CMS released a broad-ranging proposed rule for the Medicare Advantage and Part D Programs on Thursday, November 16, 2017. The proposed rule addresses a broad and diverse range of MA and Part D regulatory requirements, affecting not only Medicare Advantage Organizations and Part D Sponsors, but also health care providers, pharmacies, pharmaceutical manufacturers and others.
Ankur J. Goel represents health industry clients in significant compliance, False Claims Act, litigation and regulatory matters. Ankur works with a range of health industry clients. He represents health plans on issues arising under Medicare Advantage, Part D, and health insurance exchanges, as well as health care providers on a variety of complex enforcement, compliance, regulatory and litigation matters. Read Ankur Goel's full bio.
CMS recently released a final rule with the goal of stabilizing Exchange markets for 2018. The agency also issued several significant guidance documents where CMS extended the deadlines for 2018 rate and Exchange qualified health plan application submissions, adopted a good faith compliance standard for 2018 and delegated additional plan certification responsibilities to states. While these steps may provide some comfort for issuers, the agency did not address the most significant areas of issuer concern when it comes to 2018 Exchange participation. Namely, the Final Rule and guidance documents do not resolve ongoing uncertainty regarding cost-sharing reduction funding, the enforcement of the individual mandate or ongoing efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
In an effort to stabilize the Exchanges and encourage issuer participation, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently extended the federal Exchange application and rate filing deadlines and published a proposed rule affecting the individual health insurance market and the Exchanges. While issuers will likely see these actions as encouraging signs of the Trump administration’s willingness to support the Exchanges, these actions do not resolve the political uncertainty regarding the Affordable Care Act’s fate or whether cost-sharing reductions will be funded for 2018. These outstanding questions will likely be a key factor in Exchange stability going forward.
President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This campaign promise, which echoes a familiar refrain from Republicans since ACA’s passage, is more complex than it may seem.
There are pathways to quickly “repealing” key elements of ACA such as the individual mandate and its subsidies, but this could result in significant market disruption in the absence of a replacement. Republicans will now be in charge of putting together a health reform replacement package; what that replacement will look like is an open question.
Last week, a federal district court ruled that US Congress did not appropriate funds for the cost-sharing reduction subsidies in the Affordable Care Act. The court stayed the decision pending an anticipated appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
On June 25, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in King v. Burwell that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires premium tax credits to be made available in states that use a federal exchange. The case challenged an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulation allowing tax credits in federal exchanges. The Supreme Court upheld the regulation as consistent with the statute. Our On the Subject provides a discussion on the issue.
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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rule providing for federal tax credits for health insurance purchased through federal exchanges, while the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld the same IRS rule. If en banc review in the appeals courts does not resolve the circuit split, the matter likely will go to the Supreme Court of the United States for review. Tax subsidies under the IRS rule should remain available until such review, which is not expected before June 2015.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Final Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2015 contains numerous alterations to premium stabilization programs, cost-sharing requirements and employee counting provisions to account for lower-than-anticipated enrollment through the Exchanges and the Obama Administration’s decision to permit individuals to “keep their current plan” through 2016. All of these changes and the fluid regulatory environment create significant challenges for issuers, who must operationalize these changes, some of which are effective in 2014, and prepare for the 2015 benefit year.
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