ACA

Repeal Efforts Fail (for now): Can Obamacare Survive?

Posted by Chris Raphaely on March 28, 2017
ACA / No Comments

With the House GOP pulling the American Health Care Act (AHCA) due to lack of sufficient support even within its own party, Obamacare is not out of the woods.

The ACA’s two pillars, the individual marketplaces and Medicaid expansion, remain vulnerable and could be used as political bargaining chips in Washington as the battle over “health care reform” plays out in the coming months and years.

In response to the House’s failure to pass the AHCA, the President and House Speaker have expressly said that Obamacare will “implode” and the administration has many ways to see to it that it does sooner rather than later. On the other hand, the administration and Congress could also move on to on tax reform and other items while changes to the marketplaces are implemented by regulation.  The administration already has proposed regulations on the table that has been characterized as a “good faith” effort to implement minor changes to prop up the marketplaces. Reportedly, however, many insurers will want more in the form of funding for cost sharing reductions and reinsurance to keep sufficient numbers of insurers in the marketplaces long term.  Continue reading…

Chris Raphaely

Chris Raphaely

R. Christopher Raphaely joined Cozen O'Connor's Philadelphia office in 2014 as co-chair of the Health Care Practice Group. Chris joins the firm from Jefferson Health System, where he served as deputy general counsel and general counsel to the system’s accountable care organization and captive professional liability insurance companies.

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Trump Takes First Step Toward Dismantling ACA and Buys Time with an Executive Order: Is it Substantive or Merely Symbolic?

Posted by Chris Raphaely on January 23, 2017
ACA, HHS / No Comments

Hours after taking the oath of office President Donald Trump signed a broadly worded executive order (“Order”) intended to minimize if not eliminate the impact of the ACA’s least popular provisions. With the Order President Trump can claim immediate action towards fulfilling a major campaign pledge while giving his administration and the Republican led Congress time to come up with a replacement plan.

The Order directs the secretary of HHS and other agency heads to, among other directives:

[E]xercise all authority and discretion available to them to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement of the [ACA] that would impose a fiscal burden on any State or a cost, fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden on individuals, families, healthcare providers, health insurers, patients, recipients of healthcare services, purchasers of health insurance, or makers of medical devices, products, or medications. [And] [t]o . . . exercise all authority and discretion available to them to provide greater flexibility to States and cooperate with them in implementing healthcare programs. [And] [t]o . . . encourage the development of a free and open market in interstate commerce for the offering of healthcare services and health insurance, with the goal of achieving and preserving maximum options for patients and consumers.

The Order makes it clear that any agency actions under the order must be within the confines of the law and its existing regulations, both of which remain in place at least for now. The agencies still have the option of amending or repealing ACA regulations but the Order gives them the authority to take some action before going through the regulatory approval process.

Apparently, the agencies will decide which stakeholders’ costs and “burdens” under the ACA will be reduced. This presents them with an interesting challenge given the opposing interests inherent in the broad group of stakeholders expressly targeted for relief under the Order. For example, if the scope of the individual mandate (likely the prime target of the Order) were reduced relieving some individuals of the cost of buying health insurance, it would likely skew the risk pool of the exchange plans to less healthy participants increasing the cost and burden on the exchange’s insurers and those individuals who want to purchase insurance through the exchanges. That action could also end up reducing overall insurance coverage increasing the uncompensated care hospitals and other providers would be required to deliver.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect to watch, however, will be whether the Order ultimately has any significant substantive effect or simply ends up being a symbolic gesture. Some observers have contended that significant delays to, or gutting of, a portion of the ACA’s tightly woven and inter-related pieces mid-year 2017 would create chaos in the affected programs, like the health insurance exchanges, which are already underway this year. Therefore, there has been speculation that actions under the Order are not likely to be effective until 2018. The question is whether any actions under the Order, which are expressly limited to those that are permissible under the ACA, will mean anything in 2018 when it is almost certain that the ACA will have already been repealed.

Whether substantive or symbolic, clearly the first step in the ACA’s dismantling has been taken and we will be watching very closely as the administration and Congress take many more.

 

 

Chris Raphaely

Chris Raphaely

R. Christopher Raphaely joined Cozen O'Connor's Philadelphia office in 2014 as co-chair of the Health Care Practice Group. Chris joins the firm from Jefferson Health System, where he served as deputy general counsel and general counsel to the system’s accountable care organization and captive professional liability insurance companies.

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Ignorance Is Not Bliss: The Clock under the ACA’s “60 Day Rule” Can Start Ticking Well Before the Exact Amount of Overpayment is Identified

Posted by Chris Raphaely on August 05, 2015
ACA, Affordable Care Act, False Claims Act, Medicaid, Medicare / No Comments

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On August 3, 2015, a federal judge in the Southern District of New York ruled that the United States’ and state of New York’s complaints in intervention can move forward against a group of hospitals, under the federal False Claims Act (“FCA”) and New York’s FCA corollary. The hospitals allegedly failed to report and return Medicaid overpayments that were brought to their general attention over two years before all of the relevant repayments were made.

The judge’s opinion denying the defendants’ motions to dismiss in Kane v. Health First, et al. and U.S. v. Continuum Health Partners Inc. et. al., should be of particular note to providers because it contains extensive discussion and guidance as to how at least one federal judge interprets the Affordable Care Act’s (“ACA”) “60 day rule.” Specifically, the ACA’s rule requires any provider who receives an overpayment from Medicare or Medicaid to repay such overpayment within 60 days of the “date on which the overpayment was identified.” Further, retention of such an overpayment beyond the sixty-day period can result in liability under the FCA.

Continue reading…

Chris Raphaely

Chris Raphaely

R. Christopher Raphaely joined Cozen O'Connor's Philadelphia office in 2014 as co-chair of the Health Care Practice Group. Chris joins the firm from Jefferson Health System, where he served as deputy general counsel and general counsel to the system’s accountable care organization and captive professional liability insurance companies.

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Supreme Court Upholds ACA Subsidies: What’s Next?

Posted by Chris Raphaely on June 26, 2015
ACA, Affordable Care Act / No Comments

On Thursday, June 25, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its much anticipated ruling in King v. Burwell, the second major Court challenge to a core element of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”).  The Court, by a 6-3 margin, issued a victory for the ACA.

King v. Burwell was not a challenge to the ACA per se.  Rather, the plaintiffs challenged an Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) rule which permits the provision of subsidies for the purchase of health insurance to lower-income residents of states that use Healthcare.gov, the exchange operated by the federal government.  Essentially, the plaintiffs, and three Justices in a vigorous dissent penned by Justice Scalia, argued that the plain language of the statute limited the subsidies to residents of states that operate their own exchanges.  This would have eliminated subsidies in at least 36 states, and would have had innumerable indirect effects on other provisions of ACA (including eliminating the penalties for violations of the employer mandate in those states).

Although the decision will be of great interest politically and to administrative and constitutional law scholars, it does nothing to change the implementation of the ACA.  The exchange system that is currently in place will move forward unless it is changed legislatively or by executive action. This was welcomed by businesses in the two sectors most directly affected by the ruling, insurance and health care providers, and was reflected  in  sharp one day gains of stock prices for the large insurance companies and for-profit hospital chains.

Another aspect of the ACA that will now definitely move forward as a result of the decision is the scheduled implementation of the employer mandate on January 1, 2016.  Accordingly, affected entities (employers of 50 or more full time equivalents) should continue, and in some cases quickly step up, their compliance efforts by reviewing their employment and benefits policies to make certain that they do not run afoul of the employer mandate once it becomes fully effective.

Chris Raphaely

Chris Raphaely

R. Christopher Raphaely joined Cozen O'Connor's Philadelphia office in 2014 as co-chair of the Health Care Practice Group. Chris joins the firm from Jefferson Health System, where he served as deputy general counsel and general counsel to the system’s accountable care organization and captive professional liability insurance companies.

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ProMedica and the AHA Seek Guidance from SCOTUS on Hospital Consolidations and Mergers

Posted by Ryan Blaney on February 05, 2015
ACA, Federal Trade Commission, FTC, Supreme Court / No Comments

FTCStatueThe New Year started out with a bang in the healthcare antitrust circles with ProMedica Health Systems Inc.’s (“ProMedica”) well-publicized petition to the US Supreme Court and the American Hospital Association’s (AHA) amicus brief in support of ProMedica.  ProMedica hopes that the Supreme Court will hear the case and overturn a Sixth Circuit ruling requiring ProMedica to divest St. Luke’s Hospital, a non-profit hospital in Toledo, Ohio.  As evidence of the complexity and the lengthy litigation challenges between ProMedica and the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) this merger occurred almost five years ago in 2010.  The FTC and the Ohio Attorney General had sued to dissolve the deal because they considered it anti-competitive; arguing that ProMedica would control 60% of the hospitals in the greater Toledo area. The FTC ordered ProMedica to divest St. Luke’s (21 HLR 467, 3/29/12).  The Sixth Circuit agreed with the FTC on the grounds that the merger would likely result in higher prices for payors and consumers and lead to unintended precedent for future hospital mergers.

ProMedica’s petition argues that this case is “a rare and uniquely apt vehicle for consideration of the [merger law] issues based on a fully-developed record.”  Hospital merger cases rarely are litigated through appeal and this case is an opportunity for the Supreme Court to clarify fundamental aspects of merger law nearly 40 years after the United States v. General Dynamics Corp., 415 U.S. 486 (1974) decision.  ProMedica argues that over the last 40 years confusion has developed over the FTC’s unilateral-effects theory and consolidation pressures have increased with the passage of the Affordable Care Act and other federal regulations.

ProMedica’s petition focuses on three merger law questions that the lower courts are divided on as the primary reasons why the Supreme Court should hear the case:

  1. How the FTC defines relevant market product for a merger analysis and whether the FTC can base it on supply-side considerations. ProMedica argued that the FTC should have either analyzed hospital services market by market because one kind of surgery is not a substitute for another or the FTC should have considered all four levels of hospital services as a package-deal market.
  2. Where the FTC relies exclusively on a unilateral-effects theory in challenging a merger may a court adopt a strong presumption of anti-competitive harm based solely on market-share statistics?
  3. Can the FTC rely on market-share statistics to preclude consideration of the merger target’s financial weakness to rebut a presumption of harm based on market-share statistics in unilateral-effects cases?

The unilateral effects analysis is the degree to which the merging hospitals are substitutes for each other.  The higher the substitutability between two merging hospitals, the greater the competition among them and the greater the power.  Here, ProMedica argues that Mercy Hospital, not St. Luke’s, is the closest substitute in the Toledo area.

ProMedica received support from the American Hospital Association (“AHA”) on the third issue, the “weakened competitor” doctrine.  On January 21, 2015, AHA filed an amicus brief asking the US Supreme Court to review the Sixth Circuit decision and the lower court’s characterization that the “weakened competitor” argument is a “Hail Mary” that deserves credence only in rare situations.  AHA argues that the Sixth Circuit’s erosion of the “weakened competitor” doctrine leaves the “viability of many small and stand-alone hospitals in jeopardy.”  AHA also argues that there are conflicting interpretations by the lower courts on how to read the General Dynamics decision.  Clarity is needed from the Supreme Court especially in the context of health care mergers.  Hospitals should not have to wait until they are on the edge of bankruptcy to merge.  AHA believes that the Sixth Circuit errored when it did not apply the General Dynamics weakened competitor analysis to the ProMedica acquisition.

The case is ProMedica Health System Inc. v. Federal Trade Commission, case number 14-762, in the Supreme Court of the United States.  The FTC has until March 2, 2015 to file a response.  It is unknown when the Supreme Court will decide about hearing the case.

For further information contact Ryan P. Blaney, Washington, DC, at [email protected]

Ryan Blaney

Ryan Blaney

Ryan Blaney joined Cozen O'Connor as a member of the firm's Health Law group. Ryan practices in the firm's Washington, D.C., office. He focuses his practice on representing clients in the health care and life sciences industries in a wide range of matters, including health care fraud and abuse, civil and criminal government investigations, qui tam and whistle-blower disputes under the False Claims Act and other federal and state laws and regulations, HIPAA privacy and data security, compliance and transactional services, and antitrust matters.

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HHS Ups The Ante: Announces Percentages And Time Frames On Goals For Medicare Pay-For-Value Efforts

Posted by Chris Raphaely on January 27, 2015
Accountable Care Organizations, Affordable Care Act, CMS, HHS, Medicaid, Medicare / No Comments

On January 26, 2015, the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), Sylvia Mathews Burwell, announced two important goals for the Department:

  1. Increase the percentage of Medicare provider payments that are made through alternative payment models based on how well the providers care for patients, rather than the amount of care provided. The percentage goals for these alternative payment models are 30% by 2016 and 50% by 2018.
  2. Tie virtually all Medicare fee-for-service payments (85% in 2016 and 90% in 2018) to quality and value.

This announcement puts hard numbers on the goal to move away from traditional fee-for-service Medicare payments that has been stated generally since at least 2010 when the Affordable Care Act was enacted. By clearly delineating specific figures for alternative payment models, such as accountable care organizations and bundled payment arrangements, from those figures for payment methods, HHS has made it clear that providers should be thinking not just about different forms of payment but different forms of organizations and relationships with other providers. Alternative payment models generally require coordination among different types of providers who may not otherwise be related to each other.

While the announced goals focus on the Medicare fee-for-service system, it is clear that HHS intends the impact of these goals to be far broader. Ms. Burwell also announced the creation of a Health Care Payment Learning and Action Network to facilitate a public-private sector partnership to “continue to build on our work with state Medicaid agencies, private payers, employers, consumers and other partners,” while welcoming the fact that “our partners in the private sector have the opportunity to be even more aggressive” in establishing alternative payment models and pay-for-value compensation systems. On the same day as Ms. Burwell’s announcement, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a fact sheet stating that it is taking action with a goal to spend “our health dollars” more wisely, citing the importance of the goal for patients, families, providers, tax payers, employers, states and insurance companies, and making it clear that HHS and CMS fully intend to have their efforts to transform health care delivery and payment systems to reverberate well beyond the Medicare program.

Chris Raphaely

Chris Raphaely

R. Christopher Raphaely joined Cozen O'Connor's Philadelphia office in 2014 as co-chair of the Health Care Practice Group. Chris joins the firm from Jefferson Health System, where he served as deputy general counsel and general counsel to the system’s accountable care organization and captive professional liability insurance companies.

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Taking Aim in 2013: The Government Points Two Barrels at Preventing and Punishing Healthcare Fraud and Abuse

Posted by William P. Conaboy Jr. on November 16, 2012
Affordable Care Act, Fraud and Abuse, HIPAA, HITECH, Medicaid, Medicare / No Comments

A few weeks ago we posted on this Blog an article highlighting the “gathering storm” surrounding HIPAA enforcement and predicted an ominous future for hospitals and other providers who fail to develop and maintain adequate HIPAA compliance policies.  While there is no doubt the future is bleak for those unwilling to abide by HIPAA’s mandate, the forecast for providers who commit healthcare fraud is equally devastating.  This is because, in 2013, the federal government will attack healthcare fraud from two angles. First, the Office of Inspector General (“OIG”), per the terms of its 2013 Work Plan (“Work Plan”), will review many of the government’s anti-fraud efforts to maximize recovery of Medicare and Medicaid overpayments.  Second, many of the new anti-fraud provisions in the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) will kick into high gear now that the result of the presidential election has guaranteed the law’s survival. Continue reading…

William P. Conaboy Jr.

William P. Conaboy Jr.

Bill Conaboy is an associate in the firm’s Healthcare Law Group. Prior to working with the firm Bill earned a Doctor of Pharmacy degree (Pharm D), and is currently a licensed pharmacist and attorney in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Bill focuses on regulatory and litigation matters related to many areas of healthcare law.

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Shedding Some Light on the ACA’s Sunshine Provisions

Posted by Robert A. Chu on October 01, 2012
Affordable Care Act, Fraud and Abuse / No Comments

On September 12, 2012, the Senate Special Committee on Aging held a roundtable hearing on the Sunshine Provisions in Section 6002 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the “Sunshine Provisions”).  Under the Sunshine Provisions, certain drug and device manufacturers must annually report to the government many payments and other transfers of value they make to physicians and teaching hospitals.  Certain drug and device manufacturers and group purchasing organizations (“GPOs”) must also report ownership and investment interests in them held by physicians and their immediate family members.  In this post, we will report on the roundtable hearing, provide an overview of a Proposed Rule regarding the Sunshine Provisions, and discuss their implementation. Continue reading…

Robert A. Chu

Robert A. Chu

Rob Chu is an associate in the firm’s Health Law Group, focusing on the litigation of health law matters. Upon graduation from Villanova School of Law, Rob was awarded the ABA-BNA Award for excellence in the study of health law. Rob earned an MBA from Villanova University and Master of Public Health from Yale University.

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Trojan Horse or Meaningful Medicaid Reform?

Posted by William P. Conaboy Jr. on June 22, 2012
Medicaid, Medicare / No Comments

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has outlined its plan to temporarily raise Medicaid rates to Medicare levels for primary care services, and pay states to cover the difference.  On May 11, 2012, CMS issued a proposed rule requiring Medicaid payment for primary care services furnished by eligible physicians at rates “not less than the Medicare rates” for fiscal years 2013 and 2014.[1]  The proposed rule provides for 100% federal matching for any increase in payment above the amounts that would be due under the provisions of a state’s plan as of July 1, 2009.[2]  By increasing Medicaid rates for 2013 and 2014, CMS is implementing certain provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).  CMS hopes the increased rates will encourage sufficient primary care physician participation in the Medicaid program to accommodate the nearly 16 million new patients that will be eligible to receive Medicaid benefits if the ACA survives the Supreme Court’s review.  The proposed rule does not say, however, what will happen to Medicaid rates – and, more importantly, whether there will be enough physicians to care for the larger Medicaid patient population – after 2014.  Nor does the proposed rule say whether the increased rates for primary care services will be applied regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision. Continue reading…

William P. Conaboy Jr.

William P. Conaboy Jr.

Bill Conaboy is an associate in the firm’s Healthcare Law Group. Prior to working with the firm Bill earned a Doctor of Pharmacy degree (Pharm D), and is currently a licensed pharmacist and attorney in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Bill focuses on regulatory and litigation matters related to many areas of healthcare law.

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