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Coalition of conservative groups release outline of plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act

On June 19, the Health Policy Consensus Group, a coalition of conservative groups including the Heritage Foundation, the Galen Institute and the Hoover Institution, released an outline of a new proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The plan is similar to the Graham-Cassidy bill that Congress failed to enact last year.  … Continue reading

MedPAC recommends to Congress a 30 percent reduction in Medicare payment rates for services provided in certain hospital off-campus emergency departments

In its June 2018 Report to the Congress the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) recommends that Congress reduce Medicare Type A emergency department payment rates by 30 percent for services furnished in hospital off-campus emergency departments that are located within six miles of a hospital on-campus emergency department.  MedPAC also recommends that Congress should enable … Continue reading

Virginia to expand Medicaid in January 2019; Utah will vote on Medicaid expansion this November

Virginia is expected to become the 33rd state (plus the District of Columbia) to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) following the passage of a budget by the Virginia legislature.  The expansion will take effect on January 1, 2019 and it is expected to provide coverage to close to 400,000 individuals.  Prior attempts … Continue reading

Maine court hears argument on Medicaid expansion

Maine Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy heard arguments on May 24, 2018 about whether Governor Paul LePage must take steps to expand Medicaid in Maine.  In April, a group of residents and advocacy organizations filed a lawsuit against Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for failing to expand Medicaid following the November 2017 … Continue reading

OIG launches new compliance resource portal

The OIG recently launched a new compliance resource portal, compiling some of its resources into one user-friendly webpage. The Compliance Resource Portal provides a list of links to categories of “handy resources for the public that can help ensure that you are in compliance with Federal health care laws,” and may serve as a valuable … Continue reading

Recent effort to regulate pharmaceutical pricing deemed unconstitutional by Fourth Circuit

In the absence of federal action, states have attempted to rein in high pharmaceutical pricing by enacting laws aimed at regulating drug pricing. Following what now has become a trend, on March 13, 2018, Oregon became the newest state to enact such legislation, The Prescription Drug Price Transparency Act, H.B. 4005. But many of these … Continue reading

Twenty states file a lawsuit alleging the ACA is unconstitutional without the individual mandate penalty

A group of twenty states has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration alleging that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is unconstitutional.  Plaintiffs take the position that the elimination of the individual mandate penalty in  the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (Pub. L. No. 115-97), without a corresponding elimination of the individual mandate, renders the … Continue reading

Budget Act codifies Stark liberalizations

As we previously reported, on February 9, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives approved the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (the “Act”) and President Trump subsequently signed the bill into law.  Section 50404 of the Act includes several amendments to the Stark Law.  Specifically, Section 50404 endorses recent liberalizations of the Stark Law requirements … Continue reading

Congressional hearings held on the Trump administration’s FY 2019 budget request and health care industry consolidation

On February 14, 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced projections that national health care spending is expected to increase an average of 5.5% a year between 2017 – 2026 and will account for almost 20% of Gross Domestic Product by 2026.  This announcement provides context for the continued focus on controlling … Continue reading

US Congress agrees to and President Trump signs budget deal that includes health care provisions

Early this morning, Friday, February 9, the US Senate voted 71 – 28 to approve a budget proposal.  Subsequently, the House of Representatives passed by a 240 – 186 vote the budget package and President Trump has signed the bill into law.  The legislation reportedly:  (i) funds federal agencies until March 23; (ii) includes US$89.3 … Continue reading

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services commits to supporting Medicaid work and community engagement requirements

On January 11, 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a letter to State Medicaid Directors announcing a commitment to support section 1115 demonstration projects that include work or community engagement requirements.  This will be the first time in the fifty year history of the Medicaid program that work requirements will be … Continue reading

CHIP Program funding remains in limbo; Senators advocate reversal of 340B Drug Discount Program cuts; CMS reports on 2016 U.S. health expenditures

Payments under the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) remain uncertain in many states without an extension of federal funding to the program. CHIP provides insurance coverage for children whose parents earn too much for Medicaid but cannot afford other health insurance coverage. While the short-term spending bill signed into law on December 8 allows for … Continue reading

U.S. Senate passes tax bill eliminating penalties for failure to comply with ACA individual health insurance mandate

On December 2, the U.S. Senate passed a tax bill by a 51-49 vote.  The legislation would not repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual health insurance mandate but instead would eliminate tax penalties for con-compliance with the mandate.  Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) announced her support for the bill in a press release in which … Continue reading

Senate tax bill would effectively repeal ACA individual mandate; House legislation to reverse 340B Drug Discount Program cuts; CMS addresses prescription drug costs and the opioid crisis

On November 14, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) released the Chairman’s Mark to the Senate version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Hatch’s version of the tax plan effectively repeals the Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual mandate by reducing the associated penalty to $0. The ACA individual mandate requires individuals to buy … Continue reading

340B drug discount program payment reductions challenged; Alex Azar nominated as next HHS Secretary

On November 13, the American Hospital Association, Association of American Medical Colleges, America’s Essential Hospitals, Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, Henry Ford Health System, and Fletcher Hospital filed a lawsuit in United States District Court for the District of Columbia seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, including a preliminary injunction preventing the reduction in payments for 340B … Continue reading

CMS issues 2018 Medicare physician fee schedule final rule and MACRA physician QPP final rule

On November 2, 2017, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) Services issued its Calendar Year (CY) 2018 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) final rule.  The overall update to payments under the MPFS in 2018 will be +0.41 percent.  The 2018 MPFS conversion factor will be $35.99, an increase from $35.89 in 2017.  MPFS payment … Continue reading

CMS issues 2018 hospital OPPS and home health PPS final rules

On November 1, 2017, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued its final hospital outpatient prospective payment system (OPPS) and ambulatory surgical center (ASC) payment system final rule for Calendar Year (CY) 2018.  On the same day CMS also issued its home health prospective payment system 2018 final rule.      OPPS payment rates will … Continue reading

Federal judge rejects preliminary injunction mandating ACA cost-sharing reduction payments; CBO estimates $3.8 billion deficit reduction from bipartisan ACA bill

On Wednesday, October 25, Judge Vince Chhabria, federal district court in San Francisco, rejected a request for a  preliminary injunction by 18 states and the District of Columbia to compel the Trump Administration to continue to pay cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments to health insurance companies.  Judge Chhabria concluded:  (i) States have been preparing for months … Continue reading

Senators Alexander and Murray release draft bill intended to stabilize the ACA marketplaces

On October 17, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) announced a bipartisan proposal intended to stabilize Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces and relax ACA State Innovation Waiver restrictions. On October 19, Chairman Alexander released the proposed health care bill known as the Bipartisan … Continue reading

President Trump announces end of cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers; President signs executive order promoting association health plans

On October 12, President Trump announced in a filing by the Department of Justice in the ongoing litigation challenging the cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments that such payments will no longer be made to insurers. CSR payments help offset deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses for Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) exchange health insurance coverage for approximately … Continue reading

U.S. Senate Republican leadership decides against full Senate vote on Graham-Cassidy ACA repeal and replace legislation; HHS Secretary Tom Price resigns under pressure from the White House

On Tuesday, September 26, Senate Republican leadership decided not to hold a full Senate vote on the Graham-Cassidy Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal and replace legislation. The previous day, Monday, September 25, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on the Graham-Cassidy bill. Following the hearing, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) announced her opposition to the … Continue reading
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