At the end of July, CMS approved two Section 1332 State Innovation Waivers submitted by Wisconsin and Maine for the purpose of establishing state reinsurance programs. There has been a flurry of 1332 waiver activity recently as states have sought to stabilize their individual insurance markets through reinsurance programs. Currently, Maryland and New Jersey have pending reinsurance applications before CMS. For more on the Wisconsin, Maine, and Maryland waivers, click here.

New Jersey’s request, which was submitted on July 2nd, 2018, is summarized below. Continue Reading New Jersey’s Pending 1332 Reinsurance Waiver

States are increasingly looking for ways to improve stability in their individual insurance marketplaces. One way is through reinsurance programs – systems in which multiple insurance companies share risk by purchasing insurance policies from another party to limit the total loss the original insurer would experience in case of unusually high claims. To date, Alaska, Minnesota, and Oregon have established state reinsurance programs through Section 1332 State Innovation Waivers, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. More are on the way.

Recently, there has been significant activity on using Section 1332 waivers to implement reinsurance programs. On July 29, 2018, CMS approved Wisconsin’s 1332 waiver request to implement a reinsurance program for years 2019 through 2023. On July 30, Maine’s waiver request to reinstate its reinsurance waiver was approved. Maryland and New Jersey also have pending reinsurance applications before CMS (Maryland being the most recent state to submit an application). Continue Reading Recent 1332 Waiver and Reinsurance Activity

This week, the House is looking at advancing several health care tax proposals, including permanent repeal of the medical device tax. They will also consider a proposal to delay the health insurance tax by two years. In the Senate, aside from a couple of health-related hearings, it should be a relatively normal week. Today, the Senate will consider the nomination of Robert Wilkie to be Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. On the Administration side, we are paying attention to the potential movement of various regulations sitting at the Office of Management and Budget. For our complete coverage, please click here.

In an attempt to lower drug prices, CMS released a proposed rule last week to reduce payments for new drugs under the Part B program. CMS has proposed that effective January 1, 2019, for new drugs and biologicals that are currently reimbursed utilizing the wholesale acquisition cost (“WAC”) of the drug or biological plus 6 percent, will instead receive a reduced add-on payment of 3 percent. Because the change is limited to new drugs that are largely expensive, physician-administered, and infused or injected, such as chemotherapy and rheumatoid arthritis treatments, the financial impact of the proposed reduction could be significant.

Continue Reading CMS Proposes to Reduce Payments for New Drugs under Medicare Part B

It seems like every week, there are multiple new developments in the 340B program.  While it has just been a few weeks since my last 340B blog post, since that time we have had another Senate hearing, a new GAO Report, a new House hearing, and introduction of more than a dozen new bills in Congress.  But why, despite all these developments, does it feels like little has actually changed in the 340B world since January?  Continue Reading July 2018: Where Are We Now With 340B?

Congress is in session this week with six important health care hearings, including hearings on Medicare fraud, mental health, and Stark reform. Meanwhile, the Administration continues to put forth new proposed rules and guidance that will impact many stakeholders between now and the end of the year. We cover this and more in this week’s health care preview, which you can find by clicking here.

This week, Congress returns from recess to another four-week work period. The dynamics of the next four weeks might be in flux now that President Trump has nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. Other issues to monitor include the suspension of risk adjustment payments and the fall out from the Kentucky Medicaid waiver ruling. We cover all this and more in this week’s preview, which you can find here. 

State Medicaid Agencies have historically engaged in an epic balancing act.  Federal law requires State Medicaid Agencies to ensure beneficiaries have access to medically necessary services.  Federal law also requires State Medicaid Agencies to safeguard their Medicaid Programs against fraud, waste or abuse in billing for Medicaid services.  Balancing those competing requirements has long proven challenging.

Indeed, that very challenge is why federal law also requires State Medicaid Fraud Control Units (MFCUs) be housed outside of the State Medicaid Agencies, and that the State Medicaid Agencies have no authority over which cases the individual MFCUs investigate or prosecute under applicable civil or criminal statutes.  Concerns over access to care should not factor into prosecution judgments in the face of allegations of Medicaid fraud.

No state is more emblematic of the challenges presented by that balancing act than Texas.  But Texas may also be a case study in why use of private Medicaid Management and Medicaid Managed Care companies is no panacea for those challenges.  Moreover, Texas may be a case study in the importance of private Medicaid Management and Medicaid Managed Care companies understanding the depth of those challenges and the need to fully assess what the company may be taking on, before contracting to provide Medicaid services in a particular state. Continue Reading Texas:  A Cautionary Tale for Medicaid Management and Managed Care Companies

This week, focus turns to the Senate as the House overwhelmingly passed its opioid package known as H.R. 6 last week (see our previous coverage here). The Senate will look to combine its various proposals into one package for floor consideration and what passes will provide a timeline for reconciling the House and Senate packages. In other news, the Senate will spend time in the HELP and Finance Committee on drug pricing. With Secretary Azar set to testify, we look for signals that the Administration is moving forward with any aspect of its drug pricing blueprint. We cover this and more in this week’s preview, which you can find here.

The government is focusing on opioids.  Whether it be program policies, enforcement, or legislation, combating the opioid epidemic continues to be a major focus for government officials.  It is also a major piece of the health care legislation moving in both the House and the Senate.

In the Senate, the Judiciary Committee advanced five bills relating to the opioid crisis, and the HELP Committee advanced the “Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018,” which has over 40 measures relating to opioids. Most recently (6/12), the Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved the Helping To End Addiction And Lessen (HEAL) Substance Use Disorders Act Of 2018.  That Act includes the expansion of the Physician Payment Sunshine Act to include payments to mid-level providers, as we previously blogged about here.  Click here for a summary of all Senate bills.

On the House side, over the last two weeks, the House passed over 50 bills to combat the opioid crisis and have received bipartisan support. Additional opioid related bills have been introduced and passed out of committee. On June 20, the House voted and passed three additional opioid bills (HR 5925, HR 9797, and HR 6082). Two of these bills were considered controversial. H.R. 5797, The IMD CARE Act, repeals the Medicaid IMD exclusion for individuals with opioid use disorders. H.R. 6082, The Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act, amends 42 CFR Part 2 confidentiality protections pertaining to substance use disorder patient records.  Continue Reading Opioids Have Our Attention