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On Thursday, April 8, 2021, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (the “Innovation Center”) announced its final list of 53 organizations set to participate in the Global and Professional Direct Contracting (“GPDC”) Model (previously named the Direct Contracting Model for Global and Professional Options).  The 53 Direct Contracting Entities (“DCEs”) are participating in the first Performance Year (“PY2021”) of the GPDC Model, which runs from April 1, 2021 through December 31, 2021. The DCEs will serve Medicare fee-for-service (“FFS”) beneficiaries in 38 states as well as in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.…
On March 10, 2021, President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (the “Act”). This $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package not only includes a whole host of healthcare-related provisions, but, along with actions taken (or not taken) by the Biden Administration, accounts for a marked departure from healthcare policy carried out by the Trump Administration. No difference is more striking than the Administration’s treatment of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). While President Trump spent much of his four years in office targeting and undermining the ACA, in these early days of his administration, President Biden not…
With the uptick in the pace of vaccinations and lifting of restrictions in many states over the past few weeks, a clearer picture of the road ahead is coming into focus.  In a timely discussion, Los Angeles’ Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) hosted healthcare industry leaders to share lessons learned over the past year, what’s here to stay, and what’s on the horizon.  ACG dubbed the panel “Coming up for Air: Healthcare Investing and Growth in 2021 and Beyond,” which featured leaders from various healthcare sectors, including Shane Armstrong, President and General Counsel at American Vision Partners (AVP); John
Utah Bill Uses Telehealth to Address Mental Health On March 2, 2021, Utah Governor, Spencer Cox, signed Senate Bill 41 (“SB41”) into law. The bill, sponsored by State Senator Luz Escamilla, allows coverage for mental health services delivered by telehealth – often referred to as “telemental health” services.  While we have seen many states move to create greater access to telehealth services in efforts to address the current public health crisis (the “Pandemic”), Utah is one of the first states to expand telehealth coverage to address the mental well-being of its citizens.  In a statement to State of Reform,…
On March 4th, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland struck down four provisions of the Trump Administration’s Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2019, 83 Fed. Reg. 16930 (April 17, 2018) (the “Rule”), which governs many aspects of Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) insurance markets beginning in the 2019 plan year.  The decision in City of Columbus, et al. v. Norris Cochran comes two and a half years after the cities of Columbus, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Chicago, and Philadelphia, as well as two individuals who rely on health insurance offered on ACA exchanges, filed suit alleging that…
On February 4, 2021, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), Office of Public Affairs, issued a Press Release (the “DOJ Press Release”) announcing that Kelly Wolfe, President of Regency, Inc., a medical billing company located in Florida, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud through a “pernicious telefraud scheme”[1] involving fraudulent Medicare and CHAMPVA (Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs) claims for medically unnecessary durable medical equipment (“DME”) supplies.  As a result of Wolfe’s criminal plea, Wolfe could face up to 13 years in federal prison. …
In a February 10, 2021 ruling (the “Garcia Ruling”) out of the District Court for the Central District of California (the “CDCA Court”) in the case of Gilbert Garcia et al v. Welltower OpCo Group LLC, et. al., 20-02250JVS (C.D. Ca. Feb. 10, 2021), the CDCA Court held that the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (42 U.S.C. § 247d–6d) (the “PREP Act”) provides senior living facilities with an exemption from civil liability for actions taken by such facilities to protect facility residents from COVID-19.…
Virginia is now the second state, after California, to pass a comprehensive privacy law. The Consumer Data Protection Act (“CDPA”) will come into effect January 1, 2023 (the same time as the modification to California’s Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”), i.e., the California Privacy Rights Act (“CPRA”)). While CDPA has fairly broad exemptions for entities regulated by other laws, such as HIPAA, there is also a new “opt-in” requirement for collecting “sensitive data.”…
West Virginia Bill Seeks to Regulate Parity and Out-of-State Providers On February 10, 2021, members of the West Virginia Legislature introduced Senate Bill 1 (“SB1”) which seeks to regulate the use of telemedicine in the state. If passed, the proposed bill would require the Public Employees Insurance Agency, Medicaid and specified insurance plans to cover telehealth services at the same rate as in-person healthcare, starting July 1, 2021. The bill would also permit healthcare providers who are licensed in other states to provide telehealth services in West Virginia.…
Washington State Seeks to Make Audio-Only Telehealth Permanent On February 5, 2021, Washington State Rep. Marcus Riccelli introduced House Bill 1196 (“HB-1196”) which seeks to set specific guidelines for use and coverage of audio-only telehealth platforms, such as the phone. HB-1196 would mandate coverage for audio-only telehealth beyond the public health emergency (the “Pandemic”) as long as the service met certain requirements. The bill was passed almost unanimously by the House on February 24, 2021 and is now before the state Senate.…
Oregon Telehealth Bill Proposes Parity for Telehealth Services On January 11, 2021, Oregon Senator Lee Beyer and Rep. Rachel Prusak, introduced Senate Bill 11 (“SB11”)[1], which would permanently extend parity for telehealth services with in-clinic care services. Parity for telehealth services was originally proposed in response to Governor Kate Brown’s March 23, 2020 Executive Order 20-22 which ordered a temporary halt on nonurgent procedures to preserve personal protective gear for frontline workers. Telehealth services provided clinical providers with an opportunity to maintain revenue by allowing individuals to seek care from the safety of their own homes. In line…
As it continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare sector will face increased antitrust scrutiny from the Biden administration, with the Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”) and Department of Justice, Antitrust Division (the “DOJ”) (together the “Agencies”) as the Agencies ramp up their reviews not just of “horizontal” transactions (i.e., deals between competitors), but also of “vertical” transactions (i.e., deals that combine market participants at different levels of the healthcare industry, such as payors, hospitals, and physician practices).…
Telehealth services and providers have been in high demand as the world copes with the COVID-19 public health emergency.  Federal and state agencies have amended, and often loosened, regulations in an attempt to facilitate and expand access to telehealth.  However, the honeymoon phase of relaxed oversight may be coming to an end as the world adjusts to a new-normal.…
Will HHS’ approach for imposing penalties in the aftermath of a data breach become a little clearer in 2021? This is a distinct possibility in the wake of a Fifth Circuit decision vacating penalties against MD Anderson Cancer Center. The hospital suffered three data breaches, leading HHS to impose over $4 million in civil penalties. That fine was reversed recently by the Fifth Circuit as arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to law.…