HHS has sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for final regulatory clearance a proposed rule on Stage 3 meaningful use criteria for the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs. The Stage 3 rule will focus on advanced use of EHR technology to promote improved outcomes for patients, and it propose changes to the reporting period, timelines, and structure of the program, including providing a single definition of meaningful use. Likewise, HHS is seeking review of proposed rule that would, among other things, establish a new 2015 Edition Base EHR definition and modify the ONC Health Information Technology (IT) Certification Program to make it more broadly applicable to other types of health IT health care settings and programs. The rules are not available yet, but could be approved for publication in the Federal Register at any time.
The FDA published a proposed rule on December 18, 2014 that would require electronic distribution of the prescribing information intended for health care professionals, which is currently distributed in paper form on or within the prescription drug or biological product packaging. FDA also is proposing that prescribing information intended for health care professionals will no longer be permitted to be distributed in paper form with the package from which a prescription drug or biological product is dispensed, except as provided by this regulation. According to the FDA, its proposal is intended to facilitate the distribution of updated prescribing information as new information becomes available or prescribing information changes are made, and to ensure that “the most current prescribing information for distributed prescription drugs will be available and readily accessible to health care professionals at the time of clinical decisionmaking and dispensing.” Comments on the proposed rule will be accepted until March 18, 2015.
On December 31, 2014, the IRS published final regulations providing guidance on the community health needs assessment and financial assistance policy requirements for charitable hospitals under the ACA. The regulations address the entities that must meet these requirements, related reporting obligations, and the consequences for failing to satisfy these ACA requirements. The regulations apply to taxable years beginning one year after December 29, 2014.
This post was written by Jennifer Pike.
Last February, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asked for public feedback on a proposed research study related to prescription drug television advertisements. In a notice published in the Federal Register on January 13, 2015, FDA announced its intention to continue to move forward with the proposed study. Specifically, the notice announced that the Agency had submitted a proposed collection of information to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval. The notice describes the general framework for the study, entitled “Disclosure Regarding Additional Risks in Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) Prescription Drug Television (TV) Advertisements (Ads),” and it provides FDA’s response to the 55 comments it received regarding its February 2014 notice.
Current FDA regulations (21 CFR § 202.1) require that TV and radio ads present a product’s major risks in audio, or audio and visual parts of the ads (“major statements”). FDA is concerned that these major statements are too long, resulting in reduced consumer comprehension, minimization of important risk information, and, potentially, therapeutic noncompliance due to fear of side effects. At the same time, and in conflict with the above, FDA is concerned that DTC TV ads do not include adequate risk information. FDA believes that providing limited risk information in ads will promote improved consumer perception and understanding of serious and actionable drug risks.
OMB is accepting comments on the collection of information until February 12, 2015.
Administration Issues Proposed Rules on ACA Summary of Benefits and Coverage, Excepted Benefits/Wraparound Coverage
On December 30, 2014, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published a proposed rule that would revise Affordable Care Act (ACA) summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) and uniform glossary requirements for group health plans and health insurance coverage. The changes, which would modify a February 14, 2012 rulemaking, are intended to help plans and individuals better understand their health coverage options and compare plans. For instance, the proposed rule would add another coverage example to the SBC to illustrate costs for consumers, streamline the SBC, and revise the uniform glossary that helps consumers understand insurance terms. If finalized, the new requirements would be implemented for plan years beginning on or after September 1, 2015. Comments on the proposed changes are due by March 2, 2015. The Departments also issued revised draft SBC template, instructions, and supplemental materials.
Separately, the agencies published a proposed rule on December 23, 2014 that would amend the definition of excepted benefits to allow group health plan sponsors, in limited circumstances, to offer wraparound coverage to individuals who are purchasing individual health insurance in the private market, including through the ACA Health Insurance Marketplace. The rule proposes the following pilot programs for wraparound coverage: a pilot allowing wraparound benefits only for Multi-State Plans in the Marketplace, and a pilot allowing wraparound benefits for part-time workers or retirees who enroll in an individual market plan. There are several significant conditions and limitations to this type of coverage. This type of wraparound coverage could be offered as excepted benefits to coverage that is first offered no later than December 31, 2017 and that ends on the later of: (1) the date that is three years after the date wraparound coverage is first offered; or (2) the date on which the last collective bargaining agreement relating to the plan terminates after the date wraparound coverage is first offered. Comments will be accepted until January 22, 2015.
Today the HHS Officeof Inspector General (OIG) published its annual solicitation of recommendations for new or modified safe harbor provisions under the federal anti-kickback statute, as well as potential topics for new OIG Special Fraud Alerts. Comments will be accepted until March 2, 2015.
In a separate report, the OIG discusses three safe harbor proposals received in response to its 2013 solicitation:
- A new safe harbor protecting free continuing medical education programs offered by hospitals to physicians – The OIG is not adopting this suggestion, stating that the concept of free programs could vary greatly and should be addressed on a case-by-case basis, such as under the advisory opinion process.
- A new safe harbor that would permit health care providers and suppliers in certain circumstances to compensate individuals in clinical trials and to provide services related to the clinical trials at no cost, including the waiver of cost-sharing obligations – The OIG is considering the adoption of a safe harbor that would protect the waiver of cost-sharing obligations and possibly other incentives to participants in clinical trials sponsored by certain federal government entities.
- A new safe harbor protecting clinically integrated networks’ entry into contracts with commercial third party payors for value-based payments, including pay-for-performance bonuses and shared savings awards for high quality and cost-effective health care – The OIG believes the issues raised in the proposal require further study.
This post was written by Kevin M. Madagan.
Time to pop the bubbly a little early! FDA announced today that the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) deadline of January 1, 2015 for product tracing (i.e., the new federal pedigree standards) will not be enforced until May 1, 2015. This means manufacturers, wholesale distributors, and repackagers have an additional four months to work with trading partners to determine how best to comply with the DSCSA pedigree standards. Although we are not surprised by this development, it is still cause to celebrate, given the potential adverse impact of enforcing the requirements before industry is prepared for compliance.
The new DSCSA Compliance Policy – DSCSA Implementation: Product Tracing Requirements – Compliance Policy Guidance for Industry – announces that FDA “recognizes” that some manufacturers, wholesale distributors, and repackagers “may need additional time to work with trading partners” to ensure that all of the product tracing information required under the DSCSA is provided to and captured by the recipient trading partner. It also acknowledges the very real concern that enforcing the January 1, 2015 deadline could disrupt the supply chain and impact patients’ access to needed prescription drugs.
The DSCSA Compliance Policy is clear: FDA “does not intend to take action against trading partners (manufacturers, wholesale distributors, and repackagers) who do not, prior to May 1, 2015, provide or capture the transaction information, transaction history, and transaction statement required by section 582 of the FD&C Act (product tracing information) associated with each transaction of certain human, finished prescription drugs, as defined in section 581 of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 360eee).” The policy is limited only to the DSCSA requirements that trading partners provide and capture product tracing information; it does not extend to other DSCSA requirements, such as verification related to suspect and illegitimate product (including quarantine, investigation, notification and recordkeeping) and requirements related to engaging in transactions only with authorized trading partners.
On December 8, 2014, CMS published a proposed rule that would revise the regulations governing the Medicare Shared Savings Program, which is intended to encourage physicians, hospitals, and certain other types of providers and suppliers to form Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) to provide cost-effective, coordinated care to Medicare beneficiaries. The Shared Savings Program now includes more than 330 ACOs in 47 states and serves more than 4.9 million Medicare fee for service (FFS) beneficiaries.Continue Reading...
On December 12, 2014, CMS published a proposed rule to revise selected conditions of participation (CoPs) for providers, conditions for coverage (CfCs) for suppliers, and requirements for long-term care (LTC) facilities to conform with the Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor, and ensure that same-sex spouses in legally-valid marriages are recognized and afforded equal rights in Medicare and Medicaid participating facilities. The proposed rule addresses nine specific provisions located in the CoPs and CfCs for ambulatory surgical centers, hospices, hospitals, LTC facilities, and community and mental health centers that CMS believes could be interpreted to support the denial of federal rights and privileges to a same-sex spouse if the state of residence does not recognize same-sex marriages. CMS states that its “goal is to provide equal treatment to spouses, regardless of their sex, whenever the marriage was valid in the jurisdiction in which it was entered into, without regard to whether the marriage is also recognized in the state of residence or the jurisdiction in which the health care provider or supplier is located, and where the Medicare program explicitly or impliedly provides for specific treatment of spouses.” Comments on the proposed rule will be accepted until February 10, 2015.
CMS has issued a proposed rule that would establish ACA Marketplace health plan payment parameters and essential benefit standards for 2016. Specifically, the wide-ranging proposed rule addresses, among other things: the risk adjustment, reinsurance, and risk corridors programs; cost sharing parameters; user fees for federally-facilitated exchanges; standards for qualified health plans, including network adequacy and quality improvement; the Small Business Health Options Program; guaranteed availability and renewability, rate review; the medical loss ratio program; and minimum essential health benefits (including new policies and procedures for enrollee requests for prescription drugs not included on a plan’s formulary). CMS will accept comments on the proposed rule until December 22, 2014.
The Administration has posted its fall regulatory agenda listing major pending or planned regulatory actions and anticipated timing of rulemaking. The agenda lists numerous pending HHS proposed and final rules in a range of policy areas, including Medicare payment updates, revisions to provider conditions of participation, and changes to fraud and abuse authorities, among many others. Note that the anticipated release dates set forth in the agenda are subject to change.
HHS has published the FY 2016 Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP), Enhanced FMAP, and disaster-recovery FMAP adjustments. These percentages, which will apply from October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2016, apply in determining the federal matching for state expenditures for Medicaid and certain other medical and other social services.
CMS Finalizes Rule to Strengthen Medicare Provider Enrollment Regulations and Permit Revocations for Patterns/Practices of Improper Claims Submissions; Defers Expanded Awards for Medicare Fraud Tipsters
On December 5, 2014, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published a final rule that expands the circumstances under which it may deny or revoke the Medicare enrollment of entities and individuals on program integrity grounds, effective February 3, 2015.Continue Reading...
CMS has announced that it is delaying a provision of its 2015 Medicare Advantage/Medicare Part D final rule, published on May 23, 2014, that requires physicians and other eligible professionals who prescribe Part D drugs to be enrolled in Medicare (or have a valid opt-out affidavit on file) for their prescriptions to be covered under Medicare Part D. While the final rule stated that the effective date for this requirement would be June 1, 2015, CMS has announced that it is delaying enforcement of this provision until December 1, 2015. CMS notes that Part D drug prescribers must submit their Medicare enrollment applications or opt-out affidavits to their Medicare Administrative Contractors by June 1, 2015 to provide sufficient processing time and prevent prescription drug claims from being denied beginning December 1, 2015.
Today CMS published a notice announcing that the CY 2015 provider enrollment application fee is $553, up from $542 in 2014. This application fee is required for institutional providers that are initially enrolling or revalidating enrollment in the Medicare or Medicaid program or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or adding a new Medicare practice location on or after January 1, 2015 and on or before December 31, 2015. Note that CMS uses a broad definition of institutional entities subject to the application fee; it applies to “[a]ny provider or supplier that submits a paper Medicare enrollment application using the CMS-855A, CMS-855B (not including physician and non-physician practitioner organizations), CMS-855S, or associated Internet-based PECOS enrollment application,” along with additional categories of Medicaid-only and CHIP-only institutional providers.
Presidential Bioethics Commission Seeks Comments on Ethical Implications of Public Health Response to Ebola Outbreak & Other Emergencies
On December 8, 2014, HHS is publishing a notice announcing that the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues is requesting public comment on ethical considerations related to public health emergency response, focusing on the current Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic. In particular, the Commission is examining:
- U.S. public policies that restrict association or movement (e.g., quarantine), which have been proposed and/or employed for health care workers and military personnel returning from countries affected by EVD in western Africa;
- The ethics of placebo-controlled trials in the context of public health emergencies, and the EVD epidemic specifically, where the tested drug might be effective against the disease in question; and
- The ethical considerations relevant to collecting and storing biospecimens during a public health emergency such as the EVD epidemic, and sharing these specimens and associated data internationally for future research.
Comments will be accepted for 60 days after publication.
On December 3, 2014, CMS published a final rule that defines “uninsured” for purposes of calculating the Medicaid hospital-specific disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payment limit. Under the Social Security Act, DSH payments to a hospital cannot exceed the uncompensated costs of furnishing hospital services by the hospital to individuals who are Medicaid-eligible or “have no health insurance (or other source of third party coverage) for the services furnished during the year.” The final rule provides this test will be applied on a service-specific basis; that is, the calculation of uncompensated care for purposes of the hospital-specific DSH limit will include the cost of each service furnished to an individual by that hospital for which the individual had no health insurance or other source of third party coverage. Although the final rule’s definition of uninsured may affect the calculation of the hospital-specific DSH limit, the rule does not modify the DSH allotment amounts and will have no effect on a state’s ability to claim federal financial participation (FFP) for DSH payments made up to the published DSH allotment amounts. The final rule also provides additional clarification to states and hospitals regarding costs eligible for inclusion in the calculation of the hospital-specific DSH limit. The rule is effective on December 31, 2014.
On December 2, 2014, CMS published a correction to its November 6, 2014 final 2015 Medicare home health prospective payment system (PPS) rule to correct a technical error related to the applicability date for a therapy reassessment provision. Separately, on November 24, 2014, CMS published a notice making technical amendments to durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies (DMEPOS) supplier surety bond requirements under 42 CFR 424.57. According to the preamble, the notice corrects non-substantive regulatory paragraph designations, an omission, and a technical correction to previously published regulatory text, and makes terminology and cross-references changes.
CMS intends to conduct a three-year Medicare prior authorization model for non-emergent hyperbaric oxygen therapy services in Illinois, Michigan, and New Jersey, where CMS contends there have been high rates of improper payments for these services. Under this model, CMS will require that all relevant clinical or medical documentation requirements are met before services are rendered to beneficiaries and before claims are submitted for payment; no new clinical documentation requirements will be created. The model is scheduled to begin on March 1, 2015. CMS also recently announced a similar prior authorization model for repetitive scheduled nonemergent ambulance transports.