CONTRACTS WITH MEDICARE+CHOICE ORGANIZATIONS
Sec. 1857. [42 U.S.C. 1395w–27] (a) In General.—The Secretary shall not permit the election under section 1851 of a Medicare+Choice plan offered by a Medicare+Choice organization under this part, and no payment shall be made under section 1853 to an organization, unless the Secretary has entered into a contract under this section with the organization with respect to the offering of such plan. Such a contract with an organization may cover more than 1 Medicare+Choice plan. Such contract shall provide that the organization agrees to comply with the applicable requirements and standards of this part and the terms and conditions of payment as provided for in this part.
(b) Minimum Enrollment Requirements.—
(1) In general.—Subject to paragraph (2), the Secretary may not enter into a contract under this section with a Medicare+Choice organization unless the organization has—
(A) at least 5,000 individuals (or 1,500 individuals in the case of an organization that is a provider–sponsored organization) who are receiving health benefits through the organization, or
(B) at least 1,500 individuals (or 500 individuals in the case of an organization that is a provider–sponsored organization) who are receiving health benefits through the organization if the organization primarily serves individuals residing outside of urbanized areas.
(2) Application to msa plans.—In applying paragraph (1) in the case of a Medicare+Choice organization that is offering an MSA plan, paragraph (1) shall be applied by substituting covered lives for individuals.
(3) Allowing transition.—The Secretary may waive the requirement of paragraph (1) during the first 3 contract years with respect to an organization.
(c) Contract Period and Effectiveness.—
(1) Period.—Each contract under this section shall be for a term of at least 1 year, as determined by the Secretary, and may be made automatically renewable from term to term in the absence of notice by either party of intention to terminate at the end of the current term.
(2) Termination authority.—In accordance with procedures established under subsection (h), the Secretary may at any time terminate any such contract if the Secretary determines that the organization—
(A) has failed substantially to carry out the contract;
(B) is carrying out the contract in a manner inconsistent with the efficient and effective administration of this part; or
(C) no longer substantially meets the applicable conditions of this part.
(3) Effective date of contracts.—The effective date of any contract executed pursuant to this section shall be specified in the contract, except that in no case shall a contract under this section which provides for coverage under an MSA plan be effective before January 1999 with respect to such coverage.
(4) Previous terminations.—In general.—
(A) The Secretary may not enter into a contract with a Medicare+Choice organization if a previous contract with that organization under this section was terminated at the request of the organization within the preceding 2–year period, except as provided in subparagraph (B) and except in such other circumstances which warrant special consideration, as determined by the Secretary.
(B) Earlier re–entry permitted where change in payment policy.—Subparagraph (A) shall not apply with respect to the offering by a Medicare+Choice organization of a Medicare+Choice plan in a Medicare+Choice payment area if during the 6–month period beginning on the date the organization notified the Secretary of the intention to terminate the most recent previous contract, there was a legislative change enacted (or a regulatory change adopted) that has the effect of increasing payment amounts under section 1853 for that Medicare+Choice payment area.
(5) Contracting authority.—The authority vested in the Secretary by this part may be performed without regard to such provisions of law or regulations relating to the making, performance, amendment, or modification of contracts of the United States as the Secretary may determine to be inconsistent with the furtherance of the purpose of this title.
(d) Protections Against Fraud and Beneficiary Protections.—
(1) Periodic auditing.—The Secretary shall provide for the annual auditing of the financial records (including data relating to medicare utilization and costs, including allowable costs under section 1858(c)) of at least one–third of the Medicare+Choice organizations offering Medicare+Choice plans under this part. The Comptroller General shall monitor auditing activities conducted under this subsection.
(2) Inspection and audit.—Each contract under this section shall provide that the Secretary, or any person or organization designated by the Secretary—
(A) shall have the right to timely inspect or otherwise evaluate (i) the quality, appropriateness, and timeliness of services performed under the contract, and (ii) the facilities of the organization when there is reasonable evidence of some need for such inspection, and
(B) shall have the right to timely audit and inspect any books and records of the Medicare+Choice organization that pertain (i) to the ability of the organization to bear the risk of potential financial losses, or (ii) to services performed or determinations of amounts payable under the contract.
(3) Enrollee notice at time of termination.—Each contract under this section shall require the organization to provide (and pay for) written notice in advance of the contract’s termination, as well as a description of alternatives for obtaining benefits under this title, to each individual enrolled with the organization under this part.
(A) In general.—Each Medicare+Choice organization shall, in accordance with regulations of the Secretary, report to the Secretary financial information which shall include the following:
(i) Such information as the Secretary may require demonstrating that the organization has a fiscally sound operation.
(ii) A copy of the report, if any, filed with the Secretary containing the information required to be reported under section 1124 by disclosing entities.
(iii) A description of transactions, as specified by the Secretary, between the organization and a party in interest. Such transactions shall include—
(I) any sale or exchange, or leasing of any property between the organization and a party in interest;
(II) any furnishing for consideration of goods, services (including management services), or facilities between the organization and a party in interest, but not including salaries paid to employees for services provided in the normal course of their employment and health services provided to members by hospitals and other providers and by staff, medical group (or groups), individual practice association (or associations), or any combination thereof; and
(III) any lending of money or other extension of credit between an organization and a party in interest.
The Secretary may require that information reported respecting an organization which controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with, another entity be in the form of a consolidated financial statement for the organization and such entity.
(B) Party in interest defined.—For the purposes of this paragraph, the term party in interest means—
(i) any director, officer, partner, or employee responsible for management or administration of a Medicare+Choice organization, any person who is directly or indirectly the beneficial owner of more than 5 percent of the equity of the organization, any person who is the beneficial owner of a mortgage, deed of trust, note, or other interest secured by, and valuing more than 5 percent of the organization, and, in the case of a Medicare+Choice organization organized as a nonprofit corporation, an incorporator or member of such corporation under applicable State corporation law;
(ii) any entity in which a person described in clause (i)—
(I) is an officer or director;
(II) is a partner (if such entity is organized as a partnership);
(III) has directly or indirectly a beneficial interest of more than 5 percent of the equity; or
(IV) has a mortgage, deed of trust, note, or other interest valuing more than 5 percent of the assets of such entity;
(iii) any person directly or indirectly controlling, controlled by, or under common control with an organization; and
(iv) any spouse, child, or parent of an individual described in clause (i).
(C) Access to information.—Each Medicare+Choice organization shall make the information reported pursuant to subparagraph (A) available to its enrollees upon reasonable request.
(5) Loan information.—The contract shall require the organization to notify the Secretary of loans and other special financial arrangements which are made between the organization and subcontractors, affiliates, and related parties.
(6) Review to ensure compliance with care management requirements for specialized medicare advantage plans for special needs individuals.—In conjunction with the periodic audit of a specialized Medicare Advantage plan for special needs individuals under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall conduct a review to ensure that such organization offering the plan meets the requirements described in section 1859(f)(5).
(e) Additional Contract Terms.—
(1) In general.—The contract shall contain such other terms and conditions not inconsistent with this part (including requiring the organization to provide the Secretary with such information) as the Secretary may find necessary and appropriate.
(2) Cost–sharing in enrollment–related costs.—
(A) In general.—A Medicare+Choice organization and a PDP sponsor under part D shall pay the fee established by the Secretary under subparagraph (B).
(B) Authorization.—The Secretary is authorized to charge a fee to each Medicare+Choice organization with a contract under this part and each PDP sponsor with a contract under part D that is equal to the organization’s or sponsor’s pro rata share (as determined by the Secretary) of the aggregate amount of fees which the Secretary is directed to collect in a fiscal year. Any amounts collected shall be available without further appropriation to the Secretary for the purpose of carrying out section 1851 (relating to enrollment and dissemination of information), section 1860D-1(c), and section 4360 of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 (relating to the health insurance counseling and assistance program).
(C) Authorization of appropriations.—There are authorized to be appropriated for the purposes described in subparagraph (B) for each fiscal year beginning with fiscal year 2001 and ending with fiscal year 2005 an amount equal to $100,000,000, and for each fiscal year beginning with fiscal year 2006 an amount equal to $200,000,000, reduced by the amount of fees authorized to be collected under this paragraph and section 1860D-12(b)(3)(D) for the fiscal year.
(D) Limitation.—In any fiscal year the fees collected by the Secretary under subparagraph (B) shall not exceed the lesser of—
(i) the estimated costs to be incurred by the Secretary in the fiscal year in carrying out the activities described in section 1851 and section 1860D-1(c) and section 4360 of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990; or
(ii)(I) $200,000,000 in fiscal year 1998;
(II) $150,000,000 in fiscal year 1999;
(III) $100,000,000 in fiscal year 2000;
(IV) the Medicare+Choice portion (as defined in subparagraph (E)) of $100,000,000 in fiscal year 2001 and each succeeding fiscal year before fiscal year 2006; and
(V) the applicable portion (as defined in subparagraph (F)) of $200,000,000 in fiscal year 2006 and each succeeding fiscal year.
(E) Medicare+choice portion defined.—In this paragraph, the term “Medicare+Choice portion” means, for a fiscal year, the ratio, as estimated by the Secretary, of—
(i) the average number of individuals enrolled in Medicare+Choice plans during the fiscal year, to
(ii) the average number of individuals entitled to benefits under part A, and enrolled under part B, during the fiscal year.
(F) Applicable portion defined.—In this paragraph, the term “applicable portion” means, for a fiscal year—
(i) with respect to MA organizations, the Secretary’s estimate of the total proportion of expenditures under this title that are attributable to expenditures made under this part (including payments under part D that are made to such organizations); or
(ii) with respect to PDP sponsors, the Secretary’s estimate of the total proportion of expenditures under this title that are attributable to expenditures made to such sponsors under part D.
(3) Agreements with federally qualified health centers.—
(A) Payment levels and amounts.—A contract under this section with an MA organization shall require the organization to provide, in any written agreement described in section 1853(a)(4) between the organization and a federally qualified health center, for a level and amount of payment to the federally qualified health center for services provided by such health center that is not less than the level and amount of payment that the plan would make for such services if the services had been furnished by a entity providing similar services that was not a federally qualified health center.
(B) Cost-sharing.—Under the written agreement referred to in subparagraph (A), a federally qualified health center must accept the payment amount referred to in such subparagraph plus the Federal payment provided for in section 1833(a)(3)(B) as payment in full for services covered by the agreement, except that such a health center may collect any amount of cost-sharing permitted under the contract under this section, so long as the amounts of any deductible, coinsurance, or copayment comply with the requirements under section 1854(e).
(4) Requirement for minimum medical loss ratio.—If the Secretary determines for a contract year (beginning with 2014) that an MA plan has failed to have a medical loss ratio of at least .85—
(A) the MA plan shall remit to the Secretary an amount equal to the product of—
(i) the total revenue of the MA plan under this part for the contract year; and
(ii) the difference between .85 and the medical loss ratio;
(B) for 3 consecutive contract years, the Secretary shall not permit the enrollment of new enrollees under the plan for coverage during the second succeeding contract year; and
(C) the Secretary shall terminate the plan contract if the plan fails to have such a medical loss ratio for 5 consecutive contract years.
(5)Communicating plan corrective actions against opioids over-prescribers.—
(A) In general.—Beginning with plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2021, a contract under this section with an MA organization shall require the organization to submit to the Secretary, through the process established under subparagraph (B), information on the investigations, credible evidence of suspicious activities of a provider of services (including a prescriber) or supplier related to fraud, and other actions taken by such plans related to inappropriate prescribing of opioids.
(B) Process.—Not later than January 1, 2021, the Secretary shall, in consultation with stakeholders, establish a process under which MA plans and prescription drug plans shall submit to the Secretary information described in subparagraph (A).
(C) Regulations.—For purposes of this paragraph, including as applied under section 1860D–12(b)(3)(D), the Secretary shall, pursuant to rulemaking—
(i) specify a definition for the term “inappropriate prescribing” and a method for determining if a provider of services prescribes inappropriate prescribing; and
(ii) establish the process described in subparagraph (B) and the types of information that shall be submitted through such process.
(f) Prompt Payment by Medicare+Choice Organization.—
(1) Requirement.—A contract under this part shall require a Medicare+Choice organization to provide prompt payment (consistent with the provisions of sections 1816(c)(2) and 1842(c)(2)) of claims submitted for services and supplies furnished to enrollees pursuant to the contract, if the services or supplies are not furnished under a contract between the organization and the provider or supplier (or in the case of a Medicare+Choice private fee–for–service plan, if a claim is submitted to such organization by an enrollee).
(2) Secretary’s Option to Bypass Noncomplying Organization.—In the case of a Medicare+Choice eligible organization which the Secretary determines, after notice and opportunity for a hearing, has failed to make payments of amounts in compliance with paragraph (1), the Secretary may provide for direct payment of the amounts owed to providers and suppliers (or, in the case of a Medicare+Choice private fee–for–service plan, amounts owed to the enrollees) for covered services and supplies furnished to individuals enrolled under this part under the contract. If the Secretary provides for the direct payments, the Secretary shall provide for an appropriate reduction in the amount of payments otherwise made to the organization under this part to reflect the amount of the Secretary’s payments (and the Secretary’s costs in making the payments).
(3) Incorporation of certain prescription drug plan contract requirements.—The following provisions shall apply to contracts with a Medicare Advantage organization offering an MA–PD plan in the same manner as they apply to contracts with a PDP sponsor offering a prescription drug plan under part D:
(A) Prompt payment.—Section 1860D–12(b)(4).
(B) Prompt payment.—Section 1860D–12(b)(5).
(C) Regular update of prescription drug pricing standard.—Section 1860D–12(b)(6).
(D) Suspension of payments pending investigation of credible allegations of fraud by pharmacies.—Section 1860D–12(b)(7).
(g) Intermediate Sanctions.—
(1) In general.—If the Secretary determines that a Medicare+Choice organization with a contract under this section—
(A) fails substantially to provide medically necessary items and services that are required (under law or under the contract) to be provided to an individual covered under the contract, if the failure has adversely affected (or has substantial likelihood of adversely affecting) the individual;
(B) imposes premiums on individuals enrolled under this part in excess of the amount of the Medicare+Choice monthly basic and supplemental beneficiary premiums permitted under section 1854;
(C) acts to expel or to refuse to re–enroll an individual in violation of the provisions of this part;
(D) engages in any practice that would reasonably be expected to have the effect of denying or discouraging enrollment (except as permitted by this part) by eligible individuals with the organization whose medical condition or history indicates a need for substantial future medical services;
(E) misrepresents or falsifies information that is furnished—
(i) to the Secretary under this part, or
(ii) to an individual or to any other entity under this part;
(F) fails to comply with the applicable requirements of section 1852(j)(3) or 1852(k)(2)(A)(ii);
(G) employs or contracts with any individual or entity that is excluded from participation under this title under section 1128 or 1128A for the provision of health care, utilization review, medical social work, or administrative services or employs or contracts with any entity for the provision (directly or indirectly) through such an excluded individual or entity of such services;
(H) except as provided under subparagraph (C) or (D) of section 1860D–1(b)(1), enrolls an individual in any plan under this part without the prior consent of the individual or the designee of the individual;
(I) transfers an individual enrolled under this part from one plan to another without the prior consent of the individual or the designee of the individual or solely for the purpose of earning a commission;
(J) fails to comply with marketing restrictions described in subsections (h) and (j) of section 1851 or applicable implementing regulations or guidance; or
(K) employs or contracts with any individual or entity who engages in the conduct described in subparagraphs (A) through (J) of this paragraph;
the Secretary may provide, in addition to any other remedies authorized by law, for any of the remedies described in paragraph (2). The Secretary may provide, in addition to any other remedies authorized by law, for any of the remedies described in paragraph (2), if the Secretary determines that any employee or agent of such organization, or any provider or supplier who contracts with such organization, has engaged in any conduct described in subparagraphs (A) through (K) of this paragraph.
(2) Remedies.—The remedies described in this paragraph are—
(A) civil money penalties of not more than $25,000 for each determination under paragraph (1) or, with respect to a determination under subparagraph (D) or (E)(i) of such paragraph, of not more than $100,000 for each such determination, except with respect to a determination under subparagraph (E), an assessment of not more than the amount claimed by such plan or plan sponsor based upon the misrepresentation or falsified information involved, plus, with respect to a determination under paragraph (1)(B), double the excess amount charged in violation of such paragraph (and the excess amount charged shall be deducted from the penalty and returned to the individual concerned), and plus, with respect to a determination under paragraph (1)(D), $15,000 for each individual not enrolled as a result of the practice involved,
(B) suspension of enrollment of individuals under this part after the date the Secretary notifies the organization of a determination under paragraph (1) and until the Secretary is satisfied that the basis for such determination has been corrected and is not likely to recur, or
(C) suspension of payment to the organization under this part for individuals enrolled after the date the Secretary notifies the organization of a determination under paragraph (1) and until the Secretary is satisfied that the basis for such determination has been corrected and is not likely to recur.
(3) Other intermediate sanctions.—In the case of a Medicare+Choice organization for which the Secretary makes a determination under subsection (c)(2) the basis of which is not described in paragraph (1), the Secretary may apply the following intermediate sanctions:
(A) Civil money penalties of not more than $25,000 for each determination under subsection (c)(2) if the deficiency that is the basis of the determination has directly adversely affected (or has the substantial likelihood of adversely affecting) an individual covered under the organization’s contract.
(B) Civil money penalties of not more than $10,000 for each week beginning after the initiation of civil money penalty procedures by the Secretary during which the deficiency that is the basis of a determination under subsection (c)(2) exists.
(C) Suspension of enrollment of individuals under this part after the date the Secretary notifies the organization of a determination under subsection (c)(2) and until the Secretary is satisfied that the deficiency that is the basis for the determination has been corrected and is not likely to recur.
(D) Civil monetary penalties of not more than $100,000, or such higher amount as the Secretary may establish by regulation, where the finding under subsection (c)(2)(A) is based on the organization’s termination of its contract under this section other than at a time and in a manner provided for under subsection (a).
(4) Civil money penalties.—The provisions of section 1128A (other than subsections (a) and (b)) shall apply to a civil money penalty under paragraph (2) or (3) in the same manner as they apply to a civil money penalty or proceeding under section 1128A(a).
(h) Procedures for Termination.—
(1) In general.—The Secretary may terminate a contract with a Medicare+Choice organization under this section in accordance with formal investigation and compliance procedures established by the Secretary under which—
(A) the Secretary provides the organization with the reasonable opportunity to develop and implement a corrective action plan to correct the deficiencies that were the basis of the Secretary’s determination under subsection (c)(2); and
(B) the Secretary provides the organization with reasonable notice and opportunity for hearing (including the right to appeal an initial decision) before terminating the contract.
(2) Exception for imminent and serious risk to health.—Paragraph (1) shall not apply if the Secretary determines that a delay in termination, resulting from compliance with the procedures specified in such paragraph prior to termination, would pose an imminent and serious risk to the health of individuals enrolled under this part with the organization.
(3) Delay in contract termination authority for plans failing to achieve minimum quality ratingDuring the period beginning on the date of the enactment of this paragraph and through the end of plan year 2018, the Secretary may not terminate a contract under this section with respect to the offering of an MA plan by a Medicare Advantage organization solely because the MA plan has failed to achieve a minimum quality rating under the 5-star rating system under section 1853(o)(4).
(i) Medicare+Choice Program Compatibility With Employer or Union Group Health Plans.—
(1) Contracts with ma organizations.— To facilitate the offering of Medicare+Choice plans under contracts between Medicare+Choice organizations and employers, labor organizations, or the trustees of a fund established by one or more employers or labor organizations (or combination thereof) to furnish benefits to the entity’s employees, former employees (or combination thereof) or members or former members (or combination thereof) of the labor organizations, the Secretary may waive or modify requirements that hinder the design of, the offering of, or the enrollment in such Medicare+Choice plans.
(2) Employer sponsored ma plans.—To facilitate the offering of MA plans by employers, labor organizations, or the trustees of a fund established by one or more employers or labor organizations (or combination thereof) to furnish benefits to the entity’s employees, former employees (or combination thereof) or members or former members (or combination thereof) of the labor organizations, the Secretary may waive or modify requirements that hinder the design of, the offering of, or the enrollment in such MA plans. Notwithstanding section 1851(g), an MA plan described in the previous sentence may restrict the enrollment of individuals under this part to individuals who are beneficiaries and participants in such plan.
 P.L. 115–271, §6063(b) added new paragraph (5). Effective October 24, 2018.
 P.L. 115–271, §2008(b), added subparagraph (D). Effective with respect to plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2020.
 P.L.114-255, §17001(b); Inserted paragraph 1857(h)(3). Effective December 13, 2016. See Vol. II, §17001(a) for findings of Congress regarding this paragraph.