During the past several turbulent weeks for the U.S. health care system, rulings in the case Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA have called into question the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (“FDA’s”) scientific review process to approve new drug applications. While the U.S. Supreme Court acted on the afternoon of Friday, April 21, 2023 to preserve access to the drug mifepristone while the case continues in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the future of mifepristone—and the FDA’s authority to approve new drugs—will continue to be debated on appeal.
U.S. Supreme Court
Biden Administration Seeks to Clarify Patient Privacy Protections Post-Dobbs, Though Questions Remain
On July 8, two weeks following the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson that invalidated the constitutional right to abortion, President Biden signed Executive Order 14076 (E.O.). The E.O. directed federal agencies to take various actions to protect access to reproductive health care services, including directing the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to “consider actions” to strengthen the protection of sensitive healthcare information, including data on reproductive healthcare services like abortion, by issuing new guidance under the Health Insurance and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).
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Podcast: Chevron Deference: Is It Time for Change? – Diagnosing Health Care
In this episode of the Diagnosing Health Care Podcast: This term, the Supreme Court of the United States is set to rule in a Medicare reimbursement case that has sparked a fresh look at the historical deference often granted to agencies and whether it should remain, be modified, or even be overruled.
Federal Court Affirms Hospital’s Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policy
On June 12, 2021, a federal District Court in Texas soundly rejected an attempt by Houston medical workers to challenge the legality of their employer’s decision to require that all employees receive a COVID-19 vaccine. In the lawsuit, Bridges, et al. v. Houston Methodist Hospital et al., 117 hospital workers sued for an injunction…
How the Biden Administration Can Reverse Trump’s Medicaid Work Requirements
The U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether the federal government can approve state programs that force Medicaid participants to work, go to school, or volunteer to get benefits. Both Arkansas and the Justice Department sought review of the issue. Epstein Becker Green attorney Clifford Barnes provides potential paths for the Biden administration to best position itself in the case.
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument in a case involving the authority of the Department of Health and Human Services to approve Medicaid work requirements programs in Arkansas and New Hampshire that were struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The high court has agreed to determine whether the HHS can allow states to impose work requirements in its Medicaid program even though all lower courts ruled against HHS’s approval of states’ Section 1115 work requirement waivers, based on the Trump administration’s refusal to consider the impact of the waivers on the core purpose of Medicaid—which is to increase health insurance coverage.
Unlike the narrow question considered by the lower courts, however, the court granted certiorari on a much broader issue. The question presented concerns the entire Section 1115 process and asks whether the HHS secretary has the power to establish additional purposes for Medicaid, beyond coverage.
Should the court rule that the HHS secretary does indeed possess this unbounded power, the entire Section 1115 landscape could shift, potentially allowing states to implement waivers like Arkansas, so long as they meet such additional purpose.
The case establishes an effective deadline for the Biden administration to take action to mitigate or eliminate the work requirements, in light of the administration’s commitment to expanding, rather than rolling back, Medicaid insurance coverage.…
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Supreme Court: The ACA and Risk Corridor Obligations
The U.S. Supreme Court decision today in Maine Community Health Options v. United States, is a major decision affecting healthcare and resolving a significant Obamacare dispute. The Affordable Care Act famously established online exchanges where insurers could sell their healthcare plans. It included the now-expired “Risk Corridors” program aimed to limit the plans’ profits and losses during the exchanges’ first three years (2014-16). The Act contained a formula for computing a plan’s gains or losses at the end of each year, providing that eligible profitable plans “shall pay” the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), while the Secretary “shall pay” eligible unprofitable plans. But the Act did not appropriate funds that the Secretary could dispense or cap the amounts that the Secretary would pay to unprofitable plans. Nor was there any budget neutrality stated in the Act. The program was something less than a great success and, after three years, in which unprofitable plans outnumbered those that were profitable, the net deficit was more than $12 billion. But the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) couldn’t make any payments to unprofitable plans because, each year, its budget appropriation included a rider preventing CMS from using the funds for Risk Corridors payments. Four unprofitable plans brought suit against the government under the Tucker Act, alleging that the ACA obligated the government to pay the full amount of their negative deficit. With Justice Sotomayor writing for seven other Justices (Alito, J. dissented, and Thomas, J. and Gorsuch, J. did not join one section of the majority opinion), the Court agreed with the plans and reversed the Federal Circuit’s holding that while the ACA initially created an initial obligation, the subsequent riders vitiated it.
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