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On November 10, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments for California v. Texas, a case that will potentially decide the fate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”).
Continue Reading Texas v. California: SCOTUS Hears Oral Arguments About the Constitutionality of the ACA

On October 6, 2020, the US Supreme Court (the “Court”) heard arguments on an Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”) case that has the potential to curtail the rights of states to regulate their individual healthcare markets, in Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (the “Case”).
Continue Reading ERISA: The Erosion of State Health Regulation Rights

The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and alongside it the high probability of a conservative successor to the open seat she left behind, is likely to shift the Court substantially to the right. Among the most notable cases that will likely be presented before the newly constituted Court is the pending challenge to the Affordable Care Act (the “ACA”).
Continue Reading The Death of RBG…and the ACA?

On May 18, 2020, California  Senate Bill 977 (“SB-977”) was passed out of the California Senate Health Committee and is now scheduled for its first hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 1, 2020.   SB-977 as written would subject all acquisitions and affiliations on and after January 1, 2021 by larger health systems, private equity funds and hedge funds of (i) hospitals, (ii) other health facilities, (iii) physicians, (iv) clinics, (v) ambulatory surgery centers or  (vi) laboratories to prior approval by the California Attorney General.  In its current form, SB-977 would require the California Attorney General to withhold his approval from a proposed transaction unless the transaction would (i) increase clinical integration and/or (ii) increase access or availability of healthcare services to underserved populations, and would not otherwise be anti-competitive.  SB-977 would also give the Attorney General the discretion to hold a public hearing on a proposed transaction.  In short, with SB-977, the California Legislature is going far beyond earlier proposals or legislation in other states – including Connecticut and Washington State – that have prior approval requirements for healthcare transactions.

In this article, we consider the forces behind SB-977 – a decade or more of healthcare consolidations and the financial distress being experienced by hospitals and other healthcare providers as a result of the current healthcare emergency – and the potential impact that SB-977 could have on the California healthcare marketplace if it were signed into law in its current form.
Continue Reading Getting Ahead of California’s Post-Pandemic M&A Surge: California Senate Bill 977 Seeks to Expand Attorney General Oversight of Healthcare Acquisitions and Affiliations involving Hospitals, Health Systems, Private Equity Groups, and Hedge Funds

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court in NFIB v. Sebelius struck down a provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the “ACA”) which, for all intents and purposes, made the expansion of the Medicaid program voluntary for individual states.  As a consequence, the Medicaid expansion provided for in the ACA has been rolled out in piecemeal fashion, with various states opting to expand Medicaid in the years since the ACA’s passage, and other so-called “holdout” states choosing to preserve their respective pre-ACA structured Medicaid programs.  These holdout states tend to be more conservative and Republican-controlled, with governors and state legislatures opposed to the ACA’s Medicaid expansion for various political and economic reasons.  The COVID-19 pandemic, however, seems to have prompted some of these “holdout” states, even considerably conservative states, to reconsider their decision not to expand Medicaid.
Continue Reading Will COVID-19 Prompt “Holdout States” to Reconsider Medicaid Expansion?

On March 17, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) issued a memorandum to provide information to organizations that participate in the Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (“PACE”) program in furtherance of preventing the spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (“COVID-19”).
Continue Reading CMS Issues COVID-19 Prevention Guidance for PACE Organizations

January 30th, 2020 marked a dramatic change in Medicaid funding, as the Trump Administration and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) showcased a plan, called the “Healthy Adult Opportunity,” that would permit states to cap Medicaid spending. This was a blow to the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), which expanded federal spending for low income individuals that did not previously qualify for the program.
Continue Reading ACA Medicaid Expansion Weakens: Trump Administration Unveils Optional Plan for Block Grants

On December 18th, 2019, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals released a long-awaited decision on a significant challenge to the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), affirming a lower-court ruling that we discussed in a previous post. In the lower-court ruling, the Federal District Court judge determined that the ACA’s individual mandate, which was reduced to $0 as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, is no longer considered a tax and therefore Congress no longer has constitutional authority to enforce the mandate. Going one step further, the Federal District Court judge found that the individual mandate is not severable from the rest of the ACA, and thus held that the whole law is unconstitutional.
Continue Reading Update to Texas v. United States: Fifth Circuit Strikes Individual Mandate, Remands on Severability

Today the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reached its widely anticipated decision in Texas vs. Azar, ruling that the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual mandate is unconstitutional as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017’s elimination of the mandate’s financial penalty. The Court has remanded the case to the District Court to further address the question (known as the “severability” question) of whether the remaining provisions of the ACA are lawful in light of the decision regarding the individual mandate.
Continue Reading JUST IN: Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Reaches Decision on Latest Case Involving Constitutionality of ACA

On April 21, 2019, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (“CMMI”) announced the CMS Primary Cares Initiative – a voluntary, risk-based initiative to transform the Medicare program’s reimbursement of primary care services from a fee-for-service payment system to a value-based system that rewards physicians who keep patients healthy and out of the hospital. The CMS Primary Cares Initiative creates five payment models under two paths: the Primary Care First Model (“PCF Model”) and the Direct Contracting Model (“DC Model”).   All five models focus on care for chronically and seriously ill patients.
Continue Reading Global and Professional Options Direct Contracting Model RFA and LOI Now Active

One of the most controversial taxes of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is in danger of repeal. The tax colloquially known as the “Cadillac Tax” was supposed to take effect in 2018, but Congress has delayed it twice. With the tax now slated to take effect in 2022, opponents of the tax have taken the opportunity to attempt to repeal it for good. On July 17, 2019, the House of Representatives overwhelming voted, 419-6, to approve the Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act of 2019, which would abolish the Cadillac Tax. A Senate companion bill with 61 co-sponsors, including 32 Republicans and 28 Democrats, shows that the bill is unlikely to encounter much resistance if it is brought to a vote.
Continue Reading Bipartisan Push To Repeal ACA’s Cadillac Tax