Affordable Care Act (ACA)

On May 10, 2021, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) announced that— consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, 140 S. Ct. 1731 (2020), and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972—HHS’s Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”) will interpret and enforce the prohibition on discrimination on the

On January 28, 2021, the White House issued President Biden’s Executive Order on Strengthening Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act (the “Executive Order”), which seeks to increase access to affordable health insurance and strengthen Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, particularly in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  In addition to this Executive Order, the

In 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services to issue regulations to establish an administrative dispute resolution (ADR) process for certain claims between Section 340B covered entities and pharmaceutical manufacturers (e.g., claims of overcharging by manufacturers and claims of covered entities taking duplicative discounts or diverting Section 340B

With only one day left before the final rule scaling back nondiscrimination regulations took effect, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) issued an order staying the repeal of certain parts of the former regulations. On June 19, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published a final rule scaling back nondiscrimination regulations first released in 2016 to implement Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The 2016 regulations had imposed significant requirements on health care providers to ensure that all individuals were provided “meaningful access” to care. As part of the 2016 regulations, OCR banned discrimination “on the basis of sex,” which was defined broadly as “on the basis of pregnancy, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or recovery therefrom, childbirth or related medical conditions, sex stereotyping, or gender identity.” The 2020 final rule revised the 2016 regulations significantly, however. In one of its most controversial changes, OCR removed the definition of “on the basis of sex” contending that “on the basis of sex” shall revert to the “plain meaning” of the term “sex” in Title IX of the Civil Rights Act – meaning not to encompass discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. OCR’s decision came on the heels of a Supreme Court ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, Ga. four days prior which concluded that discrimination “on the basis of sex” encompasses claims based on gender identity and sexual orientation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Accordingly, within the course of less than a week, the Supreme Court broadly interpreted the same term that OCR severely limited.

Shortly after OCR announced its reversal of the nondiscrimination requirement based on gender identity and sexual orientation, various interest groups began mounting legal challenges. With the order issued by EDNY on August 17, 2020, we are already seeing evidence of the legal battles likely to ensue over the definition of “on the basis of sex,” placing certain parts of OCR’s final rule in legal limbo.
Continue Reading Federal Court stays repeal of “On the Basis of Sex” definition in recent nondiscrimination final rule one day before regulations take effect

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released the methodology and data sources it proposes to use to determine federal payment to states that establish a Basic Health Program (BHP) for 2021.  Through the BHP, which was authorized by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), states may offer health benefits to certain low-income individuals

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has finalized the methodology and data sources it will use to determine 2019 and 2020 federal payment amounts to individual states that establish a Basic Health Program (BHP) under the Affordable Care Act.  A BHP provides health benefit coverage to low-income individuals otherwise eligible to purchase

The House of Representatives has approved H.R. 987, the “Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act,” which packages seven prescription drug and insurance-related bills recently approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  The legislation is intended to:  increase generic drug competition; fund Affordable Care Act “Navigator” outreach and enrollment programs and

Recent Congressional hearings and markups have concentrated on prescription drug pricing, insurance access, and other health topics.  For instance, last week the House Ways and Means Committee unanimously approved H.R. 2113, the Prescription Drug Sunshine, Transparency, Accountability and Reporting Act of 2019 (STAR Act).   The legislation would, among other things:

  • Require drug manufacturers to report their “justification” for drug price increases that exceed certain thresholds.
  • Mandate that manufacturers of drug, biologicals, devices, and medical supplies publicly report on the Open Payments database the value and quantity of free samples given to providers.
  • Extend to manufacturers without a Medicaid rebate agreement the requirement to report average sales price for drugs covered under Medicare Part B, and authorize civil money penalties for failure to report such information or for reporting false information.
  • Direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to publicly disclose certain rebates, discounts, and other price concessions achieved by pharmaceutical benefits managers (PBMs) and to report on drugs furnished in the inpatient hospital setting.

Earlier this month the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved 12 bills aimed at reducing prescription drug and other health care costs, including legislation intended to:  bolster generic drug competition; support Affordable Care Act insurance enrollment programs and state-based insurance marketplaces; reverse Trump Administration policies on short-term, limited duration health insurance and State Relief and Empowerment Waivers; and establish an “Improve Health Insurance Affordability Fund” to help states lower premiums in the individual health insurance market.

In addition to these markups, Congressional panels have held hearings various health policy issues, including the following:
Continue Reading Congressional Committees Continue Focus on Prescription Drugs, Insurance Coverage Policy

CMS has published a proposed rule setting forth its methodology for determining federal payment amounts to states that elect to establish a Basic Health Program (BHP) under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Through the BHP, states may offer health benefits to low-income individuals otherwise eligible to purchase coverage through an Affordable Insurance Exchange/Marketplace.  CMS will

The Trump Administration’s proposed fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget includes extensive health policy provisions – as evidenced by the 162-page Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “Budget in Brief.”  This summary focuses on the major Medicare and Medicaid proposals most directly impacting providers and suppliers; note that we discuss the Administration’s proposed prescription drug reimbursement provisions in a separate blog post.

Medicare, Value-Based, and Related Reforms

The Administration estimates that its Medicare policy reforms would save approximately $811 billion over 10 years.  The Administration states that these proposals are “designed to improve value-based systems of care, exercise fiscal integrity, promote competition, reduce provider burdens, improve the appeals system, and address high drug prices.”  Budget provisions that would result in significant Medicare savings include the following (savings are over the 10-year period of FYs 2020-2029): 

  • A new process to distribute uncompensated care payments to hospitals based on share of charity care and non-Medicare bad debt. [$98.0 billion net]
  • Site neutral payments between on-campus hospital outpatient departments and physician offices for certain services (e.g., clinic visits). [$131.4 billion]
  • Payment for all off-campus hospital outpatient departments under the physician fee schedule (PFS) effective CY 2020. [$28.7 billion]
  • A unified post-acute care system for skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, and long-term care hospitals (LTCHs) beginning in 2025. [$101.2 billion]
  • An increase in the intensive care unit minimum stay threshold from three days to eight days in order to qualify for payment under the LTCH prospective payment system. [$10.0 billion]
  • A reduction in Medicare reimbursement of bad debt from 65% to 25% over three years beginning in FY 2020. [$38.5 billion]
  • Expansion of the durable medical equipment (DME), prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies (DMEPOS) competitive bidding program to all areas of the country. The proposal also would reimburse contract suppliers based on their own bids rather than a single payment amount.  [$7.1 billion]
  • Consolidation of federal spending for graduate medical education (GME) programs. [$211.8 billion in Medicare savings].

Other legislative proposals intended to promote value-based care that are not expected to have a budget impact include the following:
Continue Reading Trump Administration Calls for Medicare/Medicaid Cuts, Program Reforms in FY 2020 Budget Proposal

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has requested public comments on ways to remove barriers to the sale of health insurance coverage across state lines in order to expand consumer choice.  In particular, CMS is interested in how states can utilize Section 1333 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which authorizes two or

Federal health policy is an early focus for Congressional committees.  In addition to several hearings held in January, Congressional hearings in February have concentrated on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and primary care, including the following:

  • A House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the Texas v. United States court case challenging the constitutionality

The Departments of Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services have issued a final rule that expands the availability of short-term, limited duration insurance policies that are exempt from Affordable Care Act (ACA) qualified health plan standards (e.g., the requirement to provide essential health benefits, prohibition on preexisting condition exclusions, lifetime and annual dollar limits,

CMS has released its final rule updating policies applying to qualified health plans (QHPs) offered on Affordable Care Act (ACA) Exchanges for 2019.  In the final rule, CMS stresses its goal of providing states greater flexibility and control over their insurance markets, particularly in the areas of: selection of essential health benefits benchmark plans; the

The Trump Administration has issued a potentially highly-significant proposed rule intended to expand the availability of short-term, limited duration insurance policies that are exempt from Affordable Care Act (ACA) qualified health plan standards.  Under the proposed rule, issued by the Departments of Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services (the “Departments”), the maximum duration of

The Trump Administration has released its fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget proposal, which includes extensive health policy provisions. While most of the President’s policy proposals for Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) programs would require Congressional approval, others are characterized as administrative proposals that presumably would not involve Congress.
Continue Reading Trump Administration’s Proposed FY 2019 Budget Targets Medicare, Medicaid for Savings, Seeks (Again) to Repeal/Replace ACA

In addition to keeping the federal government operating through February 8, 2018, the newly-enacted Continuing Appropriations Act provides temporary relief from three health-related taxes imposed by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and funds the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through fiscal year 2023. With regard to the ACA taxes, the Continuing Appropriations Act:

  • Imposes a

While previous broad Republican efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have failed, the GOP tax bill cleared by Congress today has succeeded in effectively repealing the ACA’s individual health insurance mandate.  By way of background, the ACA established a penalty for failure to maintain health insurance coverage that provides at least minimum

The House Ways and Means Committee has approved by a 24-13 vote HR 849, Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act, to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). The IPAB was established by the ACA to submit Medicare spending plans to Congress if projected spending growth exceeds specified targets. Under the ACA, future IPAB’s proposals