Reasonable cost of physical and other therapy services furnished under arrangements.
(a) Principle. The reasonable cost of the services of physical, occupational, speech, and other therapists, and services of other health specialists (other than physicians), furnished under arrangements (as defined in section 1861(w) of the Act) with a provider of services, a clinic, a rehabilitation agency or a public health agency, may not exceed an amount equivalent to the prevailing salary and additional costs that would reasonably have been incurred by the provider or other organization had such services been performed by such person in an employment relationship, plus the cost of other reasonable expenses incurred by such person in furnishing services under such an arrangement. However, if the services of a therapist are required on a limited part-time basis, or to perform intermittent services, payment may be made on the basis of a reasonable rate per unit of service, even though this rate may be greater per unit of time than salary-related amounts, if the greater payment is, in the aggregate, less than the amount that would have been paid had a therapist been employed on a full-time or regular part-time salaried basis. Pursuant to section 17(a) of Public Law 93-233 (87 Stat. 967), the provisions of this section are effective for cost reporting periods beginning after March, 1975.
(b) Definitions—(1) Prevailing salary. The prevailing salary is the hourly salary rate based on the 75th percentile of salary ranges paid by providers in the geographical area, by type of therapy, to therapists working full time in an employment relationship.
(2) Fringe benefit and expense factor. The standard fringe benefit and expense factor is an amount that takes account of fringe benefits, such as vacation pay, insurance premiums, pension payments, allowances for job-related training, meals, etc., generally received by an employee therapist, as well as expenses, such as maintaining an office, appropriate insurance, etc., an individual not working as an employee might incur in furnishing services under arrangements.
(3) Adjusted hourly salary equivalency amount. The adjusted hourly salary equivalency amount is the prevailing hourly salary rate plus the standard fringe benefit and expense factor. This amount is determined on a periodic basis for appropriate geographical areas.
(4) Travel allowance. A standard travel allowance is an amount that is recognized, in addition to the adjusted hourly salary equivalency amount.
(5) Limited part-time or intermittent services. Therapy services are considered to be on a limited part-time or intermittent basis if the provider or other organization furnishing the services under arrangements requires the services of a therapist or therapists on an average of less than 15 hours per week. This determination is made by dividing the total hours of services furnished during the cost reporting period by the number of weeks in which the services were furnished in the cost reporting period regardless of the number of days in each week in which services were performed.
(6) Guidelines. Guidelines are the amounts published by CMS reflecting the application of paragraphs (b) (1) through (4) of this section to an individual therapy service and a geographical area. Other statistically valid data may be used to establish guidelines for a geographical area, provided that the study designs, questionnaires and instructions, as well as the resultant survey data for determining the guidelines are submitted to and approved in advance by CMS. Such data must be arrayed so as to permit the determination of the 75th percentile of the range of salaries paid to full-time employee therapists.
(7) Administrative responsibility. Administrative responsibility is the performance of those duties that normally fall within the purview of a department head or other supervisor. This term does not apply to directing aides or other assistants in furnishing direct patient care.
(c) Application.(1) Under this provision, CMS will establish criteria for use in determining the reasonable cost of physical, occupational, speech, and other therapy services and the services of other health specialists (other than physicians) furnished by individuals under arrangements with a provider of services, a clinic, a rehabilitation agency, or public health agency. It is recognized that providers have a wide variety of arrangements with such individuals. These individuals may be independent practitioners or employees of organizations furnishing various health care specialists. This provision does not require change in the substance of these arrangements.
(2) If therapy services are performed under arrangements at a provider site on a full-time or regular part-time basis, the reasonable cost of such services may not exceed the amount determined by taking into account the total number of hours of services furnished by the therapist, the adjusted hourly salary equivalency amount appropriate for the particular therapy in the geographical area in which the services are furnished and a standard travel allowance.
(3) If therapy services are performed under arrangements on a limited part-time or intermittent basis at the provider site, the reasonable cost of such services is evaluated on a reasonable rate per unit of service basis, except that payment for these services, in the aggregate, during the cost reporting period, may not exceed the amount that would be determined to be reasonable under paragraph (c)(2) of this section, had a therapist furnished the provider or other organization furnishing the services under arrangements 15 hours of service per week on a regular part-time basis for the weeks in which services were furnished by the non-employee therapist.
(4) If an HHA furnishes services under arrangements at the patient's residence or in other situations in which therapy services are not performed at the provider's site, the reasonable cost of such services is evaluated as follows:
(i) Time records available. If time records of HHA visits are maintained by the provider, the reasonable cost of such services is evaluated on a unit-of-time basis, by taking into account the total number of hours of service furnished by the therapist, the adjusted hourly salary equivalency amount appropriate for the particular therapy in the geographical area in which the services are furnished, and a standard travel allowance for each visit. However, if the travel time of the therapist is accurately recorded by the therapist, and approved and maintained by the provider, the reasonable cost of such services may be evaluated, at the option of the provider, by taking into account the total number of hours of service furnished by the therapist, including travel time, and the adjusted hourly salary equivalency amount appropriate for the particular therapy in the geographical area in which the services are furnished. This option does not apply to services furnished by HHAs under arrangements with providers other than HHAs.
(ii) No time records available. If time records are unavailable or found to be inaccurate, each HHA visit is considered the equivalent of one hour of service. In such cases, the reasonable cost of such services is determined by taking into account the number of visits made by the therapist under arrangements with such agency, the adjusted hourly salary equivalency amount appropriate for the particular therapy in the geographical area in which the services are furnished, and a standard travel allowance.
(iii) Limited part-time or intermittent services. If under paragraph (c)(4) (i) or (ii) of this section, the provider required therapy services on an average of less than 15 hours per week, the services are considered limited part-time or intermittent services, and the reasonable cost of such services is evaluated on a reasonable rate per unit of service basis as described in paragraph (c)(3) of this section.
(5) If therapy services are performed in situations where compensation to a therapist employed by the provider is based, at least in part, on a fee-for-service or on a percentage of income (or commission), the guidelines will apply. The entire compensation will be subject to the guidelines in cases where the nature of the arrangements is most like an under “arrangement” situation, although technically the provider may treat the therapists as employees. The intent of this section is to prevent an employment relationship from being used to circumvent the guidelines.
(6) These provisions are applicable to individual therapy services or disciplines by means of separate guidelines by geographical area and apply to costs incurred after issuance of the guidelines but no earlier than the beginning of the provider's cost reporting period described in paragraph (a) of this section. Until a guideline is issued for a specific therapy or discipline, costs are evaluated so that such costs do not exceed what a prudent and cost-conscious buyer would pay for the given service.
(d) Notice of guidelines to be imposed. Prior to the beginning of a period to which a guideline will be applied, a notice will be published in the Federal Register establishing the guideline amounts to be applied to each geographical area by type of therapy.
(e) Additional allowances.(1) If a therapist supervises other therapists or has administrative responsibility for operating a provider's therapy department, a reasonable allowance may be added to the adjusted hourly salary equivalency amount by the intermediary based on its knowledge of the differential between therapy supervisors' and therapists' salaries in similar provider settings in the area.
(2) If a therapist performing services under arrangements furnishes equipment and supplies used in furnishing therapy services, the guideline amount may be supplemented by the cost of the equipment and supplies, provided the cost does not exceed the amount the provider, as a prudent and cost-conscious buyer, would have been able to include as allowable cost.
(f) Exceptions. The following exceptions may be granted but only upon the provider's demonstration that the conditions indicated are present:
(1) Exception because of unique circumstances or special labor market conditions. An exception may be granted under this section by the intermediary if a provider demonstrates that the costs for therapy services established by the guideline amounts are inappropriate to a particular provider because of some unique circumstances or special labor market conditions in the area.
(2) Exception for services furnished by risk-basis HMO providers. For special rules concerning services furnished to an HMO's enrollees who are Medicare beneficiaries by a provider owned or operated by a risk-basis HMO (see § 417.201(b) of this chapter) or related to a risk-basis HMO by common ownership or control (see § 417.250(c) of this chapter ).
(3) Exception for inpatient hospital services. Effective with cost reporting periods beginning on or after October 1, 1983, the costs of therapy services furnished under arrangements to a hospital inpatient are excepted from the guidelines issued under this section if such costs are subject to the provisions of § 413.40 or part 412 of this chapter. The intermediary will grant the exception without request from the provider.
(g) Appeals. A request by a provider for a hearing on the determination of an intermediary concerning the therapy costs determined to be allowable based on the provisions of this section, including a determination with respect to an exception under paragraph (f) of this section, is made to the intermediary only after submission of its cost report and receipt of the notice of amount of program reimbursement reflecting such determination, in accordance with the provisions of subpart R of part 405 of this chapter.
[51 FR 34793, Sept. 30, 1986, as amended at 63 FR 5139, Jan. 30, 1998]
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