Last month, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reaffirmed its longstanding position that an arrangement that “carves out” Federal health care program (FHCP) business is not dispositive with respect to whether such arrangement implicates the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS). Specifically, OIG issued an unfavorable advisory opinion
Following New York State Governor Kathy Hochul’s proposal in February of this year (see our previous alert), the New York legislature passed and Governor Hochul signed a law on May 3, 2023, which significantly increases the state’s focus and visibility into physician practice management change‑of‑control transactions. New York’s statute reflects a growing trend of states taking note of transactions that previously were not regulated by state administrative agencies. As we await the promulgation of regulations from the New York State Department of Health (“DOH”), we examine here how New York’s law compares to similar laws in other states, and describe precautions that operators in the physician management space — as well as those who do businesses with such operators — should take to safeguard themselves against major disruptions to operations.
Continue Reading New York’s New Notice Requirement for Practice Management Deals Demonstrates a Trend That Should be Carefully Watched
On July 27, 2023, California’s Office of Health Care Access and Information (the “Office”) released its long-awaited proposed regulations on the notice requirements for material health care transactions in California. The anticipated regulations follow the passing of SB 184 on June 30, 2022, which, in part, created the Office and granted it the authority to collect and analyze data related to health care costs, specifically via monitoring mergers and acquisitions in the health care industry. Following the lead of states like New York, whose wide-range health care transaction requirements were discussed in a previous blog post, California seeks to address the increasing costs of health care services by imposing significant notice and review requirements for mergers and acquisitions beginning in 2024.
Continue Reading California Releases Proposed Regulations on Health Care Transaction Notice Requirements
On June 27, 2023, the Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) released its final rule (“Final Rule”) implementing penalties for information blocking.
The Final Rule codifies the prohibition on “information blocking” introduced by the 21st Century Cures Act (“Act”), which was enacted on December 13, 2016. In the Act, “information blocking” was defined as any activity that, in part, is “likely to interfere with, prevent, or materially discourage access, exchange, or use” of electronic health information (“EHI”). The Final Rule provides an enforcement process for alleged information blocking violations by health information networks, health information exchanges, and developers of health IT certified by the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (“ONC”). Enforcement of the information blocking penalties will begin on September 1, sixty days after publication of the final rule in the Federal Register.Continue Reading OIG Issues Final Information Blocking Enforcement Rule and Highlights the Potential for Referrals to the FTC and FCA Liability
On February 1, 2023, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced the 2024 Executive Budget. As alluded to in the Governor’s State of the State address, and as described in an earlier Proskauer Health Care Law Brief article, the Governor is proposing to adopt a wide-ranging approval requirement for health care transactions that appears to target investor-backed physician practices.
The legislative proposals related to health care, as contained in the Governor’s budget, were introduced as Senate Bill 4007 and Assembly Bill A3007. The bills propose to amend the Public Health Law (“PHL”) to introduce a new Article 45-A, named “Review and Oversight of Material Transactions.” See 2023 New York Senate-Assembly Bill S4007, A3007, Part M § 5.Continue Reading 2024 New York Budget Proposes Wide-Ranging Transaction Approval Requirement That Targets Private Investment in Physician Practices and MSOs, and Permits DOH to Extract Concessions
On July 20, 2022, the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services (“OIG”) issued a special fraud alert (“Alert”) advising “practitioners to exercise caution when entering into arrangements with purported telemedicine companies.” The Alert is only one of four such “special fraud alerts” that the OIG has issued in the past decade and it illustrates the importance of OIG’s statements.
OIG Flags Seven Characteristics of Telehealth Fraud
In the Alert, OIG cautions that certain companies that purport to provide telehealth, telemedicine, or telemarketing services (collectively, “Telemedicine Companies”) have carried out fraudulent schemes by: (i) aggressively recruiting physicians and non-physician practitioners (collectively, “Providers”) and (ii) paying kickbacks to such Providers in exchange for the ordering of unnecessary items or services, including durable medical equipment, genetic testing, and other prescription items. According to OIG, the fraudulent schemes have varied in design and operation and involved a variety of individuals, Providers, and health care vendors, including call centers, staffing companies, and marketers.Continue Reading OIG Issues Special Fraud Alert Regarding Telemedicine Arrangements
Fifty years of legal precedent established by Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), and Planned Parenthood of Southern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992), were overturned in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, holding that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion and leaving abortion laws to individual states…
This past week, the Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) denied UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company’s (UnitedHealthcare) petition for a writ of certiorari (Petition) challenging, in part, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’s (CMS) Overpayment Rule, which requires Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, such as UnitedHealthcare, to return identified “overpayments” to CMS within 60 days. With this denial, the Overpayment Rule remains in full force and effect, and UnitedHealthcare, among other MA plans, must comply or potentially face False Claims Act (FCA) liability.
Continue Reading The Supreme Court Denies Petition Challenging CMS’s Overpayment Rule
The Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”), recently issued new regulatory guidance relating to covered entities’ HIPAA-compliant use of remote communication technologies for audio-only telehealth services. This guidance is a direct response to a December 2021 Executive Order that tasked HHS with developing HIPAA guidance for telehealth services, with the stated goals of improving “patient experience and convenience” as the COVID-19 public health emergency subsides. HHS has issued this guidance in anticipation of the national public health emergency ending, at which time OCR’s Telehealth Notification loses effect.
The new HIPAA guidance affects covered entities in four key ways.Continue Reading HHS Issues HIPAA Guidance on Remote Communication Technologies for Audio-Only Telehealth
We previously discussed the requirements of the Hospital Price Transparency Rule (“Rule”) on health care providers and health plans, as well as CMS’s proposal to increase penalties for a hospital’s failure to comply with the Rule. About a year and a half after the Rule became effective, CMS has now imposed its first set of civil monetary penalties (“CMPs”) on Northside Hospital Atlanta and Northside Hospital Cherokee, which have been fined $883,180 and $214,320, respectively.
The Rule requires, in part, hospitals to make public a machine-readable file containing a list of all standard charges for all items and services, such as, e.g., supplies, room and board, and use of the facility, among other items. See 45 C.F.R. § 180.40(a); id. at § 180.20. The Rule also requires hospitals to display shoppable services in a consumer-friendly manner. See id. at § 180.60(d)(2); id. at § 180.60(b). The goal of these specific requirements, in addition to those set forth in the remainder of the Rule, is to provide consumers with sufficient information about the charges for certain items and services by requiring health care providers and health plans to be publicly transparent about such charges.
Based on CMS’s CMP letters, dated June 7, 2022, Northside Hospital Atlanta and Northside Hospital Cherokee were non-compliant with the aforementioned specific requirements of the Rule. The chronology of events is important to understand how CMS ended up issuing its CMP letters.Continue Reading Health Care Providers on Alert: Two Hospitals Penalized for Continuous Noncompliance with the Hospital Price Transparency Rule