Photo of Xavier Hardy

On Wednesday, August 8, CMS filed a proposed rule clearing the way for the federal government to continue making payments under the ACA’s risk adjustment program for the benefit year 2018.  The 2018 proposed rule is unsurprising.  It essentially mirrors the final rule CMS issued two weeks ago for benefit year 2017, including the same technical fix to the risk adjustment methodology meant to satisfy a decision handed down in February by a federal district court judge in New Mexico, who had ruled that the use of certain risk management formulas in the program was arbitrary and capricious.  Both the 2017 final rule (which will presumably allow CMS to make billions of dollars in risk adjustment payments to plans this fall for benefit year 2017) and the 2018 proposed rule (which is designed to allow payments for benefit year 2018, to be paid out during the fall of 2018) will still need to be approved by the district court before any risk adjustment payments can be made, meaning the future structure of the risk adjustment program is far from set in stone.  The New Mexico CO-OP which had challenged the risk adjustment methodology in the first place made clear in a filing on August 1 that it will continue to fight the risk adjustment methodology.  However, CMS’s decision to continue administering the risk adjustment program is noteworthy because it represents a stark reversal from the agency’s announcement in early June that the federal government would freeze the program in response to the district court ruling. Continue Reading CMS, In a Reversal, Announces Plans to Continue Funding Risk Adjustment Payments

Many provisions of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) have been the subject of litigation over the last decade, with several high-profile Supreme Court cases including: NFIB v. Sebelius, King v. Burwell, and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. One of the more overlooked topics of litigation has been the ACA’s “Risk Corridors” program. This has recently changed because a decision is anticipated in the consolidated appeal of two important risk corridors cases currently pending in a federal appeals court. Continue Reading Decision Expected Soon in Ongoing Risk Corridors Litigation

In early January, Idaho Governor Butch Otter signed an executive order (EO) directing the state’s Department of Insurance (DOI) to “seek creative options” to expand “access” to health insurance coverage for Idahoans. The EO essentially deemed to allow health carriers in the state to offer plans on the health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) “even if not all [ACA] requirements are met.”[1]  For many spectators, the most significant aspect about the order was not that it instructed a state agency to ignore federal law, but that it left open the question whether the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”), under the direction of Trump Administration appointee Seema Verma, would step in to enforce the ACA.  CMS’s response in early March was that it would enforce the ACA’s penalties against carriers that attempted to sell non-compliant plans, which was a rare instance of the Administration defending a law that it has otherwise attempted to eliminate. Continue Reading What Lessons Can We Take From The Administration’s Refusal to Allow Idaho to Dismantle the ACA Marketplaces?

The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently intervened in a False Claims Act (FCA) case that raises a variety of interesting allegations, including payment of kickbacks by a compounding pharmacy to contracted marketing companies in the form of percentage-based compensation, to TRICARE beneficiaries in the form of copayment waivers, and to physicians who submitted prescriptions without seeing patients.  According to the complaint, Patient Care America (PCA), a Florida compounding pharmacy, implemented a scheme to manipulate the compounding formula for pain and scar creams that resulted in the submission of false claims to TRICARE.  The complaint also names two of PCA’s senior executives (one of which has since left the company) as well as the private equity firm that owns a controlling interest in PCA. Continue Reading DOJ Intervenes in False Claims Act Case Against a Compounding Pharmacy and a Private Equity Firm

Mintz Levin’s Antitrust & Federal Regulatory Practice recently published a Health Care Antitrust Alert on the DOJ Antitrust Division’s announced settlement with Henry Ford Allegiance Health (“Allegiance”). The settlement concludes nearly three years of litigation involving claims that Allegiance and rival hospitals unlawfully conspired to restrict the marketing of competing services in some South Central Michigan counties. We published an Alert when the claims were first filed in 2015. The new Alert outlines the terms of the proposed settlement agreement.