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On July 8, 2024, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) updated its General Questions on Fraud and Abuse Authorities (FAQs) related to the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) and the Beneficiary Inducement Prohibition of Civil Monetary Penalties Law (CMPL) with clarifications regarding waiving patients’ cost-sharing amounts pursuant to health care providers’ financial assistance policies. The new FAQs (FAQs #13-16) reiterate the OIG’s longstanding position that hospitals and other health care providers may provide financial assistance to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries on the basis of financial need. Of note, the OIG also provides some guidance on the distinction between marketing and advertising to patients as opposed to making patients aware about the availability of financial assistance, and this guidance may be useful in a variety of contexts beyond cost-sharing waivers. 

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Read about litigation developments involving the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Program, including decisions from the Third Circuit affirming the constitutionality of the program, and new cases in the pipeline.
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Read about independent state boards — called Prescription Drug Affordability Boards (PDABs) — implemented by a number of states to address high drug prices in their health care systems and manufacturers’ concerns about the use of these boards.
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In ‘Third Edition: Q2 2024’ of the Mintz IRA Update, we cover updates to the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Program being considered by CMS, developments in litigation challenging the program, the consequences and costs of redesigning the Part D program, opposition to the use of march-in rights to lower drug prices, and the growing use of state prescription drug affordability boards.

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Read about the 2025 redesign of the Medicare Part D program pursuant to the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 and how those changes impact Medicare Part D plan sponsors, beneficiaries, and manufacturers.

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Read about updates to the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Program being considered by CMS, including changes to the 2027 negotiation process, plus industry response to draft guidance and drug makers’ softened perspective on the IRA’s impact.
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Read about criticism of the Biden administration’s proposal exploring the use of “march-in rights” granted under the Bayh-Doyle Act (the Act) to seize pharmaceutical patents if the administration believes that a pharmaceutical product is not available to the public at a reasonable price.

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In the Proposed Medicare Advantage and Part D Rules for 2025, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed significant changes to how Medicare Advantage organizations (MAOs) are allowed to contract with and compensate entities that provide agent/broker and enrollment services.  The proposed rules were heavily disfavored by entities that provide such services, but were not widely commented on by MAOs or Part D sponsors (PDP Sponsors), which are the entities to which the rules actually apply.

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Now that the final rule on laboratory developed tests (LDTs) has been available for over a month and the stages of the enforcement discretion phaseout process and the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) newly proposed policies for continuing limited enforcement discretion for certain types of LDTs have been thoroughly described and dissected (including by us in our previous post), it’s high time to dig into FDA’s perspectives on the comments it received on the proposed rule. 

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The Supreme Court now has the opportunity to define “willfulness” under the federal criminal Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS). In a declined qui tam case filed against McKesson Corporation, a pharmaceutical wholesaler, the relator, Adam Hart, a former McKesson employee, filed a petition for certiorari seeking Supreme Court review of a Second Circuit decision that upheld the dismissal of relator’s complaint asserting claims under the civil False Claims Act (FCA) premised on alleged violations of the AKS. U.S. ex rel. Hart v. McKesson Corp., 96 F.4th 145 (2d Cir. 2024). A violation of the AKS requires as the scienter element that the defendant "knowingly and willfully" offered or paid remuneration to induce the recipient of the renumeration to purchase goods or items for which payment may be made under a federal health care program. 42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7b(b)(2). The Second Circuit held that a defendant does not act “willfully” within the meaning of the AKS unless that defendant “act[s] knowing that his conduct is unlawful.” United States ex rel. Hart, 96 F.4th at 154.

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The indictment, arrest, and arraignment of Ruthia He, the founder, CEO, and clinical president of Done Global (Done), and David Brody, clinical president of Done and the sole shareholder of Done Health, P.C. (PC) in connection with their alleged criminal conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, commit health care fraud, and obstruct justice may bring heightened scrutiny to behavioral health telemedicine companies and other virtual health platforms. The seven-count indictment represents the Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) first criminal drug distribution prosecutions related to telemedicine prescribing. The prosecution of the defendants is proceeding in federal court in the Northern District of California and several additional Done personnel including an executive, physician, and nurse practitioners are similarly being prosecuted.

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As the first state law to regulate the results of Artificial Intelligence System (AI System) use, Colorado’s SB24-205, “Concerning Consumer Protections in Interactions with Artificial Intelligence Systems” (the Act), has generated plenty of cross-industry interest, for good reason. In some ways similar to the risk-based approach taken by the European Union (EU) in the EU AI Act, the Act aims to regulate developers and deployers of AI Systems, which are defined by the Act as “any machine-based system that, for any explicit or implicit objective, infers from the inputs the system receives how to generate outputs, including content, decisions, predictions, or recommendations, that can influence physical or virtual environments.”

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A recent court split about whether awards granted through arbitration under the No Surprises Act (NSA) are enforceable through litigation has created uncertainty around an already complicated process.  A Texas judge recently held that the NSA does not grant parties a right to bring suit to enforce arbitration awards, while last year a New Jersey court granted enforcement of a similar award.  The resulting split raises questions about the enforceability and utility of the NSA and its Independent Dispute Resolution (IDR) process. 

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True to their word in several recent public statements, the Chief and Deputy Chief of the Medicaid Fraud Division have brought several recent criminal cases against dentists for fraudulent billing and unlicensed practice of dentistry.

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As part of its 2025 Medicare Advantage and Part D Final Rule (the Final Rule), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized a number of regulatory changes relating to how Medicare Advantage (MA) plans offer supplemental benefits and how they communicate such benefits to plan members. As previewed in the Proposed 2025 Rules, the Final Rule outlines CMS’s intentions to (i) more closely monitor the supplemental benefits that a Medicare Advantage organization (MAO) offers and categorizes as "Special Supplemental Benefits" for the Chronically Ill (SSBCI) and (ii) require MA plans to send annual notices to MA plan enrollees regarding their available supplemental benefits.

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Acting U.S. Attorney Joshua Levy discussed the enforcement priorities for the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) during a Q&A session on May 29, 2024, and made clear that the historical focus of the office remains the top priority: detecting and combating health care fraud, waste, and abuse. 

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On April 18, 2024, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) released a new Final Rule for its oft-criticized 340B Administrative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program (2024 Final Rule).

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On May 8, 2024, the U.S. House of Representatives Ways & Means Committee passed a bipartisan bill entitled the “Preserving Telehealth, Hospital and Ambulance Access Act” by a vote of 41-0, which will potentially have far-reaching consequences for Medicare beneficiaries, health care providers, and the telehealth and PBM industries.

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Last month, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (“NASEM”) issued a report discussing the inclusion of pregnant and lactating people in clinical research and the health impacts of inadequate data from research involving this subpopulation. Titled “Advancing Clinical Research with Pregnant and Lactating Persons: Overcoming Real and Perceived Liability Risks,” the report came as a response to Congress calling upon NASEM to examine the real and perceived prevalence of legal liability resulting from including these research subjects in clinical trials. Overall, the report concluded that legal liability for including pregnant and lactating persons in research is very limited, but that perceptions of potential liability and a lack of explicit guidance for including this population safely have created real barriers to their inclusion.  In response, the report provides recommended actions for Congress, the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”), the National Institutes of Health (“NIH”), and the Office of Human Research Protections (“OHRP”) to take to enhance the inclusion of this population in clinical trials, thereby enhancing data around the safety and efficacy of approved drug products for pregnant and lactating persons.  Study sponsors and institutions conducting research should continue to monitor developments in this area, including guidance from FDA.

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