On November 16, 2021, 12 states—Montana, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia—filed a complaint in the US District Court for the Western District of Louisiana requesting that the Interim Final Rule with comment period (IFR) that put in place the vaccination mandate applicable to certain covered healthcare facilities and staff be declared arbitrary and capricious, contrary to law and in excess of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) statutory authority. CMS published an IFR on November 5, 2021, that implements the Biden administration’s previously announced vaccine mandate for healthcare facilities. The expansive IFR applies to more than a dozen types of healthcare providers and suppliers (facilities), affects more than 10 million healthcare staff and carries an anticipated potential price tag in excess of $1.3 billion dollars for the first year of implementation.
CMS Will Finalize Heightened Penalties, Additional Requirements Under Hospital Price Transparency Rule
On November 2, 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it will implement increased penalties for hospitals that do not comply with the Hospital Price Transparency Rule, effective January 1, 2022. CMS will also finalize several additional requirements for hospitals, including a requirement that hospitals ensure standard charge information is accessible to automated searches and direct downloads.
CMS will implement a sliding penalty scale based on the hospital’s number of beds. Hospitals with 30 or fewer beds will face a maximum daily penalty of $300, while hospitals with between 31 and 550 beds will face a maximum daily penalty of $10 per bed. Hospitals with more than 550 beds will face a maximum daily penalty of $5,500.
A coalition launched by several major health systems and a hospital-at-home company aims to continue delivering hospital-level-at-home care in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. McDermott+Consulting Vice President Mara McDermott said providers have demonstrated that the model is “of high value to patients.”
“At the end of the pandemic, without some sort of extension, the new model is at risk of going away or dramatically shrinking,” McDermott said. “Action by the federal government will ensure that this important and innovative source of care can continue.”
Hospitals are pushing back after the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) cut Medicaid reimbursement rates to participating hospitals under the 340B drug discount program.
According to this article published in The Well News, 340B program supporters have filed a petition with the Supreme Court, arguing that HHS failed to collect sufficient data and that the department overstepped its authority with the cuts. McDermott Partner Emily Jane Cook said that the cuts will mean rural hospitals are “deprived of an important source of support for the services that they provide to their communities.”
Although digital health solutions have long been a key area of strategic growth for the healthcare industry, the COVID-19 crisis accelerated what it means to deliver safe and effective digitally-based care. As the United States shifts focus from short-term crisis response to longer-term solutions, what does a digitally-driven healthcare industry look like, and how can healthcare entities maintain the highest standards of care and meet patient expectations while constructively disrupting out-of-date practice patterns? During a recent virtual conversation, McDermott Partners Michael W. Ryan and Jennifer S. Geetter addressed these questions and more.