Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Processing CHOW Applications

Processing CHOW Applications

Unless stated otherwise in this chapter, the contractor shall ensure that all applicable sections of the Form CMS-855A for both the old and new owners are completed in accordance with the instructions on the Form CMS-855A.

A. Old Owners

The old owner’s Form CMS-855A CHOW application does not require a recommendation for approval. Any recommendations will be based on the CHOW application received from the new owner.

If the old owner's Form CMS-855A is available at the time of review, the contractor shall examine the information thereon against the new owner’s Form CMS-855A to ensure consistency (e.g., same names). If the old owner's Form CMS-855A has not been received, the contractor shall contact the old owner and request it. However, the contractor may begin processing the new owner’s application without waiting for the arrival of the old owner’s application. It may also make its recommendation to the State agency without having received the old owner’s Form CMS-855A. The contractor, of course, shall not make a recommendation for approval unless the new owner has checked on the form that it will assume the provider agreement and the terms of the sales agreement indicate as such.

If a certification statement is not on file for the old owner, the contractor shall request that section 6 be completed for the individual who is signing the certification statement.

Note that an old owner’s Form CMS-855A CHOW application is essentially the equivalent of a Form CMS-855 voluntary termination submission, as the seller is voluntarily leaving the Medicare program. As such, the contractor shall not require the seller to submit a separate Form CMS-855 voluntary termination along with its Form CMS-855A CHOW application.

B. New Owners 

If a Form CMS-855A is not received from the new owner within 14 calendar days of receipt of the old owner’s Form CMS-855A, the contractor shall contact the new owner. If the new owner fails to: (1) submit a Form CMS-855A and (2) indicate that it accepts assignment of the provider agreement, within 30 calendar days after the contractor contacted it, the contractor shall stop payments unless the sale has not yet taken place per the terms of the sales agreement. Payments to the provider can resume once this information is received and the contractor ascertains that the provider accepts assignment.

C. Order of Processing

To the maximum extent practicable, Form CMS-855A applications from the old and new owners in a CHOW should be processed as they come in. The contractor should not wait for applications from both the old and new owner to arrive before processing them. However, unless the instructions in this chapter indicate otherwise, the contractor should attempt to send the old and new applications to the State simultaneously, rather than as soon as they are processed. For instance, suppose the old owner submits an application on March 1. The contractor should begin processing the application immediately, without waiting for the arrival of the new owner’s application. Yet it should avoid sending the old owner’s application to the State until the new owner’s application is processed. (For acquisition/mergers and consolidations, the contractor may send the applications to the RO separately, since one number is going away.)

D. Sales and Lease Agreements

The contractor shall abide by the following:

• Verification of Terms - The contractor shall determine whether: (1) the information contained in the sales/lease agreement is consistent with that reported on the new owner's Form CMS-855A (e.g., same names), and (2) the terms of the contract indicate that the new owner will assume the provider agreement. In many cases, the sales/lease agreement will not specifically refer to the Medicare provider agreement. Clearly, if the box in section 2F is checked "Yes" and the sales/lease agreement either confirms that the new owner will assume the agreement or is relatively silent on the matter, the contractor can proceed as normal. Conversely, if the agreement indicates that the assets and liabilities will not be accepted, the contractor should deny the application.

• Form of Sales/Lease Agreement - There may be instances where the parties in a CHOW did not sign a “sales” or “lease” agreement in the conventional sense of the term; the parties, for example, may have documented their agreement via a “bill of sale.” The contractor may accept this documentation in lieu of a sales/lease agreement so long as the document furnishes clear verification of the terms of the transaction.

• Submission of Final Sales/Lease Agreement - The contractor shall not forward a copy of the application to the State agency until it has received and reviewed the final sales/lease agreement. It need not revalidate the information on the Form CMS-855A, even if the data therein may be somewhat outdated by the time the final agreement is received.

If a final sales/lease agreement is not submitted within 90 days after the contractor’s receipt of the new owner’s application, the contractor shall reject the application. Though the contractor must wait until the 90th day to reject the application, the contractor may do so regardless of how many times it contacted the new owner or what types of responses (short of the actual receipt of the agreement) were obtained.

Unless specified otherwise in this chapter, both the old and new owners must submit separate Form CMS-855A applications, as well as copies of the interim and final sales/lease agreements.

E. CHOWs Involving Subunits and Subtypes 

Any subunit that has a separate provider agreement (e.g., home health agency (HHA) subunits) must report its CHOW on a separate Form CMS-855A. It cannot report the CHOW via the main provider’s Form CMS-855A. If the subunit has a separate CMS Certification Number (CCN) but not a separate provider agreement (e.g., hospital psychiatric unit, HHA branch), the CHOW can be disclosed on the main provider’s Form CMS-855A. This is because the subunit is a practice location of the main provider and not a separately enrolled entity.

On occasion, a CHOW may occur in conjunction with a change in the facility’s provider subtype. This frequently happens when a hospital undergoes a CHOW and changes from a general hospital to another type of hospital, such as a psychiatric hospital. Although a change in hospital type is considered a change of information (COI), it is not necessary for the provider to submit separate applications – one for the COI and one for the CHOW. Instead, all information (including the change in hospital type) should be reported on the CHOW application; the entire application should then be processed as a CHOW. However, if the facility is changing from one main provider type to another (e.g., hospital converting to a skilled nursing facility) and also undergoing a CHOW, the provider must submit its application as an initial enrollment.

NOTE: For Medicare purposes, a critical access hospital (CAH) is a separatelyrecognized provider type. Thus, a general hospital that undergoes a CHOW while converting to a CAH must submit its Form CMS-855A as an initial enrollment, not as a CHOW.

F. Early Submission of CHOW Application The contractor may accept Form CMS-855A CHOW applications submitted up to 90 calendar days prior to the anticipated date of the ownership change. Any application received more than 90 days before the projected sale date can be returned under section 15.8.1 of this chapter.

G. Unreported CHOW 

If the contractor learns via any means that an enrolled provider has: (1) been purchased by another entity, or (2) purchased another Medicare enrolled provider, the contractor shall immediately request Form CMS-855A applications from both the old and new owners. If the new owner fails to submit a Form CMS-855A within the latter of: (1) the date of acquisition, or (2) 30 days after the request, the contractor shall stop payments to the provider. Payments may be resumed upon receipt of the completed Form CMS- 855A.

If the contractor learns of the transaction via the receipt of a tie-in notice from the RO, it shall follow the instructions under “Receipt of Tie-In When CMS-855A Not Completed” in section of this chapter.

H. Relocation of Entity

A new owner may propose to relocate the provider concurrent with the CHOW. If the relocation is to a site in a different geographic area serving different clients than previously served and employing different personnel to serve those clients, the contractor shall notify the RO immediately. Unless the RO dictates otherwise, the provider shall - per CMS Publication 100-07, chapter 3, section 3210.1(B)(5) - treat the transaction as an initial enrollment (and the provider as a new applicant), rather than as an address change of the existing provider.

I. Transitioning to Provider-Based Status Consistent with existing CMS policy, a provider undergoing a CHOW pursuant to 42 CFR §489.18 may be assigned to a new contractor jurisdiction only if the provider is transitioning from freestanding to provider-based status. In such cases, the contractor for the new jurisdiction (the “new contractor”) shall process both the buyer’s and seller’s Form CMS-855A applications. Should the “old” (or current) contractor receive the buyer’s or seller’s Form CMS-855A application, it shall: (a) forward the application to the new contractor within 5 business days of receipt, and (b) notify the new contractor within that same timeframe that the application was sent. 

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