Photo of Erica Kraus

Erica Kraus is an associate in the Corporate Practice Group in the firm's Washington D.C. office.

On November 20, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) and the Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) promulgated much-anticipated and significant final rules intended to “modernize” and “clarify” regulations regarding the Physician Self-Referral Law (“Stark Law Final Rule”) and the Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS Final Rule”).  In the immediate future, Sheppard Mullin will post on this Healthcare Law Blog a comprehensive critical analysis of both the Stark Law Final Rule and the AKS Final Rule and their practical impacts.
Continue Reading Big Changes for Health Care Fraud and Abuse: HHS Gifts Providers Updates to the Stark Law and the AKS, Just in Time for the Holidays

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 setback to hospitals challenging deep cuts to reimbursement for prescription drugs acquired through the 340B drug pricing program (“340B Program”), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, on October 19, denied a request to reconsider a decision by three-judge panels of the Court upholding these cuts.  Short of a Supreme Court appeal, this decision effectively ends hospital challenges to these reimbursement reductions, and makes the implementation of additional cuts in 2021 a near inevitability.
Continue Reading The U.S. Court of Appeals Denies Rehearing on Cuts to 340B Drug Pricing Program

On August 3, 2020, President Trump signed Executive Order 13941 (the “Executive Order”) which expands access to certain telehealth services post-pandemic.  The Executive Order focuses on telehealth access for individuals living in rural areas and implements the following mechanisms:
Continue Reading It’s Official: Telehealth Benefits Have Been Expanded For Medicare Beneficiaries

On Friday, President Trump announced four executive orders directed at decreasing prescription drug prices by ordering certain actions by the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”).  One order – which has received the most negative reaction from the pharmaceutical industry – would create a “most-favored nation” policy to limit the price Medicare Part B pays for certain drugs to the lowest price paid in another Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development country.  The White House did not release the text of this order on Friday and stated that it would not take effect until August 24, or at all if pharmaceutical companies can offer an alternative proposal to substantially reduce drug prices or if Congress acts.
Continue Reading A Shot Across the Bow of the Pharmaceutical Industry: President Trump Issues a Quartet of Executive Orders on Drug Pricing that Might Eventually (OR NEVER?) Take Effect

Many areas of the country are experiencing resurgences of COVID-19, and it is foreseeable that second and perhaps third waves of the virus will hit pockets of the country throughout the remainder of 2020. As healthcare organizations struggle to balance their continued response efforts to the pandemic, with preparations for future waves, we have received many questions from provider organizations regarding how best to prepare their organizations.
Continue Reading Reopening Challenges: FAQs On Preparing For Additional Waves Of COVID-19

On July 17, 2020, in a blow to health care providers, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit overturned a lower court’s more favorable ruling and held that the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) “site-neutral payment” policy may stand.
Continue Reading Site-Neutral Payments Stand: D.C. Court of Appeals Overturns Ruling and Allows Lower Payments to Off-Campus Provider-Based Departments

As the COVID-19 emergency continues to heavily impact the U.S. and its health care system, CMS has issued additional flexibilities for providers and payors seeking to respond to the pandemic.  These new flexibilities are described both in revisions to CMS’ blanket waivers and in a new Interim Final Rule with comment period, both issued on April 30.  Many of these flexibilities are responsive to questions and requests submitted to CMS over the past few weeks, providers’ experiences with developing and implementing pandemic response plans, and the regulatory obstacles they have encountered.  While these new flexibilities will not eliminate all of the regulatory challenges currently facing providers responding to COVID-19, and providers must be careful to continue to track the scope of CMS’ flexibilities, they will be very helpful to many providers in their ongoing COVID-19 response efforts.  In particular, and among other things, CMS’ new guidance expands flexibility for telehealth services, provides additional support for COVID-19 testing, relaxes additional regulatory requirements applicable to certain payors, provides other key regulatory flexibilities, and offers guidance to MSSP ACOs on payment calculations for periods affected by the public health emergency.
Continue Reading CMS Updates Waivers, Provides More Flexibility for Providers Responding to COVID-19

On April 21, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) released “Explanatory Guidance” related to the March 30, 2020 Blanket Waivers of Section 1877(g) of the Social Security Act (information about those waivers available in our previous blog post here), applicable during the COVID-19 public health emergency (“PHE”). The Explanatory Guidance clarifies the scope and application of the Blanket Waivers to certain financial relationships and responds to some of the issues raised by stakeholders since the release of the Blanket Waivers. The Explanatory Guidance offers some new insight, which providers should consider in structuring any arrangements that rely on the Blanket Waivers, but leaves many key questions and challenges unaddressed.
Continue Reading Even in a Crisis, Stark Law Compliance Demands Attention: CMS Issues Explanatory Guidance on Stark Law Blanket Waivers

When Alex Azar, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (“DHHS”), declared a national emergency on January 31, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, he triggered an exception to the “in-person medical evaluation” requirement for online prescribing as set forth in the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008 (the “Haight Act”).  In short, the Haight Act prohibits physicians and other prescribers from issuing a valid prescription for a controlled substance by means of the internet (which includes telehealth technologies) without having first conducted at least one in-person medical evaluation, except in certain specified circumstances.  A public health emergency is one such exception to the in-person medical examination requirement.
Continue Reading Telehealth and Online Prescribing: COVID-19 Triggers Changes to the Prescriber/Patient/Pharmacist Relationship

On March 30, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) announced an Interim Final Rule with Comment Period (the “IFC”) to address numerous regulatory and administrative changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This Interim Final Rule was announced in conjunction with many other revisions and relaxations, and in addition to previously issued waivers, that CMS has made in the midst of the COVID-19 emergency in an effort to provide health care practitioners and providers with flexibility in safely getting patients the care they need.
Continue Reading Summary of Key Provisions of Interim Final Rule: CMS Policy and Regulatory Revisions in Response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency