On November 24, 2023, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) published a proposed rule to modify certain Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) standards that apply to issuers and Marketplaces, as well as requirements for agents, brokers, web-brokers, direct enrollment entities, and assisters that help Marketplace consumers (the “Proposed Rule”). These modifications are intended to further the Biden Administration’s goals of advancing health equity by addressing disparities in access to quality care while minimizing administrative burdens and ensuring program integrity.Continue Reading CMS Promotes Health Equity through Marketplace Standards and More in New Proposed Rule
On March 30, Judge Reed O’Connor of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued a decision in Braidwood Management Inc. v. Becerra (“Braidwood”), invalidating the Affordable Care Act’s (“ACA’s”) mandate requiring health plans and health insurers offering health insurance coverage to provide coverage for preventative care services recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (“USPSTF”). The case was pursued by religious individuals and businesses that asserted that they were harmed by being required to pay for health insurance coverage which included services that they do not want to cover on religious grounds.Continue Reading Navigating the Wild West of the New ACA Preventative Care Ruling
On July 25, 2022, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) issued a proposed new rule that significantly expands the scope of protection available to vulnerable populations under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (the “ACA”).Continue Reading Proposed Rule Leverages Section 1557 for Healthcare Equity
Last month, in Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller, P.L.L.C., the Supreme Court denied a petitioner’s right to emotional distress damages in a private action brought under federal anti-discrimination laws. The Petitioner, a woman who is both deaf and legally blind, alleged that when she requested an American Sign Language interpreter at Premier Rehab Keller (“Premier”), the clinic denied her request, resulting in her inability to receive treatment. She filed suit under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (“Rehab Act”) and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), two federal statutes that prohibit recipients of federal funding from discriminating in the delivery of services based on disability. The Fifth Circuit dismissed her claim, reasoning that emotional distress damages are categorically unavailable in private actions and cannot be used to enforce either the Rehab Act or the ACA. As explained below, the Supreme Court affirmed the Fifth Circuit ruling.Continue Reading Supreme Court Discrimination Case Narrows Scope of Restitution for Individuals
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?
The Supreme Court issued a long-awaited ruling on April 27, 2020, directed at a more than $12 billion challenge related to the temporary risk corridors program established by the Affordable Care Act (the “ACA”). Challenges were brought under multiple consolidated cases, Maine Community Health Options v. United States, Moda Health Plan v. United States, Land of Lincoln Mutual Health v. United States, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina v. United States (the “Consolidated Cases”). In its decision, the Court reversed the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and remanded the case for further proceedings.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Issues Long Awaited Ruling on Affordable Care Act Risk Corridors Program
The December 2017 Tax Reform Bill and the Repeal of the ACA’s Individual Mandate
The tax reform bill signed into law by President Trump on December 22, 2017, notably includes the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) individual mandate penalty. The individual mandate, which requires most Americans to maintain a basic level of health insurance coverage or pay a penalty to the federal government, had already endured multiple constitutional challenges and scrutiny by political pundits by the time it came into effect in 2014. The offering of affordable insurance coverage through the ACA’s healthcare exchanges was supported by the individual mandate, which was intended to ensure that enough healthy people would participate in insurance pools to balance out the sick, who cost more to insure.
Continue Reading Have the Reports of the Affordable Care Act’s Death Been Greatly Exaggerated?
Even as Senators continue to consider “Graham-Cassidy,” the latest Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal legislation, insurance markets are already reacting to uncertainty and instability brought about by persistent GOP efforts to upend the post-ACA insurance landscape. Between the Trump Administration’s ongoing refusal to commit to long-term funding of the ACA’s cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) and legislative overtures to repeal key portions of the ACA, premiums have increased, insurers have exited state exchanges, and access to health care coverage has been compromised.
Continue Reading Effects of Insurance Marketplace Uncertainty
On July 16, 2013, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the first year results from its Pioneer Accountable Care Organization (ACO) program. The program, launched by the CMS Innovation Center, is part of the Affordable Care Act’s efforts to promote lower cost, high quality, coordinated care for Medicare beneficiaries. In 2012, there were 669,000 beneficiaries assigned to the program.
Continue Reading Pioneer ACOs Exit the Program
The Obama Administration announced on Tuesday that it is delaying implementing a key component of the Affordable Care Act for a year following complaints from the private sector about reporting requirements. The so-called “employer mandate”, which penalizes employers with more than 50 employees if they fail to provide a minimum standard of affordable health insurance, was set to kick in in 2014, but now will take effect in 2015, the Treasury Department announced in a blog post late Tuesday. The delay not only allows the Administration time to ease concerns among business owners, but also takes a controversial component of the law off the table before the 2014 midterm elections. Enactment of the Affordable Care Act is expected to be a topic of debate in campaigns over the next few years, but Democrats running for the House and Senate in 2014 won’t have to answer questions about a newly applied employer mandate.
Continue Reading Obama Administration Delays ACA’s Employer-Coverage Mandate Until 2015
On June 3, 2013, the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor (DOL), and the Treasury (collectively, the Departments) published joint final regulations in the Federal Register implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements for wellness programs. More specifically, the final rule applies to group health plans that offer wellness programs with a financial reward component to employees for improving their health or impose financial penalties for not participating in wellness programs or for choosing to smoke. The final regulations will be effective August 2, 2013, and will apply to group health plans for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2014.
Continue Reading Final Rule Implementing ACA Wellness Program Requirements Increases Financial Incentives to Participate and Allows Financial Penalties