The 340B Drug Pricing Program: New CMS Final Rule Draws a Motion for Preliminary Injunction from Hospital Groups

On November 13, 2017, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the final rule, “Medicare Program: Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment and Ambulatory Surgical Center Payment Systems and Quality Reporting Programs” (“Final Rule”). The Final Rule, in addition to the usual collection of annual Medicare payment updates and adjustments for the coming year, includes provisions that substantially lower reimbursements for hospitals that purchase prescription medications under the 340B Drug Pricing Program (the “340B Program”). Continue Reading

Tax-Exempt Hospitals & Other Tax-Exempt Healthcare Organizations Not Immune from Federal Tax Reform

As federal tax reform efforts proceed rapidly in both chambers of Congress, tax-exempt hospitals and other tax-exempt healthcare organizations are facing major potential changes. New tax burdens on tax-exempt organizations are among the ways in which the bills would raise revenue to pay for proposed tax cuts for businesses and individuals. Importantly, it is still early in the legislative process, and much may change as Republicans race to have a bill signed into law before the end of the year. Continue Reading

Clean Up on Aisle 12! The Obamacare Pop-Up Store is Open but Stocks are Limited

The fifth Open Enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) started on November 1st, and will continue for a scant 45 days ending on December 15, 2017. This year, not only has the Open Enrollment been cut in half, but obstacles abound – obstacles that were not part of the 2016 Open Enrollment Period. For example:

  • Healthcare.gov is undergoing maintenance that could interfere with access during the Open Enrollment Period;
  • Federal support for Open Enrollment outreach and advertising is substantially lower this year than it has been in prior Open Enrollment periods; and
  • The number of health insurers participating in the exchanges has dropped significantly from last year (prompted in part by well-founded concerns regarding the future of federal cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments), and in some counties, only one plan is available to individuals and families seeking coverage through the exchanges.

Continue Reading

Recent Merger Reflects Enhanced Need for Revenue Cycle Management Platforms

Two of the nation’s most noteworthy companies in the Revenue Cycle Management (“RCM”) technology space, Navicure Inc., and ZirMed Inc., announced a merger on September 14, 2017.

Navicure is a medical claims management, patient payment and data analytics company and ZirMed is known for its predictive analytics technology that helps healthcare organizations capture more revenue. The parties have announced that Navicure will purchase ZirMed and the transaction is expected to close by the end of this year. Continue Reading

Trump Administration Pulls the Plug on CSR Payments

After months of veiled threats, President Trump formally announced that his Administration will cease funding Cost-Sharing Reduction (“CSR”) payments, a key component of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) intended to help subsidize insurance coverage for low income individuals. As we have eluded to in prior articles, various industry stakeholders and interest groups have expressed anxiety over the past few months regarding the future of these payments under the Trump Administration. Not surprisingly, the President’s formal announcement was met with a rash of fierce condemnation by many of these stakeholders and interest groups, who maintain that this action will lead to increased premiums, the exit of insurers from ACA healthcare exchanges, and general insurance market instability. Meanwhile, others, including the Attorneys General of New York and California, have pledged to sue to defend CSRs.

As the effects of this maneuver continue to be felt, we will be publishing additional blog posts on various elements of this decision.

Trump Administration Takes Aim at ACA With AHP Executive Order

Yesterday, Thursday, October 12th, on the heels of the recent and repeated failures to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), President Donald Trump signed an executive order nominally aimed at increasing competition in the healthcare marketplace, but widely believed to be driven by a desire to undermine the ACA. The executive order broadly tasks the Labor Department with changing the current policies on the accessibility of certain healthcare plans. The coming policy changes are speculated to expand the market for healthcare plans that are exempt from many of the regulations under the ACA. Such healthcare plans are known as Association Health Plans (“AHPs”). Continue Reading

Nine Days and Counting – The Fate of CHIP Remains Uncertain Amid Congressional Deadlock

While congressional Republicans spent much of September pushing for passage of the Graham-Cassidy “repeal and replace” bill, other time-sensitive legislative tasks were left to languish, including a September 30 deadline to reauthorize funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (“CHIP”) that has since come and gone. The failure to timely reauthorize the program has put the fate of CHIP in limbo, at least in the short term. Continue Reading

Alert: In a Surprise Decision Issued on October 5, 2017, Honorable John Walter, United States District Judge, Dismissed a Medicare Advantage Risk Adjustment Fraud Suit Against UnitedHealthcare

On October 5, 2017, the Honorable Judge John Walter of the United States District Court, Central District of California, granted the Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss the Medicare Advantage (“MA”) Federal False Claims Act (“FCA”) case of United States of America ex rel. Swoben v. Scan Health Plan, et al. (CV 09-5013-JFW (JEMx)) (the “Swoben Case”) (brought by qui tam relator James M. Swoben and joined by the Department of Justice (“DOJ”)). [1]

Although the ruling was undoubtedly well received by UnitedHealthcare (“UHC”), its parent company, UnitedHealth Group Inc. (“UHG”), and the other Swoben Case defendants, the defendants’ happiness with the dismissal may have been tempered because the ruling gives the DOJ an opportunity to amend and refile its complaint with the Court. Given the DOJ’s recent history of aggressively pursuing cases of potential fraud in the MA space, it is very likely that the DOJ will amend and refile its complaint in the near future. Continue Reading

Finding Common Ground in the Healthcare Debate: Federal, State, and Local Governments Respond to the Opioid Epidemic

As stories and statistics of the opioid crisis become increasingly prevalent in our national discourse, we are seeing a stronger, more innovative, and more aligned push for interventions across communities, government agencies, and the public, social, and health services sectors. Continue Reading

Disproportionate Share Hospitals Facing Steep Payment Cuts

While September 30, 2017 has been an important procedural deadline for purposes of the GOP’s most recent legislative push to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it also serves a critical funding deadline for purposes of the Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payment program. Absent legislative action, DSH payments are set to be reduced by $2 billion starting October 1, 2017. Continue Reading

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