Healthcare Legislation and Rulemaking

In our December 7, 2020 Blog Post, “Permanent Expansion of Medicare Telehealth Services,” we discussed the 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule (the “Final Rule”) and the regulatory changes made therein by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) to expand Medicare telehealth coverage within the confines of existing Medicare statutory law.  The Final Rule was first posted on December 2, 2020 and was formally published in the Federal Register on December 28, 2020.
Continue Reading The Permanency for Audio-Only Telehealth Act: A Matter of Healthcare Equity?

On September 13, 2020, President Trump issued an Executive Order (the “Executive Order”) directing the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) to issue regulations instituting two most-favored-nations (“MFN”) payment
Continue Reading Medicare Part B Most Favored Nation Drug Pricing Model: New Rules, New Lawsuits, New Tweets

On December 2, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) finalized policies that “aim to increase choice, lower patients’ out-of-pocket costs, empower patients, and protect taxpayer dollars” with changes to the Medicare Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (“OPPS”) and the Ambulatory Surgical Center (“ASC”) Payment System in the Medicare OPPS and ASC Final Rule (“Final Rule”). These changes include: elimination of the “Inpatient Only List” and additions and revisions to the “ASC Covered Procedures List” – two key areas of “site neutrality”. Site neutrality is a move to diminish or eliminate the reimbursement differences between different sites of service.
Continue Reading Forthcoming Medicare Rule Furthers Push for Site Neutrality

On December 1, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) released the annual Physician Fee Schedule final rule (“Final Rule”) which, among other things, aimed to further President Trump’s October 3, 2019 Executive Order #13890 on “Protecting and Improving Medicare for Our Nation’s Seniors” (the “EO”) by expanding the use of proven alternatives like telehealth services to Medicare beneficiaries even after the conclusion of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (the “Pandemic”).
Continue Reading Permanent Expansion of Medicare Telehealth Services

On November 30, 2020, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) issued a final rule (“Final Rule”) that makes significant changes to the federal Antikickback Statute (“AKS”) safe harbor regulations as such regulations relate to the cost of prescription drugs as covered by the Medicare and Medicaid programs.  More specifically, the Final Rule amends the AKS discount safe harbor (“Discount Safe Harbor”) at 42 C.F.R. §1001.952(h) to eliminate safe harbor protection for drug discounts and rebates offered by pharmaceutical manufacturers to pharmacy benefit managers (“PBMs”) and  Medicare Part D prescription drug plan (“Medicare Part D”) sponsors.  In addition to making significant changes to the Discount Safe Harbor, the Final Rule creates two new pharmaceutical-related safe harbors: (i) a safe harbor applicable to certain prescription drug point-of-sale discounts as offered to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries to reduce their direct out-of-pocket prescription drug costs (the “Point-of-Sale Safe Harbor”) and (ii) a safe harbor applicable to flat fee arrangements paid by drug companies directly to PBMs for PBM services (the “PBM Service Fees Safe Harbor”).

Continue Reading Eleventh Hour Rulemaking: HHS Eliminates Safe Harbor Protections for PBM Drug Rebates and Creates Two New Safe Harbors for Point-of-Service Discounts and PBM Fixed-Fee Arrangements

On October 29, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), the Department of Labor, and the Department of the Treasury (collectively, the “Departments”) released the Transparency in Coverage Final Rules (the “Final Rules”), which require non-grandfathered group health plans and health insurance issuers offering non-grandfathered health insurance coverage in the individual and group markets to disclose certain information including negotiated rates with providers and estimated out-of-pocket expenses to enable consumers to make informed health care purchasing decisions.
Continue Reading Trump Administration Finalizes The Transparency in Coverage Rule

In a June 23, 2020 decision, Judge Nichol of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) and against the plaintiff hospital associations challenging CMS’s transparency rule. As a result,  hospitals will (pending any appeals) have to post private negotiated rates with payors effective January 1, 2021.  We discussed the lawsuit brought by the American Hospital Association (“AHA”), the Federation of American Hospitals, the Children’s Hospital Association and the Association of American Medical Colleges against CMS in our previous article.
Continue Reading The Decision is in: Hospitals Will be Required to Disclose Rates in 2021

Last week, new legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would require Medicare to reimburse certain telehealth services post the public health emergency period.  If passed, the bipartisan  Helping Ensure Access to Local TeleHealth Act of 2020 or HEALTH Act of 2020 (the “HEALTH Act of 2020”) would codify Medicare reimbursement and allow reimbursement for telehealth services provided by federally qualified health centers (“FQHCs”) and rural health clinics (“RHCs”).
Continue Reading Introducing the HEALTH ACT: Expanding Medicare Reimbursement

On March 9th, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finalized two rules that are designed to give patients access to their health data and to increase interoperability among health care providers and payers using health information technology.  The two rules, issued by the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), implement interoperability and patient access provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act.  A primary aim of the 21st Century Cures Act was to push the healthcare industry to facilitate interoperability of healthcare data across the spectrum, including amongst health care payers, providers, patients and technology vendors.  For decades, HHS has largely relied on the industry to enable interoperability through a market-driven approach that would, in theory, benefit industry while achieving the interoperability goals established by the regulators. Unfortunately, it has been observed that the theory behind a market-driven approach has not been manifested in reality. In reality, the market-driven approach has allowed industry to monetize data by limiting data sharing and, in turn, impeding the benefits of interoperability which rely upon data sharing to promote improved care coordination, better patient outcomes, and material cost reductions. In order to bend the curve toward interoperability, the new HHS rules are designed to provide for binding and specific steps to “free” health care data and recognize the aforementioned benefits.
Continue Reading CMS Releases Interoperability Rule Designed to Increase Patient Access to Health Information

On July 16, 2019, the Congressional Budget Office (“CBO”) released a Cost Estimate for Senate Bill S. 1895, the “Lower Health Care Costs Act.” The bipartisan bill, introduced June 19, 2019, intends to end surprise medical bills, reduce the prices of prescription drugs, improve transparency in health care costs, and increase public health awareness and access to health information.
Continue Reading CBO Report Shows Senate’s Bipartisan Bill on Surprise Billing, Drug Prices, Transparency, and More Would Result in Deficit Decrease