We follow up on our previous blog post concerning the U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in favor of 340B hospitals. The Supreme Court previously held that “absent a survey of hospitals’ acquisition costs, HHS may not vary the reimbursement rates for 340B hospitals” and therefore, that HHS exceeded its statutory authority by varying the 2018 and 2019 rates for 340B hospitals without first conducting such survey.
Below is an excerpt of a contributed article co-authored with Robinson+Cole Business Litigation Group lawyer Ben Daniels published in Physicians Practice on September 16, 2022.
On July 25, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected an appeal brought by Pfizer, Inc. in a case that examines whether a “corrupt” intent is…
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently issued new guidance (Guidance) on the use of remote communication technologies to deliver audio-only telehealth in accordance with HIPAA. Per OCR, the Guidance is intended to ensure continued access for patients to audio-only telehealth in a secure and compliant manner, particularly once OCR’s notification of enforcement discretion (previously discussed here) tied to the COVID-19 pandemic is rescinded (i.e., once the HHS-declared COVID-19 public health emergency is ended).…
On June 15, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of “340B” hospitals in a notable statutory interpretation case concerning how the federal Medicare program reimburses hospitals for prescription drugs. The case, which was brought by the American Hospital Association, arises from reimbursement reductions imposed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in 2018 and 2019 on hospitals participating in the 340B program (which the Court noted are hospitals that “generally serve low-income or rural communities”). In those years, HHS sought to impose reductions in reimbursement due to favorable pricing available to 340B hospitals under that program. The hospitals challenged those reductions based on the process HHS followed when setting the reimbursement rates, claiming that HHS’s failure to conduct a survey of hospitals’ average acquisition costs for the drugs prevented HHS from varying reimbursement rates for this distinct group. Therefore, according to the hospitals, HHS was required to pay them based on the average sales price charged by manufacturers for the drugs.…
The federal Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently published a report (OIG Report) as part of a series of analyses of the expansion and utilization of telehealth in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. In its report, the OIG concludes that telehealth was “critical for providing services to Medicare beneficiaries during the first year of the pandemic” and that the utilization of telehealth “demonstrates the long-term potential of telehealth to increase access to health care for beneficiaries.” The OIG’s conclusions are notable because they come at a time when policymakers and health care stakeholders are determining whether and how to make permanent certain expansions of telehealth for patients nationwide.
Continue Reading OIG: Telehealth “Critical” to Maintaining Access to Care Amidst COVID-19
In a per curiam decision issued January 13, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal health care worker vaccine mandate rule, finding that the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services was authorized by law to issue the rule. See our previous analyses of the rule and subsequent litigation here and here for more background information on the stakes of this case.
Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Health Care Worker Vaccine Mandate
On Monday, November 15, 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) repealed a policy established by the Trump administration that directed the FDA not to enforce premarket review requirements for COVID-19 laboratory developed tests (LDTs). This prior policy, which waived premarket review requirements aimed at increasing broad public access to COVID-19 tests, was generally consistent with the FDA’s historical stance allowing laboratories to not seek approval of LDTs. With the policy announced by the Trump administration, laboratories again began offering their tests prior to or without an emergency use authorization (EUA) after the test was validated and a notification was provided to the FDA. While this policy expedited the availability of tests, the FDA contends that the policy also led to some poorly-performing tests being offered prior to FDA review. Notably, this prior policy did not apply to at-home or point of care collection tests, which have always required FDA review.
Continue Reading HHS Again Requires FDA Premarket Review for COVID-19 Tests
On September 9, 2021 President Biden announced a COVID-19 Action Plan entitled “Path out of the Pandemic” (the “Plan”) which comprises a six-pronged national strategy aimed at combatting COVID-19. The Plan includes a number of important provisions related to health care, including implementation of COVID-19 vaccine requirements and an expansion of resources available for treatment of COVID-19. The Plan signals significant changes upcoming for health care organizations, their employees, and their patients.
The following summary addresses certain parts of the Plan with specific implications for health care, but please continue to check R+C blogs and legal updates for follow-up analysis of the specific guidance and rules that are released in furtherance of the Plan.
Continue Reading Biden COVID-19 Action Plan Expands Vaccine Mandates, Testing, and Treatment to Combat Spread of Virus
In a rare move, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a warning to hospitals and health systems to prioritize the patching of a two-year-old vulnerability in picture archive communication systems (PACs). PACs are used for the exchange and storage of health scans and images, such as MRIs, CT Scans, breast imaging,…
On January 28, 2021, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a Fifth Amendment to HHS’s Declaration under the Public Health Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) that provides liability immunity to certain individuals and entities arising from the manufacturing, distribution, administration or use of medical countermeasures (e.g., therapeutics and vaccines) against COVID-19.
Continue Reading COVID-19 Vaccine Update: HHS Expands Pool of Eligible Vaccinators under PREP Act