Health Care Reform Dashboard

Health Care Reform Dashboard

Charting Developments with the
Affordable Care Act and Beyond

Healthcare Providers / Suppliers

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02/16/2018

Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 Enacts Changes to Employee Retirement and Health Benefit Plans, and Medicare

Following a brief shutdown of the federal government, on February 9, Congress passed and President Donald J. Trump signed into law the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (Budget Act), which provides Congress until March 23 to enact appropriation and certain other funding measures and establishes a general agreement on spending that will last into 2019. [&hellip… Continue Reading »
01/24/2018

Budget Deal Addresses Health Benefit Issues

The Congressional agreement that reopened the federal government for three weeks quietly addressed—at least temporarily—several high-profile issues affecting public and private health benefits. Most significantly, the new appropriations act: Delays the effective date of the so-called Cadillac Tax by two years to 2022. This Affordable Care Act (ACA) provision imposes a 40 percent tax on [&hellip… Continue Reading »
01/10/2018

DOL Proposes Expansion of Association Health Plans

Following up on the direction provided by Executive Order 13813, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued proposed regulations that would expand the ability of small employers to band together and provide coverage under a single Association Health Plan (AHP). Under the new rules: AHPs may be formed by employers that are engaged in [&hellip… Continue Reading »
12/26/2017

IRS Extends ACA Reporting Deadline

As it did last year, the IRS has extended the deadline for furnishing Forms 1095-B and 1095-C to individuals by 30 days. This reprieve will allow employers, health insurers, and other plan sponsors to distribute the forms on or before March 2, 2018, rather than January 31, 2018. The IRS also extends the good-faith transition [&hellip… Continue Reading »
10/19/2017

Developments in the Affordable Care Act

After a brief lull in activity, recent developments are likely to involve all three branches of government in addressing issues under the Affordable Care Act. The Legislature: It is often said that Congress rarely takes action until a crisis needs to be addressed. With the demise of this summer’s repeal and replace effort, initiatives to [&hellip… Continue Reading »
08/23/2017

Judge Orders EEOC to Reevaluate Wellness Program Regulations

A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) must revisit regulations governing employee wellness programs because the agency did not provide adequate supporting information for the rules. In AARP v. EEOC, U.S. District Judge John Bates agreed with AARP—a lobbying group for older Americans—that the EEOC had failed to justify [&hellip… Continue Reading »
08/15/2017

Recess Update on Repeal and Replacement of the Affordable Care Act

The momentary lull in congressional activity on health care provides an opportune time for an update on the efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Following the House of Representatives’ approval of the American Health Care Act on May 4, 2017, the Senate Republican leadership introduced its own version, the Better Care [&hellip… Continue Reading »
03/08/2017

ACA Repeal and Replace Plan is Released

The House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees have released, in two parts, budget reconciliation legislation, the first steps of Congress’ proposal to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act. Reconciliation legislation is limited to budget-related provisions and restricts legislators’ ability to address fully all of the repeal and replacement provisions that we [&hellip… Continue Reading »
01/23/2017

Data Breach Class Action Reinstated Against Horizon Healthcare Services, Inc.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has vacated a district court’s dismissal of a data breach class action filed against Horizon Healthcare Services Inc., in the wake of the 2013 theft of two computer laptops containing unencrypted personal information of Horizon Healthcare plan members. The decision potentially expands the circumstances under which [&hellip… Continue Reading »
01/20/2017

Health Care Reform in Transition While Congress Deliberates

Changes are imminent for the Affordable Care Act and a range of other laws and regulations affecting the health care industry. Ballard Spahr attorneys established a Health Care Reform Initiative in 2008 to monitor and analyze health care reform developments. This Health Care Reform Dashboard was a product of that initiative. We intend to continue following [&hellip… Continue Reading »
12/16/2016

EEOC Releases Guidance on Mental Health Discrimination

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued guidance reminding employers that it is illegal under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other laws to discriminate against an employee simply because he or she has a mental health condition. This includes firing an employee, rejecting an employee for a job or promotion, and forcing [&hellip… Continue Reading »
12/15/2016

Obama Signs 21st Century Cures Act, Adding $6.3 Billion For Medical Research

President Obama has signed into law the 21st Century Cures Act. Enacted with overwhelming bipartisan support, the Cures Act: Authorizes more than $6.3 billion in funding for medical research and drug development programs; Provides for new programs and increased funding for mental health treatment and substance use disorder programs; and Includes various Medicare provisions sought [&hellip… Continue Reading »
12/02/2016

OCR Warns of Phishing as Business Associate Audits Begin

The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has posted an alert (and a follow-up alert) warning health plans, health care providers, and their vendors of a mock communication involving the OCR audit program under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The email falsifies HHS departmental letterhead [&hellip… Continue Reading »
11/30/2016

Beware of Phishing Email Disguised as Official OCR Audit Communication

The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has posted an alert (and a follow-up alert) warning health plans, health care providers, and their vendors of a mock communication involving the OCR audit program under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The email falsifies HHS departmental [&hellip… Continue Reading »
11/21/2016

IRS Extends ACA Reporting Deadline

The IRS has extended the deadline for furnishing 2016 Forms 1095-C and 1095-B to individuals by 30 days to March 2, 2017. The reprieve offers welcome relief to employers, health insurers, and other plan sponsors who would otherwise have been required to distribute these forms under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by January 31, 2017. [&hellip… Continue Reading »
11/08/2016

Federal Court Enjoins U.S. Agency’s Nursing Home Arbitration Agreement Ban

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency within the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, recently issued a final rule prohibiting nursing homes and other long-term care facilities from utilizing pre-dispute arbitration agreements, as a requirement for participating in Medicare and Medicaid programs. We predicted that the rule would face legal challenges [&hellip… Continue Reading »
11/05/2016

Guidance Addresses Mental Health Parity

The U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and the Treasury have issued a set of Frequently Asked Questions and Answers that, among other things, implement certain of the recommendations included in a report issued by the White House Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force. This guidance manifests the administration’s continuing [&hellip… Continue Reading »
11/04/2016

HHS Designates Cloud Service Providers as Business Associates Under HIPAA

Cloud service providers that process electronic protected health information (ePHI) are business associates under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), even if the PHI is encrypted and the cloud service provider is not able to view it. This unequivocal determination, made in recent guidance by the U.S. Department of Health and [&hellip… Continue Reading »
09/30/2016

U.S. Agency Prohibits Nursing Home Arbitration Agreements

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency within the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, has issued a final rule that includes prohibiting nursing homes and other long-term care facilities from utilizing pre-dispute arbitration agreements, as a requirement for participating in Medicare and Medicaid programs. The rule would not apply to already-existing [&hellip… Continue Reading »
09/27/2016

Hot Topics in Employer Health Benefits

As we start looking forward to 2017, and as many employers head into annual enrollment periods this fall, it is necessary to account for changes in the law that have a significant impact on health benefit plans. This short list of significant developments may help you prepare for what is coming: Affordable Care Act (ACA) Reporting. The [&hellip… Continue Reading »
07/25/2016

OCR Announces First HIPAA Enforcement Action Against a Business Associate

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced an agreement with Catholic Health Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (CHCS), settling allegations that CHCS violated the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Security Rule by failing to protect electronic protected health information (ePHI). This is the first enforcement [&hellip… Continue Reading »
07/25/2016

Check Your Desk: HIPAA Audits for Covered Entities Have Arrived

The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Health and Human Services has moved forward with Phase 2 of its Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) audit program. On Monday, July 11, 2016, OCR sent emails to 167 covered entities (including health plans, health care, and health care clearinghouses) notifying them [&hellip… Continue Reading »
06/03/2016

ACA Nondiscrimination Regulations Finalized

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued final regulations under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) which prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in certain health programs and activities. To be subject to these nondiscrimination rules, the health program or activity [&hellip… Continue Reading »
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