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July 28, 2023

Washington Roundup

Congress is scheduled to be on a State / District work break from next week until after Labor Day.  The federal fiscal year ends on September 30.  

On July 25, 2023, the Department of Labor announced

  • “The Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and the Treasury today announced an important step in addressing the nation’s mental health crisis by proposing rules to better ensure that people seeking coverage for mental health and substance use disorder care can access treatment as easily as people seeking coverage for medical treatments. * * *
  • “The Department of Labor, in consultation with the Departments of Health and Human Services and the Treasury, also issued a technical release today that requests public feedback on proposed new data requirements for limitations related to the composition of a health plan’s or issuer’s network. 
  • “The technical release seeks public comment to inform guidance for proposed data collection and evaluation requirements for nonquantitative treatment limitations related to network composition and requests input on the development of an enforcement safe harbor for plans and issuers that submit data indicating that their networks of mental health and substance use disorder providers are comparable to networks for medical/surgical providers. 
  • “The departments also released the second Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act’s Comparative Analysis Report to Congress, as required by federal law. At the same time, the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration and Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a joint fact sheet on the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act enforcement results for cases closed in fiscal year 2022.
  • “With the proposed rules and technical release, the departments aim to promote changes in network composition and plans’ and issuers’ medical management techniques to make mental health and substance use disorder provider networks more accessible and create parity in treatment limitations, such as network composition standards and prior authorizations, for people seeking mental health and substance use disorder treatment.”
  • The public comment deadline will occur at the end of September 2023. 

Per Fierce Healthcare, the Federal Trade Commission expanded its investigation of prescription benefit managers 

The Society for Human Resource Management informs us,

  • “The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced Friday a new Form I-9—which has been streamlined and shortened—that employers should use beginning Aug. 1, 2023.
  • “Employers may continue to use the older Form I-9 (Rev. 10/21/19)  through Oct. 31., 2023. After that date, they will be subject to penalties if they use the older form. The new version will not be available for downloading until Aug. 1.  
  • “Additionally, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a final rule that allows the agency to create a framework under which employers could implement alternative document examination procedures, such as remote document examination. The new form subsequently has a checkbox to indicate when an employee’s Form I-9 documentation was examined using a DHS-authorized alternative procedure.
  • “At this time, the final rule only allows employers using E-Verify to use alternative verification methods.”

Healthcare Dive notes

  • “The Federal Trade Commission and the HHS’ Office for Civil Rights are warning hospitals and telehealth companies about embedding online tracking technologies on their websites or apps, saying the trackers risk exposing consumers’ personal health data to third parties. 
  • “The trackers, like the Meta Pixel or Google Analytics, collect identifiable information about users and could reveal information about health conditions, diagnoses, treatments, frequency of visits and more, the agencies wrote in a letter to about 130 health systems and telehealth providers.
  • “The warning marks the latest move from regulators regarding the healthcare industry’s use of tracking technologies, which monitor user behavior on websites. Sharing consumers’ health data with third parties, like advertisers, has been a recent target of FTC oversight.”
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