Tuesday Tidbits

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

From Washington, DC,

  • This morning, the federal government filed a notice appealing to the D.C. Circuit the HIV and Hepatitis Foundation’s successful challenge to the Trump administration’s co-pay accumulator rule.
  • Yesterday, the federal government moved for the district court to modify its decision to state that the Trump administration rule would remain effective until the ACA regulators reconsidered it in compliance with the court’s order. The plaintiffs reportedly oppose the government’s motion. 
  • The ACA regulators issued
  • The FAQs concern the claims batching limitations under the No Surprises Act and the update to CLAS requirements that health plans, including FEHB plans must use in certain plan publications. The FEHBlog noticed that the ACA regulators have added new languages to CLAS requirements. The CLAS changes will take effect for the 2025 plan year.
  • The American Hospital Association News adds,
    • In response to recent court decisions that set aside certain regulations implementing the No Surprises Act’s Independent Dispute Resolution process, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Nov. 28 released [ACA] FAQs [63] explaining how certified IDR entities may determine whether a dispute is appropriately batched and clarifying certain other provisions and its policy for extending existing IDR deadlines once the federal IDR portal reopens to all batched disputes and single disputes involving air ambulance services. CMS also rescheduled to Nov. 30 at 3 p.m. ET its webinar to review the FAQs for health care providers and insurers submitting batched or air ambulance claims. To attend the webinar, register here.
  • Get a load of this other AHA News item,
    • A bipartisan group of House members Nov. 28 introduced AHA-supported legislation that would prohibit health insurers from charging fees for standard electronic fund transfers to pay health care providers for services. Commercial insurers often automatically charge health care providers a percentage-based fee for EFT payments. 
    • FEHBlog note — EFT transactions are not free. If the entire cost is shifted onto the insurer, then premiums go up.

From the public health and medical research front,

  • BioPharma Dive informs us,
    • “The Food and Drug Adminsitration is investigating whether CAR-T cell therapies like Novartis’ Kymriah or Gilead’s Yescarta are linked to the risk of new blood cancers after receiving reports of so-called T cell malignancies in people who have received the treatments.
    • “In a statement Tuesday, the agency said it’s weighing “the need for regulatory action” in response to the reports, which came from both clinical testing and safety monitoring tied to commercial use. The identified risk is applicable to all approved CAR-T therapies, although the agency noted that “the overall benefits of these products continue to outweigh their potential risks for their approved uses.”
  • The Wall Street Journal reports,
    • “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned of an emerging safety issue involving a continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, machine made by Philips.
    • “The FDA issued a safety communication about thermal issues with the Philips Respironics’ DreamStation 2 CPAP machines, which are used to treat forms of sleep apnea, and recommended patients monitor machines.
    • “The agency said it had received reports of issues such as fire, smoke, burns and other signs of overheating. The FDA said it is in discussions with the company about strategies to address the safety issue.”
  • The Washington Post points out,
    • “Scientists have discovered a new type of stem cell in the spine that appears crucial to resolving a long-standing mystery: why far more cancer cells spread to the spine than to other bones in the body.
    • “When breast, lung and prostate cancers metastasize to multiple bones in the body, three to five times more cancer winds up in the spine than in the lower and upper limbs. Scientists have known of this disparity for decades, but the reason for it has remained unclear.
    • “One theory held that differences in blood flow might be the cause. But the new findings suggest an alternative that could have implications for cancer care, spine fusion surgery and osteoporosis, a bone-weakening disease that afflicts about 10 million Americans.”
  • The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) announced,
    • “releasing a Draft Evidence Report assessing the comparative clinical effectiveness and value of xanomeline tartrate/trospium chloride (KarXT, Karuna Therapeutics) for the treatment of schizophrenia. This preliminary draft marks the midpoint of ICER’s eight-month process of assessing these treatments, and the findings within this document should not be interpreted to be ICER’s final conclusions.
  • The ICER announcement also explains how to submit public comments and participate in virtual public meeting on February 9, 2024.

From the U.S. healthcare business front,

  • The Business Group on Health issued a report on nine healthcare cost trends to watch in 2024.
  • Beckers Hospital Review tells us,
    • “Hospitals’ median operating margin was 1.2% through October, marking the third straight month with the same year-to-date median and signaling growing stability.  
    • “The latest figure comes from Kaufman Hall’s November “National Hospital Flash Report,” which is based on data from more than 1,300 hospitals. 
    • “Kaufman Hall said the 1.2% year-to-date median operating margin for October reflects “continued stabilization” among hospitals. In the first 10 months of 2023, hospitals’ net operating revenue per calendar day was up 6%, and total expense per calendar day was up 4% compared to the same time period in 2022.”