September 18, 2019 | Blog | By Kristen Marotta
Employers and retail giants alike are increasingly inserting mental health into the broader, public conversation around individual healthcare and employee benefits. Various U.S. employers are rolling out employee-based benefit programs to improve employees’ mental health and overall well-being.
September 17, 2019 | Blog | By Joanne Hawana
Out of a sample of 29 non-representative drug manufacturers surveyed earlier this year, 23 had publicly posted policies related to accessing their investigational drugs outside of the context of formal clinical trials, according to the General Accountability Office (GAO). Of those 23 company policies, GAO reports that nineteen of them stated that the manufacturer would consider individual requests for expanded access to their drug candidates, while the remaining four companies stated that such requests would not be considered at the present time. Moreover, approximately half of those companies who would be open to meeting a patient’s request for expanded access also noted expressly in their policies that additional procedures would need to be followed, including review of the request by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and an institutional review board (IRB). The GAO study – released on September 9, 2019 – was conducted in response to a congressional mandate (included in the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017) for the investigative body GAO to review the agency’s actions to facilitate patient access to investigational drugs.
September 16, 2019 | Blog | By Eli Greenspan, Alexander Hecht
This week, Congress is working towards passage of a continuing resolution that would fund the government through the middle of November. This will give policymakers and appropriators enough time to hash out differences in funding priorities as well as work on policies addressing drug pricing, surprise billing, and funding for public health programs. The surprise billing issue is really heating up with outside stakeholder groups weighing in and Congress carefully considering its next steps. We cover this and more in this week's preview, which you can find by clicking here.
Key Takeaways from CMS’s Final Rule Requiring the Disclosure of Affiliates during Provider Enrollment
September 12, 2019 | Blog | By Daryl Berke, Sarah Beth Kuyers, Karen Lovitch
The Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services (CMS) recently published a final rule with comment period (the “Final Rule”) that is designed to increase CMS’s ability to identify and prevent bad actors from participating in Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP. Providers and suppliers should take note because implementation will be costly and burdensome. Among other things, the Final Rule requires the disclosure of certain provider and supplier affiliations and permits CMS to revoke or deny enrollment where those affiliations pose an undue risk of fraud and abuse. The Final Rule also grants CMS several additional authorities to revoke or deny a provider’s Medicare enrollment and increases the duration of such revocations and denials. The Final Rule takes effect on November 4, 2019. Comments on the Final Rule are due by 5:00 p.m. on that same day.
Eleventh Circuit Rules in AseraCare Case that Disagreements in Clinical Judgment, Without Objective Falsity, Do Not Prove Fraud Under the FCA
September 11, 2019 | Blog | By Samantha Kingsbury, Laurence Freedman, Brian Dunphy
On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued its long-awaited and closely watched decision in United States v. AseraCare Inc.. The court ruled that a claim cannot be deemed false under the False Claims Act (FCA) based on a difference in clinical judgment. Instead, there must be proof of an objective falsehood. More than three years have passed since the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama issued the series of rulings that gave rise to the Eleventh Circuit case.
Part 2 Proposed Rule Brings Clarity and Reduces Regulatory Burdens for Substance Use Disorder Providers, but Challenges Remain
September 3, 2019 | Blog | By Dianne Bourque, Cassandra Paolillo
On August 22, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (“SAMHSA”) announced a new proposed rule (the “Proposed Rule”) amending 42 CFR part 2 (“Part 2”), which is aimed at protecting patient records created by federally funded programs for the treatment of substance use disorder (“SUD”). The Proposed Rule is aimed at alleviating these concerns within the constraints of the underlying statute, while also addressing the increasingly urgent need to streamline SUD services in light of the opioid epidemic. Here we’ll discuss some of the major changes under the Proposed Rule while highlighting the challenges that remain.
August 29, 2019 | Blog | By Benjamin Zegarelli, Ellen Janos
On August 8, 2019, FDA issued a notice on its medical device recall database that a company called Opternative, Inc. had initiated a recall for the Visibly Online Refractive Vision Test, a software application offered directly to consumers. This represents a recent example of FDA taking enforcement action against a telemedicine software company that ultimately resulted in removal of the app from commercial distribution.
August 27, 2019 | Blog | By Bridgette Keller
GAO recently released a report analyzing the use of pharmacy benefit managers (“PBMs”) and efforts to manage drug spending and use in the Medicare Part D program. Importantly, the report found that use of PBMs reduced Part D spending in 2016 by 20%, from $145 billion to $116 billon, through drug price rebates.
August 26, 2019 | Blog | By Joanne Hawana, Elizabeth Conti
Looks like the Drug Pricing Disclosure Rule may not have seen its last day in court. On August 21, 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) filed a notice of appeal against a federal judge’s decision to block an HHS final rule that would require drugmakers to disclose product list prices within consumer-directed television advertisements for certain prescription drugs.
August 23, 2019 | Blog | By Rachel Irving Pitts
Our ML Strategies colleague Aaron Josephson was quoted extensively in an August 16 FDA Week article (FDA Week is a focused newsletter from InsideHealthPolicy) covering the debate over FDA’s withdrawal of its proposed rule on reporting data falsification. Aaron spent over a decade working at the FDA, and reviewed the rule when he was working as a senior policy advisor in FDA’s device center in 2017. The rule was proposed back in 2010, and FDA withdrew the regulation last fall after determining it would not protect research subjects or improve the quality of research data submitted to FDA. The debate over this regulatory proposal has resurfaced in recent weeks, following the agency’s announcement that it had learned of a data manipulation issue with animal testing contained in the package submitted for a newly approved gene therapy product called Zolgensma.
August 22, 2019 | Blog | By Jane Haviland, Karen Lovitch
On August 20, 2019, the United States exercised its authority under the False Claims Act (FCA) to seek dismissal of a relator’s qui tam suit because of the defendant’s burdensome discovery demands, in Polansky v. Executive Health Resources, Inc. Since the lawsuit’s inception in 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and other government agencies have attempted to fend off a series of burdensome Touhy requests but failed to do so. Meanwhile, the scope of discovery has ballooned. Collectively, DOJ and HHS have deployed six attorneys to work this case. And, to top it off, DOJ is concerned about relator’s credibility and his ability to prove a FCA violation. DOJ’s dismissal request thus comes as no surprise.
August 14, 2019 | Blog | By Aaron Josephson, Elizabeth Conti
Recently, a bipartisan group of Senators introduced the Cannabidiol and Marijuana Research Expansion Act (S. 2032), a bill to encourage scientific and medical research on marijuana and its compounds including cannabidiol, or CBD. The bill would expedite the process by which researchers can request an increase in the amount of a Schedule I substance used for approved research by sidestepping the FDA when requesting more marijuana for use in their research. The legislation also would streamline development of FDA-approved drugs that use CBD and marijuana by allowing accredited medical and osteopathic schools, practitioners, research institutions and manufacturers with a Schedule I registration to manufacture marijuana for research.
August 13, 2019 | Blog | By Ellyn Sternfield
The proposed 2020 Outpatient Prospective Payment (OPPS) rule was published on August 9, 2019. Buried in the 819 pages of proposed changes and justifications, CMS took another swing at cutting Medicare Part B reimbursement rates for 340B drugs. CMS opened its discussion of 340B provisions in the 2020 OPPS proposed rule by first stating it was keeping in effect the 340B reimbursement cut first implemented though the 2018 OPPS rule. The 2018 OPPS rule slashed most hospitals’ Part B reimbursement for 340B drugs from Average Sales Price (ASP) plus 6% down to ASP less 22.5%, a reduction of almost 30%.
August 12, 2019 | Blog | By Brian Dunphy, Rachel Yount
On July 30, 2019, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced more proposed changes to the Open Payments Program, otherwise known as the Sunshine Act. The proposed changes include new requirements that are expected to impose burdens on pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers.
August 8, 2019 | Blog | By Benjamin Zegarelli
On July 31, 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) jointly published a proposal, called the Safe Importation Action Plan, to allow certain entities to import drugs from foreign entities. While this development was not a surprise given President Trump’s campaign promises to lower drug prices by, among other things, removing barriers to drug product importation, it represents a stark departure from prior agency positions that the importation of drugs could not be adequately verified as safe and would not lead to significant cost reductions.
Three Things to Learn from Delaware Supreme Court’s Opinion on Board of Director Oversight Duties (Marchand v. Barnhill)
August 6, 2019 | Blog | By David Chorney
In June 2019, the Delaware Supreme Court issued a decision reaffirming a risk of director liability where there is no board-level reporting process for essential compliance matters. The facts of the case arise from a 2015 listeria outbreak at Blue Bell manufacturing which resulted in the death of three people. The Delaware case reaffirmed the position that directors may be subject to liability if the director “(1) completely fail[ed] to implement any reporting or information system or controls, or (2) having implemented such a system or controls, consciously fail[ed] to monitor or oversee its operations thus disabling themselves from being informed of risks or problems requiring their attention.”
August 1, 2019 | Blog | By Lauren Moldawer
Earlier this month, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) issued its 2019 “Solutions to Reduce Fraud, Waste, and Abuse in HHS Programs: Top Unimplemented Recommendations.” The OIG releases a version of this report each year outlining its top 25 unimplemented recommendations to reduce fraud, waste, and abuse (“FWA”) among HHS programs. This blog post focuses on those recommendations specific to Medicare Part C and Part D for 2019.
July 31, 2019 | Blog | By Russell Fox, Jonathan R. Markman
$100 million in Federal funds may soon become available to help healthcare providers cover the costs of broadband and connected care services. Earlier this month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted on a proposal, on which it will seek public comment, for a new “Connected Care Pilot Program,” and the comment period on that proposal has now begun. The proposed program would direct money to telehealth initiatives, especially for medically underserved populations like low-income families and veterans. The money would come from the Universal Service Fund (USF), which is an existing fund of fees paid by telecommunications service providers currently used for a variety of purposes.
July 30, 2019 | Blog | By Theresa Carnegie, Ellyn Sternfield, Matt Mora, Michelle Caton, Eli Greenspan
Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chairman and Ranking Member (respectively) of the Senate Finance Committee, have fired the latest shot in Congress’s ongoing battle against high drug prices. Last week, the Senators introduced their much-anticipated proposal to lower drug prices: a chairman’s mark called the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act (PDPRA) of 2019.
FDA Invites Compounding Outsourcing Facilities' Comments to Understand Industry Challenges and Opportunities
July 29, 2019 | Blog | By Elizabeth Conti
On July 29, 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a notice to the Federal Register (84 Fed. Reg. 36609). The notice invites comments on information collected in connection with FDA research by obtaining information from pharmacists and other management at outsourcing facilities as well as related compounding businesses. The collected information will support a comprehensive analysis of the outsourcing facility sector with hopes to inform future FDA work in this area.
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