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In CMS’s recently released proposed rule (the Medicare and Medicaid Programs: Contract Year 2021 and 2022 Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage Program, Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Program, Medicaid Program, Medicare Cost Plan Program and Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) (the “Proposed Rule”) and supplemental HPMS memos, CMS is proposing several significant changes to its star rating system and to its methodology for reviewing plan past performance. This blog post highlights the key details of the proposed changes to the star rating system and past performance methodology and their potential impact on Medicare Advantage and Part D plans.
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As the coronavirus remains to be an active outbreak with cases increasing within the United States, this is a good time to review how HIPAA applies in a public health emergency, including its restrictions and flexibility in these types of situations. Accordingly, last week, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released a helpful bulletin on how the HIPAA Privacy Rule comes into play with the coronavirus outbreak and other public health emergencies.
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Massachusetts Considers Drug Pricing Transparency Laws

February 10, 2020 | Blog | By David Chorney

Like many states, Massachusetts is considering drug pricing transparency legislation. The legislation would require pharmaceutical manufacturers to disclose certain pricing information.  Governor Charlie Baker has proposed legislation which would expand upon current reporting requirements for drug manufacturers in Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Senate passed legislation which includes drug price transparency requirements and increased regulatory oversight of the pharmaceutical industry in Massachusetts. 
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This week, the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services (HHS) Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a proposed rule (the Medicare and Medicaid Programs: Contract Year 2021 and 2022 Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage Program, Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Program, Medicaid Program, Medicare Cost Plan Program and Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly), the 2021 Medicare Advantage and Part D Advance Notice of Methodological Changes for Medicare Advantage Capitation Rates and Part C and Part D Payment Policies (Part II), and multiple Health Plan Management System (HPMS) memos and notices covering topics including Medicare Advantage (MA) benefits, Medicare Part D bidding, and suspension of its Past Performance Review Methodology.  
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Artificial Intelligence in Health Care

February 5, 2020 | Blog | By Rachel Irving Pitts

Artificial Intelligence is a growing part of our day-to-day life. And AI promises to improve our health care system. ML Strategies Vice President Christian Tomatsu Fjeld recently sat down with other experts for a panel discussion hosted by the San Francisco Business Times to discuss AI and some business and policy considerations across multiple industries. This viewpoint considers some of the impacts on health care specifically, and links out to the panel's discussion.
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Continuing progress on the initiatives announced in its Biosimilars Action Plan in July 2018 (see our prior post here), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released information about several important biosimilar-related actions on February 3, 2020. These recent moves make clear that FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, who was confirmed and sworn in to his new role at the tail end of 2019, is continuing to focus agency resources on the Biosimilars and Drug Competition Action Plans developed under the leadership of his predecessor, Dr. Scott Gottlieb.
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As discussed in an earlier blog post, the process for reauthorizing human medical product user fee programs at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for another 5-year period is getting started this year. Below we highlight some changes made to the programs when they were last reauthorized through the 2017 Food and Drug Administration Reauthorization Act (FDARA) (P.L. 115-52) and consider what could be included in the upcoming user fee reauthorization package.
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The Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services (OIG) recently issued a favorable Advisory Opinion regarding a proposal by a pharmaceutical manufacturer (Requestor) to provide financial assistance for travel, lodging, and other expenses to certain patients receiving a cell therapy that it offers (the Arrangement). The OIG concluded that the Arrangement could potentially violate the Anti-Kickback Statute as well as the prohibition on beneficiary inducement in the Civil Monetary Penalties Law (the Beneficiary Inducement CMP) but ultimately declined to impose administrative sanctions.
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Health Plan Transparency Rule: Comment Period Ends This Week

January 29, 2020 | Blog | By Lauren Moldawer

In November 2019, the Department of Health, along with the Department of Treasury and Department of Labor (“Departments”) released a proposed rule requiring group health plans and health insurance issuers in the individual and group markets to disclose cost-sharing information to enrollees (“Proposed Rule”). Earlier this month, the Departments extended the deadline for comments on Proposed Rule to January 29, 2020. To date and with one day remaining in the comment period, the Departments have already received over 20,000 comments on the Proposed Rule.
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FDA User Fees: How Do They Work?

January 28, 2020 | Blog | By Aaron Josephson

A history of FDA human medical product user fee programs, including those for prescription drugs (PDUFA), generic drugs (GDUFA), biosimilars (BsUFA), and medical devices (MDUFA), their negotiation and reauthorization, and how manufacturers and patients can participate and get involved in the negotiations.
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Recap of Our Health Law and Policy Year-in-Review Posts for 2019

January 27, 2020 | Blog | By Joanne Hawana

Over the past month or so, our Health Care Team has published a number of posts examining important developments and trends in health law and policy during 2019, as well as providing some thoughts on what we expect to see in 2020. Our posts cover a range of topics, including health care enforcement trends, HIPAA updates, priorities from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and drug pricing initiatives. In case you missed one, below are links to all of our annual review posts (plus a few extras).
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Growing Number of States Enact Drug Pricing Transparency Laws

January 23, 2020 | Blog | By Rachel Yount

Drug prices continue to be a hot button issue in American politics.  While many of the Trump Administration’s efforts to curb increasing drug prices stalled in 2019, a number of state legislatures have adopted drug price transparency laws in recent years.  Since 2015, Vermont, Nevada, California, Maryland, Louisiana, New York, Oregon, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Texas, and Washington have all adopted drug pricing transparency laws.  These laws are designed to incentivize manufactures to lower drug prices by requiring them to report information about drug price increases and their justification for how drug prices are set.  We have been tracking and summarizing these laws, and you can find our summary here. 
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Health Care Enforcement Year-in-Review and 2020 Outlook: Criminal Case Developments

January 22, 2020 | Blog | By Eoin Beirne, Nicole Henry, Jason Burrell, Jane Haviland

As discussed in our article recently published by Law360, criminal health care enforcement in 2019 was in many ways a continuation of 2018, with opioid-related enforcement continuing to be the clear top priority for the Department of Justice (DOJ), in addition to DOJ's sustained focus on prosecuting individuals and data-driven identification of health care fraud.  This post provides an overview of our article, which covers these issues and our expectations for 2020 in detail.
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Health Care Enforcement Year-in-Review and 2020 Outlook: Civil Fraud Enforcement Developments and Trends

January 21, 2020 | Blog | By Brian Dunphy, Laurence Freedman, Karen Lovitch, Julianna Hanlon, Nicole Henry, Clare Prober

As discussed in our article recently published by Law360, 2019 brought yet another year of robust health care enforcement activity, and the False Claims Act (FCA) remains the government’s most powerful civil health care enforcement tool.  This post will give an overview of our article, which covers these issues and more in great detail.
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In a coordinated effort, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a Unified Website for Biotechnology Regulation on January 9, 2020. The website serves to streamline information regarding agriculture biotechnology products, which are regulated by FDA, USDA, and EPA. The implementation of the website is in response to the June 2019 Executive Order issued by President Donald Trump on Modernizing the Regulatory Framework for Agricultural Biotechnology Products. The Unified Website for Biotechnology Regulation complements prior joint actions such as the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology, an Obama administration effort to reform the biotechnology regulatory process by enhancing transparency, predictability, and efficacy.
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Health Care: A Clearer Vision in 2020? Don’t Bet On It

January 15, 2020 | Blog | By Aaron Josephson, Tara E. Dwyer

As we noted in our previous blog post, there are several legislative priorities in the health care space that could see action this year. There are also a variety of activities beginning this year that could set the stage for later action. Here’s what we’re tracking for a 2020 health care legislative package.
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Since the 21st Century Cures Act became law in December 2016, we have been keeping track of the Food and Drug Administration’s actions to carry out its obligations under the relatively new law. One particular provision of the Act: (i) emphasized the agency's responsibility to identify class II devices that may be exempted from premarket notification (or 510(k)) requirements, and (ii) required the agency to publish a list of each type of class II device that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determines no longer requires a 510(k) submission to provide reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness at least every five years, or as appropriate. On December 30, 2019, FDA published a final notice of its amendments to each classification regulation for the newly exempted devices.
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Health Care Provisions in 2020 Spending Package

January 9, 2020 | Blog | By Aaron Josephson

On December 20, 2019, the President signed into law a bill to fund the federal government through September 30, 2020. The bill included several important health care provisions but left some longstanding policy challenges unresolved. Most notable changes to law are the elimination of three Affordable Care Act taxes and the passage of the CREATES Act. Noticeably absent is legislation related to surprise billing and prescription drug pricing. A summary of key health care provisions included in the 2020 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 116-94) follows. We will address the legislative outlook for 2020 in a separate ML Strategies blog post next week.
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On December 31, 2019, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Department of Health & Human Services’ Affordable Care Act (ACA) risk adjustment methodology in New Mexico Health Connections v. HHS, No. 18-2186 (10th Cir. 2019), reversing a federal district court's 2018 decision that certain aspects of the administration and risk management formulas used by the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) were arbitrary and capricious.  It was a fitting end to a decade so defined by health care and, in particular, legal and political challenges to the ACA.  However, whether or not the decision marks the end of serious challenges to the ACA’s risk adjustment program remains unclear.  
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On December 16, 2019, a nationwide coalition of hospitals sued HHS to block implementation of the 340B rate cuts contained in the 2020 Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (“OPPS”) Final Rule. As detailed in our prior blog post, the 2020 OPPS Final Rule reduces by nearly 30% the Medicare Part B reimbursement for certain drugs provided by hospitals to outpatient beneficiaries that are acquired through the 340B Program. The final rule purports to continue the reimbursement cuts for 340B drugs first implemented in 2018, despite the fact that those cuts (and the 2019 OPPS rule continuing those cuts) are the subject of ongoing litigation in which the cuts were determined to be unlawful. For a detailed walk-through of the 2020 OPPS Final Rule and litigation up to this point, please see our prior three blog posts here, here, and here. 
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