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April 26, 2024

Washington Roundup

Beckers Hospital Review alerts us,

  • “A Senate committee opened an investigation into Novo Nordisk’s list prices for Ozempic and Wegovy, Novo Nordisk’s diabetes and weight loss drugs. 
  • “In an April 24 letter to Novo Nordisk’s CEO, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions said Ozempic and Wegovy are “exorbitantly expensive,” which restricts access to the drugs for millions of Americans. 
  • “In the U.S., a four-week supply of Ozempic costs $969, and Wegovy is $1,349. That’s up to 15 times more than what Novo Nordisk charges in Canada, Europe and Japan, the letter said. 
  • “In 2023, pharmacies, clinics and hospitals spent more than $38 billion on the two products, which contain the same drug, semaglutide. They were the No. 1 pharmaceutical expense for U.S. healthcare, according to research published April 24.

American Hospital News reports

  • “The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services April 22 finalized minimum staffing requirements for nursing homes that participate in Medicare and Medicaid. As proposed in September, the final rule will require nursing homes to provide a minimum of 3.48 hours of nursing care per resident day, including 0.55 hours of care from a registered nurse per resident day and at least 2.45 hours of care from a nurse aide per resident day, as well as 24/7 onsite RN services. CMS slightly expanded the opportunity for facilities to seek exemptions from the requirements from its original proposal. AHA had urged CMS not to finalize the proposal but instead develop more patient- and workforce-centered approaches focused on ensuring a continual process of safe staffing in nursing facilities.”
  • KFF adds
    • “KFF estimates that 19% of nursing facilities would meet the minimum HPRD staffing standards under full implementation of the final rule with their current staffing levels (Figure 1). Nearly 60% of facilities would meet the interim requirement of an overall requirement of 3.48 HPRD, but fewer facilities would meet the RN and nurse aide provisions that are required when the rule is fully implemented (49% and 30% respectively; data not shown).”

HHS’s Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT announced on April 2024 that

  • “Common Agreement Version 2.0 (CA v2.0) has been released. The Common Agreement establishes the technical infrastructure model and governing approach for different health information networks and their users to securely share clinical information with each other – all under commonly agreed-to rules-of-the-road. The seven designated Qualified Health Information Networks™ (QHINs™) under the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement℠ (TEFCA℠) can now adopt and begin implementing the new version. Also published today is the Participant and Subparticipant Terms of Participation, which sets forth the requirements that each Participant and Subparticipant must agree to and comply with to participate in TEFCA.”Common Agreement Version 2.0 (CA v2.0) has been released.

The American Hospital Association News tells us,

  • “The Federal Trade Commission April 23 voted 3-2 to issue a final rule that would ban as an unfair method of competition contractual terms that prohibit workers from pursuing certain employment after their contract with an employer ends. The final rule does not apply to existing agreements with executives earning more than $151,164 annually who are in policymaking positions. In addition, although the Commission recognized that it does not have jurisdiction over not-for-profit entities, it reserved the right to evaluate an entity’s non-profit status and noted that some “entities that claim tax-exempt nonprofit status may in fact fall under the Commission’s jurisdiction.” Specifically, it stated that “some portion of the 58% of hospitals that claim tax-exempt status as nonprofits and the 19% of hospitals that are identified as State or local government hospitals in the data cited by AHA likely fall under the Commission’s jurisdiction and the final rule’s purview.”
  • “The rule takes effect 120 days after publication in the Federal Register and includes model language that employers can use to communicate to workers.  The United States Chamber of Commerce has already indicated that it will file suit to challenge the final rule.”

Healthcare Dive adds

HR Dive notes,

  • “The U.S. Department of Labor said Tuesday April 23 it will publish a final rule raising the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum annual salary threshold for overtime pay eligibility in a two-step process. Starting July 1, the threshold will increase from $35,568 to $43,888 per year. It will then increase to $58,656 on Jan. 1, 2025.
  • “The changes will expand overtime pay eligibility to millions of U.S. workers, the agency said. DOL’s 2025 threshold represents a jump of about 65% from the Trump administration’s 2019 rule and is slightly higher than the $55,068 mark that DOL proposed in 2023.
  • “The threshold will automatically update every three years using current wage data — which would next occur on July 1, 2027 —  but DOL said in the proposed rule that updates may be temporarily delayed if the department chooses to engage in rulemaking to change its methodology or update mechanism.”
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