On August 3, 2023, the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas ruled on the implementation of the No Surprises Act in Texas Medical Association, et al. v. US Department of Health and Human Services, et al. (TMA IV).
In TMA IV, the plaintiffs challenged two things:
- The increased administrative fee to participate in the independent dispute resolution (IDR) process. Providers asserted that the fee made participating in IDR for small-value claims cost-prohibitive.
- The US Departments of the Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services (the Departments) rules regarding batching, which providers claimed made it difficult to batch related claims for resolution in a single arbitration proceeding.
The court found that the Departments violated the Administrative Procedure Act when they raised the IDR administrative fee from $50 to $350 for 2023 and established batching rules that did not allow providers to batch claims together in the IDR process. The court said that the changes were substantive and should have gone through notice and comment rulemaking. Ultimately, the court vacated both policies nationwide.
As a result, the IDR fee will return to $50 (for now). The batching rules are also vacated until the Departments go through rulemaking, resulting in a temporary suspension of the IDR portal. The Departments are working on a proposed rule that will likely include some batching policies.
The Departments can appeal this decision, as they did for TMA II.