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.

Continue Reading Supreme Court Decides in Favor of 340B Hospitals Regarding Medicare Reimbursement Methodology

On April 27, 2022, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) published Advisory Opinion 22-08 (Advisory Opinion) in which it declined to impose sanctions against a federally qualified health center (Requestor) for an arrangement involving the loaning of smartphones to patients to allow those patients to receive telehealth services from the Requestor. The OIG concluded that although the arrangement would constitute prohibited remuneration under the Federal anti-kickback statute (AKS) and the beneficiary inducement prohibitions of the Civil Monetary Penalties Law (CMP), the limited scope of the arrangement and the safeguards in place did not warrant the imposition of sanctions.

Continue Reading Advisory Opinion 22-08: OIG Declines to Impose Sanctions for Loaning of Smartphones for Receipt of Telehealth Services

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently created a new webpage related to telehealth. The purpose of the webpage is to summarize the OIG’s telehealth oversight work to provide a summary of its findings and recommendations that can be used by policymakers and other stakeholders to evaluate potential changes to federal telehealth policies.

Continue Reading OIG Creates New Telehealth Resources Webpage

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

On March 16, 2022, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) published Advisory Opinion 22-05 (Advisory Opinion) in which it declined to impose sanctions against a medical device manufacturer (Requestor) that proposes to pay certain cost-sharing obligations of clinical trial participants, including Medicare beneficiaries. The OIG concluded that although the proposed arrangement (described below) would constitute prohibited remuneration under the Federal anti-kickback statute (AKS) and the beneficiary inducement prohibitions of the Civil Monetary Penalties Law (CMP), the low-risk nature of the proposed arrangement did not warrant the imposition of sanctions.

Continue Reading Advisory Opinion 22-05: OIG Declines to Impose Sanctions Against Device Manufacturer’s Medicare Cost-Sharing Subsidy in Clinical Trial

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 December 2, 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a memorandum to state survey agencies indicating that it will not enforce its Interim Final Rule (the “Rule”) regarding health care worker vaccinations while there are court-ordered injunctions against the Rule in place.
Continue Reading CMS Issues Memorandum Stating It Will Not Enforce Its COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate While There are Court-Ordered Injunctions in Place

On November 4, 2021, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued heavily anticipated emergency regulations requiring COVID-19 vaccination of eligible staff at health care facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. CMS issued an Interim Final Rule (IFR) in response to the COVID-19 “Path out of the Pandemic” Action Plan announced by President Biden on September 9, 2021, that per CMS is intended to protect the health and safety of residents, patients and staff at health care facilities. See our previous analysis of the Plan here.

Below please find key takeaways regarding the new COVID-19 vaccination requirements for health care facilities and staff:
Continue Reading CMS Issues Emergency Regulation Requiring COVID-19 Vaccination for Health Care Facility Workers

On November 2, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized its 2021 End-Stage Renal Disease Prospective Payment System Rule. Among other things, the final rule expands Medicare payments for in-home dialysis equipment and supplies as part of an effort to encourage in-home care for populations vulnerable to COVID-19. We previously wrote about the proposed rule here.
Continue Reading CMS Finalizes 2021 End-Stage Renal Disease Prospective Payment System Rule Expanding Payments for In-Home Dialysis Equipment and Supplies

On October 14, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) expanded the list of telehealth services covered by Medicare during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. CMS also announced it would be providing additional support to state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) agencies in delivering telehealth services. CMS added the telehealth services using, for the first time, an expedited process that does not involve rulemaking which had been established by CMS in May 2020.
Continue Reading CMS Announces New Telehealth Services Covered by Medicare and Provides States with Medicaid and CHIP Telehealth Expansion Assistance