SSA logo: link to Social Security Online home

REGULATIONS

Sec1871[42 U.S.C. 1395hh] (a)(1) The Secretary shall prescribe such regulations as may be necessary to carry out the administration of the insurance programs under this title. When used in this title, the term “regulations” means, unless the context otherwise requires, regulations prescribed by the Secretary.

(2) No rule, requirement, or other statement of policy (other than a national coverage determination) that establishes or changes a substantive legal standard governing the scope of benefits, the payment for services, or the eligibility of individuals, entities, or organizations to furnish or receive services or benefits under this title shall take effect unless it is promulgated by the Secretary by regulation under paragraph (1).

(3)(A) The Secretary, in consultation with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, shall establish and publish a regular timeline for the publication of final regulations based on the previous publication of a proposed regulation or an interim final regulation.

(B) Such timeline may vary among different regulations based on differences in the complexity of the regulation, the number and scope of comments received, and other relevant factors, but shall not be longer than 3 years except under exceptional circumstances. If the Secretary intends to vary such timeline with respect to the publication of a final regulation, the Secretary shall cause to have published in the Federal Register notice of the different timeline by not later than the timeline previously established with respect to such regulation. Such notice shall include a brief explanation of the justification for such variation.

(C) In the case of interim final regulations, upon the expiration of the regular timeline established under this paragraph for the publication of a final regulation after opportunity for public comment, the interim final regulation shall not continue in effect unless the Secretary publishes (at the end of the regular timeline and, if applicable, at the end of each succeeding 1-year period) a notice of continuation of the regulation that includes an explanation of why the regular timeline (and any subsequent 1-year extension) was not complied with. If such a notice is published, the regular timeline (or such timeline as previously extended under this paragraph) for publication of the final regulation shall be treated as having been extended for 1 additional year.

(D) The Secretary shall annually submit to Congress a report that describes the instances in which the Secretary failed to publish a final regulation within the applicable regular timeline under this paragraph and that provides an explanation for such failures.

(4) If the Secretary publishes a final regulation that includes a provision that is not a logical outgrowth of a previously published notice of proposed rulemaking or interim final rule, such provision shall be treated as a proposed regulation and shall not take effect until there is the further opportunity for public comment and a publication of the provision again as a final regulation.

(b)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), before issuing in final form any regulation under subsection (a), the Secretary shall provide for notice of the proposed regulation in the Federal Register and a period of not less than 60 days for public comment thereon.

(2) Paragraph (1) shall not apply where—

(A) a statute specifically permits a regulation to be issued in interim final form or otherwise with a shorter period for public comment,

(B) a statute establishes a specific deadline for the implementation of a provision and the deadline is less than 150 days after the date of the enactment of the statute in which the deadline is contained, or

(C) subsection (b) of section 553 of title 5, United States Code[311], does not apply pursuant to subparagraph (B) of such subsection.

(c)(1) The Secretary shall publish in the Federal Register, not less frequently than every 3 months, a list of all manual instructions, interpretative rules, statements of policy, and guidelines of general applicability which—

(A) are promulgated to carry out this title, but

(B) are not published pursuant to subsection (a)(1) and have not been previously published in a list under this subsection.

(2) Effective June 1, 1988, each fiscal intermediary and carrier administering claims for extended care, post-hospital extended care, home health care, and durable medical equipment benefits under this title shall make available to the public all interpretative materials, guidelines, and clarifications of policies which relate to payments for such benefits.

(3) The Secretary shall to the extent feasible make such changes in automated data collection and retrieval by the Secretary and fiscal intermediaries with agreements under section 1816 as are necessary to make easily accessible for the Secretary and other appropriate parties a data base which fairly and accurately reflects the provision of extended care, post-hospital extended care and home health care benefits pursuant to this title, including such categories as benefit denials, results of appeals, and other relevant factors, and selectable by such categories and by fiscal intermediary, service provider, and region.

(e)[312](1)(A) A substantive change in regulations, manual instructions, interpretative rules, statements of policy, or guidelines of general applicability under this title shall not be applied (by extrapolation or otherwise) retroactively to items and services furnished before the effective date of the change, unless the Secretary determines that—

(i) such retroactive application is necessary to comply with statutory requirements; or

(ii) failure to apply the change retroactively would be contrary to the public interest.

(B)(i) Except as provided in clause (ii), a substantive change referred to in subparagraph (A) shall not become effective before the end of the 30-day period that begins on the date that the Secretary has issued or published, as the case may be, the substantive change.

(ii) The Secretary may provide for such a substantive change to take effect on a date that precedes the end of the 30-day period under clause (i) if the Secretary finds that waiver of such 30-day period is necessary to comply with statutory requirements or that the application of such 30-day period is contrary to the public interest. If the Secretary provides for an earlier effective date pursuant to this clause, the Secretary shall include in the issuance or publication of the substantive change a finding described in the first sentence, and a brief statement of the reasons for such finding.

(C) No action shall be taken against a provider of services or supplier with respect to noncompliance with such a substantive change for items and services furnished before the effective date of such a change.

(2)(A) If—

(i) a provider of services or supplier follows the written guidance (which may be transmitted electronically) provided by the Secretary or by a medicare contractor (as defined in section 1889(g)) acting within the scope of the contractor’s contract authority, with respect to the furnishing of items or services and submission of a claim for benefits for such items or services with respect to such provider or supplier;

(ii) the Secretary determines that the provider of services or supplier has accurately presented the circumstances relating to such items, services, and claim to the contractor in writing; and

(iii) the guidance was in error;

the provider of services or supplier shall not be subject to any penalty or interest under this title or the provisions of title XI insofar as they relate to this title (including interest under a repayment plan under section 1893 or otherwise) relating to the provision of such items or service or such claim if the provider of services or supplier reasonably relied on such guidance.

(B) Subparagraph (A) shall not be construed as preventing the recoupment or repayment (without any additional penalty) relating to an overpayment insofar as the overpayment was solely the result of a clerical or technical operational error.

(f)(1) Not later than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this subsection, and every 3 years thereafter, the Secretary shall submit to Congress a report with respect to the administration of this title and areas of inconsistency or conflict among the various provisions under law and regulation.

(2) In preparing a report under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall collect—

(A) information from individuals entitled to benefits under part A or enrolled under part B, or both, providers of services, and suppliers and from the Medicare Beneficiary Ombudsman with respect to such areas of inconsistency and conflict; and

(B) information from medicare contractors that tracks the nature of written and telephone inquiries.

(3) A report under paragraph (1) shall include a description of efforts by the Secretary to reduce such inconsistency or conflicts, and recommendations for legislation or administrative action that the Secretary determines appropriate to further reduce such inconsistency or conflicts.


[311]  See Vol. II, 5 U. S.C. 553.

[312]  As in original. No subsection (d) has been enacted.