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Christine Clements is a partner in the Corporate Practice Group in the firm's Washington, D.C. office and a member of the firm's Healthcare Team.

The Inflation Reduction Act (“IRA”) was signed into law by President Biden on August 16, 2022. The expansive legislation includes key health care provisions, including drug pricing reforms, inflationary rebates, Medicare Part D benefit redesign, as well as myriad other updates. Overall, the healthcare provisions of the IRA reflect the Administration’s goal of expanding the accessibility of healthcare to individuals by reducing costs to beneficiaries and capping charges by drug manufacturers. Nonetheless, additional clarification in the form of regulations is anticipated, as the text of the IRA defers multiple matters to the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) for implementation.

Continue Reading Healthcare Reforms Under the IRA: Expanding Access to Care

Assembly Bill 2080[1] (“AB 2080”), known as the “Health Care Consolidation and Contracting Fairness Act of 2022,” was approved by the California Assembly on May 26, 2022, and if passed by the Senate and signed into law before the August 31st recess, will significantly affect healthcare M&A activity in California for a broad spectrum of healthcare providers, payors and other stakeholders.[2] 

Continue Reading Putting the Brakes on Healthcare M&A and Provider/Payor Contracting: AB 2080 Poised to Dramatically Impact Healthcare Transactions in California

On April 29, 2022, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”), issued the final rule on Contract Year 2023 Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Programs (the “Final Rule”).  CMS promotes the Final Rule as advancing “CMS’ strategic vision of expanding access to affordable health care and improving health equity in Medicare Advantage (MA) and Part D through lower out-of-pocket prescription drug costs and improved consumer protections.”  With a few exceptions, the Final Rule is a wholesale codification of the proposed rule. Except as noted below, the requirements of the Final Rule are effective January 1, 2024.
Continue Reading CMS Issues Contract Year 2023 Final Rule for Medicare Advantage Organizations and Prescription Drug Sponsors

Last month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector (“OIG”) released a report that studied prior authorization denials and payment denials by Medicare Advantage Organizations (“MAOs”) (the “Report”). While the Report found that the “vast majority” of prior authorizations and payment requests were approved, the Report focused on the finding that MAOs “sometimes” denied prior authorization and payment requests that met Medicare coverage rules claiming that the denials delayed or denied beneficiaries’ access to medically necessary services.
Continue Reading HHS OIG Report On Prior Authorizations Under Medicare Advantage

On March 2, 2022, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) Office of the Inspector General (the “OIG”) issued a new advisory opinion (“AO 22-04”) related to a program through which the Requestor would provide certain individuals access to digital contingency management (“CM”) and related tools to treat substance use disorders (“Program”).  The OIG advised that it would not impose administrative sanctions under the Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS”) or the Beneficiary Inducements Civil Monetary Penalty Law (“CMPL”).
Continue Reading HHS OIG Signs Off on Substance Use Recovery Incentive Program

On February 24, 2022, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced its redesign of the Global and Professional Direct Contracting Model (GPDC), which now will be called the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) Realizing Equity, Access, and Community Health (REACH) Model.
Continue Reading “REACHing” For Health Equity: CMS Revamps The Global And Professional Direct Contracting Model

On January 6, 2022, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) issued the proposed rule on Contract Year 2023 Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Programs (the “Proposed Rule”). Per CMS, the Proposed Rule will reduce out-of-pocket prescription drug costs, improve price transparency and market competition under the Part D program, strengthen consumer protections to ensure Medicare Advantage (“MA”) and Part D beneficiaries have accurate and accessible information about their health plan choices and benefits, strengthen CMS oversight of MA and Part D plans, and improve the integration of Medicare and Medicaid programs for individuals enrolled in dual eligible special needs plans (“D-SNPs”). CMS failed to mention that the Proposed Rule will also result in additional administrative burdens and increased costs for MA organizations (“MAOs”) and Part D sponsors.

Continue Reading CMS’s Contract Year 2023 Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Programs

On August 13, 2021, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court opinion vacating CMS’ Overpayment Rule, 42 C.F.R. 422.326, for Medicare Advantage organizations (“MAOs”).  UnitedHealthcare Insurance Co. et al. v. Becerra et al., case number 18-5326.  As a result of this decision, CMS can once again rely on the Overpayment Rule to impose voluntary refund obligations for MAOs.  MAOs – already subject to significant government enforcement related to their risk adjustment coding practices – should carefully consider the implications of this decision for their coding and auditing practices.

Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Gives New Life to CMS Overpayment Rule

The Biden Administration used the annual rulemaking that governs health plans sold on the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges to lower health care costs for consumers and improve access to health care. Part 2 of the Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2022 Final Rule (the Payment Notice), issued April 30, 2021, is the second in a series of rulemakings addressing exchange plans.[1]  The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) anticipates additional rulemakings on the 2022 Payment Notice later this year.[2] The rulemaking announced changes to out-of-pocket costs, special enrollment periods, risk adjustment, and HHS’s audit and oversight of exchanges, among other things.

Continue Reading Biden Administration Finalizes Lower Out-of-Pocket Costs for Exchange Plans, Targets Health Equity and Access

On March 4th, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland struck down four provisions of the Trump Administration’s Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2019, 83 Fed. Reg. 16930 (April 17, 2018) (the “Rule”), which governs many aspects of Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) insurance markets beginning in the 2019 plan year.  The decision in City of Columbus, et al. v. Norris Cochran comes two and a half years after the cities of Columbus, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Chicago, and Philadelphia, as well as two individuals who rely on health insurance offered on ACA exchanges, filed suit alleging that the actions of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) drove up premiums, made enrollment more difficult, and caused more people to go without affordable, high-quality health insurance.
Continue Reading Federal Court Decides ACA “Sabotage” Case

On February 26, 2021, the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Treasury issued Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the implementation of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”), and other health coverage issuesrelated to COVID-19.

Continue Reading New Guidance on Health Plans’ COVID-19 Coverage Obligations