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June 28, 2024

Washington Roundup

The American Hospital Association News tells us,

  • “The Department of Health and Human Services June 24 released a final rule that would disincentivize health care providers for interfering with the access, exchange or use of electronic health information. AHA previously expressed concern when the rule was proposed, saying it could threaten the financial viability of economically fragile hospitals.”
  • “In the final rule, hospitals under the Medicare Promoting Interoperability Program found to have committed information blocking would experience a reduction of the market basket update by 75%. Critical access hospitals would see a reduction from 101% to 100% of reasonable costs, while clinicians in Medicare’s Merit-based Incentive Payment System would receive a score of zero in the MIPS Promoting Interoperability performance category. Providers in accountable care organizations that commit information blocking would be ineligible to participate in the Medicare Shared Savings program for at least one year and may not receive revenue they may have earned through the program.” 

HHS adds,

  • “This HHS final rule complements OIG’s final rule from June 2023 that established penalties for information blocking actors other than health care providers, as identified in the Cures Act (health information technology (IT) developers of certified health IT or other entities offering certified health IT, health information exchanges, and health information networks). If OIG determines that any of these individuals or entities committed information blocking, they may be subject to a civil monetary penalty of up to $1 million per violation.

Beckers Payer Issues reports,

  • “Making expanded ACA subsidies permanent would add $335 billion to the national deficit between 2025 and 2034, the Congressional Budget Office estimated. 
  • “Premium tax credits have spurred record enrollment in ACA marketplace plans. These subsidies, implemented in 2021, are set to expire at the end of 2025 unless Congress votes to extend them. 
  • “In a June 24 letter to the chairs of the House ways and means and budget committees, the CBO estimated making subsidies permanent would cost $415 billion overall — the result of a $250 billion increase in spending and a $164 billion decrease in tax revenue. 
  • “These costs would partially be offset by a decline in offers of employment-based insurance, the CBO estimated, resulting in a total add of $335 billion to the budget.  * * *
  • “Payer executives have told investors they are optimistic Congress will cut a deal to extend the subsidies or make them permanent.”

Fierce Healthcare tells us,

  • “A leading Democrat and health legislator is urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to better enforce Medicare Part D program requirements for pharmacy benefit managers.
  • “By evading such requirements, PBMs are threatening the financial health of the country’s smaller pharmacies, Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, wrote to the agency in a letter (PDF).
  • “I am alarmed to hear reports that PBM contracting practices are straining the finances of pharmacies and directly contributing to their closures,” he said. “Specifically, I am concerned PBMs are not adhering to the new rule reining in direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees that took effect on January 1 and undermining Medicare’s pharmacy access standards as intended by Congress.”
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