Healthcare Law Blog

Shaping the World of Healthcare Law

On November 12, 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) revised and finalized draft guidance first issued on May 3, 2019, for co-location of hospitals with other hospitals or healthcare providers[1] (the “Finalized Guidance”). The Finalized Guidance is intended to guide CMS Surveyors in evaluation of such hospitals’ compliance with Medicare Conditions of Participation related to shared space, services, and staff.
Continue Reading CMS Loosens Restrictions on Co-Located Healthcare Providers; Enforcement Interpretation Still to Be Determined

The United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) recently issued a report concerning the use of telehealth to render behavioral health services to Medicaid enrollees, calling for greater evaluation and oversight in the hopes of encouraging states to implement changes to improve how their Medicaid programs use telehealth for behavioral health services, including mental health assessments, individual therapy, and medication management.
Continue Reading HHS OIG Studies State Medicaid Programs’ Use of Telehealth

On November 2, 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) announced that it will be taking actions to advance its strategic commitment to drive innovation to support health equity and high quality, person centered care. CMS’ 2022 Physician Fee Schedule final rule (the “Final Rule”), will focus on, amongst other things:
Continue Reading Health Equity Remains a Priority for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services in 2022

This post originally appeared as an article in the Daily Journal on October 29, 2021.

As of January 1, 2022, patients will no longer be at risk for one of the most detested practices in healthcare: surprise out-of-network bills.
Continue Reading Relief from Surprise Bills – Congress Passes the No Surprises Act What Providers and Insurers Need to Know

Six months ago, we cautioned health plans and plan sponsors that states, the federal government, and private litigants were laser focused on Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (“MHPAEA”) compliance. The United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) investigated and closed 127 health plan investigations related to MHPAEA in FY 2020. Given the changes announced in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (“CAA”), and subsequent guidance, we expect heightened scrutiny of MHPAEA compliance from states, the federal government, and private parties.
Continue Reading State, Federal, and Private Enforcement of Mental Health Parity Compliance

On October 20, 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (“CMS”) Innovation Center (“Innovation Center”) published a white paper detailing its vision for the next ten years: a health system that achieves equitable outcomes through high quality, affordable, person-centered care.  The white paper first recounts the last ten years of testing and learning that laid the foundation for the Innovation Center’s future strategy.  The future strategy is organized around five strategic objectives that will guide the Innovation’s Center’s models and priorities for the next ten years.  The five strategic objectives for advancing this systemwide transformation include (1) Drive Accountable Care,
Continue Reading Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation Center: Equity and Vision

“The guidance reminds the public that the HIPAA Privacy Rule does not apply to employers or employment records.”[1]

On September 30, 2021, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) released guidance (the “Guidance”) entitled, “HIPAA, COVID-19 Vaccination, and the Workplace,” regarding the applicability of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) Privacy Rule (“Privacy Rule”) to disclosures and requests for information regarding COVID-19 vaccination status. In a frequently-asked-questions format, the Guidance sets forth a series of workplace-related scenarios involving the confidentiality of an employee’s vaccination status, an
Continue Reading HIPAA and COVID-19 Vaccination Status: The Office of Civil Rights Issues Workplace Guidance

On October 4, 2021, the California Senate Bill 650 (“SB 650”), also known as the Corporate Transparency in Elder Care Act of 2021, was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom. As described below, SB 650 is designed to provide the public with greater transparency as to skilled nursing facility (“SNF”) ownership and finances.
Continue Reading What Price Transparency? California SB 650 Shines Light on Skilled Nursing Facility Ownership while Creating New Reporting Burdens for California Skilled Nursing Facilities

On October 4, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed California bill SB-664 “Hospice licensure: moratorium on new licenses” (the “Bill”) into law.  The Bill, which passed the California Assembly on September 8, 2021 and the California Senate on September 9, 2021, imposes a moratorium on the California Department of Public Health (the “Department”) issuing new hospice licenses on or after January 1, 2022.  Under the California Hospice Licensure Act of 1990, a person, political subdivision of the state, or other governmental agency must obtain a license from the Department to provide hospice services to an individual who is experiencing the
Continue Reading New California Law Imposes Moratorium on New Hospice Licenses

As reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ-6) on April 22, 2021 after originally being introduced on September 19, 2019, H.R. 3, also known as known as the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, proposes to grant the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) the authority to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies in order to lower drug prices in Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D (the “Proposal”).  The Proposal would require that 125 brand-name drugs that cost Medicare the most to be subject to negotiation by Medicare, with
Continue Reading Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act: The Long and Winding Road to Drug Pricing Reform

A major California-based health care system, Sutter Health, and several of its medical practice foundation affiliates have agreed to pay a total of $90 million to settle allegations that they violated the False Claims Act (“FCA”) by knowingly submitting inaccurate information about the health status of beneficiaries enrolled in Sutter Health’s contracted Medicare Advantage (“MA”) Plans.[1]  The Sutter Health settlement is the largest FCA settlement ever paid by a health care provider for alleged MA fraud.
Continue Reading Sutter Health Settles Medicare Fraud Case For $90 Million: The Largest Settlement For Medicare Advantage Fraud

On August 2, 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) issued its hospital inpatient prospective payment system (“IPPS”) final rule (“Final Rule”) for fiscal year 2022. In addition to a number of other changes, the Final Rule repeals the price transparency requirement for hospitals, discussed in our September 2, 2020 blog post, obligating hospitals to report certain contract terms with Medicare Advantage (“MA”) plans for cost reporting periods ending on or after January 1, 2021.
Continue Reading CMS Backs Off Price Transparency for Providers and Plans

Health plans and issuers racing to implement overlapping price transparency and disclosure requirements in response to the Transparency in Coverage final rule (TiC Final Rule) and the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA) received a welcome reprieve via guidance published August 20. The Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Treasury (collectively, the Departments) announced that they would exercise enforcement discretion and defer enforcement of requirements that plans and issuers publish machine-readable files for in-network rates and out-of-network allowed amounts and billed charges until July 1, 2022 instead of January 1, 2022. The Departments also explained that
Continue Reading Federal Government Announces Enforcement Discretion, Deferral For Certain Price Disclosures And Future Rulemakings

On August 10, 2021, the Senate passed H.R. 3684, a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill (the “Infrastructure Bill”) that authorizes funds for federal-aid highways, transit, broadband access and other infrastructure purposes.  Notably, the Infrastructure Bill is paid for in part through changes to several healthcare policies, including delaying a Medicare Part D rebate rule for an additional three years and reducing Medicare payment amounts to providers.  The Infrastructure Bill’s changes to healthcare policies provide a mixed impact to health care industry stakeholders, with both expected benefits and burdens to providers, payers, and drug manufacturers.
Continue Reading The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act: Potential Impact on Healthcare Policy and Spending

On August 10, 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (“CMS”) published a proposed rule (“Proposed Rule”) to rescind the Most Favored Nation Model (“MFN Model”) interim final rule that was published on November 26, 2020 (“Interim Final Rule”).  As described in our December 2020 blog post, the Interim Final Rule established a seven-year nationwide, mandatory MFN Model that would test an alternative way for Medicare to pay for certain Medicare Part B single source drugs and biologicals.  The MFN Model, originally set to begin January 1, 2021, would have tied the prices for certain Part B single-source drugs
Continue Reading Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy: The Biden Administration Considers Drug Pricing Strategies While Keeping the “Most Favored Nations” Drug Reimbursement Program on the Sidelines