commercially available product (Epicel) that is also used to create an autograft from the patient's skin that is then applied to treat acute thermal burns. The applicant's claims regarding the differences between the two products are summarized in the following Table 18:

Start Printed Page 42087

With respect to the newness criterion at § 419.66(b)(1), RECELL received FDA Breakthrough Designation effective January 1, 2020. The applicant states that RECELL received premarket approval (PMA) on September 20, 2018. The applicant adds that RECELL is a Class III medical device indicated for the treatment of acute thermal burn wounds in patients 18 years of age and older. We received the application for a new device category for transitional pass-through payment status for RECELL on August 7, 2020, which is within 3 years of the date of the initial FDA marketing authorization. We are inviting public comment on whether the RECELL meets the newness criterion.

With respect to the eligibility criterion at § 419.66(b)(3), according to the applicant, RECELL is integral to the service provided, is used for one patient only, comes in contact with human tissue, and is surgically implanted or inserted (either permanently or temporarily) or applied in or on a wound or other skin lesion. The applicant also claimed that RECELL meets the device eligibility requirements of § 419.66(b)(4) because it is not an instrument, apparatus, implement, or item for which depreciation and financing expenses are recovered, and it is not a supply or material furnished incident to a service. However, given the applicant's description of RECELL as a device that processes tissue into an autograft, it appears that the RECELL system may Start Printed Page 42088not be surgically implanted or inserted (either permanently or temporarily) or applied in or on a wound or other skin lesion. We believe the product of the RECELL system, the suspension, may be applied on a wound, but we are not certain that this suspension qualifies as a device. We are inviting public comments on whether RECELL meets the eligibility criteria at § 419.66(b).

The criteria for establishing new device categories are specified at § 419.66(c). The first criterion, at § 419.66(c)(1), provides that CMS determines that a device to be included in the category is not appropriately described by any of the existing categories or by any category previously in effect, and was not being paid for as an outpatient service as of December 31, 1996. We have not yet identified an existing pass-through payment category that describes RECELL. We are inviting public comment on whether RECELL meets the device category criterion.

The second criterion for establishing a device category, at § 419.66(c)(2), provides that CMS determines either of the following: (i) That a device to be included in the category has demonstrated that it will substantially improve the diagnosis or treatment of an illness or injury or improve the functioning of a malformed body part compared to the benefits of a device or devices in a previously established category or other available treatment; or (ii) for devices for which pass-through status will begin on or after January 1, 2020, as an alternative to the substantial clinical improvement criterion, the device is part of the FDA's Breakthrough Devices Program and has received FDA marketing authorization. As previously discussed in section IV.2.a above, we finalized the alternative pathway for devices that are granted a Breakthrough Device designation and receive FDA marketing authorization in the CY 2020 OPPS/ASC final rule (84 FR 61295). The RECELL System has a Breakthrough Device designation and marketing authorization from the FDA and therefore is not evaluated for substantial clinical improvement. We note that the applicant has applied for the New Technology Add-on Payment under the Alternative Pathway for Breakthrough devices in the FY 2022 IPPS/LTCH proposed rule (86 FR 25385 through 25388).

The third criterion for establishing a device category, at § 419.66(c)(3), requires us to determine that the cost of the device is not insignificant, as described in § 419.66(d). Section 419.66(d) includes three cost significance criteria that must each be met. The applicant provided the following information in support of the cost significance requirements. The applicant stated that RECELL would be reported with the HCPCS codes listed in the following Table 19:

To meet the cost criterion for device pass-through payment status, a device must pass all three tests of the cost criterion for at least one APC. For our calculations, we used APC 5054—Level 4 Skin Procedures, which had a CY 2020 payment rate of $1,622.74 at the time the application was received. Beginning in CY 2017, we calculate the device offset amount at the HCPCS/CPT code level instead of the APC level (81 FR 79657). HCPCS code 15110 had a device offset amount of $13.47 at the time the application was received. According to the applicant, the cost of the RECELL is $7,500.

Section 419.66(d)(1), the first cost significance requirement, provides that the estimated average reasonable cost of devices in the category must exceed 25 percent of the applicable APC payment amount for the service related to the category of devices. The estimated average reasonable cost of $7,500 for RECELL is 462 percent of the applicable APC payment amount for the service related to the category of devices of $1,622.74 ((7,500/1,622.74) × 100 = 462.2 percent). Therefore, we believe RECELL meets the first cost significance requirement.

The second cost significance requirement, at § 419.66(d)(2), provides Start Printed Page 42089that the estimated average reasonable cost of the devices in the category must exceed the cost of the device-related portion of the APC payment amount for the related service by at least 25 percent, which means that the device cost needs to be at least 125 percent of the offset amount (the device-related portion of the APC found on the offset list). The estimated average reasonable cost of $7,500 for RECELL is 55,679 percent of the cost of the device-related portion of the APC payment amount for the related service of $13.47 (($7,500/$13.47) × 100 = 55,679.3 percent). Therefore, we believe that RECELL meets the second cost significance requirement.

The third cost significance requirement, at § 419.66(d)(3), provides that the difference between the estimated average reasonable cost of the devices in the category and the portion of the APC payment amount for the device must exceed 10 percent of the APC payment amount for the related service. The difference between the estimated average reasonable cost of $7,500 for RECELL and the portion of the APC payment amount for the device of $13.47 is 461 percent of the APC payment amount for the related service of $1,622.74 ((($7,500−$13.47)/$1,622.74) × 100 = 461.4 percent). Therefore, we believe that RECELL meets the third cost significance requirement.

We are inviting public comment on whether the RECELL meets the device pass-through payment criteria discussed in this section, including the cost criterion for device pass-through payment status.

(2) Shockwave C2 Coronary Intravascular Lithotripsy (IVL) Catheter

Shockwave Medical submitted an application for a new device category for transitional pass-through payment status for the Shockwave C2 Coronary Intravascular Lithotripsy (IVL) catheter (Coronary IVL) for CY 2022. The applicant asserts the Coronary IVL catheter is a proprietary lithotripsy device delivered through the coronary arterial system of the heart to the site of an otherwise difficult to treat calcified stenosis, including calcified stenosis that is anticipated to exhibit resistance to full balloon dilation or subsequent uniform coronary stent expansion. According to the applicant, energizing the lithotripsy device generates intermittent sound waves within the target treatment site, disrupting calcium within the lesion and allowing subsequent dilation of a coronary artery stenosis using low balloon pressure. According to the applicant, the Coronary IVL System is comprised of the following components:

(1) IVL Generator—a portable, rechargeable power source that is capital equipment and reusable.

(2) IVL Connect Cable—a reusable cable used to connect the IVL Generator to the IVL Catheter.

(3) Coronary IVL Catheter—a sterile, single-use catheter that delivers intravascular lithotripsy within the target coronary lesion.

According to the applicant, during a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) procedure, the physician determines that a lesion has severe calcification. The applicant states the Coronary IVL catheter is introduced into the lesion where lithotripsy is delivered to crack the calcification to facilitate the optimal dilatation of the vessel and placement of a coronary stent. The applicant adds that the catheter is removed, and the physician then implants a coronary stent to treat the lesion.

The applicant asserts that Coronary IVL is different from other devices used during PCI procedures as it delivers localized lithotripsy to crack the calcified lesion prior to the placement of a coronary stent. According to the applicant there are other devices that may be utilized to remove calcium within the vessel (that is, atherectomy), however, these devices utilize some form of cutting or laser to remove or ablate the calcium and can only address the calcium nearest to the vessel lumen. According to the applicant, Coronary IVL addresses the calcium within the lumen as well as within the vessel walls.

According to the applicant, Coronary IVL is used to treat a subset of patients identified for a PCI procedure to treat their coronary artery disease where approximately 15 percent of lesions in patients being eligible for a PCI procedure have severe calcification. The applicant adds the Shockwave C2 Coronary IVL catheter is utilized during PCI procedures and does not replace any devices currently utilized to complete the procedure (for example, guidewires, angioplasty balloons, stent(s), vascular closure, etc.) that are packaged into the APC payment rate. According to the applicant, based on the FDA labeling for the Coronary IVL catheter, it will be utilized prior to the placement of a coronary stent.

With respect to the newness criterion at § 419.66(b)(1), the Coronary IVL received FDA premarket approval (PMA) for the Shockwave Intravascular Lithotripsy (IVL) System with Shockwave C2 Coronary Intravascular Lithotripsy (IVL) Catheter on February 12, 2021 and is indicated for lithotripsy-enabled, low-pressure balloon dilatation of severely calcified, stenotic de novo coronary arteries prior to stenting. The Coronary IVL received FDA Breakthrough Device designation on August 19, 2019, and is indicated for lithotripsy-enabled, low-pressure dilatation of calcified, stenotic de novo coronary arteries prior to stenting. We received the application for a new device category for transitional pass-through payment status for the Coronary IVL on February 26, 2021, which is within 3 years of the date of the initial FDA marketing authorization. We are inviting public comment on whether the Coronary IVL meets the newness criterion.

With respect to the eligibility criterion at § 419.66(b)(3), according to the applicant, Coronary IVL is integral to the service provided, is used for one patient only, comes in contact with human tissue and is surgically inserted in a patient until the procedure is completed. The applicant also claimed that Coronary IVL meets the device eligibility requirements of § 419.66(b)(4) because it is not an instrument, apparatus, implement, or item for which depreciation and financing expenses are recovered, and it is not a supply or material furnished incident to a service. We are inviting public comments on whether Coronary IVL meets the eligibility criteria at § 419.66(b).

The criteria for establishing new device categories are specified at § 419.66(c). The first criterion, at § 419.66(c)(1), provides that CMS determines that a device to be included in the category is not appropriately described by any of the existing categories or by any category previously in effect, and was not being paid for as an outpatient service as of December 31, 1996. The applicant identified five established categories which they believe are not appropriate representatives of the Coronary IVL: (1) C1714 and C 1724 include devices that use mechanical cutting tools, (2) C1725 includes balloon angioplasty, (3) C1885 which uses laser, beams of light to break up vessel obstructions, and (4) C2623 which includes a drug coated balloon. We have not identified an existing pass-through payment category that describes Coronary IVL and we are inviting public comment on this issue.

The second criterion for establishing a device category, at § 419.66(c)(2), provides that CMS determines either of the following: (i) That a device to be included in the category has demonstrated that it will substantially improve the diagnosis or treatment of an illness or injury or improve the Start Printed Page 42090functioning of a malformed body part compared to the benefits of a device or devices in a previously established category or other available treatment; or (ii) for devices for which pass-through status will begin on or after January 1, 2020, as an alternative to the substantial clinical improvement criterion, the device is part of the FDA's Breakthrough Devices Program and has received FDA marketing authorization. As previously discussed in section IV.2.a above, we finalized the alternative pathway for devices that are granted a Breakthrough Device designation and receive FDA marketing authorization in the CY 2020 OPPS/ASC final rule (84 FR 61295). Coronary IVL has a Breakthrough Device designation and marketing authorization from the FDA and therefore is not evaluated for substantial clinical improvement. We note that the applicant has applied for the New Technology Add-on Payment under the Alternative Pathway for Breakthrough devices in the FY 2022 IPPS/LTCH proposed rule (86 FR 25388 through 25389).

The third criterion for establishing a device category, at § 419.66(c)(3), requires us to determine that the cost of the device is not insignificant, as described in § 419.66(d). Section 419.66(d) includes three cost significance criteria that must each be met. The applicant provided the following information in support of the cost significance requirements. The applicant stated that Coronary IVL would be reported with the HCPCS codes listed in the following Table 20:

To meet the cost criterion for device pass-through payment status, a device must pass all three tests of the cost criterion for at least one APC. For our calculations, we used APC 5193—Level 3 Endovascular Procedures, which had a CY 2021 payment rate of $10,042.94 at the time the application was received. Beginning in CY 2017, we calculate the device offset amount at the HCPCS/CPT code level instead of the APC level (81 FR 79657). HCPCS code 92928 had a device offset amount of $3,607.42 at the time the application was received.

Section 419.66(d)(1), the first cost significance requirement, provides that the estimated average reasonable cost of devices in the category must exceed 25 percent of the applicable APC payment amount for the service related to the category of devices. The estimated average reasonable cost for Coronary IVL of $5,640 is 56 percent of the applicable APC payment amount for the service related to the category of devices of $10,042.94 (($5,640/10,042.94) × 100 = 56 percent). Therefore, we believe Coronary IVL meets the first cost significance requirement.

The second cost significance requirement, at § 419.66(d)(2), provides that the estimated average reasonable cost of the devices in the category must exceed the cost of the device-related portion of the APC payment amount for the related service by at least 25 percent, which means that the device cost needs to be at least 125 percent of the offset amount (the device-related portion of the APC found on the offset list). The estimated average reasonable cost for Coronary IVL of $5,640 is 156 percent of the cost of the device-related portion of the APC payment amount for the related service of $3,607.42 (($5,640/$3,607.42) × 100 = 156 percent). Therefore, we believe that Coronary IVL meets the second cost significance requirement.

The third cost significance requirement, at § 419.66(d)(3), provides that the difference between the estimated average reasonable cost of the devices in the category and the portion of the APC payment amount for the device must exceed 10 percent of the APC payment amount for the related service. The difference between the estimated average reasonable cost of $5,640 for Coronary IVL and the portion of the APC payment amount for the device of $3,607.42 is 20 percent of the APC payment amount for the related service of $10,042.94 (($5,640 − $3,607.42)/$10,042.94) × 100= 20 percent. Therefore, we believe that Coronary IVL meets the third cost significance requirement.

We are inviting public comment on whether the Coronary IVL meets the device pass-through payment criteria discussed in this section, including the cost criterion for device pass-through payment status.Start Printed Page 42091

As specified above, the Coronary IVL application was preliminarily approved for transitional pass-through payment under the alternative pathway effective July 1, 2021. We are inviting public comment on whether the Coronary IVL should continue to receive transitional pass-through payment under the alternative pathway for devices that are FDA market authorized and that have an FDA Breakthrough Device designation.

2. Traditional Device Pass-Through Applications

(1) AngelMed Guardian® System

Angel Medical Systems submitted an application for a new device category for transitional pass-through payment status for the AngelMed Guardian® System (Guardian®) for CY 2022. The applicant asserted that the Guardian® is a proactive diagnostic technology that monitors a patient's heart's electrical activity for changes that may indicate an Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS) event (that is, STEMI, NSTEMI, or unstable angina) related to blockage of a coronary artery which prevents the heart muscle from receiving sufficient oxygen. The Guardian® is a device implanted in the upper left chest and connects to an active fixation intracardiac lead attached to the apex of the right ventricle. The applicant asserts the Guardian® consists of an implantable medical device (IMD) which is composed of the header with an antenna for communication and the can with circuitry, radio, vibratory motor, and battery. According to the applicant, the Guardian® system also includes an external device that communicates with the IMD and provides redundant patient notification using auditory and visual alarms. Lastly, the applicant states the Guardian® system includes a physician programmer, a capital device, used to program the IMD and download cardiac data captured by the IMD.

According to the applicant, the Guardian® system relies upon the gold standard of changes to the ST-segment of a patient's heartbeat to diagnose a heart attack. According to the applicant, the Guardian® system uses an intracardiac lead to sense cardiac data and proprietary machine learning algorithms to assess acute changes to the ST-segment on a continuous, real-time basis. The applicant asserts these changes are compared to a patient's normal baseline reference that is computed over the prior twenty-four hours of monitored heart activity. According to the applicant, if the Guardian® detects a statistically abnormal acute change relative to this baseline, it notifies the patient to the potential ACS event by providing an alarm: The implanted device will vibrate, and the external device will flash and beep. According to the applicant, patients are instructed to seek urgent medical assistance when the system activates, even in the absence of ACS symptoms.

According to the applicant, the Guardian® system implantation will typically be an outpatient procedure and, following 10-14 days, is programmed in the physician office. The applicant asserts the patient undergoes training on the Guardian® and has follow-up visits every six months to review the device data. The applicant states that the emergency alarm is intended to be used as an adjunct to symptoms; in the absence of an emergency alarm patients are instructed not to ignore symptoms of an ACS event. The applicant asserts that while current technologies detect and provide therapy for cardiac medical conditions related to abnormal heart rate and rhythm, the AngelMed Guardian® system is the only FDA approved technology for providing detection and patient notification of ACS events so that patients more reliably and urgently seek medical care.

With respect to the newness criterion at § 419.66(b)(1), the AngelMed Guardian® system first received FDA 510(k) clearance on April 9, 2018 under premarket approval (PMA) number P150009. The manufacturers received a Category B Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) as of January 27, 2020 for the use of the device in their continued access study, AngelMed for Early Recognition and Treatment of STEMI (ALERTS). According to the applicant, the device is anticipated for U.S. market availability in quarter three of 2021. We received the application for a new device category for transitional pass-through payment status for the Guardian® system on February 28, 2021, which is within 3 years of the date of the initial FDA marketing authorization. We solicited public comment on whether the Guardian® system meets the newness criterion.

With respect to the eligibility criterion at § 419.66(b)(3), according to the applicant, the Guardian® is integral to the service provided, is used for one patient only, comes in contact with human tissue, and is surgically inserted temporarily. The applicant also claimed that Guardian® meets the device eligibility requirements of § 419.66(b)(4) because it is not an instrument, apparatus, implement, or item for which depreciation and financing expenses are recovered, and it is not a supply or material furnished incident to a service. We are inviting public comments on whether Guardian® meets the eligibility criteria at § 419.66(b).

The criteria for establishing new device categories are specified at § 419.66(c). The first criterion, at § 419.66(c)(1), provides that CMS determines that a device to be included in the category is not appropriately described by any of the existing categories or by any category previously in effect, and was not being paid for as an outpatient service as of December 31, 1996. We have not yet identified an existing pass-through payment category that describes Guardian®. We are inviting public comment on whether Guardian® meets the device category criterion.

The second criterion for establishing a device category, at § 419.66(c)(2), provides that CMS determines either of the following: (i) That a device to be included in the category has demonstrated that it will substantially improve the diagnosis or treatment of an illness or injury or improve the functioning of a malformed body part compared to the benefits of a device or devices in a previously established category or other available treatment; or (ii) for devices for which pass-through status will begin on or after January 1, 2020, as an alternative to the substantial clinical improvement criterion, the device is part of the FDA's Breakthrough Devices Program and has received FDA marketing authorization.

The applicant stated that Guardian® represents a substantial clinical improvement over existing technologies. With respect to this criterion, the applicant asserted that Guardian® offers the ability to diagnose a medical condition in a patient population where that medical condition is currently undetectable or offers the ability to diagnose a medical condition earlier in a patient population than is currently possible and this earlier diagnosis results in better outcomes.[15] In support of this claim the applicant submitted two published articles, the first by Gibson et al. and the second by Holmes et al.[16 17]

Start Printed Page 42092

The first study is a randomized control trial with 907 subjects who were implanted with the Guardian® system and randomized 1:1 to either active or deactivated alarms.[18] According to the authors, all subjects received education regarding the importance of minimizing symptom-to-door time in the presence of chest pain or ischemic equivalents, regardless of alarm status. The authors state that patients were not blinded to their randomization status. After randomization patients returned for follow-up visits at 1, 3, 6, and every six months thereafter. In all patients, the Guardian® system captured electrogram data up to 24 hours before and 8 hours after a triggered alarm for later review. According to the authors, the primary safety endpoint was the absence of system-related complications that required a system revision or invasive intervention to resolve in at least 90 percent of subjects through six months. The primary efficacy endpoint was a composite of: (1) Cardiac or unexplained death; (2) new Q-wave MI; and (3) detection-to-presentation time >2 h for a documented coronary occlusion event. Electrocardiogram (ECG) tracings were obtained prior to implantation, at randomization, at 1, 3, and 6 months, and at every emergency presentation to evaluate for a Q-wave MI not present at baseline. An exploratory dual baseline ECG analysis was performed, according to the authors, because Q-waves may be transient between implantation and randomization. The dual baseline ECG analysis evaluates for the presence of new Q waves across subsequent ECGs. At the start of the trial, 456 patients were identified as controls and 451 as treated; at six months, 446 controls remained and 437 treated remained. The authors stated that subject enrollment ceased after 900 subjects were randomized and therefore an alpha penalty of 0.25 was taken for the interim look at event rates after 600 subjects.

According to the authors, the control and treatment groups were well matched at baseline.[19] The primary safety endpoint was met with 96.7 percent freedom (posterior probability >0.999) with a total of 31 system-related complications in 30 (3.3 percent) subjects with infections being the predominant cause of complications. The authors stated that ACS events occurrence was low. At 7, 30, 50, 70, and 90 days there were no statistical differences between the control and treated groups on the primary composite efficacy endpoint. At each time interval, the treated group had lower rates of the primary endpoint than the control group. Statistical differences were observed between treated and control groups in the dual baseline ECG exploratory analysis particularly at 50, 70, and 90 days after a confirmed occlusive event favoring the treated group. At the pre-specified 7-day look back window, the median time from Guardian® notification to arrival at a medical facility was 51 minutes for the treated subjects as compared to 30.6 hours for control subjects (Pr [pt < pc] >0.999). Subject arrival within 2 hours of a detected and confirmed coronary occlusion occurred in 85 percent (29 of 34) of the treatment group compared with only 5 percent of the control group, with the majority of patients in the control arm presenting after 7 days. However, the authors asserted that despite a numerical reduction in new Q-wave MI using single and dual baseline ECGs at any of the pre-specified look-back windows, the posterior probability of superiority did not reach statistical significance. The applicant added that 22 percent (42/193) of the confirmed ACS events were detected due to Emergency Department (ED) visits prompted by alarms in the absence of symptoms; that silent MIs typically account for approximately 30 percent of all MIs and are historically associated with increased rates of morbidity and mortality.[20]

The second article expanded on the previously discussed study with a post hoc analysis of two coprimary efficacy endpoints: Superiority of positive predictive value (PPV) and noninferiority of false positive rate for ED visits prompted by alarms compared to symptoms-only.[21] According to the authors, these primary endpoints were assessed by comparing ED visits for an Alarms OFF group (control subjects during the randomized 6-month period) to those of an Alarms ON group (including both the treatment subjects during the first 6 months and all implanted patients beyond 6 months with alarms activated). The authors stated the expanded analysis adjudicated ED visits into either true or false-positive ACS events based on independent review of cardiac test data. The authors stated that the annual rate for Clinical Events Committee (CEC)—adjudicated ACS events was 0.151 (33 of 218.15) in the Alarms OFF group and 0.124 (193 of 1,557.64) in the Alarms ON group. In the Alarms OFF group, of the 181 ED visits, the CEC adjudicated 33 (18 percent) as ACS events (MI = 22 [67 percent]; unstable angina (UA) 1/4 11 [33 percent]), with the remaining visits adjudicated as due to either stable CAD or indeterminate etiology. The median symptom-to-door time for Alarms OFF ACS events was 8.0 h (95 percent confidence interval [CI]: 3.2 to 47.5 h). In Alarms ON subjects, of the 970 ED visits, the CEC adjudicated 193 (20 percent) as ACS events, with the remainder classified as stable CAD, indeterminate events, and/or a false-positive alarm. Of the 193 ACS events, 89 events (46 percent) were prompted by alarms (with or without symptoms; MI 1/4 40 [45 percent]; UA 1/4 49 [55 percent]). The remaining 104 visits (54 percent) were prompted by symptoms only (MI 1/4 60 [58 percent]; UA 1/4 44 [42 percent]). An overall median arrival time of 1.7 h was found for the Alarms ON group composite including all 3 prompt types for ED arrival (alarms only, alarms þ symptoms, or symptoms only), which was significantly shorter than the 8.0 h delay of the Alarms OFF group (p < 0.0001). The applicant asserts that the Guardian® system allows patients with asymptomatic ACS events to respond to the ED faster with a median pre-hospital delay of 1.4 hours.

The applicant further asserts that the Guardian® system offers more rapid beneficial resolution of the disease process treated because of the use of the device. According to the applicant, the Guardian® system increases the likelihood that a patient will correctly seek medical care for an ACS event in a timely manner that reduces pre-hospital delay and associated risk of heart damage (for example, larger infarct size, ejection fraction decrement) 22 23 24Start Printed Page 42093and associated downstream sequelae. More specifically, the applicant asserts that based on the results of the second discussed study, the Guardian® system Alarms ON group showed reduced pre-hospital delays, with 55 percent (95 percent confidence interval [CI]: 46 percent to 63 percent) of Emergency department visits for ACS events <2 hours compared with 10 percent (95 percent CI: 2 percent to 27 percent) in the Alarms OFF group (p < 0.0001).[25] The applicant adds that results were similar when restricted to myocardial infarction (MI) events.[26] The applicant states the median pre-hospital delay for MI was 12.7 hours for Alarms OFF compared to 1.6 hours in Alarms ON subjects (p < 0.0089) as reported in Holmes et al. (2019).[27] The applicant asserts that it is clinically recognized, due to numerous lines of evidence, that shorter total ischemia time is associated with better outcomes for ACS events.[28 29 30 31] The applicant asserts that prompt responsiveness to symptoms and decreased pre-hospital delay is a universally understood benefit which improves the health outcomes of ACS events. According to the applicant, the American Heart Association (Mission Lifeline), American College of Cardiology (Door to Balloon (D2B) Alliance), Society for Angiographic Intervention (Seconds CountTM program) and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute have organized task forces and launched national programs with the goal of improving patient awareness and response to symptoms which are indicative of potential ACS events and reducing total ischemia time (that is, prehospital delay and in-hospital delay) to improve outcomes.

The applicant next asserts the device offers more rapid beneficial resolution of the disease process because the use of the Guardian® system, as compared to the standard of care relying on symptoms alone, being in the Alarm ON group was associated with a reduction in the rate of new onset of left ventricular dysfunction.[32]

Lastly the applicant asserts the use of the Guardian® system will decrease the number of future hospitalizations or physician visits. According to the applicant, the Guardian® system reduces the annual false positive rate (FPR) of Emergency Department visits (that is, spurious ED visits where no ACS is found) by 26 percent.[33] The applicant states that the FPR for all alarms on emergency visits was 0.499 per patient-year compared to 0.678 for alarms off (p <0.001).[34]

Based on the evidence submitted with the application, we have the following observations. Much of the claims for substantial clinical improvement are derived from two primary studies identified by the applicant and discussed above.[35 36] We note that the first study (Gibson et al. 2019) did not demonstrate statistically significant superiority of the intervention during the pre-determined study window. The authors noted a lower than expected frequency of events and the study was terminated early, two factors which may have affected these results. The results from the second study are based entirely on a post hoc analysis of data from the first article. We note that the findings presented are valuable but we seek comment on whether a post hoc analysis provides sufficient evidence to support the claim of substantial clinical improvement. Furthermore, we note that the primary efficacy endpoint was a composite of three outcomes. We are not certain that this endpoint is an appropriate measure with which to evaluate substantial clinical improvement among patients experiencing ACS events. We invite public comments on whether the Guardian® system meets the substantial clinical improvement criterion.

The third criterion for establishing a device category, at § 419.66(c)(3), requires us to determine that the cost of the device is not insignificant, as described in § 419.66(d). Section 419.66(d) includes three cost significance criteria that must each be met. The applicant provided the following information in support of the cost significance requirements. The applicant stated that Guardian® would be reported with the HCPCS codes listed in the following Table 21:

Start Printed Page 42094

To meet the cost criterion for device pass-through payment status, a device must pass all three tests of the cost criterion for at least one APC. For our calculations, we used APC 5222—Level 2 Pacemaker and Similar Procedures, which had a CY 2021 payment rate of $8,152.58 at the time the application was received. Beginning in CY 2017, we calculate the device offset amount at the HCPCS/CPT code level instead of the APC level (81 FR 79657). HCPCS code 0527T was assigned to APC 5222 and had a device offset amount of $1,598.72 at the time the application was received.

Section 419.66(d)(1), the first cost significance requirement, provides that the estimated average reasonable cost of devices in the category must exceed 25 percent of the applicable APC payment amount for the service related to the category of devices. The estimated average reasonable cost for Guardian is 126 percent of the applicable APC payment amount for the service related to the category of devices of $8,152.58. Therefore, we believe Guardian® meets the first cost significance requirement.

The second cost significance requirement, at § 419.66(d)(2), provides that the estimated average reasonable cost of the devices in the category must exceed the cost of the device-related portion of the APC payment amount for the related service by at least 25 percent, which means that the device cost needs to be at least 125 percent of the offset amount (the device-related portion of the APC found on the offset list). The estimated average reasonable cost for Guardian® is 641 percent of the cost of the device-related portion of the APC payment amount for the related service of $1,598.72. Therefore, we believe that Guardian® meets the second cost significance requirement.

The third cost significance requirement, at § 419.66(d)(3), provides that the difference between the estimated average reasonable cost of the devices in the category and the portion of the APC payment amount for the device must exceed 10 percent of the APC payment amount for the related service. The difference between the estimated average reasonable cost for Guardian® and the portion of the APC payment amount for the device of $1,598.72 is 106 percent of the APC payment amount for the related service of $8,152.58. Therefore, we believe that Guardian® meets the third cost significance requirement. We are inviting public comment on whether the Guardian® meets the device pass-through payment criteria discussed in this section, including the cost criterion for device pass-through payment status.

(2) BONEBRIDGE Bone Conduction Implant System

MED-EL Corporation submitted an application for a new device category for transitional pass-through payment status for the BONEBRIDGE Bone Conduction Implant System (hereinafter referred to as the BONEBRIDGE) by the March 2021 quarterly deadline for CY 2022. The BONEBRIDGE is a transcutaneous, active auditory osseointegrated device that replaces the function of the damaged outer or middle ear and can help people for whom hearing aids are ineffective or not recommended. According to the applicant, the device consists of a bone conduction implant and electronics components, and an externally worn audio processor. The bone conduction implant is called the BONEBRIDGE Bone Conduction Implant (BCI 602) and the externally worn audio processor is called the SAMBA 2 Audio Processor. The BCI 602 consists of two main sections, the coil section and the transducer section. The BCI 602 consists of a magnet surrounded by the receiver coil, the transition, the Bone Conduction Floating Mass Transducer (BC-FMT), and the electronics package in a hermetic housing. The SAMBA 2 Audio Processor is 30.4 mm × 36.4 mm × 10.2 mm and weighs 9.3 g, including the battery and magnet (strength 1). It Start Printed Page 42095has an 18-band digital equalizer, 18 independent compression channels, and an audio frequency range of 250 Hz to 8 kHz. The audio processor is powered by a non-rechargeable 675 zinc-air button cell with a nominal 1.4-volt supply and 600 mA-Hrs of capacity offering the user up to 133 hours (8 to 10 days) on a single battery.

The applicant stated that the bone conduction implant is surgically attached to the skull, subcutaneous, and is connected to the external audio processor by transcutaneous magnetic attraction. The external audio processor picks up sound from the environment and converts those sounds to a radiofrequency (RF) signal that that can be transmitted across the skin to the implant. The implant converts the signal to controlled vibrations which are conducted via the skull and perceived as sound. More specifically, the applicant stated that the BCI 602 is activated by placing the external audio processor over the magnet of the BCI 602. The signal and the energy to drive the BC-FMT are transferred via an inductive link to the internal coil, and then relayed to the BC-FMT. The BC-FMT transduces the signal into mechanical vibrations, which are conducted to the skull via the cortical titanium screws. These vibrations stimulate the auditory system through the bone conduction pathway to allow the patient to hear.

With respect to the newness criterion at § 419.66(b)(1), the FDA granted a de novo request classifying the BONEBRIDGE as a Class II device under section 513(f)(2) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act on July 20, 2018. The BONEBRIDGE is indicated for use in the following patients: (1) Patients 12 years of age or older; and (2) patients who have a conductive or mixed hearing loss and still can benefit from sound amplification. The pure tone average (PTA) bone conduction (BC) threshold (measured at 0.5, 1, 2, and 3 kHz) should be better than or equal to 45 dB HL; (3) Bilateral fitting of the BONEBRIDGE is intended for patients having a symmetrically conductive or mixed hearing loss. The difference between the left and right sides' BC thresholds should be less than 10 dB on average measured at 0.5, 1, 2, and 3 kHz, or less than 15 dB at individual frequencies; (4) Patients who have profound sensorineural hearing loss in one ear and normal hearing in the opposite ear (that is, single-sided deafness or “SSD”). The pure tone average air conduction hearing thresholds of the hearing ear should be better than or equal to 20 dB HL (measured at 0.5, 1, 2, and 3 kHz); (5) The BONEBRIDGE for SSD is also indicated for any patient who is indicated for an air conduction contralateral routing of signals (AC CROS) hearing aid, but who for some reason cannot or will not use an AC CROS. Prior to receiving the device, it is recommended that an individual have experience with appropriately fit air conduction or bone conduction hearing aids. We received the application for a new device category for transitional pass-through payment status for the BONEBRIDGE on December 10, 2020, which is within 3 years of the date of the initial FDA marketing authorization. We are inviting public comments on whether the BONEBRIDGE meets the newness criterion.

With respect to the eligibility criterion at § 419.66(b)(3), according to the applicant, the BONEBRIDGE is integral to the service provided, is used for one patient only, comes in contact with human skin and is surgically implanted or inserted. The applicant also claimed that the BONEBRIDGE meets the device eligibility requirements of § 419.66(b)(4) because it is not an instrument, apparatus, implement, or item for which depreciation and financing expenses are recovered, and it is not a supply or material furnished incident to a service. Additionally, the BONEBRIDGE is not subject to the hearing aid exclusion at § 411.15(d)(1). The BONEBRIDGE Bone Conduction Implant (BCI 602) component is an osseointegrated implant, surgically attached to the skull that converts a radiofrequency signal from an external audio processor to controlled vibrations which are conducted via the skull to the cochlea. Therefore, we believe the BONEBRIDGE meets the criterion at § 411.15(d)(2)(i) and is not subject to the hearing aid exclusion. In accordance with the Medicare Benefit Policy Manual, Chapter 16 “General Exclusions from Coverage,” section 100, certain devices that produce perception of sound by replacing the function of the middle ear, cochlea or auditory nerve are payable by Medicare as prosthetic devices. These include osseointegrated implants, that is, devices implanted in the skull that replace the function of the middle ear and provide mechanical energy to the cochlea via a mechanical transducer. We believe the BONEBRIDGE device meets the criteria of this benefit category. We are inviting public comments on whether the BONEBRIDGE meets the eligibility criteria at § 419.66(b) as well as the criterion at § 411.15(d)(2)(i).

The criteria for establishing new device categories are specified at § 419.66(c). The first criterion, at § 419.66(c)(1), provides that CMS determines that a device to be included in the category is not appropriately described by any of the existing categories or by any category previously in effect, and was not being paid for as an outpatient service as of December 31, 1996.

The applicant stated that the previous category, L8690—Auditory osseointegrated device, includes all internal and external components, which was effective from January 1, 2007-December 31, 2008 did not include the BONEBRIDGE. The applicant stated that at the time the category was established, BONEBRIDGE did not exist and the devices described by the category included auditory osseointegrated implant (AOI) devices or bone-anchored hearing aids (BAHA). The applicant claimed that AOI devices and BAHAs are distinct from the BONEBRIDGE because they are implant systems composed of an external sound processor connected via a percutaneous abutment to a titanium implant that is implanted in the skull. In these devices, the titanium implant protrudes through the skin creating a titanium post, which directly attaches to an external sound processor. The system replaces the function of the middle ear by transmitting mechanical energy from the external transducer/sound processor directly to the titanium implant to the cochlea thereby resulting in better hearing. The applicant stated that the titanium abutment used by percutaneous systems permanently pierce the skin to allow the sound processor to transmit sound and create vibrations within the skull that stimulate the nerve fibers of the inner ear. The applicant also stated that in the percutaneous systems, the external component (sound processor) receives and processes the sound and generates the vibrations.

The applicant claimed that the BONEBRIDGE is a new technology compared to the AOI devices and BAHAs and unlike these devices, it does not use a percutaneous abutment. The applicant described BONEBRIDGE as an active, transcutaneous device that consists of a completely implanted transducer and electronics components, and an externally worn audio processor. The active implant is surgically attached to the skull, is subcutaneous, and is connected to the external audio processor by transcutaneous magnetic attraction. The external audio processor picks up sound from the environment and converts those sounds to a radiofrequency (RF) signal that can be transmitted across the skin to the implant. The implant converts the Start Printed Page 42096signal to controlled vibrations, which are conducted via the skull and perceived as sound. The applicant proposed the device pass-through category descriptor “Auditory osseointegrated device, transcutaneous, with implanted transducer and radiofrequency link to external sound processor” and suggested that L8690 be revised to read, “Auditory osseointegrated device, percutaneous, includes all internal and external components”. The applicant stated that the Cochlear OsiaTM 2 System, which also submitted a device pass-through application for CY 2022, would also be described by the proposed additional category.

We believe that the BONEBRIDGE is described by L8690—Auditory osseointegrated device, includes all internal and external components. The applicant has noted differences between the BONEBRIDGE and the devices that were described by L8690, specifically percutaneous, auditory osseointegrated devices, regarding the connection between the implanted transducer and the external audio processor (percutaneous abutment vs. transcutaneous magnetic attraction). However, we believe that there is a similar mechanism of action for all these devices specifically, vibratory stimulation of the skull to stimulate the receptors in the cochlea (inner ear). Further, we believe that the broad descriptor for L8690 of “Auditory osseointegrated device, includes all internal and external components” includes the applicant's device.

We are inviting public comment on whether the BONEBRIDGE meets the device category criterion.

The second criterion for establishing a device category, at § 419.66(c)(2), provides that CMS determines either of the following: (i) That a device to be included in the category has demonstrated that it will substantially improve the diagnosis or treatment of an illness or injury or improve the functioning of a malformed body part compared to the benefits of a device or devices in a previously established category or other available treatment; or (ii) for devices for which pass-through status will begin on or after January 1, 2020, as an alternative to the substantial clinical improvement criterion, the device is part of the FDA's Breakthrough Devices Program and has received FDA marketing authorization. With respect to the substantial clinical improvement criterion, the applicant stated that the BONEBRIDGE represents a substantial clinical improvement because it provides a reduced rate of device-related complications and a more rapid beneficial resolution of the disease process treated because of the use of the device compared to currently available treatments. The applicant submitted six studies to support these claims. The applicant also submitted references for four retrospective case studies of complications with percutaneous devices, specifically bone-anchored hearing aids, including infections, pain, soft tissue hypertrophy, loss of osseointegration, and need for further surgery. These studies did not involve the applicant's device.

In support of the claim that the BONEBRIDGE reduced the rate of device-related complications compared to currently available treatments, the applicant submitted a white paper that reviewed the literature reporting on safety outcomes in bone conduction implants authored by the manufacturer of the BONEBRIDGE, MED-EL.[37] The review included five products used to treat conductive hearing loss, mixed hearing loss or single side deafness, which were either percutaneous systems that had an abutment that permanently pierced through the skin or transcutaneous systems without permanent skin penetration. The authors further defined the products as either active or passive, depending on the placement of the vibrating (or active) device component. According to the authors, active bone conduction systems, the active device component, is located within the implantable part of the system. According to the authors, passive bone conduction systems, the vibrating device component, is located outside of the skull.[38]

The literature review compared the safety outcomes of the BAHA Connect and the Ponto, (passive, percutaneous systems,) the BONEBRIDGE, (an active, transcutaneous systems), and the Sophono Alpha and the BAHA Attract, (passive, transcutaneous systems). In total, 156 studies were included in the literature review. There were seven studies with 234 patients reported on the Ponto, thirteen studies with 175 patients reported on the BONEBRIDGE, twelve publications with 143 patients reported on the Sophono Alpha, seven studies reported on the BAHA Attract system with 114 patients, and 117 studies reported on the BAHA Connect system with a total of 6,965 patients. Of all reported adverse events, 38 percent were major and 62 percent were minor. Major adverse events reported in the review included revision surgery, explantation, removal at patient request, implant loss, implant device failure, skin revision surgery or skin infection. Minor adverse events included skin infections, soft tissue reactions, and healing difficulties. The results showed that 9.8 percent of patients using the BONEBRIDGE system experienced an adverse event (major or minor), compared to 68.4 percent of BAHA Attract patients, 46.9 percent of Sophono Alpha patients, 44.0 percent of Ponto system patients and 51.7 percent of BAHA Connect patients. When comparing the percentage of patients who experienced a major adverse event, 2.9 percent of BONEBRIDGE patients had a major adverse event compared to 1.8 percent of BAHA Attract patients, 4.2 percent of Sophono Alpha patients, 5.1 percent of Ponto system patients, and 21.1 percent of BAHA Connect patients.

To support the claim that the BONEBRIDGE reduced the rate of device-related complications compared to currently available treatments, the applicant also submitted a systematic review of the current literature on safety, efficacy and subjective benefit after implantation with the BONEBRIDGE device.[39] The systematic review assessed 39 publications and included randomized controlled trials, clinical controlled trials and cohort studies, case series and case reports investigating subjective and objective outcomes. In the 39 publications included in the review, 487 participants were evaluated; 303 participants had conductive hearing loss, 67 participants had mixed hearing loss, and 53 participants had single-sided deafness. The mean age of the patients in the included studies was 35.6 ± 16.9 years. Using the guidelines available from the Cochrane Collaboration, a search strategy and review protocol was developed using PubMed (MEDLINE) and Cochrane databases to identify all publications on the BONEBRIDGE from 2012 to October 31, 2018. The researchers excluded studies that assessed a device or treatment other than the BONEBRIDGE, did not include human participants, focused on a type of hearing loss other than the losses that BONEBRIDGE is indicated for (that is, conductive hearing loss, mixed hearing loss or single-sided deafness), did not report on safety or performance/quality of life data, were not related to hearing loss or treatment thereof, lacked Start Printed Page 42097sufficient information for evaluation, and included overlapping samples.

The outcomes extracted from the studies were assessed via meta-analysis. The safety of the device was assessed by collecting information on complications during surgery and adverse events in the postoperative period. Of the 39 identified studies, there were 25 studies that reported on safety during a mean period of 11.7 months (range 3-36 months). The reported complications were categorized into minor and major complications, with a major complication described as requiring surgical attention leading to revision surgery or explantation. Minor complications included skin edema or erythema, skin infections, and hematomas. Out of 286 ears implanted with the device, there were no complications in 259 ears (90.6 percent). Minor complications occurred in 22 ears (7.7 percent) over a cumulative period of reported mean follow-up of 12.7 years (mean: 11.7 months ± 4.5). Major complications occurred in three studies comprising five ears (1.7 percent).[40]

The applicant submitted an additional study by Schmerber, et al. to support the claim that the BONEBRIDGE reduced the rate of device-related complications compared to currently available treatments.[41] The study of 28 participants was a multicenter, prospective study with intra-subject measurements with the purpose of the study to validate the safety and efficacy of the BONEBRIDGE 12 months after implementation. The study included nine university hospitals, seven in France and two in Belgium. Sixteen participants with conductive or mixed hearing loss with bone-conduction hearing thresholds under the upper limit of 45 dB HL for each frequency from 500 to 4,000 Hz, and 12 participants with SSD (contralateral hearing within normal range) were enrolled in the study. Three of the 28 participants (with mixed or conductive hearing loss) did not complete the study; one requested that the device be removed (due to “severe psychological problems”) and two were lost to follow up. The skin safety of the participants was evaluated by the surgeon who implanted the device up to 12 months post-operatively using an ordinal scale (“very good”, “good”, “acceptable”, “bad skin condition”) and a visual analogue scale (between 1 and 10 from “very bad” to “excellent”) to rate cutaneous tolerance. In the study, no complications or device failures occurred, no revision surgery was necessary and no skin injury was reported. The scoring was judged as `excellent' or `good' for all subjects (n = 25), corresponding to scores 8 to 10 on the scale. No complication (0 percent) was observed [95 percent confidence interval = (0 percent−14.9 percent)]. The authors stated that there was a lower rate of complications for the BONEBRIDGE device compared to percutaneous systems, like the BAHA, whose complication rate was up to 24 percent in a large series of 602 ears and a revision surgery rate of 12 percent.[42 43]

The applicant also submitted a study by Siegel et al. as evidence to support the claim that the BONEBRIDGE reduced the rate of device-related complications compared to currently available treatments.[44] The study was a retrospective review that included 37 adult patients with conductive/mixed hearing loss who met the indications for use and were implanted with BONEBRIDGE over a five-year period from April 2013 to May 2018. Patient charts were reviewed for surgical outcomes and complications over the 6-year period. The mean time of follow-up was 32 months (range: 9-71 months). There were no events of surgical complications in the patients included in the study, specifically no instances of dural injury, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak, or intracranial bleeding. There were also no skin complications and no postoperative symptoms of tinnitus/vertigo or dizziness.[45]

In support of the assertion that the use of BONEBRIDGE resulted in a more rapid beneficial resolution of the disease process compared to currently available treatments, the applicant also referenced the Magele et al., and Siegel et al. studies as well as a study conducted by Yang et al.[46 47 48]

As previously noted, the Magele et al. study assessed 39 publications that included 487 participants; 303 participants had conductive hearing loss, 67 participants had mixed hearing loss, and 53 participants had single-sided deafness.[49] Functional gain was available for analysis from 14 articles and was measured as the difference between unaided and aided (with the BONEBRIDGE) warble tone thresholds. On average, functional gain of 32.7 dB ± 16 dB was observed. Overall, the results showed a 30.89 dB (95 percent CI 27.53 dB−34.24 dB) improvement at speech presentation level; for the 30 conductive hearing loss patients, the improvement was 39.48 dB (95 percent CI 35.25 dB−43.71 dB); for the mixed hearing loss group, the improvement was 29.08 dB (95 percent CI 26.32 dB−31.83 dB) and the improvement was 28.94 dB (95 percent CI 16.92 dB−40.96 dB) for the 10 subjects with single-sided deafness.

The applicant also noted the study by Siegel et al. to support the claim that the use of BONEBRIDGE resulted in a more rapid beneficial resolution of the disease process compared to currently available treatments.[50] As previously stated, in this study, 37 adult patients with conductive/mixed hearing loss who met the indications for use were implanted with BONEBRIDGE over a six-year period. The patients' charts were reviewed for surgical outcomes and complications over the six-year period. Preoperative air conduction (AC), preoperative bone conduction (BC), and 3-month postoperative aided thresholds were recorded. Speech perception was assessed using two different tests, consonant-nucleus-consonant (CNC) words and AzBio sentences. Pure-tone averages (PTAs; measured at 0.5, 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 kHz), air-bone gap (ABG), and functional gain (FG) were calculated. The preoperative air-bone gap was calculated as the difference between AC thresholds and BC thresholds of the implanted ear. The postoperative ABG was calculated as the difference between the preoperative BC and postoperative BONEBRIDGE aided thresholds measured at 3 months postoperatively. Functional gain was Start Printed Page 42098calculated as the difference between preoperative AC thresholds and BONEBRIDGE aided thresholds measured 3 months postoperatively.

The results of this study showed audiological improvement in the 37 patients with a functional gain (averaged over 4 frequencies, 500 kHz to 3,000 kHz) of 40.3 dB (± 19.0 dB) for air conduction 3 months postoperatively. The difference between the average air to bone conduction gap fell from 44.9 dB preoperative to 4.6 dB three months after surgery. The postoperative air conduction thresholds for the 21 patients with mixed hearing loss ranged between 30-40 dB and the air conduction thresholds for the 16 patients with conductive hearing loss ranged between 20-30 dB. For patients with mixed hearing loss, nearly a full ABG closure was achieved at all frequencies by 3 months postoperatively.

In the same study, speech perception testing was available for 21 patients (57 percent). At activation, mean speech perception results for CNC words (13 patients) and AzBio sentences (14 patients) were 79 and 93 percent, respectively. At six months postoperatively, CNC words (17 patients) and AzBio sentences (21 patients) were 81 and 93 percent, respectively. The authors stated that the results of the study were comparable with what has been accomplished using traditional percutaneous conduction devices and passive transcutaneous bone conduction devices.

Lastly, to support the claim that the use of the BONEBRIDGE resulted in a more rapid beneficial resolution of the disease process, the applicant submitted a study that compared the use of the BONEBRIDGE with a non-implantable bone conduction hearing aid (BCHA).[51] This single center, prospective study involved 100 patients in Beijing, China with bilateral congenital microtia-atresia (CMA). The patients had a mean age of 11.9 ± 6.0 years old at the time the BONEBRIDGE was implanted. All patients had worn the passive bone anchored hearing aid for at least a year prior to the implantation of the BONEBRIDGE and patients were tested an average of 25 weeks after surgery. Measured outcomes in the study included sound field thresholds (SFT), functional gain (FG) [aided threshold minus the unaided threshold], word recognition, speech reception thresholds (SRT), preoperative and postoperative bone and air conduction and patient subjective satisfaction. Bone conduction of pure tones at any frequency did not change significantly from preoperative to postoperative testing. The mean bone-conduction pure-tone threshold (PTA) before implantation was 8.7 ± 6.1 dB HL and after surgery was 8.9 ± 5.6 dB HL (p > .745, paired t-test). Furthermore, bone conduction did not significantly change at any frequency after surgery (p > .05, t-test). The mean SFT of the BONEBRIDGE (61.6 ± 7.1 dB HL) was significantly higher than the BCHA (31.3 ± 6.1 dB HL) (paired t-test, p < .001) and the SFT was significantly better with BONEBRIDGE at 500, 1,000, 2,000, and 4,000 Hz sound frequencies (paired t-test, p < .002). Further, the FG of the BONEBRIDGE (31.2 ± 9.5 dB HL) was significantly better than the FG of the BCHA (26.5 ± 10.3 dB HL) (paired t-test, p < .001). The FG measured at 250 Hz in the two aided conditions had less improvement compared to other frequencies (p < .001). A comparison of BCHA and BONEBRIDGE resulted in a significant difference in word recognition (68.0 percent for monosyllabic words and 79.0 percent for disyllabic words with the BCHA vs. 78.0 percent for monosyllabic and 84.0 percent for disyllabic words with the BONEBRIDGE) in favor of the BONEBRIDGE (p < .001).

Regarding the applicant's evidence of substantial clinical improvement, we note that the studies submitted did not involve a direct comparison to other currently available treatments, namely percutaneous or passive, transcutaneous auditory osseointegrated devices. Therefore, it was difficult to determine whether the BONEBRIDGE provided a substantial clinical improvement over existing devices. Also, the studies submitted included a small number of participants which may affect the generalizability of the data provided in support of the device.

In the white paper by MED-EL, the authors compared the complication rates associated with various studies that differed by design, population characteristics and follow-up time. We are not confident that differences seen or elucidated by the applicant are due to the differences in treatments or instead due to differences in study characteristics. Additionally, although the overall, both major and minor, adverse event ratio was significantly lower for the BONEBRIDGE device (9.8 percent) versus other bone conduction hearing devices in the study, when comparing the percent of patients who experienced a major adverse event, BONEBRIDGE patients had a major adverse event (2.9 percent) that was more comparable to other devices included in the paper. With regard to the Yang et al. study, given the young age of the patients and the congenital nature of the hearing loss being treated, we are concerned that these results may not be generalizable to the Medicare population, which tends to be significantly older in age and potentially less likely to have hearing loss related to congenital causes. We invite public comments on whether BONEBRIDGE meets the substantial clinical improvement criterion.

The third criterion for establishing a device category, at § 419.66(c)(3), requires us to determine that the cost of the device is not insignificant, as described in § 419.66(d). Section 419.66(d) includes three cost significance criteria that must each be met. The applicant provided the following information in support of the cost significance requirements. The applicant stated that there were no specific CPT codes that currently describe the implantation of BONEBRIDGE. To demonstrate that the requested category met the cost criterion, the applicant submitted the HCPCS codes used to describe implantation of a percutaneous device, included in the following Table 22.

Start Printed Page 42099

To meet the cost criterion for device pass-through payment status, a device must pass all three tests of the cost criterion for at least one APC. For our calculations, we used APC 5115—Level 5 Musculoskeletal Procedures, which had a CY 2020 payment rate of $11,900.71 at the time the application was received. Beginning in CY 2017, we calculate the device offset amount at the HCPCS/CPT code level instead of the APC level (81 FR 79657). HCPCS code 69714 had a device offset amount of $7,742.60 at the time the application was received. According to the applicant, the cost of the BONEBRIDGE is $11,500.

Section 419.66(d)(1), the first cost significance requirement, provides that the estimated average reasonable cost of devices in the category must exceed 25 percent of the applicable APC payment amount for the service related to the category of devices. The estimated average reasonable cost of $11,500 for BONEBRIDGE is 97 percent of the applicable APC payment amount for the service related to the category of devices of $11,900.71 (($11,500/$11,900.71) × 100 = 96.6 percent). Therefore, we believe BONEBRIDGE meets the first cost significance requirement.

The second cost significance requirement, at § 419.66(d)(2), provides that the estimated average reasonable cost of the devices in the category must exceed the cost of the device-related portion of the APC payment amount for the related service by at least 25 percent, which means that the device cost needs to be at least 125 percent of the offset amount (the device-related portion of the APC found on the offset list). The estimated average reasonable cost of $11,500 for BONEBRIDGE is 149 percent of the cost of the device-related portion of the APC payment amount for the related service of $7,742.60 (($11,500/$7,742.60) × 100 = 148.5 percent). Therefore, we believe that BONEBRIDGE meets the second cost significance requirement.

The third cost significance requirement, at § 419.66(d)(3), provides that the difference between the estimated average reasonable cost of the devices in the category and the portion of the APC payment amount for the device must exceed 10 percent of the APC payment amount for the related service. The difference between the estimated average reasonable cost of $11,500 for BONEBRIDGE and the portion of the APC payment amount for the device of $7,742.60 is 31.6 percent of the APC payment amount for the related service of $11,900.71 ((($11,500−$7,742.60)/$11,900.71) × 100 = 31.6 percent). Therefore, we believe that BONEBRIDGE meets the third cost significance requirement.

We invite public comment on whether BONEBRIDGE meets the device pass-through payment criteria discussed in this section, including the cost criterion for device pass-through payment status.

(3) EluviaTM Drug-Eluting Vascular Stent System

Boston Scientific Corporation submitted an application for device pass-through status for the EluviaTM Drug-Eluting Vascular Stent System (EluviaTM system) for CY 2022. According to the applicant, the EluviaTM system is a combination product composed of an implantable endoprosthesis, a non-bonded freely dispersed drug layer (a formulation of paclitaxel contained in a polymer matrix), and a stent delivery system indicated for the treatment of symptomatic de novo or restenotic lesions in the native superficial femoral artery (SFA) and/or proximal popliteal artery (PPA).

According to the applicant, the EluviaTM system stent is a laser-cut self-expanding stent composed of nickel titanium alloy with radiopaque markers made of tantalum on the proximal and distal ends. The applicant states that the 6-French delivery system is a triaxial design with an outer shaft to stabilize the stent delivery system, a middle shaft to protect and constrain the stent, and an inner shaft to provide a guidewire lumen. The delivery system is compatible with 0.035 in (0.89mm) guidewires and is offered in two working lengths (75 and 130 cm).

According to the applicant, peripheral artery disease (PAD) occurs when fatty or calcified material (plaque) builds up in the walls of the arteries and makes them narrower, thus restricting blood flow. The applicant asserts that when this occurs, the muscles in the legs cannot get enough blood and oxygen, especially during exertion such as exercise or walking. According to the applicant, the main symptoms of PAD are pain, burning sensation, or general discomfort in the muscles of the feet, calves, or thighs. As the disease progresses, plaque accumulation may significantly reduce blood flow through the arteries, resulting in claudication and increasing disability, with severe cases often leading to amputation of the affected limb. The applicant states that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approximately 8.5 million people age 40 and older in the United States have PAD, including 6-26 percent of individuals older than age 60.[52] According to the applicant, Start Printed Page 42100PAD disproportionately affects African American and American Indian populations [53] and nonrevascularized lower extremity PAD is among the most common causes of lower extremity amputation.

According to the applicant, the EluviaTM system is designed to restore blood flow in the peripheral arteries above the knee, specifically the superficial femoral artery and proximal popliteal artery. The applicant states that the stent features a unique drug-polymer combination intended to facilitate sustained elution of the drug paclitaxel that can prevent narrowing (restenosis) of the vessel. The applicant adds that restenosis is often the cause of pain and disability for patients diagnosed with PAD.

The applicant asserts that no other endovascular technologies that are approved for the treatment of PAD provide sustained elution of a drug over at least 12 months to prevent restenosis. According to the applicant, two of the most common endovascular treatments for PAD are angioplasty and stenting. The applicant states that following an intervention within the SFA or PPA, these arteries elicit a healing response that leads to restenosis starting with inflammation, followed by smooth muscle cell proliferation and matrix formation.[54] According to the applicant, because of the unique mechanical forces in the SFA and PPA, the restenotic process can continue well beyond 12 months from the initial intervention. The applicant asserts the EluviaTM system is designed to elute anti-restenotic drug paclitaxel beyond 12 months, which is longer than the two-month duration of drug applied from drug-coated balloons and the drug-coated stent Zilver PTX.

With respect to the newness criterion at § 419.66(b)(1), the EluviaTM system received FDA premarket approval (PMA) on September 18, 2018. The application for a new device category for transitional pass-through payment status for the EluviaTM system was received on February 26, 2021, which is within 3 years of the date of the initial FDA approval or clearance. We invite public comments on whether the EluviaTM system meets the newness criterion.

With respect to the eligibility criterion at § 419.66(b)(3), according to the applicant, the EluviaTM system is integral to the service provided, is used for one patient only, comes in contact with human tissue, and is surgically impacted or inserted. The applicant also claimed that the EluviaTM system meets the device eligibility requirements of § 419.66(b)(4) because it is not an instrument, apparatus, implement, or items for which depreciation and financing expenses are recovered, and it is not a supply or material furnished incident to a service. Previously, we invited public comment and subsequently determined that EluviaTM system device meets the eligibility criterion (84 FR 61286). We invite public comments on whether the EluviaTM system continues to meet the eligibility criterion at § 419.66(b).

The criteria for establishing new device categories are specified at § 419.66(c). The first criterion, at § 419.66(c)(1), provides that CMS determines that a device to be included in the category is not appropriately described by any of the existing categories or by any category previously in effect, and was not being paid for as an outpatient service as of December 31, 1996. We have not identified an existing pass-through payment category that describes the EluviaTM system. The applicant proposed a category descriptor for the EluviaTM system of “Stent, non-coronary, polymer matrix, minimum 12-month sustained drug release, with delivery system.” Previously, we invited public comment and subsequently determined that EluviaTM system device meets the device category eligibility criterion. For a complete discussion of comments received, please see the CY 2020 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (84 FR 61286-61287). We invite public comments on whether the EluviaTM system continues to meet this criterion.

The second criterion for establishing a device category, at § 419.66(c)(2), provides that CMS determines that a device to be included in the category has demonstrated that it will substantially improve the diagnosis or treatment of an illness or injury or improve the functioning of a malformed body part compared to the benefits of a device or devices in a previously established category or other available treatment. With respect to this criterion, the applicant claims the EluviaTM system provides a substantial clinical improvement over existing technologies for the following reasons: (1) The EluviaTM system achieves superior primary patency; (2) the EluviaTM system achieves reduced lesion revascularization, leading to a reduced rate of subsequent therapeutic interventions at one year and a statistically significant reduction of target lesion revascularization (TLR) at two years; (3) the EluviaTM system decreases the number of future hospitalizations or physician visits; (4) the EluviaTM system reduces hospital readmission rates; (5) Eluvia reduces the rate of device related complications; and (6) the EluviaTM system achieves similar functional outcomes and quality of life index values while associated with half the rate of TLRs.

Many of the assertions made by the applicant are derived from the IMPERIAL trial which is reported in three citations supplied by the applicant.[55 56 57] We discuss results from the MAJESTIC study and then these publications from the IMPERIAL study to provide context for the assertions made by the applicant.

The first article, by Müller-Hülsbeck et al., discusses the three-year results of the MAJESTIC study, the first-in-human prospective, single-arm, multicenter, clinical trial involving 57 patients with symptomatic lower limb ischemia and lesions in the superficial femoral artery or proximal popliteal artery.[58] Patients who were treated with the EluviaTM system were followed for a three-year time period during which they took acetylsalicylic acid as an antiplatelet therapy. At 24 months, patients received a duplex ultrasound, ankle-brachial index, and Rutherford classification at a clinical visit. At 36 months patients completed a telephone or clinical visit which included adverse event and antiplatelet medication assessments. The authors report that long-term results from the MAJESTIC study of the EluviaTM system continue to demonstrate good technical and clinical outcomes (assessed through 2 years) and Start Printed Page 42101a low reintervention rate (through 3 years).

The second article, by Gray et al., discusses the IMPERIAL trial, a prospective randomized (2:1) (Eluvia[TM] system vs. Zilver PTX), single-blind, non-inferiority study in 465 patients with symptomatic lower-limb ischemia manifesting as claudication with atherosclerotic lesions in the native superficial femoral artery or proximal popliteal artery across 65 centers and multiple countries.[59] Of the 465 patients enrolled, 309 were assigned to the EluviaTM system and 156 were assigned to Zilver PTX. The authors state the overall sample size in the randomised trial was selected to preserve adequate statistical power for non-inferiority testing of the primary efficacy and safety endpoints at a prespecified, one-sided significance level of 5 percent for each, without adjustment for multiplicity.

The authors state baseline demographic, clinical, and angiographic characteristics were similar between the two study groups, indicative of successful randomization. The primary efficacy endpoint of the trial was primary vessel patency at 12 months which was a binary endpoint based on a duplex ultrasound peak systolic velocity ratio of 2.4 or lower in the absence of clinically driven target lesion revascularization or bypass of the target lesion. Secondary endpoints at 12 months were technical success, procedural success, adverse events, stent integrity, major adverse events, and clinical outcomes. The authors note that the funder of the study was involved in study design, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation, and writing of the report. To identify statistically meaningful results for the non-inferiority test, the authors used a test such as the Farrington-Manning method, to estimate the lower bound for the 95 percent CI of the difference between treatment groups.[60] According to the authors, if this lower bound was greater than the non-inferiority margin of −10 percent, the EluviaTM system would be considered non-inferior to Zilver PTX in terms of device efficacy. For all other statistical comparisons, the authors used a p value of less than 0.05 as indicative of a significant difference.

According to the authors, the primary non-inferiority analyses were done when 409 patients (276 in the Eluvia group and 133 in the Zilver PTX group) had completed 12 months of follow-up or had a primary efficacy or safety endpoint event.[61] Primary patency was observed for 231 (87 percent) of 266 patients in the Eluvia[TM] system group and for 106 (82 percent) of 130 patients in the Zilver PTX stent group (difference 5.3 percent [one-sided lower bound of 95 percent CI −0.66]; p<0·0001). 259 (95 percent) of 273 patients in the Eluvia group and 121 (91 percent) of 133 patients in the Zilver PTX group had not had a major adverse event at 12 months (difference 3.9 percent [one-sided lower bound of 95 percent CI −0·46]; p<0·0001). According to the authors, superiority of the Eluvia[TM] system over Zilver PTX (primary patency in 86.8 percent vs. 77.5 percent respectively, p = 0.0144) was met in the post-hoc analysis of 12 month primary patency data in the full-analysis cohort. The authors summarize by stating the proportions of patients with stent thrombosis or clinically driven target lesion revascularisation in the Eluvia stent group were about half those in the Zilver PTX group while both groups showed improvements in clinical symptoms and walking function and the occurrence of stent fracture was low.[62]

The third article, by Golzar et al, discusses the one-year follow up of the single-arm long lesion substudy portion of the IMPERIAL trial.[63] Fifty patients were enrolled in the study where 20 patients had diabetes, 16 were current smokers, 35 had moderately or severely calcified lesions, and 16 lesions were total occlusions. To be eligible, patients needed a lesion ranging from 140 mm to 190 mm which required two overlapping Eluvia stents. At 12 months, no deaths, stent thrombosis, or target limb amputation had occurred. The primary patency rate was 87.0 percent at 12 months which exceeded the 60 percent performance goal. Forty-three patients (91 percent) had Rutherford category improvement without the need for TLR. The authors concluded that one year patency with the EluviaTM system was independent of lesion length.

The fourth article, by Müller-Hülsbeck et al., discusses the two-year follow up to the IMPERIAL trial.[64] The authors found that through 24 months, the patency rates and Rutherford category improvements were largely sustained, with a significantly lower clinically driven TLR rate for Eluvia versus Zilver PTX at 2 years. At two years the TLR rate for patients treated with Eluvia was 12.7 percent as compared to patients treated with Zilver PTX at 20.1 percent (P = 0.0495). As with the previous citation, both study arms show sustained clinical improvement (that is improvement in Rutherford classification by one or more categories as compared with baseline and without TLR) of 84.4 percent for patients treated with Eluvia and 78.2 percent for patients treated with Zilver PTX (p = 0.140). For all-cause mortality, Eluvia (7.1 percent) and Zilver PTX (8.3 percent) did not statistically differ (p = 0.6649). The authors conclude that the IMPERIAL trial provides support for the benefit of drug-eluting treatment in this population.

According to the applicant, the Eluvia[TM] system achieves superior primary patency compared to Zilver PTX. The applicant states that, based on the IMPERIAL trial, the Eluvia[TM] system demonstrated superior primary patency over Zilver PTX, 86.8 percent vs. 77.5 percent respectively (p=0.0144) based on pre-specific post-hoc analysis. The applicant further states that at 12 months, the Eluvia[TM] system had greater primary patency than Zilver PTX at 88.5 percent vs. 79.5 percent respectively (p=0.0119). According to the applicant, these results are consistent with the 96.4 percent primary patency rate at 12 months in the MAJESTIC study, the single-arm first-in-human study of the Eluvia[TM] system.[65] Furthermore, in regard to this point, the applicant asserts among patients 65 and older, the primary patency rate in the Eluvia[TM] system was 92.6 percent Start Printed Page 42102compared to 75.0 percent in Zilver PTX (p=0.0386). Lastly, the application states that among 50 patients with an average lesion length of 162.8 mm (long lesions), each treated with two Eluvia stents, there was a 12 month primary patency of 87 percent and a TLR of 6.5 percent.[66]

According to the applicant, the Eluvia[TM] system reduced subsequent therapeutic interventions at one year and a reduction of target lesion revascularization at two years. Based on the IMPERIAL trial, the applicant asserts the Eluvia[TM] system achieved a substantial reduction in re-intervention with a target lesion revascularization (TLR) of 4.5 percent compared to 9.0 percent (p=0.0672) in the Zilver PTX group.[67] The applicant states that at two years the Eluvia[TM] system had a statistically significantly lower rate of TLRs than Zilver PTX of 12.7 percent vs. 20.1 percent respectively (p=0.0495).[68] The applicant notes that the published analysis presented in this application has a slightly different clinically-driven TLR rate at two years than internal analysis provided in the Eluvia CY 2020 device pass-through application (12.7 percent and 20.1 percent (p=0.0495) vs. 12.9 percent and 20.5 percent (p=0.0472), respectively). We note that the applicant provides a table which compares TLR rates between the EluviaTM system and Zilver PTX by all patients 65 and older, US patients 65 and older, and patients with diabetes.

The applicant asserts that patients treated with the EluviaTM system required fewer days of hospital care than in the Zilver PTX group. According to the applicant, patients treated with the EluviaTM system had fewer days in the hospital as compared to Zilver PTX for all adverse events (13.9 vs. 17.7 respectively), TLR (2.8 vs. 7.1 respectively), and procedure and device related adverse events (2.7 vs. 4.5 respectively). We note that statistical significance was not assessed.

The applicant asserts that patients treated with the Eluvia[TM] system had reduced hospital readmission rates compared to those treated with Zilver PTX at 12 months at 3.9 percent and 7.1 percent respectively (p=0.1369).[69]

The applicant asserts that while rates of adverse events were similar in total between treatment arms in the IMPERIAL trial, device-related adverse-events were reported in 8 percent of patients treated with the Eluvia[TM] system as compared to 14 percent of patients treated with Zilver PTX.[70]

Lastly, the applicant asserts that the Eluvia[TM] system is able to achieve similar functional outcomes to Zilver PTX while associated with half the rate of TLRs. The applicant states while functional outcomes appear similar between the Eluvia Stent System and Zilver PTX groups at 12 months, these improvements for the Zilver PTX group are associated with twice as many TLRs to achieve similar EQ-5D index values.[71] The applicant provides multiple tables which show similar improvements in walking, distance, speed, stair climbing, and health related quality of life (EQ-5D) between the EluviaTM system and Zilver PTX.

For a complete discussion of the applicant's previous submission regarding substantial clinical improvement please see the CY 2020 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (84 FR 61287-61292). We note that we did not approve the EluviaTM system for CY 2020 device transitional payment due to the potential increased long-term mortality signal that the FDA was at the time evaluating. We further note that in the FY 2021 IPPS/LTCH final rule (85 FR 58657), we stated that the FDA August 7, 2019 update, which concluded that the benefits of paclitaxel-coated devices (for example, reduced reinterventions) should be considered in individual patients along with potential risks (for example, late mortality) as well as for individual patients judged to be at particularly high risk for restenosis and repeat femoropopliteal interventions, clinicians may determine that the benefits of using a paclitaxel-coated device outweigh the risk of late mortality. The applicant asserts that the EluviaTM system has demonstrated substantial clinical improvement over Zilver PTX in the IMPERIAL trial to include no increase in all-cause mortality. In response to this new information, we no longer have concerns regarding the increased long-term mortality signal we described in the CY 2020 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period.

In the CY 2020 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (84 FR 61289) we noted that the IMPERIAL study, which showed significant differences in primary patency at 12 months, was designed for noninferiority and not superiority. Therefore, we were concerned that results showing primary patency at 12 months may not be valid given the study design. In response, the applicant stated that a non-inferiority study is consistent with accepted research methodology and is typical of many head-to-head trials of medical devices. For the complete response please see the CY 2020 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (84 FR 61290). We invite public comments on whether the EluviaTM Drug-Eluting Vascular Stent System meets the substantial clinical improvement criterion with respect to a finding of substantial clinical improvement for the EluviaTM system.

The third criterion for establishing a device category, at § 419.66(c)(3), requires us to determine that the cost of the device is not insignificant, as described in § 419.66(d). Section 419.66(d) includes three cost significance criteria that must each be met. The applicant provided the following information in support of the cost significance requirements. The applicant stated that EluviaTM system would be reported with the HCPCS codes in the following Table 23:

Start Printed Page 42103

To meet the cost criterion for device pass-through payment status, a device must pass all three tests of the cost criterion for at least one APC. For our calculations, we used APC 5193—Level 3 Endovascular Procedures, which had a CY 2021 payment rate of $10,042.94 at the time the application was received. Beginning in CY 2017, we calculate the device offset amount at the HCPCS/CPT code level instead of the APC level (81 FR 79657). HCPCS code 37226 had a device offset amount of $4,843.71 at the time the application was received.

Section 419.66(d)(1), the first cost significance requirement, provides that the estimated average reasonable cost of devices in the category must exceed 25 percent of the applicable APC payment amount for the service related to the category of devices. The estimated average reasonable cost of EluviaTM system is 56 percent of the applicable APC payment amount for the service related to the category of devices of $10,042.94. Therefore, we believe the EluviaTM system meets the first cost significance requirement.

The second cost significance requirement, at § 419.66(d)(2), provides that the estimated average reasonable cost of the devices in the category must exceed the cost of the device-related portion of the APC payment amount for the related service by at least 25 percent, which means that the device cost needs to be at least 125 percent of the offset amount (the device-related portion of the APC found on the offset list). The estimated average reasonable cost for the EluviaTM system is 117 percent of the cost of the device-related portion of the APC payment amount for the related service of $4,843.71. Therefore, we do not believe that the EluviaTM system meets the second cost significance requirement.

The third cost significance requirement, at § 419.66(d)(3), provides that the difference between the estimated average reasonable cost of the devices in the category and the portion of the APC payment amount for the device must exceed 10 percent of the APC payment amount for the related service. The difference between the estimated average reasonable cost for the EluviaTM system and the portion of the APC payment amount for the device of $4,843.71 is 8 percent of the APC payment amount for the related service of $10,042.94. Therefore, we do not believe that EluviaTM system meets the third cost significance requirement.

We invite public comment on whether the EluviaTM system meets the device pass-through payment criteria discussed in this section, including the cost criterion for device pass-through payment status.

(4) CochlearTM Osia® 2 System

Cochlear Americas submitted an application for a new device category for transitional pass-through payment status for the CochlearTM Osia® 2 System (hereinafter referred to as the Osia® 2 System) by the December 2020 quarterly deadline for CY 2022. The Osia® 2 System is a transcutaneous, active auditory osseointegrated device that replaces the function of the middle ear by providing mechanical energy to the cochlea. According to the applicant, the device consists of four components including: (1) An external sound processor, the Osia 2 Sound Processor; (2) the Osia OSI200 Implant Piezo PowerTM transducer; (3) the BI300 osseointegrated implant for anchoring and single point transmission; and (4) a fixation screw for attaching the OSI200 implant to the BI300 implant which is implanted in the skull.

The external sound processor captures environmental sounds and converts the sound signal into a digital signal transmitted as a radiofrequency. The external sound processor also contains a magnet and a battery (rechargeable 675 zinc air button 1.4Volt; 600 mA-hrs capacity). The magnets couple the external and internal components across the skin. The transducer (Piezo PowerTM) detects the radiofrequency signals after they pass through the intact skin and transforms the signal to vibrations, which are then transmitted to the bone-implanted fixation screw. The screw vibrates the skull bone (temporal portion) which stimulates the cochlea (inner ear) to transmit the information to the brain so that the vibrations are perceived as sounds. The implanted portion is 7.2 cm × 3 cm × 0.49 cm. The system has a fitting range of 55 dB sensory neural hearing loss. The applicant stated that unlike hearing aids, which make sounds louder, an auditory osseointegrated device, such as the Osia® 2 System can improve clarity of hearing and improve hearing at higher frequencies.

With respect to the newness criterion at § 419.66(b)(1), the Osia® 2 System received FDA 510(k) clearance on November 15, 2019, based on a determination of substantial equivalence to a legally marketed predicate device. The Osia® 2 System is intended for the following patients and indications: (1) Patients 12 years of age or older; (2) patients who have a conductive or mixed hearing loss and still can benefit from sound amplification. The pure tone average (PTA) bone conduction (BC) threshold (measured at 0.5, 1, 2, and 3 kHz) should be better than or equal to 55 dBHL; (3) Bilateral fitting of the Osia® 2 System is intended for patients having a symmetrically conductive or mixed hearing loss. The difference between the left and right sides' BC thresholds should be less than 10 dB on average measured at 0.5, 1, 2, and 3 kHz, or less than 15 dB at individual frequencies; (4) patients who have profound sensorineural hearing loss in one ear and normal hearing in the opposite ear (that is, single-sided deafness or “SSD”). The pure tone average air conduction hearing thresholds of the hearing ear should be better than or equal to 20 dB HL (measured at 0.5, 1, 2, and 3 kHz). The Osia® 2 System for SSD is also indicated for any patient who is indicated for an air-conduction contralateral routing of signals (AC CROS) hearing aid, but who for some reason cannot or will not use an AC CROS. Prior to receiving the device, it is recommended that an individual have experience with appropriately fitted air conduction or bone conduction hearing aids.

We received the application for a new device category for transitional pass-through payment status for the Osia® 2 System on December 1, 2020, which is Start Printed Page 42104within 3 years of the date of the initial FDA marketing authorization. We are inviting public comments on whether the Osia® 2 System meets the newness criterion.

With respect to the eligibility criterion at § 419.66(b)(3), according to the applicant, the Osia® 2 System is integral to the service provided, is used for one patient only, comes in contact with human skin and is surgically implanted or inserted. The applicant also claimed that the Osia® 2 System meets the device eligibility requirements of § 419.66(b)(4) because it is not an instrument, apparatus, implement, or item for which depreciation and financing expenses are recovered, and it is not a supply or material furnished incident to a service. Additionally, the Osia® 2 System is not subject to the hearing aid exclusion at § 411.15(d)(1). As described in the application, the implanted components of the Osia® 2 System consist of a piezoelectric transducer (OSI200) that is attached directly to an osseointegrated implant (BI300) with a fixation screw. Sound received by an external processor (the Osia® 2 System) is converted to a digital radiofrequency signal which is received and transformed into mechanical vibrations by the OSI200 implant, which are transferred directly to the BI300 osseointegrated implant. These vibrations are conducted via the skull to the cochlea. Therefore, we believe the Osia® 2 System meets the criterion at § 411.15(d)(2)(i) and is not subject to the hearing aid exclusion.

In accordance with the Medicare Benefit Policy Manual, Chapter 16 “General Exclusions from Coverage,” § 100, certain devices that produce perception of sound by replacing the function of the middle ear, cochlea or auditory nerve are payable by Medicare as prosthetic devices. These include osseointegrated implants, that is, devices implanted in the skull that replace the function of the middle ear and provide mechanical energy to the cochlea via a mechanical transducer. We believe the Osia® 2 System as described by the application meets the criteria for this benefit category. We are inviting public comments on whether the Osia® 2 System meets the eligibility criteria at § 419.66(b) as well as the criterion at § 411.15(d)(2)(i).

The criteria for establishing new device categories are specified at § 419.66(c). The first criterion, at § 419.66(c)(1), provides that CMS determines that a device to be included in the category is not appropriately described by any of the existing categories or by any category previously in effect, and was not being paid for as an outpatient service as of December 31, 1996.

The applicant stated that the Osia® 2 System differs significantly from the devices that were included in the previous category for auditory osseointegrated devices (L8690—Auditory osseointegrated device, includes all internal and external components) which was effective from effective from January 1, 2007 through December 31, 2008. The applicant claimed that the devices that were described by this category include a transducer/actuator and sound processor that is worn externally with the transducer/actuator connected to the skull by a percutaneous post or abutment that penetrates the skin. In these devices, the sound processor converts sound into a digital signal which the transducer/actuator converts to vibrations that are transmitted to the skull through the abutment. The vibrations are transmitted directly to the inner ear and are reproduced as sound.

The applicant stated that the Osia® 2 System is distinct from devices with a percutaneous connection between the transducer and the sound processor because the transducer/actuator for the Osia® 2 system is surgically implanted and has a magnetic transcutaneous attachment to the external sound processor. The applicant also claimed that the percutaneously coupled osseointegrated devices included in the previous device pass-through category convert sound to mechanical vibrations in the external sound processor/actuator, then transmit the vibrations to the internal components. The applicant claimed that the Osia® 2 system instead converts the sound to mechanical vibrations after it has reached the internal components. The applicant claimed that the technology to fully implant the transducer/actuator did not exist when the previous device pass-through category was established. The applicant proposed the device pass-through category descriptor “Auditory osseointegrated device, including implanted transducer/actuator with radiofrequency link to external sound processor”. The applicant stated that the BONEBRIDGE Bone Conduction Implant System, which also submitted a device pass-through application for CY 2022 and is described in this section under number (2) above, would also be described by the proposed additional category.

We believe that the Osia® 2 system is described by L8690—Auditory osseointegrated device, includes all internal and external components. The applicant has noted differences between the Osia® 2 system and the devices that were described by L8690, specifically percutaneous, auditory osseointegrated devices, regarding the connection between the implanted transducer and the external audio processor (percutaneous abutment vs. transcutaneous magnetic attraction) however, we believe that there is a similar mechanism of action for all these devices specifically, vibratory stimulation of the skull to stimulate the receptors in the cochlea (inner ear). Further, we believe that the broad descriptor for L8690 of “Auditory osseointegrated device, includes all internal and external components” includes the applicant's device. We are inviting public comment on whether the Osia® 2 system meets the device category criterion.

The second criterion for establishing a device category, at § 419.66(c)(2), provides that CMS determines either of the following: (i) That a device to be included in the category has demonstrated that it will substantially improve the diagnosis or treatment of an illness or injury or improve the functioning of a malformed body part compared to the benefits of a device or devices in a previously established category or other available treatment; or (ii) for devices for which pass-through status will begin on or after January 1, 2020, as an alternative to the substantial clinical improvement criterion, the device is part of the FDA's Breakthrough Devices Program and has received FDA marketing authorization. With respect to the substantial clinical improvement criterion, the applicant stated that the Osia® 2 system represents a substantial clinical improvement because it provides a reduced rate of device-related complications compared to currently available treatments. The applicant submitted five references to retrospective case series that studied the long-term complications associated with percutaneous osseointegrated bone conduction hearing devices, specifically bone-anchored hearing aids.72 73 74 75 76Start Printed Page 42105The applicant stated that complications associated with bone-anchored hearing aids include irritation and/or infection of the skin surrounding the abutment, skin flap necrosis, wound dehiscence, bleeding or hematoma formation, soft tissue overgrowth and persistent pain.[77 78 79 80 81] Additionally, the applicant also submitted five references to clinical studies and case series involving the use of transcutaneous osseointegrated bone conduction hearing devices. Of these five references, three of these studies involved the use of the BONEBRIDGE device and have been previously discussed in this section, one study that involved the use of the BAHA Attract device, and one study that involved the use of the Osia® system, an earlier version of the Osia® 2 system.

In support of their claim that the Osia® 2 system reduced the rate of device-related complications compared to currently available treatments, the applicant submitted a multicenter prospective within-subject study conducted at five centers in Europe, Australia, and USA. This study investigated clinical performance, safety, and benefit of the Osia® system and included 51 adult subjects with mixed and conductive hearing loss (MHL/CHL, n = 37) and single-sided sensorineural deafness (SSD, n = 14). In regard to safety outcomes, patients experienced the following minor adverse events including pain (n = 7), numbness (n = 1), vertigo (n = 3), swelling (n = 3), tension implant site (n = 1), warmth at the SP site (n = 3), headache (n = 3), hematoma/bleeding (n = 2).[82] One participant developed an implant-site infection three days after implantation, which subsequently developed into skin necrosis and dehiscence. The implant had to be removed 55 days after implantation.

We are concerned that the applicant did not submit studies that involved the use of the Osia® 2 system to demonstrate substantial clinical improvement of the device. The applicant submitted one study that investigated the Osia® system that utilizes an earlier model of the device. We are also concerned that the evidence of substantial clinical improvement submitted by the applicant did not directly compare the Osia® 2 system to other currently available treatments, namely percutaneous or passive, transcutaneous auditory osseointegrated devices. Therefore, we are concerned that we are unable to determine a substantial clinical improvement of the Osia 2 system as compared to existing devices. We would be interested in any additional studies that involve the use of the Osia® 2 system and compare the device to other currently available auditory osseointegrated devices. We invite public comments on whether the Osia® 2 system meets the substantial clinical improvement criterion.

The third criterion for establishing a device category, at § 419.66(c)(3), requires us to determine that the cost of the device is not insignificant, as described in § 419.66(d). Section 419.66(d) includes three cost significance criteria that must each be met. The applicant provided the following information in support of the cost significance requirements. The applicant stated that Osia® 2 system would be reported with the HCPCS codes listed in the following Table 24:

To meet the cost criterion for device pass-through payment status, a device must pass all three tests of the cost criterion for at least one APC. For our calculations, we used APC 5115—Level 5 Musculoskeletal Procedures, which had a CY 2020 payment rate of $11,900.71 at the time the application was received. Beginning in CY 2017, we calculate the device offset amount at the HCPCS/CPT code level instead of the APC level (81 FR 79657). HCPCS code 69714 had a device offset amount of $7,742.60 at the time the application was received.

Section 419.66(d)(1), the first cost significance requirement, provides that the estimated average reasonable cost of devices in the category must exceed 25 percent of the applicable APC payment amount for the service related to the category of devices. The estimated average reasonable cost of the Osia® 2 system is 88 percent of the applicable APC payment amount for the service related to the category of devices of $11,900.71. Therefore, we believe the Osia® 2 system meets the first cost significance requirement.

The second cost significance requirement, at § 419.66(d)(2), provides that the estimated average reasonable cost of the devices in the category must exceed the cost of the device-related portion of the APC payment amount for the related service by at least 25 percent, which means that the device cost needs to be at least 125 percent of the offset amount (the device-related portion of the APC found on the offset list). The estimated average reasonable cost for the Osia® 2 system is 136 percent of the cost of the device-related portion of the APC payment amount for the related Start Printed Page 42106service of $7,742.60. Therefore, we believe that the Osia® 2 system meets the second cost significance requirement.

The third cost significance requirement, at § 419.66(d)(3), provides that the difference between the estimated average reasonable cost of the devices in the category and the portion of the APC payment amount for the device must exceed 10 percent of the APC payment amount for the related service. The difference between the estimated average reasonable cost of the Osia® 2 system and the portion of the APC payment amount for the device of $7,742.60 is 23 percent of the APC payment amount for the related service of $11,900.71. Therefore, we believe that the Osia® 2 system meets the third cost significance requirement.

We invite public comment on whether the Osia® 2 system meets the device pass-through payment criteria discussed in this section, including the cost criterion for device pass-through payment status.

(5) Pure-Vu® System

Motus GI submitted an application for a new device category for transitional pass-through payment status for the Pure-Vu® System (Pure-Vu®) for CY 2022. The applicant asserted that the Pure-Vu® System helps to avoid aborted and delayed colonoscopy procedures due to poor visualization of the colon mucosa by creating a unique High Intensity, Pulsed Vortex Irrigation Jet that consists of a mixture of air and water to break-up fecal matter, blood clots, and other debris, and scrub the walls of the colon while simultaneously removing the debris through two suction channels. The applicant stated that the suction channels have a sensor to detect the formation of a clog in the channels, triggering the system to automatically purge and then revert to suction mode once the channel is clear. According to the applicant, this combination of the agitation of the fluid in the colon via the pulsed vortex irrigation and simultaneous removal of the debris allows the physician to visualize the colon and achieve a successful colonoscopy or other advanced procedure through the colonoscope even if the patient is not properly prepped and has debris either blocking the ability to navigate the colon or covering the colon wall obscuring the mucosa and any pathology that may be present. The applicant asserted that the constant volume suction pumps do not cause the colon to collapse, which allows the physician to continue to navigate the colon while cleansing and avoids the need to constantly insufflate the colon, which may be required with other colonoscopy irrigation systems.

The applicant stated that the Pure-Vu® System is comprised of a workstation that controls the function of the system, a disposable oversleeve that is mounted on a colonoscope and inserted into the patient, and a disposable connector with tubing (umbilical tubing with main connector) that provides the interface between the workstation, the oversleeve, and off the shelf waste containers.

The applicant explained that the workstation has two main functions: cleansing via irrigation and evacuation, and acting as the user interface of the system. The applicant explained that the irrigation into the colon is achieved by an electrical pump that supplies pressurized gas (air) and a peristaltic pump that supplies the liquid (water or saline). According to the applicant, the pressurized gas and liquid flow through the “main connector” and are mixed upon entry into the umbilical tubing that connects to the oversleeve. The applicant explained that the gas pressure and flow are controlled via regulators and the flow is adjusted up or down depending on the cleansing mode selected. The applicant stated that a foot pedal connected to the user interface activates the main functions of the system so that the user's hands are free to perform the colonoscope procedure in a standard fashion.

The applicant stated that the evacuation mode (also referred to as suction) removes fecal matter and fluids out of the colon. The applicant noted that the evacuation function is active during cleansing so that fluid is inserted and removed from the colon simultaneously. The applicant explained that the evacuation pumps are designed in a manner that prevents the colon from collapsing when suctioning, which facilitates the ability to simultaneously irrigate and evacuate the colon. According to the applicant, during evacuation, the system continuously monitors the pressure in the evacuation channels of the oversleeve and if the pressure drops below pre-set limits the pumps will automatically reverse the flow. The applicant explained that the clog sensor triggers the system to automatically purge the material out of the channel and back into the colon where it can be further emulsified by the Pulsed Vortex Irrigation Jet, and then automatically reverts back into evacuation mode once the channel is cleared. The applicant stated that the evacuation (suction) that drains fecal matter and fluids out of the colon is generated by peristaltic pumps that can rotate in both directions, either to evacuate fluids and fecal matter from the colon through the evacuation tubes and into a waste container, or while in the reverse direction, to purge the evacuation tubes. The applicant claimed the suction created by this type of pump creates a constant volume draw of material from the colon and therefore prevents the colon from collapsing rapidly. According to the applicant, purging of evacuation tubes may be activated in two ways: the purging cycle is automatically activated when low pressure is noted by the evacuation-line sensor (it is also activated for the first 0.5 seconds when evacuation is activated to make sure the line is clear from the start); or a manual purge may be activated by the user by pushing the “manual purge” button on the foot pedal. The applicant claimed the pressure-sensing channel is kept patent by using an air perfusion mechanism where an electrical pump is used to perfuse air through the main connector and into the oversleeve, while the sensor located in the workstation calculates the pressure via sensing of the channel.

The applicant explained the Pure-Vu® System is loaded over a colonoscope and that the colonoscope with the Pure-Vu® Oversleeve is advanced through the colon in the same manner as a standard colonoscopy. The applicant stated that the body of the oversleeve consists of inner and outer sleeves with tubes intended for providing fluid path for the cleansing irrigation (2X), the evacuation of fluids (2X), the evacuation sensor (1X) and that the flexible head is at the distal end of the oversleeve and is designed to align with the colonoscope's distal end in a consistent orientation. The applicant explained that the distal cleansing and evacuation head contains the irrigation ports, evacuation openings, and a sensing port. According to the applicant, the system gives the physician the control to cleanse the colon as needed based on visual feedback from the colonoscope to make sure they have an unobstructed view of the colon mucosa to detect and treat any pathology. The applicant noted that since the Pure-Vu® System does not interfere with the working channel of the colonoscope, the physician is able to perform all diagnostic or therapeutic interventions in a standard fashion with an unobstructed field of view.

With respect to the newness criterion at § 419.66(b)(1), the Pure-Vu® System first received FDA 510(k) clearance on September 22, 2016 under 510(k) number K60015. Per the applicant, this initial device was very cumbersome to set up and required direct support from Start Printed Page 42107the company and therefore was not viable for a small company with limited resources to market the device. The applicant noted that the initial device could have been sold starting on January 27, 2017 when the first device came off the manufacturing line. Per the applicant, the device was allocated for clinical evaluations but 10 institutions throughout the country did purchase the device outside of any true clinical study, mostly based on the fact that physicians wanted to try the product prior to committing to a clinical trial. The applicant further noted that minor modifications were made to the Pure-Vu® System in additional 510(k) clearances dated December 12, 2017 and June 21, 2018. The current marketed Pure-Vu® System was then granted 510(k) clearance on June 6, 2019 under 510(k) number K191220. Per the applicant, this clearance changed the entire set-up of the device, redesigned the user interface, and reduced the size, among other changes. According to the applicant, this updated version was commercially available as of September 19, 2019. We have not identified an existing pass-through payment category that describes the Pure-Vu® System. We are inviting public comment on whether the Pure-Vu® System meets the device category criterion.

With respect to the eligibility criterion at § 419.66(b)(3), according to the applicant, Pure-Vu® is integral to the service provided, is used for one patient only, comes in contact with human tissue, and is surgically inserted temporarily. The applicant also claimed that Pure-Vu® meets the device eligibility requirements of § 419.66(b)(4) because it is not an instrument, apparatus, implement, or item for which depreciation and financing expenses are recovered, and it is not a supply or material furnished incident to a service. We are inviting public comments on whether Pure-Vu® meets the eligibility criteria at § 419.66(b).

The criteria for establishing new device categories are specified at § 419.66(c). The first criterion, at § 419.66(c)(1), provides that CMS determines that a device to be included in the category is not appropriately described by any of the existing categories or by any category previously in effect, and was not being paid for as an outpatient service as of December 31, 1996. We have not identified an existing pass-through payment category that describes Pure-Vu®. We are inviting public comment on whether Pure-Vu® meets the device category criterion.

The second criterion for establishing a device category, at § 419.66(c)(2), provides that CMS determines either of the following: (i) That a device to be included in the category has demonstrated that it will substantially improve the diagnosis or treatment of an illness or injury or improve the functioning of a malformed body part compared to the benefits of a device or devices in a previously established category or other available treatment; or (ii) for devices for which pass-through status will begin on or after January 1, 2020, as an alternative to the substantial clinical improvement criterion, the device is part of the FDA's Breakthrough Devices Program and has received FDA marketing authorization. The applicant stated that Pure-Vu® represents a substantial clinical improvement over existing technologies. With respect to this criterion, the applicant submitted studies that examined the impact of Pure-Vu® on endoscopic hemostasis outcomes, rebleeding occurrence, and mortality. We note that the applicant has applied for the New Technology Add-on Payment in the FY 2022 IPPS/LTCH proposed rule (86 FR 25299 through 25304).

According to the applicant, the Pure-Vu® System offers the ability to achieve rapid beneficial resolution of the disease process treatment by achieving rapid and full visualization of the colon, which will improve diagnostic yield and the effectiveness of treatment of diseases of the bowel. The applicant claimed that Pure-Vu® is indicated for use in emergent issues such as acute lower gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding, unknown abdominal pain, foreign body removal, chronic disease management, and preventive medicine such as screening and surveillance. The applicant states these procedures are typically performed using a colonoscope to visualize the colon and provide a conduit to deliver therapeutic treatments. According to the applicant, the current standard of care requires the colon to be cleansed to ensure the success of any procedure. The applicant asserts that in the case where pre-procedural preparations are not adequate to achieve proper visualization, current technology provides limited ability to remove debris from the colon during the procedure to facilitate the process. The applicant states that regardless of indication, the bowel preparation remains the constant across patients who may have a wide range of comorbidities which may limit patient tolerability. According to the applicant the consumption of a purgative and the dietary restriction to be on clear liquids for approximately 24 hours can be problematic for the diabetic and elderly populations.[83]

In support of its application, the applicant submitted three outpatient clinical studies to demonstrate the Pure-Vu® System's capability to convert patients to adequate preparation where preparation was previously inadequate and the visualization was poor based on the Boston Bowel Preparation Scale (BBPS). In the first study, Perez J., et al. conducted an outpatient prospective pilot study using the Pure-Vu® System.[84] The study observed 50 patients with poorly prepared colons undergoing colonoscopy at two outpatient clinical sites in Spain and Israel, respectively. The applicant claimed study patients underwent a reduced bowel preparation consisting of the following: No dried fruits, seeds, or nuts starting 2 days before the colonoscopy, a clear liquid diet starting 18 to 24 hours before colonoscopy, and a split dose of 20mg oral bisacodyl. The study found the number of patients with an adequate cleansing level (BBPS ≥2 in each colon segment) increased significantly from 31 percent (15/49) prior to use of the Pure-Vu System (baseline) to 98 percent (48/49) after use of the Pure-Vu® System (P<0.001), with no serious adverse events reported.

In the second study provided by the applicant, van Keulen, et al. also conducted a single-arm, prospective study on 47 patients with a median age of 61 years in the outpatient setting in the Netherlands using the Pure-Vu® System.[85] Within the study, cecal intubation was achieved in 46/47 patients. This multicenter feasibility study found that the Pure-Vu® System significantly improved the proportion of patients with adequate bowel cleansing from 19.1 percent prior to the use of the Pure-Vu® System to 97.9 percent after its use (P<0.001) and median BBPS score (from 3.0 [IQR 0.0-5.0] to 9.0 [IQR 8.0-9.0]).

In the third study provided by the applicant that directly evaluated the Pure-Vu® System in a clinical setting, Bertiger G., et al. performed a United States-based single center, prospective, Start Printed Page 42108outpatient study investigating regimes of reduced outpatient bowel preparations, which included low doses of over-the-counter laxatives, and eliminating the typical 24 hour clear liquid diet restriction, which was replaced by a low residue diet the day before the procedure.[86] In this study, 46 of a possible 49 patients received a colonoscopy, 8 of which took the over-the-counter laxative (“MiraLAX arm”), 21 patients ingested two doses of 7.5oz Magnesium Citrate (MgC) each taken with 19.5oz of clear liquid (“Mag Citrate 15oz arm”), and 18 patients ingested 2 doses of 5oz MgC taken with 16oz of clear liquid (“Mag Citrate 10oz arm”). Of the 46 subjects, 59 percent were males and there was a mean age of 61 ± 9.48 years. The study found that each of the 3 study arms revealed significant differences in BBPS score between the baseline preparation and post-cleansing via Pure-Vu®. All the preparation regimens resulted in inadequately prepped colons. Comparing the mean BBPS rating for both pre- and post- Pure-Vu® use, the MiraLAX arm was inferior (P<0.05) to both Mag Citrate arms. For the MiraLAX arm, the mean BBPS Score improved from 1.50 to 8.63. For the Mag Citrate 15oz arm, the mean BBPS score improved from 3.62 to 8.95. For the Mag Citrate 10oz arm, the mean BBPS Score improved from 4.76 to 9.0.

The applicant also provided a self-sponsored, U.S.-based, multicenter, prospective, single arm study in the inpatient setting, analyzing 94 patients, 65 of which (68 percent) had a GI bleed.[87] Of the 94 patients (41 percent females/59 percent males), the mean age was 62 years. According to the applicant, the study's primary endpoint was the rate of improved bowel cleansing level from baseline to after use of the Pure-Vu® System per colon segment using the BBPS. The BBPS score was recorded for each colorectal segment (left colon, transverse colon, and right colon segments) both prior to (baseline) and after colon cleansing with the Pure-Vu® System. An adequate cleansing level was a priori defined as a BBPS ≥2 in all evaluated colon segments. The study found that in 79 of the 94 patients (84 percent), the physician was able to successfully diagnose or rule out a GI bleed in the colon per the patients' colonoscopy indication using only the Pure-Vu® System. The analysis showed statistically significant visualization improvement in each colon segment after Pure-Vu® use with a mean BBPS score in the descending colon, sigmoid, and rectum of 1.74 pre-Pure-Vu® use and 2.89 post-Pure-Vu® use (P<0.001); in the transverse colon of 1.74 pre-Pure-Vu® use and 2.91 post Pure-Vu® use (P<0.001); and the ascending colon and cecum of 1.50 pre-Pure-Vu® use and 2.86 post Pure-Vu® use (P<0.001). The study found only 2 percent of cases where the diagnosis could not be achieved due to inadequate preparation. Overall, the 84 (89.4 percent) patients that received the Pure-Vu® System within the study improved BBPS scores from 38 percent (95 percent CI 28, 49) to 96 percent (95 percent CI 90, 99) in segments evaluated. The study noted one procedure related perforation which required surgical repair, and the patient was discharged 48 hours post operatively and recovered fully.

In addition to the previously discussed studies, the applicant also submitted two case studies to highlight the various clinical presentations of lower gastrointestinal bleed (LGIB) with the use of the Pure-Vu® System. In the first case, the applicant described a patient with a history of scleroderma and chronic constipation who was referred for a surveillance colonoscopy after a prior endoscopic mucosal resection due to a large polyp. The applicant states this was the patient's third colonoscopy in twelve months due to a history of poor preparation in the prior exams. Despite an aggressive prep regime, the applicant states the patient still had solid stool and debris throughout the colon. The applicant states the Pure-Vu® system was used extensively and the physician was able to fully cleanse the colon during which the physician was able to uncover a poorly defined over 1 cm sessile serrated polyp that could not be appreciated before cleansing with Pure-Vu®. The applicant states a successful polypectomy was performed.

In the second case, the applicant described a patient presenting with hemorrhagic shock and acute kidney injury six days after a colonoscopy where nine polyps were removed, including two polyps greater than 2cm. The applicant states angiographic control of the bleeding was not considered because of the patient's acute kidney injury with a rising creatinine. According to the applicant, the physician elected to use Pure-Vu® to immediately exam the patient without any preparation doing a bedside colonoscopy in the ICU. The applicant states, the physician was able to cleanse the colon, locate the source of the bleed and create hemostasis by placing two clips on the bleed. According to the applicant, the entire colon was visualized to confirm there were no other sources of bleeding, the physician was able to downgrade the patient out of the ICU that same day, and the patient was discharged from the hospital the following day.

The applicant concludes that based on the provided evidence, Pure-Vu® has the ability to improve adenoma detection rates which can reduce the rate of colorectal cancer (CRC) and diagnose and treat emergent patients in a more expeditious fashion by removing the need to have successful pre-procedural preparation that can take time and be very burdensome to the most needy and fragile patients. According to the applicant, Pure-Vu® can minimize the number of aborted and early repeat colonoscopies that carry inherent risks and add unnecessary costs to the healthcare system.

Based on the evidence submitted with the application, we have the following observations. While the studies provided in support of the Pure-Vu® System measure improvement of bowel preparation using the BBPS, the applicant did not provide data indicating that the improved BBPS directly leads to improved clinical outcomes (for example, reduction of blood loss in LGIB or reduction of missed polyps) based on use of the Pure-Vu® System. Additionally, we note that the applicant has not provided any studies comparing the efficacy of the Pure-Vu® System to other existing methods or products for irrigation in support of its claims that the product is superior at removing debris from the colon while simultaneously preventing the colon from collapsing, allowing use of the working channel, or improving outcomes. Furthermore, we note that many of the provided studies were based on small sample sizes, which may affect the quality and reliability of the data provided in support of the technology.

In addition, we note that it is unclear whether this device would have less utility in the outpatient setting as compared to the inpatient setting, given that patients will typically have time to adequately prepare for scheduled outpatient procedures. We further note that this device may not be broadly applicable in the outpatient setting and are seeking comment for situations in which this device will have a substantial clinical benefit for patients Start Printed Page 42109or subpopulations of patients. For instance, in the outpatient setting, we are not certain that it would be appropriate to use this device in the case of a patient with a poorly prepared bowel as opposed to simply rescheduling the appointment.

Lastly, we note that the Helmut et al. study noted one procedure-related perforation which required surgical repair and we invite public comments regarding the concern of procedure-related perforation.[88] Based upon the evidence presented, we are inviting public comments on whether the Pure-Vu® meets the substantial clinical improvement criterion.

The third criterion for establishing a device category, at § 419.66(c)(3), requires us to determine that the cost of the device is not insignificant, as described in § 419.66(d). Section 419.66(d) includes three cost significance criteria that must each be met. The applicant provided the following information in support of the cost significance requirements. The applicant stated that Pure-Vu® would be reported with the HCPCS codes listed in the following Table 25:

To meet the cost criterion for device pass-through payment status, a device must pass all three tests of the cost criterion for at least one APC. For our calculations, we used APC 5311—Level 1 Lower GI Procedures, which had a CY 2020 payment rate of $763.88 at the time the application was received. Beginning in CY 2017, we calculate the device offset amount at the HCPCS/CPT code level instead of the APC level (81 FR 79657). HCPCS code 45378 had a device offset amount of $1.07 at the time the application was received. According to the applicant, the cost of the Pure-Vu® is $975.

Section 419.66(d)(1), the first cost significance requirement, provides that the estimated average reasonable cost of devices in the category must exceed 25 percent of the applicable APC payment amount for the service related to the category of devices. The estimated average reasonable cost of $975 for Pure-Vu® is 128 percent of the applicable APC payment amount for the service related to the category of devices of $763.80 (($975/$763.88) × 100 = 127.7 percent). Therefore, we believe Pure-Vu® meets the first cost significance requirement.

The second cost significance requirement, at § 419.66(d)(2), provides that the estimated average reasonable cost of the devices in the category must exceed the cost of the device-related portion of the APC payment amount for the related service by at least 25 percent, which means that the device cost needs to be at least 125 percent of the offset amount (the device-related portion of the APC found on the offset list). The estimated average reasonable cost of $975 for Pure-Vu® is 91,122 percent of the cost of the device-related portion of the APC payment amount for the related service of $1.07 (($975/$1.07) × 100 = 91,121.5 percent). Therefore, we believe that Pure-Vu® meets the second cost significance requirement.

The third cost significance requirement, at § 419.66(d)(3), provides that the difference between the estimated average reasonable cost of the devices in the category and the portion of the APC payment amount for the device must exceed 10 percent of the APC payment amount for the related service. The difference between the estimated average reasonable cost of $975 for Pure-Vu® and the portion of the APC payment amount for the device of $1.07 is 128 percent of the APC payment amount for the related service of $763.88 ((($975−$1.07)/$763.80) × 100 = 127.5 percent). Therefore, we believe that Pure-Vu® meets the third cost significance requirement.

We are inviting public comment on whether the Pure-Vu® meets the device pass-through payment criteria discussed in this section, including the cost criterion for device pass-through payment status.

(6) Xenocor XenoscopeTM

Xenocor Inc. submitted an application for a new device category for transitional pass-through payment status for the Articulating Xenoscope Laparoscope (hereinafter referred to as the XenoscopeTM) by the March 2021 quarterly deadline for CY 2022. The applicant described the XenoscopeTM as a disposable laparoscope which consists of a high-definition camera chip on the tip of a composite shaft, paired with led lights with a handle comprised of a clamshell design and made with molded plastic. The applicant stated that the XenoscopeTM provides visualization in the abdominal and thoracic cavities through small, minimally invasive incisions for diagnostic and therapeutic laparoscopic procedures in a similar fashion to established, reusable versions of laparoscopes. It is paired with an image processing unit, the Xenobox, that can plug into any HD monitor to Start Printed Page 42110display anatomy in the abdomen, pelvis or chest. The Xenobox uses pre-installed firmware that is upgradable.

The applicant claimed that the XenoscopeTM is the first disposable laparoscope. The applicant also claimed that the use of the XenoscopeTM reduces the number of cords in the operating room, eliminates intraoperative fogging and associated image compromise and eliminates up-front capital enditures associated with reusable laparoscopes.

With respect to the newness criterion, the XenoscopeTM received FDA 510(k) clearance on January 27, 2020, based on a determination of substantial equivalence to a legally marketed predicate device. The XenoscopeTM is indicated for use in diagnostic and therapeutic procedures for endoscopy and endoscopic surgery within the thoracic and peritoneal cavities including the female reproductive organs. We received the application for a new device category for transitional pass-through payment status for the XenoscopeTM on August 6, 2020, which is within 3 years of the date of the initial FDA marketing authorization. We are inviting public comments on whether the XenoscopeTM meets the newness criterion.

With respect to the eligibility criterion at § 419.66(b)(3), according to the applicant, the use of the XenoscopeTM is integral to the service, is used for one patient only, comes in contact with human skin, and is surgically implanted or inserted into the patient. Specifically, the applicant explained that the XenoscopeTM is plugged into the Xenobox image processing unit (which is connected to an HD monitor and an A/C power source). A surgeon then makes a small incision and a trocar (tube-like device with a seal to maintain abdominal pressure) is inserted to gain access to the body cavity. The XenoscopeTM is then inserted through the trocar in order to provide a full view of the anatomy for diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.

The applicant also claimed the XenoscopeTM meets the device eligibility requirements of § 419.66(b)(4) because it is not an instrument, apparatus, implement, or item for which depreciation and financing expenses are recovered, and it is not a supply or material furnished incident to a service. We are inviting public comments on whether the XenoscopeTM meets the eligibility criteria at § 419.66(b).

The criteria for establishing new device categories are specified at § 419.66(c). The first criterion, at § 419.66(c)(1), provides that CMS determines that a device to be included in the category is not appropriately described by any of the existing categories or by any category previously in effect, and was not being paid for as an outpatient service as of December 31, 1996. The applicant described the XenoscopeTM as disposable laparoscope. The applicant reported that it does not believe that the XenoscopeTM is described by an existing category and requested category descriptor “Single-use laparoscopes.” The applicant also stated that the currently existing category, C1748—Endoscope, single-use (that is, disposable), upper gi, imaging/illumination device (insertable), did not describe this device because it is limited to single-use duodenoscopes inserted orally, to reach the small intestine versus minimally invasive abdominal surgery (laparoscopy). We have not identified an existing pass-through payment category that is applicable to the XenoscopeTM. We are inviting public comments on this issue.

The second criterion for establishing a device category, at § 419.66(c)(2), provides that CMS determines either of the following: (i) That a device to be included in the category has demonstrated that it will substantially improve the diagnosis or treatment of an illness or injury or improve the functioning of a malformed body part compared to the benefits of a device or devices in a previously established category or other available treatment; or (ii) for devices for which pass-through status will begin on or after January 1, 2020, as an alternative to the substantial clinical improvement criterion, the device is part of the FDA's Breakthrough Devices Program and has received FDA marketing authorization.

With respect to the substantial clinical improvement criterion, the applicant stated that the XenoscopeTM provides a substantial clinical improvement over reusable laparoscopes because of its single-use nature. Specifically, the applicant claimed, that because the XenoscopeTM is a disposable, single-use device, the XenoscopeTM provides for less risk of scope-related cross-contamination and infection from improperly handled or reprocessed scopes compared to traditional laparoscopy.

The applicant also claimed that the XenoscopeTM includes a fog-free scope and provides a substantial clinical improvement over currently available laparoscopes which, according to the applicant, fog often, and can put patients at risk for surgical errors and more time under anesthesia. Additionally, the applicant claimed that the XenoscopeTM reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit at the tip, eliminating risk of patient burns and drape fires associated with hotter Xenon bulbs used in currently available laparoscopes.

Lastly, that applicant stated that there can be significant economic benefits through the use of the XenoscopeTM due to the processing costs and up-front capital expenditures required for reusable laparoscopes.

In support of the assertion that the XenoscopeTM reduces the risk of cross-contamination from improperly cleaned reusable laparoscopic instruments, the applicant referenced two articles. The first article was published in 2002 and describes the problem of surgical site infection (SSI), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for SSI, and some cases of SSI related to improper cleaning of reusable laparoscopic instruments. The article also discusses practices to avoid these infections.[89] The applicant also submitted a draft of a manuscript titled “Novel Laparoscopic System for Quality Improvement and Increased Efficiency” that summarizes some of the evidence that laparoscopy, in general, is superior to open surgical approaches in terms of pain management and infection risk.[90]

In support of the claim that the XenoscopeTM eliminates the risk of patient burns and drape fires associated with Xenon bulbs used by currently available laparoscopes, the applicant submitted two articles. The first was an article published in 2011 that discusses the problem of laparoscopic related burn injuries and a potential solution using Active Electrode Monitoring (AEM).[91] AEM instruments reportedly use a “shielded and monitored” design to prevent the risk of stray energy burn injury from insulation failure and capacitive coupling. According to the article, the AEM technology is currently licensed by Intuitive Surgical's da Vinci® Surgical Systems. The applicant does not compare the XenoscopeTM to AEM technology in terms of burn injury reduction. The second article examined the variation and extent of thermal injuries that could be induced by laparoscopic light sources to porcine tissue. In the study, the maximum temperature at the tip of the optical cable varied between 119.5 degrees C and 268.6 degrees C. When surgical Start Printed Page 42111drapes were exposed to the tip of the light source, the time to char was 3-6 seconds. The degree and volume of injury increased with longer exposure times, and significant injury was recorded with the optical cable 3 mm from the skin.[92]

In support of the claim that there could be significant economic benefits realized through the use the XenoscopeTM compared to reusable laparoscopes, the applicant also referenced the manuscript entitled “Novel Laparoscopic System for Quality Improvement and Increased Efficiency”.[93] In this study, a three-page survey was created to collect data regarding laparoscope-related practices and costs. The survey was completed by three different institutions, including an ambulatory surgery center (ASC), a rural hospital and a suburban hospital. The sites provided the capital equipment cost required at the time of purchase at their facility which ranged from $837,184 to $2,786,348. The average cost per use for one surgical procedure involving a reusable laparoscope was $1,019.24 across the three institutions.

We are concerned that the application and the articles submitted as evidence of substantial clinical improvement discuss potential adverse effects from laparoscopic procedures, but do not appear to directly show any clinical improvement that result from the use of the XenoscopeTM. The applicant has provided evidence which seems to rely on indirect inferences from other sources of data. The articles provided did not involve the clinical use of the XenoscopeTM and did not compare the device to an appropriate comparator, such as a reusable laparoscope. Therefore, it is difficult to determine whether the XenoscopeTM offers substantial clinical improvement over standard, reusable laparoscopes based on the information provided. In order to demonstrate substantial clinical improvement over currently available treatments, we consider supporting evidence, preferably published peer-reviewed clinical trials, that shows improved clinical outcomes, such as reduction in mortality, complications, subsequent interventions, future hospitalizations, recovery time, pain, or a more rapid beneficial resolution of the disease process compared to the standard of care.

We are invite public comment on whether the XenoscopeTM meets the substantial clinical improvement criterion.

The third criterion for establishing a device category, at § 419.66(c)(3), requires us to determine that the cost of the device is not insignificant, as described in § 419.66(d). Section 419.66(d) includes three cost significance criteria that must each be met. The applicant provided the following information in support of the cost significance requirements. The applicant stated that the XenoscopeTM would be reported with HCPCS codes listed in the following Table 26:

To meet the cost criterion for device pass-through payment status, a device must pass all three tests of the cost criterion for at least one APC. For our calculations, we used APC 5361 Level 1 Laparoscopy and Related Services, which had a CY 2020 payment rate of $4,833.71. Beginning in CY 2017, we calculated the device offset amount at the HCPCS/CPT code level instead of the APC level (81 FR 79657). CPT code 49320 had a device offset amount of $107.79 at the time the application was received. According to the applicant, the cost of the XenoscopeTM is $1,500.

Section 419.66(d)(1), the first cost significance requirement, provides that the estimated average reasonable cost of devices in the category must exceed 25 percent of the applicable APC payment amount for the service related to the category of devices. The estimated average reasonable cost of $1,500 for the XenoscopeTM is 31 percent of the applicable APC payment amount for the service related to the category of devices of XenoscopeTM (($1,500/$4,833.71) × 100 = 31.0 percent). Therefore, we believe XenoscopeTM meets the first cost significance requirement.Start Printed Page 42112

The second cost significance requirement, at § 419.66(d)(2), provides that the estimated average reasonable cost of the devices in the category must exceed the cost of the device-related portion of the APC payment amount for the related service by at least 25 percent, which means that the device cost needs to be at least 125 percent of the offset amount (the device-related portion of the APC found on the offset list). The estimated average reasonable cost of $1,500 for the XenoscopeTM is 1,392 percent of the cost of the device-related portion of the APC payment amount for the related service of $107.79 (($1,500/$107.79) × 100 = 1,391.6 percent). Therefore, we believe that the XenoscopeTM meets the second cost significance requirement.

The third cost significance requirement, at § 419.66(d)(3), provides that the difference between the estimated average reasonable cost of the devices in the category and the portion of the APC payment amount for the device must exceed 10 percent of the APC payment amount for the related service. The difference between the estimated average reasonable cost of $1,500 for the XenoscopeTM and the portion of the APC payment amount for the device of $107.79 is 29 percent of the APC payment amount for the related service of $4,833.71 (($1,500−$107.79)/$4,833.71) = 28.8 percent). Therefore, we believe that the XenoscopeTM meets the third cost significance requirement.

We invite public comment on whether the XenoscopeTM meets the device pass-through payment criteria discussed in this section, including the cost criterion.

B. Proposed Device-Intensive Procedures

1. Background

Under the OPPS, prior to CY 2017, device-intensive status for procedures was determined at the APC level for APCs with a device offset percentage greater than 40 percent (79 FR 66795). Beginning in CY 2017, CMS began determining device-intensive status at the HCPCS code level. In assigning device-intensive status to an APC prior to CY 2017, the device costs of all the procedures within the APC were calculated and the geometric mean device offset of all of the procedures had to exceed 40 percent. Almost all of the procedures assigned to device-intensive APCs utilized devices, and the device costs for the associated HCPCS codes exceeded the 40-percent threshold. The no cost/full credit and partial credit device policy (79 FR 66872 through 66873) applies to device-intensive APCs and is discussed in detail in section IV.B.4. of this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule. A related device policy was the requirement that certain procedures assigned to device-intensive APCs require the reporting of a device code on the claim (80 FR 70422) and is discussed in detail in Section IV.B.3 of this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule. For further background information on the device-intensive APC policy, we refer readers to the CY 2016 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (80 FR 70421 through 70426).

a. HCPCS Code-Level Device-Intensive Determination

As stated earlier, prior to CY 2017, under the device-intensive methodology we assigned device-intensive status to all procedures requiring the implantation of a device that were assigned to an APC with a device offset greater than 40 percent and, beginning in CY 2015, that met the three criteria listed below. Historically, the device-intensive designation was at the APC level and applied to the applicable procedures within that APC. In the CY 2017 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (81 FR 79658), we changed our methodology to assign device-intensive status at the individual HCPCS code level rather than at the APC level. Under this policy, a procedure could be assigned device-intensive status regardless of its APC assignment, and device-intensive APC designations were no longer applied under the OPPS or the ASC payment system.

We believe that a HCPCS code-level device offset is, in most cases, a better representation of a procedure's device cost than an APC-wide average device offset based on the average device offset of all of the procedures assigned to an APC. Unlike a device offset calculated at the APC level, which is a weighted average offset for all devices used in all of the procedures assigned to an APC, a HCPCS code-level device offset is calculated using only claims for a single HCPCS code. We believe that this methodological change results in a more accurate representation of the cost attributable to implantation of a high-cost device, which ensures consistent device-intensive designation of procedures with a significant device cost. Further, we believe a HCPCS code-level device offset removes inappropriate device-intensive status for procedures without a significant device cost that are granted such status because of their APC assignment.

Under our existing policy, procedures that meet the criteria listed in section IV.B.1.b. of this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule are identified as device-intensive procedures and are subject to all the policies applicable to procedures assigned device-intensive status under our established methodology, including our policies on device edits and no cost/full credit and partial credit devices discussed in sections IV.B.3. and IV.B.4. of this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule, respectively.

b. Use of the Three Criteria To Designate Device-Intensive Procedures

We clarified our established policy in the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (82 FR 52474), where we explained that device-intensive procedures require the implantation of a device and additionally are subject to the following criteria:

  • All procedures must involve implantable devices that would be reported if device insertion procedures were performed;
  • The required devices must be surgically inserted or implanted devices that remain in the patient's body after the conclusion of the procedure (at least temporarily); and
  • The device offset amount must be significant, which is defined as exceeding 40 percent of the procedure's mean cost.

We changed our policy to apply these three criteria to determine whether procedures qualify as device-intensive in the CY 2015 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (79 FR 66926), where we stated that we would apply the no cost/full credit and partial credit device policy—which includes the three criteria listed previously—to all device-intensive procedures beginning in CY 2015. We reiterated this position in the CY 2016 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (80 FR 70424), where we explained that we were finalizing our proposal to continue using the three criteria established in the CY 2007 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period for determining the APCs to which the CY 2016 device intensive policy will apply. Under the policies we adopted in CYs 2015, 2016, and 2017, all procedures that require the implantation of a device and meet the previously described criteria are assigned device-intensive status, regardless of their APC placement.

2. Device-Intensive Procedure Policy for CY 2019 and Subsequent Years

As part of our effort to better capture costs for procedures with significant device costs, in the CY 2019 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (83 FR 58944 through 58948), for CY 2019, we modified our criteria for device-intensive procedures. We had heard Start Printed Page 42113from stakeholders that the criteria excluded some procedures that stakeholders believed should qualify as device-intensive procedures. Specifically, we were persuaded by stakeholder arguments that procedures requiring expensive surgically inserted or implanted devices that are not capital equipment should qualify as device-intensive procedures, regardless of whether the device remains in the patient's body after the conclusion of the procedure. We agreed that a broader definition of device-intensive procedures was warranted, and made two modifications to the criteria for CY 2019 (83 FR 58948). First, we allowed procedures that involve surgically inserted or implanted single-use devices that meet the device offset percentage threshold to qualify as device-intensive procedures, regardless of whether the device remains in the patient's body after the conclusion of the procedure. We established this policy because we no longer believe that whether a device remains in the patient's body should affect a procedure's designation as a device-intensive procedure, as such devices could, nonetheless, comprise a large portion of the cost of the applicable procedure. Second, we modified our criteria to lower the device offset percentage threshold from 40 percent to 30 percent, to allow a greater number of procedures to qualify as device-intensive. We stated that we believe allowing these additional procedures to qualify for device-intensive status will help ensure these procedures receive more appropriate payment in the ASC setting, which will help encourage the provision of these services in the ASC setting. In addition, we stated that this change would help to ensure that more procedures containing relatively high-cost devices are subject to the device edits, which leads to more correctly coded claims and greater accuracy in our claims data. Specifically, for CY 2019 and subsequent years, we finalized that device-intensive procedures will be subject to the following criteria:

  • All procedures must involve implantable devices assigned a CPT or HCPCS code;
  • The required devices (including single-use devices) must be surgically inserted or implanted; and
  • The device offset amount must be significant, which is defined as exceeding 30 percent of the procedure's mean cost (83 FR 58945).

In addition, to further align the device-intensive policy with the criteria used for device pass-through payment status, we finalized, for CY 2019 and subsequent years, that for purposes of satisfying the device-intensive criteria, a device-intensive procedure must involve a device that:

  • Has received FDA marketing authorization, has received an FDA investigational device exemption (IDE), and has been classified as a Category B device by FDA in accordance with §§ 405.203 through 405.207 and 405.211 through 405.215, or meets another appropriate FDA exemption from premarket review;
  • Is an integral part of the service furnished;
  • Is used for one patient only;
  • Comes in contact with human tissue;
  • Is surgically implanted or inserted (either permanently or temporarily); and
  • Is not either of the following:

(a) Equipment, an instrument, apparatus, implement, or item of the type for which depreciation and financing expenses are recovered as depreciable assets as defined in Chapter 1 of the Medicare Provider Reimbursement Manual (CMS Pub. 15-1); or

(b) A material or supply furnished incident to a service (for example, a suture, customized surgical kit, scalpel, or clip, other than a radiological site marker) (83 FR 58945).

In addition, for new HCPCS codes describing procedures requiring the implantation of devices that do not yet have associated claims data, in the CY 2017 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (81 FR 79658), we finalized a policy for CY 2017 to apply device-intensive status with a default device offset set at 41 percent for new HCPCS codes describing procedures requiring the implantation or insertion of a device that did not yet have associated claims data until claims data are available to establish the HCPCS code-level device offset for the procedures. This default device offset amount of 41 percent was not calculated from claims data; instead, it was applied as a default until claims data were available upon which to calculate an actual device offset for the new code. The purpose of applying the 41-percent default device offset to new codes that describe procedures that implant or insert devices was to ensure ASC access for new procedures until claims data become available.

As discussed in the CY 2019 OPPS/ASC proposed rule and final rule with comment period (83 FR 37108 through 37109 and 58945 through 58946, respectively), in accordance with our policy stated previously to lower the device offset percentage threshold for procedures to qualify as device-intensive from greater than 40 percent to greater than 30 percent, for CY 2019 and subsequent years, we modified this policy to apply a 31-percent default device offset to new HCPCS codes describing procedures requiring the implantation of a device that do not yet have associated claims data until claims data are available to establish the HCPCS code-level device offset for the procedures. In conjunction with the policy to lower the default device offset from 41 percent to 31 percent, we continued our current policy of, in certain rare instances (for example, in the case of a very ensive implantable device), temporarily assigning a higher offset percentage if warranted by additional information such as pricing data from a device manufacturer (81 FR 79658). Once claims data are available for a new procedure requiring the implantation or insertion of a device, device-intensive status is applied to the code if the HCPCS code-level device offset is greater than 30 percent, according to our policy of determining device-intensive status by calculating the HCPCS code-level device offset.

In addition, in the CY 2019 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period, we clarified that since the adoption of our policy in effect as of CY 2018, the associated claims data used for purposes of determining whether or not to apply the default device offset are the associated claims data for either the new HCPCS code or any predecessor code, as described by CPT coding guidance, for the new HCPCS code. Additionally, for CY 2019 and subsequent years, in limited instances where a new HCPCS code does not have a predecessor code as defined by CPT, but describes a procedure that was previously described by an existing code, we use clinical discretion to identify HCPCS codes that are clinically related or similar to the new HCPCS code but are not officially recognized as a predecessor code by CPT, and to use the claims data of the clinically related or similar code(s) for purposes of determining whether or not to apply the default device offset to the new HCPCS code (83 FR 58946). Clinically related and similar procedures for purposes of this policy are procedures that have little or no clinical differences and use the same devices as the new HCPCS code. In addition, clinically related and similar codes for purposes of this policy are codes that either currently or previously describe the procedure described by the new HCPCS code. Under this policy, claims data from clinically related and similar codes are included as associated claims data for a new code, and where an existing HCPCS code is found to be Start Printed Page 42114clinically related or similar to a new HCPCS code, we apply the device offset percentage derived from the existing clinically related or similar HCPCS code's claims data to the new HCPCS code for determining the device offset percentage. We stated that we believe that claims data for HCPCS codes describing procedures that have minor differences from the procedures described by new HCPCS codes will provide an accurate depiction of the cost relationship between the procedure and the device(s) that are used, and will be appropriate to use to set a new code's device offset percentage, in the same way that predecessor codes are used. If a new HCPCS code has multiple predecessor codes, the claims data for the predecessor code that has the highest individual HCPCS-level device offset percentage is used to determine whether the new HCPCS code qualifies for device-intensive status. Similarly, in the event that a new HCPCS code does not have a predecessor code but has multiple clinically related or similar codes, the claims data for the clinically related or similar code that has the highest individual HCPCS level device offset percentage is used to determine whether the new HCPCS code qualifies for device-intensive status.

As we indicated in the CY 2019 OPPS/ASC proposed rule and final rule with comment period, additional information for our consideration of an offset percentage higher than the default of 31 percent for new HCPCS codes describing procedures requiring the implantation (or, in some cases, the insertion) of a device that do not yet have associated claims data, such as pricing data or invoices from a device manufacturer, should be directed to the Division of Outpatient Care, Mail Stop C4-01-26, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21244-1850, or electronically at outpatientpps@cms.hhs.gov. Additional information can be submitted prior to issuance of an OPPS/ASC proposed rule or as a public comment in response to an issued OPPS/ASC proposed rule. Device offset percentages will be set in each year's final rule.

As discussed in Section X.E of this proposed rule, given our concerns regarding CY 2020 data as a result of the COVID-PHE, we are proposing to use CY 2019 claims data to establish CY 2022 prospective rates. While we continue to believe CY 2019 represents the best full year of claims data for ratesetting, we believe our policy of temporarily assigning a higher offset percentage if warranted by additional information would provide a more accurate device offset percentage for certain procedures. Specifically, for procedures that were assigned device-intensive status, but were assigned a default device offset percentage of 31 percent or a device offset percentage based on claims from a clinically-similar code in the absence of CY 2019 claims data, we are proposing to assign a device offset percentage for such procedures based on CY 2020 data if CY 2020 claims information is available. While we believe that CY 2019 claims data is a better basis for CY 2022 OPPS rates overall, because we have specifically noted that we would consider using more recent data than the data available for ratesetting in a given year to determine device offset percentages for services that do not have any claims data in the year used for ratesetting, we believe it would be consistent with this policy for us to use CY 2020 claims data to determine the device offset percentage for services that meet the above criteria.

For CY 2022, our proposal would assign device offset percentages using CY 2020 claims data to the following 11 procedures:

  • 0266T (Implantation or replacement of carotid sinus baroreflex activation device; total system (includes generator placement, unilateral or bilateral lead placement, intra-operative interrogation, programming, and repositioning, when performed));
  • 0414T (Removal and replacement of permanent cardiac contractility modulation system pulse generator only);
  • 0511T (Removal and reinsertion of sinus tarsi implant);
  • 0587T (Percutaneous implantation or replacement of integrated single device neurostimulation system including electrode array and receiver or pulse generator, including analysis, programming, and imaging guidance when performed, posterior tibial nerve);
  • 0600T (Ablation, irreversible electroporation; 1 or more tumors per organ, including imaging guidance, when performed, percutaneous);
  • 0614T (Removal and replacement of substernal implantable defibrillator pulse generator);
  • 66987 (Extracapsular cataract removal with insertion of intraocular lens prosthesis (1-stage procedure), manual or mechanical technique (for example, irrigation and aspiration or phacoemulsification), complex, requiring devices or techniques not generally used in routine cataract surgery (for example, iris ansion device, suture support for intraocular lens, or primary posterior capsulorrhexis) or performed on patients in the amblyogenic developmental stage; with endoscopic cyclophotocoagulation);
  • 66988 (Extracapsular cataract removal with insertion of intraocular lens prosthesis (1 stage procedure), manual or mechanical technique (for example, irrigation and aspiration or phacoemulsification); with endoscopic cyclophotocoagulation);
  • C9757 (Laminotomy (hemilaminectomy), with decompression of nerve root(s), including partial facetectomy, foraminotomy and excision of herniated intervertebral disc, and repair of annular defect with implantation of bone anchored annular closure device, including annular defect measurement, alignment and sizing assessment, and image guidance; 1 interspace, lumbar);
  • C9765 (Revascularization, endovascular, open or percutaneous, lower extremity artery(ies), except tibial/peroneal; with intravascular lithotripsy, and transluminal stent placement(s), includes angioplasty within the same vessel(s), when performed); and
  • C9767 (Revascularization, endovascular, open or percutaneous, lower extremity artery(ies), except tibial/peroneal; with intravascular lithotripsy and transluminal stent placement(s), and atherectomy, includes angioplasty within the same vessel(s), when performed).

We are soliciting comments on our proposal to establish the CY 2022 device offset percentage using CY 2020 claims data for device-intensive procedures with no claims in the CY 2019 claims data. The full listing of the proposed CY 2022 device-intensive procedures can be found in Addendum P to this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule (which is available via the internet on the CMS website). Further, our claims accounting narrative contains a description of our device offset percentage calculation. Our claims accounting narrative for this proposed rule can be found under supporting documentation for the CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule on our website at: http://www.cms.gov/​Medicare/​Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/​HospitalOutpatientPPS/​index.html.

3. Device Edit Policy

In the CY 2015 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (79 FR 66795), we finalized a policy and implemented claims processing edits that require any of the device codes used in the previous device-to-procedure edits to be present on the claim whenever a procedure code assigned to any of the APCs listed in Table 5 of the CY 2015 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (the CY 2015 Start Printed Page 42115device-dependent APCs) is reported on the claim. In addition, in the CY 2016 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (80 FR 70422), we modified our previously existing policy and applied the device coding requirements exclusively to procedures that require the implantation of a device that are assigned to a device-intensive APC. In the CY 2016 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period, we also finalized our policy that the claims processing edits are such that any device code, when reported on a claim with a procedure assigned to a device-intensive APC (listed in Table 42 of the CY 2016 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (80 FR 70422)) will satisfy the edit.

In the CY 2017 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (81 FR 79658 through 79659), we changed our policy for CY 2017 and subsequent years to apply the CY 2016 device coding requirements to the newly defined device-intensive procedures. For CY 2017 and subsequent years, we also specified that any device code, when reported on a claim with a device-intensive procedure, will satisfy the edit. In addition, we created HCPCS code C1889 to recognize devices furnished during a device-intensive procedure that are not described by a specific Level II HCPCS Category C-code. Reporting HCPCS code C1889 with a device-intensive procedure will satisfy the edit requiring a device code to be reported on a claim with a device-intensive procedure. In the CY 2019 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period, we revised the description of HCPCS code C1889 to remove the specific applicability to device-intensive procedures (83 FR 58950). For CY 2019 and subsequent years, the description of HCPCS code C1889 is “Implantable/insertable device, not otherwise classified”.

We are not proposing any changes to this policy for CY 2022.

4. Adjustment to OPPS Payment for No Cost/Full Credit and Partial Credit Devices

a. Background

To ensure equitable OPPS payment when a hospital receives a device without cost or with full credit, in CY 2007, we implemented a policy to reduce the payment for specified device-dependent APCs by the estimated portion of the APC payment attributable to device costs (that is, the device offset) when the hospital receives a specified device at no cost or with full credit (71 FR 68071 through 68077). Hospitals were instructed to report no cost/full credit device cases on the claim using the “FB” modifier on the line with the procedure code in which the no cost/full credit device is used. In cases in which the device is furnished without cost or with full credit, hospitals were instructed to report a token device charge of less than $1.01. In cases in which the device being inserted is an upgrade (either of the same type of device or to a different type of device) with a full credit for the device being replaced, hospitals were instructed to report as the device charge the difference between the hospital's usual charge for the device being implanted and the hospital's usual charge for the device for which it received full credit. In CY 2008, we expanded this payment adjustment policy to include cases in which hospitals receive partial credit of 50 percent or more of the cost of a specified device. Hospitals were instructed to append the “FC” modifier to the procedure code that reports the service provided to furnish the device when they receive a partial credit of 50 percent or more of the cost of the new device. We refer readers to the CY 2008 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period for more background information on the “FB” and “FC” modifiers payment adjustment policies (72 FR 66743 through 66749).

In the CY 2014 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (78 FR 75005 through 75007), beginning in CY 2014, we modified our policy of reducing OPPS payment for specified APCs when a hospital furnishes a specified device without cost or with a full or partial credit. For CY 2013 and prior years, our policy had been to reduce OPPS payment by 100 percent of the device offset amount when a hospital furnishes a specified device without cost or with a full credit and by 50 percent of the device offset amount when the hospital receives partial credit in the amount of 50 percent or more of the cost for the specified device. For CY 2014, we reduced OPPS payment, for the applicable APCs, by the full or partial credit a hospital receives for a replaced device. Specifically, under this modified policy, hospitals are required to report on the claim the amount of the credit in the amount portion for value code “FD” (Credit Received from the Manufacturer for a Replaced Device) when the hospital receives a credit for a replaced device that is 50 percent or greater than the cost of the device. For CY 2014, we also limited the OPPS payment deduction for the applicable APCs to the total amount of the device offset when the “FD” value code appears on a claim. For CY 2015, we continued our policy of reducing OPPS payment for specified APCs when a hospital furnishes a specified device without cost or with a full or partial credit and to use the three criteria established in the CY 2007 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (71 FR 68072 through 68077) for determining the APCs to which our CY 2015 policy will apply (79 FR 66872 through 66873). In the CY 2016 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (80 FR 70424), we finalized our policy to no longer specify a list of devices to which the OPPS payment adjustment for no cost/full credit and partial credit devices would apply and instead apply this APC payment adjustment to all replaced devices furnished in conjunction with a procedure assigned to a device-intensive APC when the hospital receives a credit for a replaced specified device that is 50 percent or greater than the cost of the device.

b. Policy for No Cost/Full Credit and Partial Credit Devices

In the CY 2017 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (81 FR 79659 through 79660), for CY 2017 and subsequent years, we finalized a policy to reduce OPPS payment for device-intensive procedures, by the full or partial credit a provider receives for a replaced device, when a hospital furnishes a specified device without cost or with a full or partial credit. Under our current policy, hospitals continue to be required to report on the claim the amount of the credit in the amount portion for value code “FD” when the hospital receives a credit for a replaced device that is 50 percent or greater than the cost of the device.

In the CY 2014 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (78 FR 75005 through 75007), we adopted a policy of reducing OPPS payment for specified APCs when a hospital furnishes a specified device without cost or with a full or partial credit by the lesser of the device offset amount for the APC or the amount of the credit. We adopted this change in policy in the preamble of the CY 2014 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period and discussed it in subregulatory guidance, including Chapter 4, Section 61.3.6 of the Medicare Claims Processing Manual. Further, in the CY 2021 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (85 FR 86017 through 86018, 86302), we made conforming changes to our regulations at § 419.45(b)(1) and (2) that codified this policy.

We are not proposing any changes to our policies regarding payment for no cost/full credit and partial credit devices in CY 2022.Start Printed Page 42116

5. Payment Policy for Low-Volume Device-Intensive Procedures

In CY 2016, we used our equitable adjustment authority under section 1833(t)(2)(E) of the Act and used the median cost (instead of the geometric mean cost per our standard methodology) to calculate the payment rate for the implantable miniature telescope procedure described by CPT code 0308T (Insertion of ocular telescope prosthesis including removal of crystalline lens or intraocular lens prosthesis), which is the only code assigned to APC 5494 (Level 4 Intraocular Procedures) (80 FR 70388). We noted that, as stated in the CY 2017 OPPS/ASC proposed rule (81 FR 45656), we proposed to reassign the procedure described by CPT code 0308T to APC 5495 (Level 5 Intraocular Procedures) for CY 2017, but it would be the only procedure code assigned to APC 5495. The payment rates for a procedure described by CPT code 0308T (including the predecessor HCPCS code C9732) were $15,551 in CY 2014, $23,084 in CY 2015, and $17,551 in CY 2016. The procedure described by CPT code 0308T is a high-cost device-intensive surgical procedure that has a very low volume of claims (in part because most of the procedures described by CPT code 0308T are performed in ASCs). We believe that the median cost is a more appropriate measure of the central tendency for purposes of calculating the cost and the payment rate for this procedure because the median cost is impacted to a lesser degree than the geometric mean cost by more extreme observations. We stated that, in future rulemaking, we would consider proposing a general policy for the payment rate calculation for very low-volume device-intensive APCs (80 FR 70389).

For CY 2017, we proposed and finalized a payment policy for low-volume device-intensive procedures that is similar to the policy applied to the procedure described by CPT code 0308T in CY 2016. In the CY 2017 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (81 FR 79660 through 79661), we established our current policy that the payment rate for any device-intensive procedure that is assigned to a clinical APC with fewer than 100 total claims for all procedures in the APC be calculated using the median cost instead of the geometric mean cost, for the reasons described previously for the policy applied to the procedure described by CPT code 0308T in CY 2016. For CYs 2019 through 2021, we continued our policy of establishing the payment rate for any device-intensive procedure that is assigned to a clinical APC with fewer than 100 total claims for all procedures in the APC by using the median cost instead of the geometric mean (85 FR 86019).

As discussed in further detail in Section X.C of this proposed rule, we are proposing to establish a universal low volume APC policy for clinical APCs, brachytherapy APCs, and New Technology APCs with fewer than 100 single claims in the claims data used for ratesetting (for CY 2022 rates, this is proposed to be the CY 2019 claim data). For APCs designated as low volume APCs (those with fewer than 100 single claims in the claims year) under our proposed policy, we propose to establish a payment rate using the highest of the median cost, arithmetic mean cost, or the geometric mean cost. In conjunction with our new, broader low volume APC proposal for clinical APCs, brachytherapy APCs, and New Technology APCs, we are proposing to eliminate our payment policy for low-volume device-intensive procedures for CY 2022 and subsequent calendar years. Currently, CPT code 0308T is the only code subject to our low-volume device-intensive policy. Given that our proposed universal low volume APC policy would utilize a greater number of claims and provide additional cost metric alternatives for ratesetting than our existing low-volume device-intensive policy, we believe that the cost and ratesetting issues previously discussed with respect to CPT code 0308T would be appropriately addressed under our broader universal low volume APC proposal.

We are soliciting comments on our proposal to eliminate our payment policy for low-volume device-intensive procedures and address low-volume, device-intensive procedures through our broader proposal to designate low volume APCs among eligible clinical APCs, brachytherapy APCs, and New Technology APCs.

V. Proposed OPPS Payment Changes for Drugs, Biologicals, and Radiopharmaceuticals

A. Proposed OPPS Transitional Pass-Through Payment for Additional Costs of Drugs, Biologicals, and Radiopharmaceuticals

1. Background

Section 1833(t)(6) of the Act provides for temporary additional payments or “transitional pass-through payments” for certain drugs and biologicals. Throughout the proposed rule, the term “biological” is used because this is the term that appears in section 1861(t) of the Act. A “biological” as used in the proposed rule includes (but is not necessarily limited to) a “biological product” or a “biologic” as defined under section 351 of the Public Health Service Act. As enacted by the Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Balanced Budget Refinement Act of 1999 (BBRA) (Pub. L. 106-113), this pass-through payment provision requires the Secretary to make additional payments to hospitals for: Current orphan drugs for rare diseases and conditions, as designated under section 526 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act; current drugs and biologicals and brachytherapy sources used in cancer therapy; and current radiopharmaceutical drugs and biologicals. “Current” refers to those types of drugs or biologicals mentioned above that are hospital outpatient services under Medicare Part B for which transitional pass-through payment was made on the first date the hospital OPPS was implemented.

Transitional pass-through payments also are provided for certain “new” drugs and biologicals that were not being paid for as an HOPD service as of December 31, 1996, and whose cost is “not insignificant” in relation to the OPPS payments for the procedures or services associated with the new drug or biological. For pass-through payment purposes, radiopharmaceuticals are included as “drugs.” As required by statute, transitional pass-through payments for a drug or biological described in section 1833(t)(6)(C)(i)(II) of the Act can be made for a period of at least 2 years, but not more than 3 years, after the payment was first made for the drug as a hospital outpatient service under Medicare Part B. Proposed CY 2022 pass-through drugs and biologicals and their designated APCs are assigned status indicator “G” in Addenda A and B to the proposed rule (which are available via the internet on the CMS website).

Section 1833(t)(6)(D)(i) of the Act specifies that the pass-through payment amount, in the case of a drug or biological, is the amount by which the amount determined under section 1842(o) of the Act for the drug or biological exceeds the portion of the otherwise applicable Medicare OPD fee schedule that the Secretary determines is associated with the drug or biological. The methodology for determining the pass-through payment amount is set forth in regulations at 42 CFR 419.64. These regulations specify that the pass-through payment equals the amount determined under section 1842(o) of the Act minus the portion of the APC payment that CMS determines is associated with the drug or biological.Start Printed Page 42117

Section 1847A of the Act establishes the average sales price (ASP) methodology, which is used for payment for drugs and biologicals described in section 1842(o)(1)(C) of the Act furnished on or after January 1, 2005. The ASP methodology, as applied under the OPPS, uses several sources of data as a basis for payment, including the ASP, the wholesale acquisition cost (WAC), and the average wholesale price (AWP). In the proposed rule, the term “ASP methodology” and “ASP-based” are inclusive of all data sources and methodologies described therein. Additional information on the ASP methodology can be found on our website at: http://www.cms.gov/​Medicare/​Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Part-B-Drugs/​McrPartBDrugAvgSalesPrice/​index.html.

The pass-through application and review process for drugs and biologicals is described on our website at: https://www.cms.gov/​Medicare/​Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/​HospitalOutpatientPPS/​passthrough_​payment.html.

2. Transitional Pass-Through Payment Period for Pass-Through Drugs, Biologicals, and Radiopharmaceuticals and Quarterly Expiration of Pass-Through Status

As required by statute, transitional pass-through payments for a drug or biological described in section 1833(t)(6)(C)(i)(II) of the Act can be made for a period of at least 2 years, but not more than 3 years, after the payment was first made for the drug or biological as a hospital outpatient service under Medicare Part B. Our current policy is to accept pass-through applications on a quarterly basis and to begin pass-through payments for newly approved pass-through drugs and biologicals on a quarterly basis through the next available OPPS quarterly update after the approval of a drug's or biological's pass-through status. However, prior to CY 2017, we expired pass-through status for drugs and biologicals on an annual basis through notice-and-comment rulemaking (74 FR 60480). In the CY 2017 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (81 FR 79662), we finalized a policy change, beginning with pass-through drugs and biologicals newly approved in CY 2017 and subsequent calendar years, to allow for a quarterly expiration of pass-through payment status for drugs, biologicals, and radiopharmaceuticals to afford a pass-through payment period that is as close to a full 3 years as possible for all pass-through drugs, biologicals, and radiopharmaceuticals.

This change eliminated the variability of the pass-through payment eligibility period, which previously varied based on when a particular application was initially received. We adopted this change for pass-through approvals beginning on or after CY 2017, to allow, on a prospective basis, for the maximum pass-through payment period for each pass-through drug without exceeding the statutory limit of 3 years. Notice of drugs whose pass-through payment status is ending during the calendar year will continue to be included in the quarterly OPPS Change Request transmittals.

3. Drugs and Biologicals With Expiring Pass-Through Payment Status in CY 2021

There are 25 drugs and biologicals whose pass-through payment status will expire during CY 2021, as listed in Table 27. Most of these drugs and biologicals will have received OPPS pass-through payment for 3 years during the period of April 1, 2018, through December 31, 2020. In accordance with the policy finalized in CY 2017 and described earlier, pass-through payment status for drugs and biologicals newly approved in CY 2017 and subsequent years will expire on a quarterly basis, with a pass-through payment period as close to 3 years as possible. With the exception of those groups of drugs and biologicals that are always packaged when they do not have pass-through payment status (specifically, anesthesia drugs; drugs, biologicals, and radiopharmaceuticals that function as supplies when used in a diagnostic test or procedure (including diagnostic radiopharmaceuticals, contrast agents, and stress agents); and drugs and biologicals that function as supplies when used in a surgical procedure), our standard methodology for providing payment for drugs and biologicals with expiring pass-through payment status in an upcoming calendar year is to determine the product's estimated per day cost and compare it with the OPPS drug packaging threshold for that calendar year (which is proposed to be $130 for CY 2022), as discussed further in section V.B.1. of this proposed rule. We proposed that if the estimated per day cost for the drug or biological is less than or equal to the applicable OPPS drug packaging threshold, we would package payment for the drug or biological into the payment for the associated procedure in the upcoming calendar year. If the estimated per day cost of the drug or biological is greater than the OPPS drug packaging threshold, we proposed to provide separate payment at the applicable ASP-based payment amount (which is proposed at ASP+6 percent for non-340B drugs for CY 2022, as discussed further in section V.B.2. of this proposed rule).

Start Printed Page 42118

Start Printed Page 42119

Start Printed Page 42120

4. Drugs, Biologicals, and Radiopharmaceuticals With Pass-Through Payment Status Expiring in CY 2022

We propose to end pass-through payment status in CY 2022 for 26 drugs and biologicals. These drugs and biologicals, which were approved for pass-through payment status between April 1, 2019, and January 1, 2020, are listed in Table 28. The APCs and HCPCS codes for these drugs and biologicals, which have pass-through payment status that will end by December 31, 2022, are assigned status indicator “G” in Addenda A and B to this proposed rule (which are available via the internet on the CMS website).

Section 1833(t)(6)(D)(i) of the Act sets the amount of pass-through payment for pass-through drugs and biologicals (the pass-through payment amount) as the difference between the amount authorized under section 1842(o) of the Act and the portion of the otherwise applicable OPD fee schedule that the Secretary determines is associated with the drug or biological. For 2022, we propose to continue to pay for pass-through drugs and biologicals at ASP+6 percent, equivalent to the payment rate these drugs and biologicals would receive in the physician's office setting in CY 2022. We propose that a $0 pass-through payment amount would be paid for pass-through drugs and biologicals that are not policy-packaged as described in Section V.B.1.c. under the CY 2022 OPPS because the difference between the amount authorized under section 1842(o) of the Act, which is proposed at ASP+6 percent, and the portion of the otherwise applicable OPD fee schedule that the Secretary determines is appropriate, which is proposed at ASP+6 percent, is $0.

In the case of policy-packaged drugs (which include the following: Anesthesia drugs; drugs, biologicals, and radiopharmaceuticals that function as supplies when used in a diagnostic test or procedure (including contrast agents, diagnostic radiopharmaceuticals, and stress agents); and drugs and biologicals that function as supplies when used in a surgical procedure), we propose that their pass-through payment amount would be equal to ASP+6 percent for CY 2022 minus a payment offset for the portion of the otherwise applicable OPD fee schedule that the Secretary determines is associated with the drug or biological as described in section V.A.6. of this proposed rule. We propose this policy because, if not for the pass-through payment status of these policy-packaged products, payment for these products would be packaged into the associated procedure.

We propose to continue to update pass-through payment rates on a quarterly basis on the CMS website during CY 2022 if later quarter ASP submissions (or more recent WAC or AWP information, as applicable) indicate that adjustments to the payment rates for these pass-through payment drugs or biologicals are necessary. For a full description of this policy, we refer readers to the CY 2006 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (70 FR 68632 through 68635).

For CY 2022, consistent with our CY 2021 policy for diagnostic and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals, we propose to provide payment for both diagnostic and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals that are granted pass-through payment status based on the ASP methodology. As stated earlier, for purposes of pass-through payment, we consider radiopharmaceuticals to be drugs under the OPPS. Therefore, if a diagnostic or therapeutic radiopharmaceutical receives pass-through payment status during CY 2022, we propose to follow the standard ASP methodology to determine the pass-through payment rate that drugs receive under section 1842(o) of the Act, which is proposed at ASP+6 percent. If ASP data are not available for a radiopharmaceutical, we propose to provide pass-through payment at WAC+3 percent (consistent with our proposed policy in section V.B.2.b. of this proposed rule), the equivalent payment provided to pass-through drugs and biologicals without ASP information. Additional detail on the WAC+3 percent payment policy can be found in section V.B.2.b. of this proposed rule. If WAC information also is not available, we propose to provide payment for the pass-through radiopharmaceutical at 95 percent of its most recent AWP.

Start Printed Page 42121

Start Printed Page 42122

5. Drugs, Biologicals, and Radiopharmaceuticals With Pass-Through Payment Status Continuing in CY 2022

We propose to continue pass-through payment status in CY 2022 for 46 drugs and biologicals. These drugs and biologicals, which were approved for pass-through payment status with effective dates beginning between April 1, 2020, and April 1, 2021, are listed in Table 29. The APCs and HCPCS codes for these drugs and biologicals, which have pass-through payment status that will continue after December 31, 2022, are assigned status indicator “G” in Addenda A and B to this proposed rule (which are available via the internet on the CMS website).

Section 1833(t)(6)(D)(i) of the Act sets the amount of pass-through payment for pass-through drugs and biologicals (the pass-through payment amount) as the difference between the amount authorized under section 1842(o) of the Act and the portion of the otherwise applicable OPD fee schedule that the Secretary determines is associated with the drug or biological. For 2023, we propose to continue to pay for pass-through drugs and biologicals at ASP+6 percent, equivalent to the payment rate these drugs and+ biologicals would receive in the physician's office setting in CY 2022. We propose that a $0 pass-through payment amount would be paid for pass-through drugs and biologicals that are not policy-packaged as described in Section V.B.1.c. under the CY 2022 OPPS because the difference between the amount authorized under section 1842(o) of the Act, which is proposed at ASP+6 percent, and the portion of the otherwise applicable OPD fee schedule that the Secretary determines is appropriate, which is proposed at ASP+6 percent, is $0.

In the case of policy-packaged drugs (which include the following: Anesthesia drugs; drugs, biologicals, and radiopharmaceuticals that function as supplies when used in a diagnostic test or procedure (including contrast Start Printed Page 42123agents, diagnostic radiopharmaceuticals, and stress agents); and drugs and biologicals that function as supplies when used in a surgical procedure), we propose that their pass-through payment amount would be equal to ASP+6 percent for CY 2022 minus a payment offset for any predecessor drug products contributing to the pass-through payment as described in section V.A.6. of this proposed rule. We propose this policy because, if not for the pass-through payment status of these policy-packaged products, payment for these products would be packaged into the associated procedure.

We propose to continue to update pass-through payment rates on a quarterly basis on our website during CY 2022 if later quarter ASP submissions (or more recent WAC or AWP information, as applicable) indicate that adjustments to the payment rates for these pass-through payment drugs or biologicals are necessary. For a full description of this policy, we refer readers to the CY 2006 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (70 FR 68632 through 68635).

For CY 2022, consistent with our CY 2021 policy for diagnostic and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals, we propose to provide payment for both diagnostic and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals that are granted pass-through payment status based on the ASP methodology. As stated earlier, for purposes of pass-through payment, we consider radiopharmaceuticals to be drugs under the OPPS. Therefore, if a diagnostic or therapeutic radiopharmaceutical receives pass-through payment status during CY 2023, we propose to follow the standard ASP methodology to determine the pass-through payment rate that drugs receive under section 1842(o) of the Act, which is proposed at ASP+6 percent. If ASP data are not available for a radiopharmaceutical, we propose to provide pass-through payment at WAC+3 percent (consistent with our proposed policy in section V.B.2.b. of this proposed rule), the equivalent payment provided to pass-through drugs and biologicals without ASP information. Additional detail on the WAC+3 percent payment policy can be found in section V.B.2.b. of this proposed rule. If WAC information also is not available, we propose to provide payment for the pass-through radiopharmaceutical at 95 percent of its most recent AWP.

The drugs and biologicals that we propose to have pass-through payment status expire after December 31, 2022, are shown in Table 29.

Start Printed Page 42124

Start Printed Page 42125

Start Printed Page 42126

6. Provisions for Reducing Transitional Pass-Through Payments for Policy-Packaged Drugs, Biologicals, and Radiopharmaceuticals To Offset Costs Packaged Into APC Groups

Under the regulation at 42 CFR 419.2(b), nonpass-through drugs, biologicals, and radiopharmaceuticals that function as supplies when used in a diagnostic test or procedure are packaged in the OPPS. This category includes diagnostic radiopharmaceuticals, contrast agents, stress agents, and other diagnostic drugs. Also under the regulation at 42 CFR 419.2(b), nonpass-through drugs and biologicals that function as supplies in a surgical procedure are packaged in the OPPS. This category includes skin substitutes and other surgical-supply drugs and biologicals. As described earlier, section 1833(t)(6)(D)(i) of the Act specifies that the transitional pass-through payment amount for pass-through drugs and biologicals is the difference between the amount paid under section 1842(o) of the Act and the otherwise applicable OPD fee schedule amount. Because a payment offset is necessary in order to provide an appropriate transitional pass-through payment, we deduct from the pass-through payment for policy-packaged drugs, biologicals, and radiopharmaceuticals an amount reflecting the portion of the APC payment associated with predecessor products in order to ensure no duplicate payment is made. This amount reflecting the portion of the APC payment associated with predecessor products is called the payment offset.

The payment offset policy applies to all policy-packaged drugs, biologicals, and radiopharmaceuticals. For a full description of the payment offset policy as applied to policy-packaged drugs, which include diagnostic radiopharmaceuticals, contrast agents, stress agents, and skin substitutes, we refer readers to the discussion in the CY 2016 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (80 FR 70430 through 70432). For CY 2022, as we did in CY 2021, we propose to continue to apply the same policy-packaged offset policy to payment for pass-through diagnostic radiopharmaceuticals, pass-through contrast agents, pass-through stress Start Printed Page 42127agents, and pass-through skin substitutes. The proposed APCs to which a payment offset may be applicable for pass-through diagnostic radiopharmaceuticals, pass-through contrast agents, pass-through stress agents, and pass-through skin substitutes are identified in Table 30.

We propose to continue to post annually on our website at: https://www.cms.gov/​Medicare/​Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/​HospitalOutpatientPPS/​Annual-Policy-Files.html a file that contains the APC offset amounts that will be used for that year for purposes of both evaluating cost significance for candidate pass-through payment device categories and drugs and biologicals and establishing any appropriate APC offset amounts. Specifically, the file will continue to provide the amounts and percentages of APC payment associated with packaged implantable devices, policy-packaged drugs, and threshold packaged drugs and biologicals for every OPPS clinical APC.

B. Proposed OPPS Payment for Drugs, Biologicals, and Radiopharmaceuticals Without Pass-Through Payment Status

1. Proposed Criteria for Packaging Payment for Drugs, Biologicals, and Radiopharmaceuticals

a. Proposed Packaging Threshold

In accordance with section 1833(t)(16)(B) of the Act, the threshold for establishing separate APCs for Start Printed Page 42128payment of drugs and biologicals was set to $50 per administration during CYs 2005 and 2006. In CY 2007, we used the four quarter moving average Producer Price Index (PPI) levels for Pharmaceutical Preparations (Prescription) to trend the $50 threshold forward from the third quarter of CY 2005 (when the Pub. L. 108-173 mandated threshold became effective) to the third quarter of CY 2007. We then rounded the resulting dollar amount to the nearest $5 increment in order to determine the CY 2007 threshold amount of $55. Using the same methodology as that used in CY 2007 (which is discussed in more detail in the CY 2007 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (71 FR 68085 through 68086)), we set the packaging threshold for establishing separate APCs for drugs and biologicals at $130 for CY 2021 (84 FR 61312 through 61313).

Following the CY 2007 methodology, for this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule, we used the most recently available four quarter moving average PPI levels to trend the $50 threshold forward from the third quarter of CY 2005 to the third quarter of CY 2022 and rounded the resulting dollar amount ($132.44) to the nearest $5 increment, which yielded a figure of $130. In performing this calculation, we used the most recent forecast of the quarterly index levels for the PPI for Pharmaceuticals for Human Use (Prescription) (Bureau of Labor Statistics series code WPUSI07003) from CMS' Office of the Actuary. For this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule, based on these calculations using the CY 2007 OPPS methodology, we propose a packaging threshold for CY 2022 of $130.

b. Proposed Packaging of Payment for HCPCS Codes That Describe Certain Drugs, Certain Biologicals, and Therapeutic Radiopharmaceuticals Under the Cost Threshold (“Threshold-Packaged Drugs”)

To determine the proposed CY 2022 packaging status for all nonpass-through drugs and biologicals that are not policy packaged, we calculated, on a HCPCS code-specific basis, the per day cost of all drugs, biologicals, and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals (collectively called “threshold-packaged” drugs) that had a HCPCS code in CY 2019 and were paid (via packaged or separate payment) under the OPPS. We used data from CY 2019 claims processed through June 30, 2020 for this calculation. However, we did not perform this calculation for those drugs and biologicals with multiple HCPCS codes that include different dosages, as described in section V.B.1.d. of the proposed rule, or for the following policy-packaged items that we propose to continue to package in CY 2022: Anesthesia drugs; drugs, biologicals, and radiopharmaceuticals that function as supplies when used in a diagnostic test or procedure; and drugs and biologicals that function as supplies when used in a surgical procedure.

In order to calculate the per day costs for drugs, biologicals, and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals to determine their proposed packaging status in CY 2022, we use the methodology that was described in detail in the CY 2006 OPPS proposed rule (70 FR 42723 through 42724) and finalized in the CY 2006 OPPS final rule with comment period (70 FR 68636 through 68638). For each drug and biological HCPCS code, we used an estimated payment rate of ASP+6 percent (which is the payment rate we propose for separately payable drugs and biologicals (other than 340B drugs) for CY 2022, as discussed in more detail in section V.B.2.b. of the proposed rule) to calculate the CY 2022 proposed rule per day costs. We used the manufacturer-submitted ASP data from the fourth quarter of CY 2020 (data that were used for payment purposes in the physician's office setting, effective April 1, 2021) to determine the proposed rule per day cost. While the CY 2020 ASP data was collected during the PHE, ASP data are not affected by changes in utilization the way non-drug services are for setting payment rates, and so we believe ASP data continues to be representative of the price of drugs in the market. We have continued to use ASP data from CY 2020 to report quarterly drug rates for CY 2020 and CY 2021.

As is our standard methodology, for 2022, we propose to use payment rates based on the ASP data from the fourth quarter of CY 2020 for budget neutrality estimates, packaging determinations, impact analyses, and completion of Addenda A and B to the proposed rule (which are available via the internet on the CMS website) because these are the most recent data available for use at the time of development of the proposed rule. These data also were the basis for drug payments in the physician's office setting, effective April 1, 2021. For items that did not have an ASP-based payment rate, such as some therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals, we used their mean unit cost derived from the CY 2019 hospital claims data to determine their per day cost.

We propose to package items with a per day cost less than or equal to $130, and identify items with a per day cost greater than $130 as separately payable unless they are policy-packaged. Consistent with our past practice, we cross-walked historical OPPS claims data from the CY 2019 HCPCS codes that were reported to the CY 2021 HCPCS codes that we display in Addendum B to this proposed rule (which is available via the internet on the CMS website) for proposed payment in CY 2022.

Our policy during previous cycles of the OPPS has been to use updated ASP and claims data to make final determinations of the packaging status of HCPCS codes for drugs, biologicals, and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals for the OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period. We note that it is also our policy to make an annual packaging determination for a HCPCS code only when we develop the OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period for the update year. Only HCPCS codes that are identified as separately payable in the final rule with comment period are subject to quarterly updates. For our calculation of per day costs of HCPCS codes for drugs and biologicals in this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule, we proposed to use ASP data from the fourth quarter of CY 2020, which is the basis for calculating payment rates for drugs and biologicals in the physician's office setting using the ASP methodology, effective April 1, 2021, along with updated hospital claims data from CY 2019. We note that we also propose to use these data for budget neutrality estimates and impact analyses for this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule.

Payment rates for HCPCS codes for separately payable drugs and biologicals included in Addenda A and B of the final rule with comment period will be based on ASP data from the second quarter of CY 2021. These data will be the basis for calculating payment rates for drugs and biologicals in the physician's office setting using the ASP methodology, effective October 1, 2021. These payment rates would then be updated in the January 2022 OPPS update, based on the most recent ASP data to be used for physicians' office and OPPS payment as of January 1, 2022. For items that do not currently have an ASP-based payment rate, we proposed to recalculate their mean unit cost from all of the CY 2019 claims data and update cost report information available for the CY 2022 final rule with comment period to determine their final per day cost.

Consequently, the packaging status of some HCPCS codes for drugs, biologicals, and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals in the proposed rule may be different from the same drugs' HCPCS codes' packaging status Start Printed Page 42129determined based on the data used for the final rule with comment period. Under such circumstances, we proposed to continue to follow the established policies initially adopted for the CY 2005 OPPS (69 FR 65780) in order to more equitably pay for those drugs whose costs fluctuate relative to the proposed CY 2022 OPPS drug packaging threshold and the drug's payment status (packaged or separately payable) in CY 2021. These established policies have not changed for many years and are the same as described in the CY 2016 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (80 FR 70434). Specifically, for CY 2022, consistent with our historical practice, we proposed to apply the following policies to these HCPCS codes for drugs, biologicals, and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals whose relationship to the drug packaging threshold changes based on the updated drug packaging threshold and on the final updated data:

  • HCPCS codes for drugs and biologicals that were paid separately in CY 2021 and that are proposed for separate payment in CY 2022, and that then have per day costs equal to or less than the CY 2022 final rule drug packaging threshold, based on the updated ASPs and hospital claims data used for the CY 2022 final rule, would continue to receive separate payment in CY 2022.
  • HCPCS codes for drugs and biologicals that were packaged in CY 2021 and that are proposed for separate payment in CY 2022, and that then have per day costs equal to or less than the CY 2022 final rule drug packaging threshold, based on the updated ASPs and hospital claims data used for the CY 2022 final rule, would remain packaged in CY 2022.
  • HCPCS codes for drugs and biologicals for which we proposed packaged payment in CY 2022 but that then have per-day costs greater than the CY 2022 final rule drug packaging threshold, based on the updated ASPs and hospital claims data used for the CY 2022 final rule, would receive separate payment in CY 2022.

c. Policy-Packaged Drugs, Biologicals, and Radiopharmaceuticals

As mentioned earlier in this section, under the OPPS, we package several categories of nonpass-through drugs, biologicals, and radiopharmaceuticals, regardless of the cost of the products. Because the products are packaged according to the policies in 42 CFR 419.2(b), we refer to these packaged drugs, biologicals, and radiopharmaceuticals as “policy-packaged” drugs, biologicals, and radiopharmaceuticals. These policies are either longstanding or based on longstanding principles and inherent to the OPPS and are as follows:

  • Anesthesia, certain drugs, biologicals, and other pharmaceuticals; medical and surgical supplies and equipment; surgical dressings; and devices used for external reduction of fractures and dislocations (§ 419.2(b)(4));
  • Intraoperative items and services (§ 419.2(b)(14));
  • Drugs, biologicals, and radiopharmaceuticals that function as supplies when used in a diagnostic test or procedure (including, but not limited to, diagnostic radiopharmaceuticals, contrast agents, and pharmacologic stress agents) (§ 419.2(b)(15)); and
  • Drugs and biologicals that function as supplies when used in a surgical procedure (including, but not limited to, skin substitutes and similar products that aid wound healing and implantable biologicals) (§ 419.2(b)(16)).

The policy at § 419.2(b)(16) is broader than that at § 419.2(b)(14). As we stated in the CY 2015 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period: “We consider all items related to the surgical outcome and provided during the hospital stay in which the surgery is performed, including postsurgical pain management drugs, to be part of the surgery for purposes of our drug and biological surgical supply packaging policy” (79 FR 66875). The category described by § 419.2(b)(15) is large and includes diagnostic radiopharmaceuticals, contrast agents, stress agents, and some other products. The category described by § 419.2(b)(16) includes skin substitutes and some other products. We believe it is important to reiterate that cost consideration is not a factor when determining whether an item is a surgical supply (79 FR 66875).

d. Packaging Determination for HCPCS Codes That Describe the Same Drug or Biological But Different Dosages

In the CY 2010 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (74 FR 60490 through 60491), we finalized a policy to make a single packaging determination for a drug, rather than an individual HCPCS code, when a drug has multiple HCPCS codes describing different dosages because we believe that adopting the standard HCPCS code-specific packaging determinations for these codes could lead to inappropriate payment incentives for hospitals to report certain HCPCS codes instead of others. We continue to believe that making packaging determinations on a drug-specific basis eliminates payment incentives for hospitals to report certain HCPCS codes for drugs and allows hospitals flexibility in choosing to report all HCPCS codes for different dosages of the same drug or only the lowest dosage HCPCS code. Therefore, we propose to continue our policy to make packaging determinations on a drug-specific basis, rather than a HCPCS code-specific basis, for those HCPCS codes that describe the same drug or biological but different dosages in CY 2022.

For CY 2022, in order to propose a packaging determination that is consistent across all HCPCS codes that describe different dosages of the same drug or biological, we aggregated both our CY 2019 claims data and our pricing information at ASP+6 percent across all of the HCPCS codes that describe each distinct drug or biological in order to determine the mean units per day of the drug or biological in terms of the HCPCS code with the lowest dosage descriptor. The following drugs did not have pricing information available for the ASP methodology for this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule, and as is our current policy for determining the packaging status of other drugs, we used the mean unit cost available from the CY 2019 claims data to make the proposed packaging determinations for these drugs: HCPCS code C9257 (Injection, bevacizumab, 0.25 mg); HCPCS code J1840 (Injection, kanamycin sulfate, up to 500 mg); HCPCS code J1850 (Injection, kanamycin sulfate, up to 75 mg); HCPCS code J3472 (Injection, hyaluronidase, ovine, preservative free, per 1000 usp units); HCPCS code J7100 (Infusion, dextran 40, 500 ml); and HCPCS code J7110 (Infusion, dextran 75, 500 ml).

For all other drugs and biologicals that have HCPCS codes describing different doses, we then multiplied the proposed weighted average ASP+6 percent per unit payment amount across all dosage levels of a specific drug or biological by the estimated units per day for all HCPCS codes that describe each drug or biological from our claims data to determine the estimated per day cost of each drug or biological at less than or equal to the proposed CY 2022 drug packaging threshold of $130 (so that all HCPCS codes for the same drug or biological would be packaged) or greater than the proposed CY 2022 drug packaging threshold of $130 (so that all HCPCS codes for the same drug or biological would be separately payable). The proposed packaging status of each drug and biological HCPCS code to which this methodology would apply in CY 2022 is displayed in Table 31.

Start Printed Page 42130

Start Printed Page 42131

2. Payment for Drugs and Biologicals Without Pass-Through Status That Are Not Packaged

a. Payment for Specified Covered Outpatient Drugs (SCODs) and Other Separately Payable Drugs and Biologicals

Section 1833(t)(14) of the Act defines certain separately payable radiopharmaceuticals, drugs, and biologicals and mandates specific payments for these items. Under section 1833(t)(14)(B)(i) of the Act, a “specified covered outpatient drug” (known as a SCOD) is defined as a covered outpatient drug, as defined in section 1927(k)(2) of the Act, for which a separate APC has been established and that either is a radiopharmaceutical agent or is a drug or biological for which payment was made on a pass-through basis on or before December 31, 2002.

Under section 1833(t)(14)(B)(ii) of the Act, certain drugs and biologicals are designated as exceptions and are not included in the definition of SCODs. These exceptions are—

  • A drug or biological for which payment is first made on or after January 1, 2003, under the transitional pass-through payment provision in section 1833(t)(6) of the Act.
  • A drug or biological for which a temporary HCPCS code has not been assigned.
  • During CYs 2004 and 2005, an orphan drug (as designated by the Secretary).

Section 1833(t)(14)(A)(iii) of the Act requires that payment for SCODs in CY 2006 and subsequent years be equal to the average acquisition cost for the drug for that year as determined by the Secretary, subject to any adjustment for overhead costs and taking into account the hospital acquisition cost survey data collected by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in CYs 2004 and 2005, and later periodic surveys conducted by the Secretary as set forth in the statute. If hospital acquisition cost data are not available, the law requires that payment be equal to payment rates established under the methodology described in section 1842(o), section 1847A, or section 1847B of the Act, as calculated and adjusted by the Secretary as necessary for purposes of paragraph (14). We refer to this alternative methodology as the “statutory default.” Most physician Part B drugs are paid at ASP+6 percent in accordance with section 1842(o) and section 1847A of the Act.

Section 1833(t)(14)(E)(ii) of the Act provides for an adjustment in OPPS payment rates for SCODs to take into account overhead and related expenses, such as pharmacy services and handling costs. Section 1833(t)(14)(E)(i) of the Act required MedPAC to study pharmacy overhead and related expenses and to make recommendations to the Secretary regarding whether, and if so how, a payment adjustment should be made to compensate hospitals for overhead and related expenses. Section 1833(t)(14)(E)(ii) of the Act authorizes the Secretary to adjust the weights for ambulatory procedure classifications for SCODs to take into account the findings of the MedPAC study.[94]

It has been our policy since CY 2006 to apply the same treatment to all separately payable drugs and biologicals, which include SCODs, and drugs and biologicals that are not SCODs. Therefore, we apply the payment methodology in section 1833(t)(14)(A)(iii) of the Act to SCODs, as required by statute, but we also apply it to separately payable drugs and biologicals that are not SCODs, which is a policy determination rather than a statutory requirement. In this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule, we proposed to apply section 1833(t)(14)(A)(iii)(II) of the Act to all separately payable drugs and biologicals, including SCODs. Although we do not distinguish SCODs in this discussion, we note that we are required to apply section 1833(t)(14)(A)(iii)(II) of the Act to Start Printed Page 42132SCODs, but we also are applying this provision to other separately payable drugs and biologicals, consistent with our history of using the same payment methodology for all separately payable drugs and biologicals.

For a detailed discussion of our OPPS drug payment policies from CY 2006 to CY 2012, we refer readers to the CY 2013 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (77 FR 68383 through 68385). In the CY 2013 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (77 FR 68386 through 68389), we first adopted the statutory default policy to pay for separately payable drugs and biologicals at ASP+6 percent based on section 1833(t)(14)(A)(iii)(II) of the Act. We have continued this policy of paying for separately payable drugs and biologicals at the statutory default for CYs 2014 through 2021.

b. Proposed CY 2022 Payment Policy

For 2022, we propose to continue our payment policy that has been in effect since CY 2013 to pay for separately payable drugs and biologicals, with the exception of 340B-acquired drugs, at ASP+6 percent in accordance with section 1833(t)(14)(A)(iii)(II) of the Act (the statutory default). We propose to pay for separately payable nonpass-through drugs acquired with a 340B discount at a rate of ASP minus 22.5 percent (as described in section V.B.6). We refer readers to the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (82 FR 59353 through 59371), and the CY 2021 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (85 FR 86042 through 86055) for more information about our current payment policy for drugs and biologicals acquired with a 340B discount.

In the case of a drug or biological during an initial sales period in which data on the prices for sales of the drug or biological are not sufficiently available from the manufacturer, section 1847A(c)(4) of the Act permits the Secretary to make payments that are based on WAC. Under section 1833(t)(14)(A)(iii)(II) of the Act, the amount of payment for a separately payable drug equals the average price for the drug for the year established under, among other authorities, section 1847A of the Act. As explained in greater detail in the CY 2019 PFS final rule, under section 1847A(c)(4) of the Act, although payments may be based on WAC, unlike section 1847A(b) of the Act (which specifies that payments using ASP or WAC must be made with a 6 percent add-on), section 1847A(c)(4) of the Act does not require that a particular add-on amount be applied to WAC-based pricing for this initial period when ASP data is not available. Consistent with section 1847A(c)(4) of the Act, in the CY 2019 PFS final rule (83 FR 59661 to 59666), we finalized a policy that, effective January 1, 2019, WAC-based payments for Part B drugs made under section 1847A(c)(4) of the Act will utilize a 3-percent add-on in place of the 6-percent add-on that was being used according to our policy in effect as of CY 2018. For the CY 2019 OPPS, we followed the same policy finalized in the CY 2019 PFS final rule (83 FR 59661 to 59666). For CYs 2020 and 2021, we adopted a policy to utilize a 3-percent add-on instead of a 6-percent add-on for drugs that are paid based on WAC under section 1847A(c)(4) of the Act pursuant to our authority under section 1833(t)(14)(A)(iii)(II) (84 FR 61318 and 85 FR 86039). For 2022, we propose to continue to utilize a 3-percent add-on instead of a 6-percent add-on for drugs that are paid based on WAC pursuant to our authority under section 1833(t)(14)(A)(iii)(II) of the Act, which provides, in part, that the amount of payment for a SCOD is the average price of the drug in the year established under section 1847A of the Act. We also propose to apply this provision to non-SCOD separately payable drugs. Because we propose to establish the average price for a drug paid based on WAC under section 1847A of the Act as WAC+3 percent instead of WAC+6 percent, we believe it is appropriate to price separately payable drugs paid based on WAC at the same amount under the OPPS. We propose that, if finalized, our proposal to pay for drugs or biologicals at WAC+3 percent, rather than WAC+6 percent, would apply whenever WAC-based pricing is used for a drug or biological under 1847A(c)(4). For drugs and biologicals that would otherwise be subject to a payment reduction because they were acquired under the 340B Program, the payment amount for these drugs (proposed as a rate of WAC minus 22.5 percent) would continue to apply. We refer readers to the CY 2019 PFS final rule (83 FR 59661 to 59666) for additional background on this policy.

We propose that payments for separately payable drugs and biologicals would be included in the budget neutrality adjustments, under the requirements in section 1833(t)(9)(B) of the Act. We also propose that the budget neutral weight scalar would not be applied in determining payments for these separately payable drugs and biologicals.

We note that separately payable drug and biological payment rates listed in Addenda A and B to this proposed rule (available via the internet on the CMS website), which illustrate the proposed CY 2022 payment of ASP+6 percent for separately payable nonpass-through drugs and biologicals and ASP+6 percent for pass-through drugs and biologicals, reflect either ASP information that is the basis for calculating payment rates for drugs and biologicals in the physician's office setting effective April 1, 2021, or WAC, AWP, or mean unit cost from CY 2019 claims data and updated cost report information available for this proposed rule. In general, these published payment rates are not the same as the actual January 2022 payment rates. This is because payment rates for drugs and biologicals with ASP information for January 2022 will be determined through the standard quarterly process where ASP data submitted by manufacturers for the third quarter of CY 2021 (July 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021) will be used to set the payment rates that are released for the quarter beginning in January 2022 near the end of December 2021. In addition, payment rates for drugs and biologicals in Addenda A and B to the proposed rule for which there was no ASP information available for April 2021 are based on mean unit cost in the available CY 2019 claims data. If ASP information becomes available for payment for the quarter beginning in January 2022, we will price payment for these drugs and biologicals based on their newly available ASP information. Finally, there may be drugs and biologicals that have ASP information available for the proposed rule (reflecting April 2021 ASP data) that do not have ASP information available for the quarter beginning in January 2022. These drugs and biologicals would then be paid based on mean unit cost data derived from CY 2019 hospital claims. Therefore, the proposed payment rates listed in Addenda A and B to the proposed rule are not for January 2022 payment purposes and are only illustrative of the CY 2022 OPPS payment methodology using the most recently available information at the time of issuance of the proposed rule.

c. Biosimilar Biological Products

For CY 2016 and CY 2017, we finalized a policy to pay for biosimilar biological products based on the payment allowance of the product as determined under section 1847A of the Act and to subject nonpass-through biosimilar biological products to our annual threshold-packaged policy (for CY 2016, 80 FR 70445 through 70446; and for CY 2017, 81 FR 79674). In the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC proposed rule (82 Start Printed Page 42133FR 33630), for CY 2018, we proposed to continue this same payment policy for biosimilar biological products.

In the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (82 FR 59351), we noted that, with respect to comments we received regarding OPPS payment for biosimilar biological products, in the CY 2018 PFS final rule, CMS finalized a policy to implement separate HCPCS codes for biosimilar biological products. Therefore, consistent with our established OPPS drug, biological, and radiopharmaceutical payment policy, HCPCS coding for biosimilar biological products is based on the policy established under the CY 2018 PFS final rule.

In the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (82 FR 59351), after consideration of the public comments we received, we finalized our proposed payment policy for biosimilar biological products, with the following technical correction: All biosimilar biological products are eligible for pass-through payment and not just the first biosimilar biological product for a reference product. In the CY 2019 OPPS/ASC proposed rule (83 FR 37123), for CY 2019, we proposed to continue the policy in place from CY 2018 to make all biosimilar biological products eligible for pass-through payment and not just the first biosimilar biological product for a reference product.

In addition, in CY 2018, we adopted a policy that biosimilars without pass-through payment status that were acquired under the 340B Program would be paid the ASP of the biosimilar minus 22.5 percent of the reference product's ASP (82 FR 59367). We adopted this policy in the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period because we believe that biosimilars without pass-through payment status acquired under the 340B Program should be treated in the same manner as other drugs and biologicals acquired through the 340B Program. As noted earlier, biosimilars with pass-through payment status are paid their own ASP+6 percent of the reference product's ASP. Separately payable biosimilars that do not have pass-through payment status and are not acquired under the 340B Program are also paid their own ASP plus 6 percent of the reference product's ASP. If a biosimilar does not have ASP pricing, but instead has WAC pricing, the WAC pricing add-on of either 3 percent or 6 percent is calculated from the biosimilar's WAC and is not calculated from the WAC price of the reference product.

As noted in the CY 2019 OPPS/ASC proposed rule (83 FR 37123), several stakeholders raised concerns to us that the payment policy for biosimilars acquired under the 340B Program could unfairly lower the OPPS payment for biosimilars not on pass-through payment status because the payment reduction would be based on the reference product's ASP, which would generally be expected to be priced higher than the biosimilar, thus resulting in a more significant reduction in payment than if the 22.5 percent was calculated based on the biosimilar's ASP. We agreed with stakeholders that the current payment policy could unfairly lower the price of biosimilars without pass-through payment status that are acquired under the 340B Program. In addition, we noted that we believed that these changes would better reflect the resources and production costs that biosimilar manufacturers incur. We also stated that we believe this approach is more consistent with the payment methodology for 340B-acquired drugs and biologicals, for which the 22.5 percent reduction is calculated based on the drug or biological's ASP, rather than the ASP of another product. In addition, we explained that we believed that paying for biosimilars acquired under the 340B Program at ASP minus 22.5 percent of the biosimilar's ASP, rather than 22.5 percent of the reference product's ASP, will more closely approximate hospitals' acquisition costs for these products.

Accordingly, in the CY 2019 OPPS/ASC proposed rule (83 FR 37123), we proposed changes to our Medicare Part B drug payment methodology for biosimilars acquired under the 340B Program. Specifically, for CY 2019 and subsequent years, in accordance with section 1833(t)(14)(A)(iii)(II) of the Act, we proposed to pay nonpass-through biosimilars acquired under the 340B Program at ASP minus 22.5 percent of the biosimilar's ASP instead of the biosimilar's ASP minus 22.5 percent of the reference product's ASP. This proposal was finalized without modification in the CY 2019 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (83 FR 58977).

For 2022, we propose to continue our policy to make all biosimilar biological products eligible for pass-through payment and not just the first biosimilar biological product for a reference product. We also propose to continue our current policy of paying for nonpass-through biosimilars acquired under the 340B program at the biosimilar's ASP minus 22.5 percent of the biosimilar's ASP instead of the biosimilar's ASP minus 22.5 percent of the reference product's ASP, in accordance with section 1833(t)(14)(A)(iii)(II) of the Act.

3. Payment Policy for Therapeutic Radiopharmaceuticals

For CY 2022, we propose to continue the payment policy for therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals that began in CY 2010. We pay for separately payable therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals under the ASP methodology adopted for separately payable drugs and biologicals. If ASP information is unavailable for a therapeutic radiopharmaceutical, we base therapeutic radiopharmaceutical payment on mean unit cost data derived from hospital claims. We believe that the rationale outlined in the CY 2010 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (74 FR 60524 through 60525) for applying the principles of separately payable drug pricing to therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals continues to be appropriate for nonpass-through, separately payable therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals in CY 2022. Therefore, we propose for CY 2022 to pay all nonpass-through, separately payable therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals at ASP+6 percent, based on the statutory default described in section 1833(t)(14)(A)(iii)(II) of the Act. For a full discussion of ASP-based payment for therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals, we refer readers to the CY 2010 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (74 FR 60520 through 60521). We also propose to rely on CY 2019 mean unit cost data derived from hospital claims data for payment rates for therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals for which ASP data are unavailable and to update the payment rates for separately payable therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals according to our usual process for updating the payment rates for separately payable drugs and biologicals on a quarterly basis if updated ASP information is unavailable. For a complete history of the OPPS payment policy for therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals, we refer readers to the CY 2005 OPPS final rule with comment period (69 FR 65811), the CY 2006 OPPS final rule with comment period (70 FR 68655), and the CY 2010 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (74 FR 60524). The proposed CY 2022 payment rates for nonpass-through, separately payable therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals are included in Addenda A and B to this proposed rule (which are available via the internet on the CMS website).Start Printed Page 42134

4. Payment for Blood Clotting Factors

For CY 2021, we provided payment for blood clotting factors under the same methodology as other nonpass-through separately payable drugs and biologicals under the OPPS and continued paying an updated furnishing fee (85 FR 86041). That is, for CY 2021, we provided payment for blood clotting factors under the OPPS at ASP+6 percent, plus an additional payment for the furnishing fee. We note that when blood clotting factors are provided in physicians' offices under Medicare Part B and in other Medicare settings, a furnishing fee is also applied to the payment. The CY 2021 updated furnishing fee was $0.238 per unit.

For 2022, we propose to pay for blood clotting factors at ASP+6 percent, consistent with our proposed payment policy for other nonpass-through, separately payable drugs and biologicals, and to continue our policy for payment of the furnishing fee using an updated amount. Our policy to pay a furnishing fee for blood clotting factors under the OPPS is consistent with the methodology applied in the physician's office and in the inpatient hospital setting. These methodologies were first articulated in the CY 2006 OPPS final rule with comment period (70 FR 68661) and later discussed in the CY 2008 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (72 FR 66765). The proposed furnishing fee update is based on the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for medical care for the 12-month period ending with June of the previous year. Because the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the applicable CPI data after the PFS and OPPS/ASC proposed rules are published, we are not able to include the actual updated furnishing fee in the proposed rules. Therefore, in accordance with our policy, as finalized in the CY 2008 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (72 FR 66765), we propose to announce the actual figure for the percent change in the applicable CPI and the updated furnishing fee calculated based on that figure through applicable program instructions and posting on our website at: http://www.cms.gov/​Medicare/​Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Part-B-Drugs/​McrPartBDrugAvgSalesPrice/​index.html.

We propose to provide payment for blood clotting factors under the same methodology as other separately payable drugs and biologicals under the OPPS and to continue payment of an updated furnishing fee. We will announce the actual figure of the percent change in the applicable CPI and the updated furnishing fee calculation based on that figure through the applicable program instructions and posting on the CMS website.

5. Payment for Nonpass-Through Drugs, Biologicals, and Radiopharmaceuticals With HCPCS Codes But Without OPPS Hospital Claims Data

For CY 2022, we propose to continue to use the same payment policy as in CY 2021 for nonpass-through drugs, biologicals, and radiopharmaceuticals with HCPCS codes but without OPPS hospital claims data, which describes how we determine the payment rate for drugs, biologicals, or radiopharmaceuticals without an ASP. For a detailed discussion of the payment policy and methodology, we refer readers to the CY 2016 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (80 FR 70442 through 70443). The proposed CY 2022 payment status of each of the nonpass-through drugs, biologicals, and radiopharmaceuticals with HCPCS codes but without OPPS hospital claims data is listed in Addendum B to this proposed rule, which is available via the internet on the CMS website.

6. CY 2022 OPPS Payment Methodology for 340B Purchased Drugs

a. Overview and Background

Under the OPPS, payment rates for drugs are typically based on their average acquisition cost. This payment is governed by section 1847A of the Act, which generally sets a default rate of average sales price (ASP) plus 6 percent for certain drugs; however, the Secretary has statutory authority to adjust that rate under the OPPS. As described below, beginning in CY 2018, the Secretary adjusted the 340B drug payment rate to ASP minus 22.5 percent to approximate a minimum average discount for 340B drugs, which was based on findings of the GAO and MedPAC that hospitals were acquiring drugs at a significant discount under HRSA's 340B Drug Pricing Program. As described in the following sections, in December 2018, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (the district court) concluded that the Secretary lacks the authority to bring the default rate in line with average acquisition cost unless the Secretary obtains survey data from hospitals on their acquisition costs. On July 10, 2019, the district court entered final judgment. The agency appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (hereinafter referred to as “the D.C. Circuit”), and on July 31, 2020 the court entered an opinion reversing the district court's judgment in this matter. Following the D.C. Circuit's reversal of the lower's court decision, appellees' petition for panel rehearing and petition for rehearing en banc were denied on October 16, 2020. For CY 2021, CMS continued its policy of paying for drugs and biologicals acquired through the 340B Program at ASP minus 22.5 percent.

On January 10, 2021, the appellees filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. On July 2, 2021, the Supreme Court granted their petition for a writ of certiorari, and directed the parties to argue whether the petitioners' suit challenging HHS's 340B drugs payment adjustment is precluded by section 1833(t) (12).[95]

Background

In the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC proposed rule (82 FR 33558 through 33724), we proposed changes to the OPPS payment methodology for drugs and biologicals (hereinafter referred to collectively as “drugs”) acquired under the 340B Program. We proposed these changes to better, and more accurately, reflect the resources and acquisition costs that these hospitals incur. We stated our belief that such changes would allow Medicare beneficiaries (and the Medicare program) to pay a more appropriate amount when hospitals participating in the 340B Program furnish drugs to Medicare beneficiaries that are purchased under the 340B Program. Subsequently, in the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (82 FR 59369 through 59370), we finalized our proposal and adjusted the payment rate for separately payable drugs and biologicals (other than drugs with pass-through payment status and vaccines) acquired under the 340B Program from average sales price (ASP) plus 6 percent to ASP minus 22.5 percent. We stated that our goal was to make Medicare payment for separately payable drugs more aligned with the resources expended by hospitals to acquire such drugs, while recognizing the intent of the 340B Program to allow covered entities, including eligible hospitals, to stretch scarce resources in ways that enable hospitals to continue providing access to care for Medicare beneficiaries and other patients. Congress created the 340B Drug Pricing Program so that the eligible entities, safety net providers, identified in statute, could stretch scarce Federal resources as far as possible, reaching more eligible patients and providing more comprehensive services. By Start Printed Page 42135design, the 340B Program increases the resources available to these safety net providers by providing discounts on covered outpatient drugs that generate savings that can be used to support patient care or other services. When the program was created, there was an understanding that many of the patients seen by these safety net providers were Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. This rule aims to fulfill the goals of different Federal programs, each of which helps ensure access to care for vulnerable populations. Critical access hospitals are not paid under the OPPS, and therefore are not subject to the OPPS payment policy for 340B-acquired drugs. We also excepted rural sole community hospitals, children's hospitals, and PPS-exempt cancer hospitals from the 340B payment adjustment in CY 2018. In addition, as stated in the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period, this policy change does not apply to drugs with pass-through payment status, which are required to be paid based on the ASP methodology, or vaccines, which are excluded from the 340B Program.

In the CY 2017 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (81 FR 79699 through 79706), we implemented section 603 of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. As a general matter, applicable items and services furnished in certain off-campus outpatient departments of a provider on or after January 1, 2017 are not considered covered outpatient services for purposes of payment under the OPPS and are paid “under the applicable payment system,” which is generally the Physician Fee Schedule (PFS). However, consistent with our policy to pay separately payable, covered outpatient drugs and biologicals acquired under the 340B Program at ASP minus 22.5 percent, rather than ASP+6 percent, when billed by a hospital paid under the OPPS that is not excepted from the payment adjustment, in the CY 2019 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (83 FR 59015 through 59022), we finalized a policy to pay ASP minus 22.5 percent for 340B-acquired drugs and biologicals furnished in non-excepted off-campus PBDs paid under the PFS. We adopted this payment policy effective for CY 2019 and subsequent years.

We clarified in the CY 2019 OPPS/ASC proposed rule (83 FR 37125) that the 340B payment adjustment applies to drugs that are priced using either WAC or AWP, and that it has been our policy to subject 340B-acquired drugs that use these pricing methodologies to the 340B payment adjustment since the policy was first adopted. The 340B payment adjustment for WAC-priced drugs is WAC minus 22.5 percent. 340B-acquired drugs that are priced using AWP are paid an adjusted amount of 69.46 percent of AWP. The 69.46 percent of AWP is calculated by first reducing the original 95 percent of AWP price by 6 percent to generate a value that is similar to ASP or WAC with no percentage markup. Then we apply the 22.5 percent reduction to ASP/WAC-similar AWP value to obtain the 69.46 percent of AWP, which is similar to either ASP minus 22.5 percent or WAC minus 22.5 percent.

As discussed in the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (82 FR 59369 through 59370), to effectuate the payment adjustment for 340B-acquired drugs, we implemented modifier “JG”, effective January 1, 2018. Hospitals paid under the OPPS, other than a type of hospital excluded from the OPPS (such as critical access hospitals), or excepted from the 340B drug payment policy for CY 2018, were required to report modifier “JG” on the same claim line as the drug HCPCS code to identify a 340B-acquired drug. For CY 2018, rural sole community hospitals, children's hospitals and PPS-exempt cancer hospitals were excepted from the 340B payment adjustment. These hospitals were required to report informational modifier “TB” for 340B-acquired drugs, and continue to be paid ASP+6 percent. We refer readers to the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (82 FR 59353 through 59370) for a full discussion and rationale for the CY 2018 policies and use of modifiers “JG” and “TB”.

In the CY 2019 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (83 FR 58981), we continued the Medicare 340B payment policies that were implemented in CY 2018 and adopted a policy to pay for nonpass-through 340B-acquired biosimilars at ASP minus 22.5 percent of the biosimilar's ASP, rather than of the reference product's ASP. In the CY 2020 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (84 FR 61321), we continued the 340B policies that were implemented in CY 2018 and CY 2019.

Our CY 2018 and 2019 OPPS payment policies for 340B-acquired drugs have been the subject of ongoing litigation. On December 27, 2018, in the case of American Hospital Association, et al. v. Azar, et al., the district court concluded in the context of reimbursement requests for CY 2018 that the Secretary exceeded his statutory authority by adjusting the Medicare payment rates for drugs acquired under the 340B Program to ASP minus 22.5 percent for that year.[96] In that same decision, the district court recognized the “ `havoc that piecemeal review of OPPS payment could bring about' in light of the budget neutrality requirement,” and ordered supplemental briefing on the appropriate remedy.[97] On May 6, 2019, after briefing on remedy, the district court issued an opinion that reiterated that the 2018 rate reduction exceeded the Secretary's authority, and declared that the rate reduction for 2019 (which had been finalized since the Court's initial order was entered) also exceeded his authority.[98] Rather than ordering HHS to pay plaintiffs their alleged underpayments, however, the district court recognized that crafting a remedy is “no easy task, given Medicare's complexity,” [99] and initially remanded the issue to HHS to devise an appropriate remedy while also retaining jurisdiction. The district court acknowledged that “if the Secretary were to retroactively raise the 2018 and 2019 340B rates, budget neutrality would require him to retroactively lower the 2018 and 2019 rates for other Medicare Part B products and services.” [100] Id. at 19. “And because HHS has already processed claims under the previous rates, the Secretary would potentially be required to recoup certain payments made to providers; an expensive and time-consuming prospect.” [101]

We respectfully disagreed with the district court's understanding of the scope of the Secretary's adjustment authority. On July 10, 2019, the district court entered final judgment. The agency appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, (hereinafter referred to as “the D.C. Circuit”), and on July 31, 2020 the court entered an opinion reversing the district court's judgment in this matter. Following the D.C. Circuit's decision, appellees' petition for panel rehearing and petition for rehearing en banc were denied on October 16, 2020. On January of 2021, appellees petitioned the United States Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari. On July 2, 2021, the Court granted the petition.

Before the D.C. Circuit upheld our authority to pay ASP minus 22.5 Start Printed Page 42136percent, we stated in the CY 2020 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period that we were taking the steps necessary to craft an appropriate remedy in the event of an unfavorable decision on appeal. Notably, after the CY 2020 OPPS/ASC proposed rule was issued, we announced in the Federal Register (84 FR 51590) our intent to conduct a 340B hospital survey to collect drug acquisition cost data for certain quarters in CY 2018 and 2019. We stated that such survey data may be used in setting the Medicare payment amount for drugs acquired by 340B hospitals for cost years going forward, and also may be used to devise a remedy for prior years if the district court's ruling was upheld on appeal. The district court itself acknowledged that CMS may base the Medicare payment amount on average acquisition cost when survey data are available.[102] No 340B hospital disputed in the rulemakings for CY 2018 and 2019 that the ASP minus 22.5 percent formula was a conservative adjustment that represented the minimum discount that hospitals receive for drugs acquired through the 340B program, which is significant because 340B hospitals have internal data regarding their own drug acquisition costs. We stated in the CY 2020 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period that we thus anticipated that survey data collected for CY 2018 and 2019 would confirm that the ASP minus 22.5 percent rate is a conservative amount that overcompensates covered entity hospitals for drugs acquired under the 340B program. We also explained that a remedy that relies on such survey data could avoid the complexities referenced in the district court's opinion. For a complete discussion of the Hospital Acquisition Cost Survey for 340B-Acquired Specified Covered Outpatient Drugs, we refer readers to the CY 2021 OPPS/ASC Proposed Rule (85 FR 48882 through 48891) and the CY 2021 OPPS/ASC Final Rule with comment period (85 FR 86042 through 86055).

We proposed a payment rate for 340B drugs of ASP minus 28.7 percent based on survey data, and also proposed in the alternative that the agency could continue its current policy of paying ASP minus 22.5 percent for CY 2021. We explained that we adopted the OPPS 340B payment policy based on the average minimum discount for 340B-acquired drugs being approximately ASP minus 22.5 percent. The estimated discount was based on a MedPAC analysis identifying 22.5 percent as a conservative minimum discount that 340B entities receive when they purchase drugs under the 340B program, which we discussed in the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (82 FR 52496). We emphasized that we continue to believe that ASP minus 22.5 percent is an appropriate payment rate for 340B-acquired drugs under the authority of section 1833(t)(14)(A)(iii)(II) for the reasons we stated when we adopted this policy in CY 2018 (82 FR 59216). We pointed out that on July 31, 2020, the D.C. Circuit reversed the decision of the district court, holding that this interpretation of the statute was reasonable. Therefore, we also proposed in the alternative that the agency could continue the current Medicare payment policy for CY 2021. If adopted, we stated that this proposed policy would continue the current Medicare payment policy for CY 2021.

Based on feedback from stakeholders, we stated that we believed maintaining the current payment policy of paying ASP minus 22.5 percent for 340B drugs was appropriate in order to maintain consistent and reliable payment for these drugs both for the remainder of the PHE and after its conclusion to give hospitals some certainty as to payments for these drugs. We explained that continuing our current policy also gives us more time to conduct further analysis of hospital survey data for potential future use for 340B drug payment. We also noted that any changes to the current 340B payment policy would be adopted through public notice and comment rulemaking.

Finally, we stated that while we believe our methods to conduct the 340B Drug Acquisition Cost Survey, as well as the methodology we used to calculate the proposed average or typical discount received by 340B entities on 340B drugs, are valid, we nonetheless recognize the comments that we received from stakeholders. Utilization of the survey data is complex, and we emphasized that we wish to continue to evaluate how to balance and weigh the use of the survey data, the necessary adjustments to the data, and the weighting and incorporation of ceiling prices—all to determine how best to take the relevant factors into account for potentially using the survey to set Medicare OPPS drug payment policy. We stated that we would continue to assess commenters' feedback as we explore whether survey data should be considered hospital acquisition cost data for purposes of paying for drugs acquired under section 1833(t)(14)(A)(iii)(I).

CY 2022 Proposed 340B Drug Payment Policy

For CY 2022, we are proposing to continue our current policy without modification of paying ASP minus 22.5 percent for 340B-acquired drugs and biologicals, including when furnished in nonexcepted off-campus PBDs paid under the PFS. We are proposing, in accordance with section 1833(t)(14)(A)(iii)(II) of the Act, to pay for separately payable Medicare Part B drugs and biologicals (assigned status indicator “K”), other than vaccines and drugs on pass-through status, that are acquired through the 340B Program at ASP minus 22.5 percent when billed by a hospital paid under the OPPS that is not excepted from the payment adjustment. We propose to continue our current policy for calculating payment for 340B-acquired biosimilars, which is discussed in section V.B.2.c. of the CY 2019 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period, and would continue the policy we finalized in CY 2019 to pay ASP minus 22.5 percent for 340B-acquired drugs and biologicals furnished in nonexcepted off-campus PBDs paid under the PFS.

We are also proposing to continue the 340B payment adjustment for WAC-priced drugs, which is WAC minus 22.5 percent. 340B-acquired drugs that are priced using AWP would continue to be paid an adjusted amount of 69.46 percent of AWP. Additionally, we are proposing to continue to exempt rural sole community hospitals (as described under the regulations at § 412.92 and designated as rural for Medicare purposes), children's hospitals, and PPS-exempt cancer hospitals from the 340B payment adjustment. These hospitals will continue to report informational modifier “TB” for 340B-acquired drugs, and will continue to be paid ASP plus 6 percent. We may revisit our policy to exempt rural SCHs, as well as other hospital types, from the 340B drug payment reduction in future rulemaking.

We are also continuing to require hospitals to use modifiers to identify 340B-acquired drugs. We refer readers to the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (82 FR 59353 through 59370) for a full discussion and rationale for the CY 2018 policies and the requirements for use of modifiers “JG” and “TB”. We believe maintaining the current policy of paying ASP minus 22.5 percent for 340B drugs is appropriate given the July 31, 2020 D.C. Circuit decision, which reversed the district court's decision and found that the interpretation of the statute was reasonable when the 340B drug Start Printed Page 42137payment policy was implemented in CY 2018. We note that any changes to the current 340B payment policy would be adopted through public notice and comment rulemaking.

While we believe the Secretary has discretion to propose a payment rate for 340B drugs based on the 2020 survey results, we also continue to believe that the current payment rate of ASP minus 22.5 percent represents the minimum discount that 340B covered entities receive, which more closely aligns the payment rate with the resources expended by 340B hospitals to acquire such drugs compared to a payment rate of ASP plus 6 percent, while also recognizing the intent of the 340B program to allow covered entities, including eligible hospitals, to stretch scarce resources in ways that enable hospitals to continue providing access to care for Medicare beneficiaries and other patients. Additionally, we continue to believe it is important to provide consistency and reliable payment for these drugs both for the remainder of the Public Health Emergency (PHE) and after its conclusion to give hospitals some certainty as to payments for these drugs.

7. High Cost/Low Cost Threshold for Packaged Skin Substitutes

a. Background

In the CY 2014 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (78 FR 74938), we unconditionally packaged skin substitute products into their associated surgical procedures as part of a broader policy to package all drugs and biologicals that function as supplies when used in a surgical procedure. As part of the policy to package skin substitutes, we also finalized a methodology that divides the skin substitutes into a high cost group and a low cost group, in order to ensure adequate resource homogeneity among APC assignments for the skin substitute application procedures (78 FR 74933).

Skin substitutes assigned to the high cost group are described by HCPCS codes 15271 through 15278. Skin substitutes assigned to the low cost group are described by HCPCS codes C5271 through C5278. Geometric mean costs for the various procedures are calculated using only claims for the skin substitutes that are assigned to each group. Specifically, claims billed with HCPCS code 15271, 15273, 15275, or 15277 are used to calculate the geometric mean costs for procedures assigned to the high cost group, and claims billed with HCPCS code C5271, C5273, C5275, or C5277 are used to calculate the geometric mean costs for procedures assigned to the low cost group (78 FR 74935).

Each of the HCPCS codes described earlier are assigned to one of the following three skin procedure APCs according to the geometric mean cost for the code: APC 5053 (Level 3 Skin Procedures): HCPCS codes C5271, C5275, and C5277); APC 5054 (Level 4 Skin Procedures): HCPCS codes C5273, 15271, 15275, and 15277); or APC 5055 (Level 5 Skin Procedures): HCPCS code 15273). In CY 2021, the payment rate for APC 5053 (Level 3 Skin Procedures) was $524.17, the payment rate for APC 5054 (Level 4 Skin Procedures) was $1,715.36, and the payment rate for APC 5055 (Level 5 Skin Procedures) was $3,522.15. This information also is available in Addenda A and B of the CY 2021 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period, as issued with the final rule correction notice (86 FR 11428) (the correction notice and corrected Addenda A and B are available via the internet on the CMS website).

We have continued the high cost/low cost categories policy since CY 2014, and we propose to continue it for CY 2022. Under the current policy, skin substitutes in the high cost category are reported with the skin substitute application CPT codes, and skin substitutes in the low cost category are reported with the analogous skin substitute HCPCS C-codes. For a discussion of the CY 2014 and CY 2015 methodologies for assigning skin substitutes to either the high cost group or the low cost group, we refer readers to the CY 2014 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (78 FR 74932 through 74935) and the CY 2015 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (79 FR 66882 through 66885).

For a discussion of the high cost/low cost methodology that was adopted in CY 2016 and has been in effect since then, we refer readers to the CY 2016 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (80 FR 70434 through 70435). Beginning in CY 2016 and in subsequent years, we adopted a policy where we determined the high cost/low cost status for each skin substitute product based on either a product's geometric mean unit cost (MUC) exceeding the geometric MUC threshold or the product's per day cost (PDC) (the total units of a skin substitute multiplied by the mean unit cost and divided by the total number of days) exceeding the PDC threshold. We assigned each skin substitute that exceeded either the MUC threshold or the PDC threshold to the high cost group. In addition, we assigned any skin substitute with a MUC or a PDC that does not exceed either the MUC threshold or the PDC threshold to the low cost group (85 FR 86059).

However, some skin substitute manufacturers have raised concerns about significant fluctuation in both the MUC threshold and the PDC threshold from year to year using the methodology developed in CY 2016. The fluctuation in the thresholds may result in the reassignment of several skin substitutes from the high cost group to the low cost group which, under current payment rates, can be a difference of over $1,000 in the payment amount for the same procedure. In addition, these stakeholders were concerned that the inclusion of cost data from skin substitutes with pass-through payment status in the MUC and PDC calculations would artificially inflate the thresholds. Skin substitute stakeholders requested that CMS consider alternatives to the current methodology used to calculate the MUC and PDC thresholds and also requested that CMS consider whether it might be appropriate to establish a new cost group in between the low cost group and the high cost group to allow for assignment of moderately priced skin substitutes to a newly created middle group.

We share the goal of promoting payment stability for skin substitute products and their related procedures as price stability allows hospitals using such products to more easily anticipate future payments associated with these products. We have attempted to limit year-to-year shifts for skin substitute products between the high cost and low cost groups through multiple initiatives implemented since CY 2014, including: establishing separate skin substitute application procedure codes for low-cost skin substitutes (78 FR 74935); using a skin substitute's MUC calculated from outpatient hospital claims data instead of an average of ASP+6 percent as the primary methodology to assign products to the high cost or low cost group (79 FR 66883); and establishing the PDC threshold as an alternate methodology to assign a skin substitute to the high cost group (80 FR 70434 through 70435).

To allow additional time to evaluate concerns and suggestions from stakeholders about the volatility of the MUC and PDC thresholds, in the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC proposed rule (82 FR 33627), we proposed that a skin substitute that was assigned to the high cost group for CY 2017 would be assigned to the high cost group for CY 2018, even if it did not exceed the CY 2018 MUC or PDC thresholds. We finalized this policy in the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment Start Printed Page 42138period (82 FR 59347). We stated in the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC proposed rule that the goal of our proposal to retain the same skin substitute cost group assignments in CY 2018 as in CY 2017 was to maintain similar levels of payment for skin substitute products for CY 2018 while we study our skin substitute payment methodology to determine whether refinements to the existing policies are consistent with our policy goal of providing payment stability for skin substitutes.

We stated in the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (82 FR 59347) that we would continue to study issues related to the payment of skin substitutes and take these comments into consideration for future rulemaking. We received many responses to our request for comments in the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC proposed rule about possible refinements to the existing payment methodology for skin substitutes that would be consistent with our policy goal of providing payment stability for these products. In addition, several stakeholders have made us aware of additional concerns and recommendations since the release of the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period. As discussed in the CY 2019 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (83 FR 58967 through 58968), we identified four potential methodologies that have been raised to us that we encouraged the public to review and provide comments on. We stated in the CY 2019 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period that we were especially interested in any specific feedback on policy concerns with any of the options presented as they relate to skin substitutes with differing per day or per episode costs and sizes and other factors that may differ among the dozens of skin substitutes currently on the market.

For CY 2020, we sought more extensive comments on the two policy ideas that generated the most comment from the CY 2019 comment solicitation. One of the ideas was to establish a payment episode between 4 to 12 weeks where a lump-sum payment would be made to cover all of the care services needed to treat the wound. There would be options for either a complexity adjustment or outlier payments for wounds that require a large amount of resources to treat. The other policy idea would be to eliminate the high cost and low cost categories for skin substitutes and have only one payment category and set of procedure codes for the application of all graft skin substitute products. Please refer to the CY 2019 OPPS final rule (83 FR 58967 to 58968) and the CY 2020 OPPS final rule (84 FR 61328 to 61331) for a detailed summary and discussion of the comments we received in response to these comment solicitations. We are continuing to consider the comments we received in response to these comment solicitations.

b. Proposals for Packaged Skin Substitutes for CY 2022

For CY 2022, consistent with our policy since CY 2016, we propose to continue to determine the high cost/low cost status for each skin substitute product based on either a product's geometric mean unit cost (MUC) exceeding the geometric MUC threshold or the product's per day cost (PDC) (the total units of a skin substitute multiplied by the mean unit cost and divided by the total number of days) exceeding the PDC threshold. Consistent with the methodology as established in the CY 2014 through CY 2018 final rules with comment period, we analyzed CY 2019 claims data to calculate the MUC threshold (a weighted average of all skin substitutes' MUCs) and the PDC threshold (a weighted average of all skin substitutes' PDCs). The proposed CY 2022 MUC threshold is $48 per cm2 (rounded to the nearest $1) and the proposed CY 2022 PDC threshold is $949 (rounded to the nearest $1). We also propose that our definition of skin substitutes includes synthetic skin substitute products in addition to biological skin substitute products as described in section V.B.7.d. of this proposed rule. We also want to clarify that the availability of an HCPCS code for a particular human cell, tissue, or cellular or tissue-based product (HCT/P) does not mean that that product is appropriately regulated solely under section 361 of the PHS Act and the FDA regulations in 21 CFR part 1271. Manufacturers of HCT/Ps should consult with the FDA Tissue Reference Group (TRG) or obtain a determination through a Request for Designation (RFD) on whether their HCT/Ps are appropriately regulated solely under section 361 of the PHS Act and the regulations in 21 CFR part 1271.

For CY 2022, as we did for CY 2021, we propose to assign each skin substitute that exceeds either the MUC threshold or the PDC threshold to the high cost group. In addition, we propose to assign any skin substitute with a MUC or a PDC that does not exceed either the MUC threshold or the PDC threshold to the low cost group. For CY 2022, we propose that any skin substitute product that was assigned to the high cost group in CY 2021 would be assigned to the high cost group for CY 2022, regardless of whether it exceeds or falls below the CY 2022 MUC or PDC threshold. This policy was established in the CY 2018 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (82 FR 59346 through 59348).

For 2022, we propose to continue to assign skin substitutes with pass-through payment status to the high cost category. We propose to assign skin substitutes with pricing information but without claims data to calculate a geometric MUC or PDC to either the high cost or low cost category based on the product's ASP+6 percent payment rate as compared to the MUC threshold. If ASP is not available, we propose to use WAC+3 percent to assign a product to either the high cost or low cost category. Finally, if neither ASP nor WAC is available, we propose to use 95 percent of AWP to assign a skin substitute to either the high cost or low cost category. We propose to continue to use WAC+3 percent instead of WAC+6 percent to conform to our proposed policy described in section V.B.2.b. of this proposed rule to establish a payment rate of WAC+3 percent for separately payable drugs and biologicals that do not have ASP data available. New skin substitutes without pricing information would be assigned to the low cost category until pricing information is available to compare to the CY 2022 MUC and PDC thresholds. We also propose to continue to include synthetic products in addition to biological products in our description of skin substitutes. For a discussion of our existing policy under which we assign skin substitutes without pricing information to the low cost category until pricing information is available, we refer readers to the CY 2016 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (80 FR 70436). For a discussion of how we determined that synthetic skin graft sheet products can be reported with graft skin substitute procedure codes, we refer readers to the CY 2021 OPPS/ASC final rule (85 FR 86064 to 86067). Table 32 displays the final CY 2022 cost category assignment for each skin substitute product.

Start Printed Page 42139

Start Printed Page 42140

Start Printed Page 42141

Start Printed Page 42142

Start Printed Page 42143

VI. Estimate of OPPS Transitional Pass-Through Spending for Drugs, Biologicals, Radiopharmaceuticals, and Devices

A. Background

Section 1833(t)(6)(E) of the Act limits the total projected amount of transitional pass-through payments for drugs, biologicals, radiopharmaceuticals, and categories of devices for a given year to an “applicable percentage,” currently not to exceed 2.0 percent of total program payments estimated to be made for all covered services under the OPPS furnished for that year. If we estimate before the beginning of the calendar year that the total amount of pass-through payments in that year would exceed the applicable percentage, section 1833(t)(6)(E)(iii) of the Act requires a uniform prospective reduction in the amount of each of the transitional pass-through payments made in that year to ensure that the limit is not exceeded. We estimate the pass-through spending to determine whether payments exceed the Start Printed Page 42144applicable percentage and the appropriate pro rata reduction to the conversion factor for the projected level of pass-through spending in the following year to ensure that total estimated pass-through spending for the prospective payment year is budget neutral, as required by section 1833(t)(6)(E) of the Act.

For devices, developing a proposed estimate of pass-through spending in CY 2022 entails estimating spending for two groups of items. The first group of items consists of device categories that are currently eligible for pass-through payment and that will continue to be eligible for pass-through payment in CY 2022. The CY 2008 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (72 FR 66778) describes the methodology we have used in previous years to develop the pass-through spending estimate for known device categories continuing into the applicable update year. The second group of items consists of items that we know are newly eligible, or project may be newly eligible, for device pass-through payment in the remaining quarters of CY 2021 or beginning in CY 2022. The sum of the proposed CY 2022 pass-through spending estimates for these two groups of device categories equaled the proposed total CY 2022 pass-through spending estimate for device categories with pass-through payment status. We based the device pass-through estimated payments for each device category on the amount of payment as established in section 1833(t)(6)(D)(ii) of the Act, and as outlined in previous rules, including the CY 2014 OPPS/ASC final rule with comment period (78 FR 75034 through 75036). We note that, beginning in CY 2010, the pass-through evaluation process and pass-through payment methodology for implantable biologicals newly approved for pass-through payment beginning on or after January 1, 2010, that are surgically inserted or implanted (through a surgical incision or a natural orifice) use the device pass-through process and payment methodology (74 FR 60476). As has been our past practice (76 FR 74335), in the proposed rule, we propose to include an estimate of any implantable biologicals eligible for pass-through payment in our estimate of pass-through spending for devices. Similarly, we finalized a policy in CY 2015 that applications for pass-through payment for skin substitutes and similar products be evaluated using the medical device pass-through process and payment methodology (76 FR 66885 through 66888). Therefore, as we did beginning in CY 2015, for CY 2022, we also propose to include an estimate of any skin substitutes and similar products in our estimate of pass-through spending for devices.

For drugs and biologicals eligible for pass-through payment, section 1833(t)(6)(D)(i) of the Act establishes the pass-through payment amount as the amount by which the amount authorized under section 1842(o) of the Act (or, if the drug or biological is covered under a competitive acquisition contract under section 1847B of the Act, an amount determined by the Secretary equal to the average price for the drug or biological for all competitive acquisition areas and year established under such section as calculated and adjusted by the Secretary) exceeds the portion of the otherwise applicable fee schedule amount that the Secretary determines is associated with the drug or biological. Our estimate of drug and biological pass-through payment for CY 2022 for this group of items is $462.4 million, as discussed below, because we propose that most non pass-through separately payable drugs and biologicals would be paid under the CY 2022 OPPS at ASP+6 percent with the exception of 340B-acquired separately payable drugs, which we propose would be paid at ASP minus 22.5 percent, and because we propose to pay for CY 2022 pass-through payment drugs and biologicals at ASP+6 percent, as we discuss in section V.A. of this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule.

Furthermore, payment for certain drugs, specifically diagnostic radiopharmaceuticals and contrast agents without pass-through payment status, is packaged into payment for the associated procedures, and these products will not be separately paid. In addition, we policy-package all non pass-through drugs, biologicals, and radiopharmaceuticals that function as supplies when used in a diagnostic test or procedure, drugs and biologicals that function as supplies when used in a surgical procedure, drugs and biologicals used for anesthesia, and drugs and biologicals, as discussed in section V.B.1.c. of this CY 2022 OPPS/ASC proposed rule. We propose that all of these policy-packaged drugs and biologicals with pass-through payment status will be paid at ASP+6 percent, like other pass-through drugs and biologicals, for CY 2022. Therefore, our estimate of pass-through payment for policy-packaged drugs and biologicals with pass-through payment status approved prior to CY 2022 is not $0, as discussed below. In section V.A.6. of this proposed rule, we discuss our policy to determine if the costs of certain policy-packaged drugs or biologicals are already packaged into the existing APC structure. If we determine that a policy-packaged drug or biological approved for pass-through payment resembles predecessor drugs or biologicals already included in the costs of the APCs that are associated with the drug receiving pass-through payment, we propose to offset the amount of pass-through payment for the policy-packaged drug or biological. For these drugs or biologicals, the APC offset amount is the portion of the APC payment for the specific procedure performed with the pass-through drug or biological, which we refer to as the policy-packaged drug APC offset amount. If we determine that an offset is appropriate for a specific policy-packaged drug or biological receiving pass-through payment, we propose to reduce our estimate of pass-through payments for these drugs or biologicals by this amount.

Similar to pass-through spending estimates for devices, the first group of drugs and biologicals requiring a pass-through payment estimate consists of those products that were recently made eligible for pass-through payment and that will continue to be eligible for pass-through payment in CY 2022. The second group contains drugs and biologicals that we know are newly eligible, or project will be newly eligible, in the remaining quarters of CY 2021 or beginning in CY 2022. The sum of the CY 2022 pass-through spending estimates for these two groups of drugs and biologicals equals the total CY 2022 pass-through spending estimate for drugs and biologicals with pass-through payment status.

B. Proposed Estimate of Pass-Through Spending

For 2022, we propose to set the applicable pass-through payment percentage limit at 2.0 percent of the total projected OPPS payments for CY 2022, consistent with section 1833(t)(6)(E)(ii)(II) of the Act and our OPPS policy from CY 2004 through CY 2021 (85 FR 86068).

For the first group, consisting of device categories that are currently eligible for pass-through payment and will continue to be eligible for pass-through payment in CY 2022, there are 9 active categories for CY 2022. The active categories are described by HCPCS codes C2596, C1734, C1982, C1824, C1839, C1748, C1825, C1052, and C1062. Based on the information from the device manufacturers, we estimate that HCPCS code C2596 will cost $11.3 million in pass-through expenditures in CY 2022, HCPCS C1734 will cost $36.9 million in pass-through Start Printed Page 42145expenditures in CY 2022, HCPCS code C1982 will cost $116.3 million in pass-through expenditures in CY 2022, HCPCS code C1824 will cost $46 million in pass-through expenditures in CY 2022, HCPCS code C1839 will cost $500,000 in pass-through expenditures in CY 2022, HCPCS code C1748 will cost $39.1 million in pass-through expenditures in CY 2022, HCPCS code C1825 will cost $3.5 million in pass-through expenditures in CY 2022, HCPCS code C1052 will cost $40 million in pass-through expenditures in CY 2022, and HCPCS code C1062 will cost $14.3 million in pass-through expenditures in CY 2022. Therefore, we propose an estimate for th