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FDA Is Accepting EUA Requests for Monkeypox Tests, But Time is of the Essence

September 28, 2022 | Blog | By Benjamin Zegarelli, Joanne Hawana

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a guidance on development and emergency use authorization of diagnostic and serological tests for the monkeypox virus following the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Service’s declaration of a public health emergency under Section 564 of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act on August 9, 2022. Subsequently, the Secretary declared on September 7 that in vitro diagnostics for monkeypox were needed to respond to the public health emergency, and the FDA released its guidance on the same day. The monkeypox test guidance describes the agency’s general expectations and approach for test development and validation, as well as the EUA request process.
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New York Office of Medicaid Inspector General Proposes Regulations on Self-Disclosure Program

September 26, 2022 | Blog | By Karen Lovitch, Jean D. Krebs, Cody Keetch

This post is the third and final installment of our blog series on the proposed regulations published by the New York State Office of Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG). The proposed regulations would repeal the current Part 521 - Provider Compliance Programs of Title 18 of the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations in its entirety and establish new requirements for providers to detect and prevent fraud, waste, and abuse in the Medicaid Program under a new Part 521: Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Prevention (Part 521). If enacted, the proposed rules would implement changes related to Medicaid provider compliance programs, Medicaid managed care organization (MMCO) fraud, waste, and abuse prevention, and Medicaid providers’ “obligation to report, return, and explain Medicaid overpayments through OMIG’s Self-Disclosure Program.”
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The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been busy over the past month announcing new enforcement actions and settlement agreements related to violations of the Privacy Rule implemented under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).  OCR’s latest actions offer a reminder for HIPAA Covered Entities that Privacy Rule enforcement activity can come in a variety of types and sizes.
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On September 15, 2022, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a $7.9 million settlement with generic manufacturer Akorn Operating Company LLC (Akorn) to resolve allegations that Akorn caused the submission of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs to Medicare Part D in violation of the False Claims Act (FCA).  Because Medicare Part D only covers prescription drugs, the pertinent drugs were not eligible for Medicare reimbursement. The conduct at issue under this settlement is a relatively novel basis for FCA liability, but we may see similar government enforcement actions in the future as the federal government actively encourages drug manufacturers to “switch” prescription drugs to OTC status in order to enhance their accessibility and reduce costs. This blog post provides an overview and analysis of the settlement. 
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Various COVID relief programs pumped $5 trillion into the economy, incredibly quickly, and with relatively minimal vetting. Within that enormous and necessary set of economic stimulus packages was likely the greatest amount of fraud committed on the government in the shortest amount of time in history. This article takes a look at the various issues facing government agencies as they attempt to investigate allegations of PPP fraud related to pandemic-era applications and the role of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee in coordinating and overseeing these investigations.
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California Attorney General Probes Bias in Health Care Algorithms

September 12, 2022 | Blog | By Lara Compton, Jane Haviland

A spurt of letters from California Attorney General, Rob Bonta, to leaders of hospitals and other health care facilities sent on August 31, 2022 signaled the kickoff of a government probe into bias in health care algorithms that contribute to material health care decisions. This blog post highlights the California Office of the Attorney General’s initiative to address disparities in health care and what this probe may mean for the use algorithms and AI in health care. 
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The head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Dr. Robert Califf, announced on August 30, 2022 that, in addition to an extensive review of opioid regulations, the agency is launching a framework aimed at preventing overdose-related deaths.  Commissioner Califf previously committed to leading a review of opioid regulations during his December 2021 confirmation hearing, in response to repeated questions from Senators regarding FDA’s response to the ongoing opioid epidemic and broader public criticism of the agency’s historical actions in the space.  The commitment to regulatory review also follows criticism FDA has received over the years for approving OxyContin in 1995 and many other addictive opioid drugs since then without requiring more thorough warning labels and other protections that could help combat misuse and over-prescribing.
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Telehealth Update: Assessing PHE Flexibilities, Pending Legislation Entering Fall 2022

September 1, 2022 | Blog | By Ellen Janos, Cassandra Paolillo

Many of the flexibilities upon which telehealth providers have come to rely in recent years are tied to the federal Public Health Emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic (PHE). As we move into Fall 2022, we review the current state of the PHE flexibilities around Medicare reimbursement and prescription of controlled substances, examine pending legislation that, if passed, would bring greater certainty to patients and providers, and discuss what we know about the status of a possible PHE extension.
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On July 26, 2022, we published a blog post detailing part one of three of proposed regulations published by the New York State Office of Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG). The proposed regulations would repeal the current Part 521 - Provider Compliance Programs of Title 18 of the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations (NYCRR) in its entirety and establish new requirements for providers to detect and prevent fraud, waste, and abuse in the Medicaid Program under a new Part 521: Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Prevention (Part 521). In this post, we summarize the second subpart of Part 521 covering proposed regulations that would require MMCOs to develop and implement programs to detect and prevent fraud, waste, and abuse in the Medicaid program.
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Summer 2022: Key Trends in Pharmacy Enforcement Actions

August 29, 2022 | Blog | By Lauren Moldawer, Grady Campion, Pat Ouellette

Pharmacies have long been a focus of enforcement actions brought by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG). This summer has been no exception, with the DOJ and OIG bringing a number of fraud cases against pharmacies and pharmacists. We also saw enforcement against pharmacies for allegedly falsifying prior authorization information and providing more insulin than the pharmacy billed to payors. This blog summarizes some of these and other key pharmacy enforcement trends this summer.
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Receiving a warning letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) means that the agency has identified what it calls “violations of regulatory significance” and that you (as the recipient) need to take corrective actions or risk inviting some actual enforcement under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), which could include injunctions, seizures, and criminal penalties. This post highlights what an FDA warning letter means for Amazon.com as well as potential implications for the retail giant. 
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In a significant win for False Claims Act (FCA) defendants, the Eighth Circuit recently reversed a district court decision that defendants violated the FCA premised on violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS). The Eighth Circuit adopted a stricter but-for causation standard for FCA claims based on AKS violations, holding that, in order to prevail on these claims, the government must prove that FCA defendants would not have submitted claims for particular items or services to Medicare or Medicaid absent the illegal kickbacks.
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Senate Democrats Pass Long-Awaited Drug Pricing Reforms in Budget Reconciliation Bill

August 10, 2022 | Blog | By Bridgette Keller, Stephnie John

On August 7, 2022, after extensive deliberation, Senate Democrats passed their long-awaited reconciliation bill, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (the Reconciliation Bill). In addition to climate and tax provisions, the Reconciliation Bill includes a revised drug pricing reform package that Democrats had approved last month. In this post, we review what passing the long-awaited drug pricing reforms means for Medicare recipients and for drug prices in the United States.
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PBM Regulatory Roundup (Summer 2022): States Continue PBM Oversight Activities

August 2, 2022 | Blog | By Bridgette Keller, Hassan Shaikh, Derek Flynn, Shaina Sikka

2022 continues to see a surge in state-led PBM enforcement efforts. This roundup provides a brief summary of Louisiana’s complaint against United Healthcare and OptumRx related to its Medicaid program and recent state legislative actions.
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Important developments related to required price reporting to Medicare for clinical laboratories under the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (PAMA)  have recently occurred.  As a result, the clinical laboratory industry is hopeful that Medicare cuts scheduled to resume in 2023 and other aspects of PAMA’s price reporting requirements will be reformed. This blogpost provides an analysis of the ACLA lawsuit and newly introduced legislation that amends PAMA.  
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The New York State Office of Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG) published proposed regulations in the July 13, 2022 issue of the New York State Register.  The proposed regulations would repeal the current Part 521 - Provider Compliance Programs of Title 18 of the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations (NYCRR) in its entirety and establish new requirements for providers to detect and prevent fraud, waste and abuse in the Medicaid Program under a new Part 521: Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Prevention (Part 521). This blogpost highlights certain provisions from the first of Part 521’s three subparts, Subpart 521-1, that are relevant to New York Medicaid providers as they structure and update their compliance programs.
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Protecting Health Information Post Roe – Part 2: Steps for Health Care Providers

July 21, 2022 | Blog | By Cynthia Larose, Dianne Bourque

In this second of our two-part blog series on protecting health information post Roe, we discuss legal and practical strategies that health care providers can take to protect the information of their patients. State laws that restrict or criminalize abortions will require significant amounts of health information to enforce, putting new pressure on health care providers caught in the middle of  competing obligations to their patients and to regulatory and law enforcement authorities making lawful requests for this information.
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Unintended downstream consequences are likely to abound in the wake of the June 24, 2022 Dobbs decision that overruled Roe v. Wade, as Mintz attorneys have addressed in other contexts. Those looking ahead have raised concerns about women’s continued access to the wide array of birth control options that have been approved for use in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This post provides a brief historical background on how OTC birth control pills have been regulated under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and reviews the FDA's Additional Conditions for Nonprescription Use (ACNU) Proposed Rule.
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Disclosing known or suspected fraud to regulators can have its benefits.  As reported in a previous post, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued policy guidance in 2019 on providing credit in False Claims Act (FCA) settlements to corporations for “disclosure, cooperation, and remediation” (the Policy Guidance).  Since then, the industry has been watching to see how  DOJ implements this Policy Guidance. 

Two settlements announced earlier this month seem to demonstrate that DOJ is applying the Policy Guidance in resolving FCA cases.  Although the facts of these two settlements differ significantly, they highlight the benefits of self-disclosure, cooperation with the government in its investigation, and proactive efforts to remediate non-compliance.
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Post-Dobbs Abortion-Related Travel Benefits: Surveying Employers’ Options

July 13, 2022 | Blog | By Alden Bianchi, Michelle Capezza, Patricia Moran

Dobbs impacts employer-sponsored group health plan coverage for abortion services in states where abortion is, or becomes, illegal, and abortion-related travel benefits.  While our earlier post focused on coverage of abortion and abortion-related travel services under a group health plan, and related ERISA preemption considerations, in this post Mintz attorneys Alden Bianchi, Michelle Capezza and Patricia Moran examine other approaches available to employers that seek to make these benefits available, such as HRAs, health FSAs, excepted benefit EAPs and HSAs.
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