Health Law Highlights

CMS Finalizes its Proposal to Advance Interoperability and Improve Prior Authorization Processes

From Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP, by Gianfranco Spinelli and Krysten Thomas:

  • Final Rule Issued by CMS: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule titled “CMS Interoperability and Prior Authorization” on January 17, 2024, which aims to advance interoperability and improve prior authorization processes. This rule impacts Medicare Advantage organizations, state Medicaid and CHIP agencies, Medicaid and CHIP managed care plans, and plans on the Affordable Care Act exchanges, as well as MIPS eligible clinicians, and eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals.
  • Patient Access API: The final rule requires Impacted Payers to provide patients access to certain information, including claims, cost sharing data, encounter data, and a set of clinical data accessible via health applications. The implementation of this requirement is set for January 1, 2027, which is a change from the original proposed date of January 1, 2026.
  • Provider Access API and Payer-to-Payer API: The rule mandates Impacted Payers to build and maintain a Provider Access API for data sharing with in-network providers. It also requires a Payer-to-Payer API to ensure patients can maintain continuity of care and have uninterrupted access to their health data. Both these requirements are to be implemented by January 1, 2027.
  • Prior Authorization API and Process Improvements: CMS finalized the proposal to require Impacted Payers to build and maintain a Prior Authorization API, which is to be implemented by January 1, 2027. The rule also shortens the time frames for prior authorization decisions and requires Impacted Payers to provide a specific reason for denied decisions. These requirements are to be complied with by January 1, 2026.
  • Public Reporting and Electronic Prior Authorization Measure: The final rule requires Impacted Payers to publicly report certain prior authorization metrics, with the initial set of metrics to be reported by March 31, 2026. It also mandates MIPS eligible clinicians, eligible hospitals, and CAHs to report the number of prior authorizations for medical items and services requested electronically from a Prior Authorization API.