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Part II of the No Surprises Act

Overview

The Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) published Part II of the No Surprises Act on September 30, 2021, which will take effect on January 1, 2022. The new guidance, in large part, focuses on the independent dispute resolution process that was briefly mentioned in Part I of the Act. In addition, there is now guidance on good faith estimate requirements, the patient-provider dispute resolution processes, and added external review provisions.[1]

Federal Independent Dispute Resolution

The federal independent dispute resolution process is limited to the services under Part I of the Act for which balance billing is prohibited.

The purpose of the dispute resolution process is for out-of-network providers and facilities to determine the out-of-network rate after a conclusion is not made after a 30-day “open negotiation.” This open negotiation period must be initiated first, and only when it fails can the federal independent dispute resolution process then begin, by first being initiated by either party. The required administrative fee for 2022 is $50 per party.

Both parties then must decide on a “certified independent dispute resolution entity,” which must then certify it has no conflicts of interest with either party. If one of these steps cannot be met, the Department of Health and Human Services will select an entity for the parties. The entity must choose between one of the parties’ offers for an out-of-network amount, which will be binding. The losing party will then be liable for the entity’s fee.

Good Faith Estimates

Good faith estimates must be given to uninsured patients for expected charges, including if the services can be provided by other providers or facilities. HHS uses the example of surgery, and states that the good faith estimate would include the cost of the surgery itself, as well as anesthesia, labs, tests, etc. However, it will not include services that would be scheduled separately even though they may be related, such as a physical therapy or a pre-surgery appointment.

Patient-Provider Dispute Resolution

In addition to the federal independent dispute resolution process, a patient-provider resolution has been added in order to resolve instances where a patient received a good faith estimate and then is billed “substantially in excess,” which has been defined as $400 or more. Essentially, this type of dispute resolution requires the patient to have: (1) received a good faith estimate; (2) the patient initiated the process within 120 days of receiving the bill; and (3) the bill the patient received was $400 or more than the good faith estimate. The fee for this process will be $25, to keep the process accessible to consumers.

External Review

Building on an already established rule – in the case of adverse benefit determinations, the scope of external reviews will also apply to determinations involving compliance with the new surprise billing and cost-sharing provisions under the No Surprises Act. Additionally, otherwise-grandfathered plans will also be subject to these provisions.  

Conclusion

Part II of the No Surprises Act introduced a lot of information for providers and facilities to unpack! If you have any additional questions about a specific topic, or Part II of the Act in general, reach out to Healthcare and Hospital Law Member Amanda Waesch by phone at (330) 253-9185 or by email at alwaesch@bmdllc.com. Additionally, the interim final rule can be found here. Click here for information on Part 1 of the Act, Notice Requirements.

[1] Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Requirements Related to Surprise Billing; Part II Interim Final Rule with Comment Period, (Sep. 30, 2021) https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/requirements-related-surprise-billing-part-ii-interim-final-rule-comment-period.

New York, Kansas, Massachusetts, and Delaware Become the latest States to Adopt Full Practice Authority for Nurse Practitioners

While the COVID-19 pandemic certainly created many obstacles and hardships, it also created many opportunities to try doing things differently. This can be seen in the instant rise of remote work opportunities, telehealth visits, and virtual meetings. Many States took the challenges of the pandemic and turned them into an opportunity to adjust the regulations governing licensed professionals, including for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).

Explosive Growth in Pot of Gold Opportunity for Bank (and Other) Cannabis Lenders Driving Erosion of the Barriers

Our original article on bank lending to the cannabis industry anticipated that the convergence of interest between banks and the cannabis industry would draw more and larger banks to the industry. Banks were awash in liquidity with limited deployment options, while bankable cannabis businesses had rapidly growing needs for more and lower cost credit. Since then, the pot of gold opportunity for banks to lend into the cannabis industry has grown exponentially due to a combination of market constraints on equity causing a dramatic shift to debt and the ever-increasing capital needs of one of the country’s fastest growing industries. At the same time, hurdles to entry of new banks are being systematically cleared as the yellow brick road to the cannabis industry’s access to the financial markets is being paved, brick by brick, by the progressively increasing number and size of banks that are now entering the market.

2021 EEOC Charge Statistics: Retaliation & Impact of Remote Work

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its detailed information on workplace discrimination charges it received in 2021. Unsurprisingly, for the second year in a row, the total number of charges decreased as COVID-19 either shut down workplaces or disconnected employees from each other. In 2021, the agency received a total of approximately 61,000 workplace discrimination charges - the fewest in 25 years by a wide margin. For reference, the agency received over 67,000 charges in 2020, and averaged almost 90,000 charges per year over the previous 10 years.

Ohio’s Managed Care Overhaul Delayed – New Implementation Timeline

At the direction of Governor Mike DeWine, the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) launched the Medicaid Managed Care Procurement process in 2019. ODM’s stated vision for the procurement was to focus on people and not just the business of managed care. This is the first structural change to Ohio’s managed care system since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) approval of Ohio’s Medicaid program in 2005. Initially, all of the new managed care programs were supposed to be implemented starting on July 1, 2022. However, ODM Director Maureen Corcoran recently confirmed that this date will be pushed back for several managed care-related programs.

Laboratory Specimen Collection Arrangements with Contract Hospitals - OIG Advisory Opinion 22-09

On April 28, 2022, the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) published an Advisory Opinion[1] in which it evaluated a proposed arrangement where a network of clinical laboratories (the “Requestor”) would compensate hospitals (each a “Contract Hospital”) for specimen collection, processing, and handling services (“Collection Services”) for laboratory tests furnished by the Requestor (the “Proposed Arrangement”). The OIG concluded that the Proposed Arrangement would generate prohibited remuneration under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS”) if the requisite intent were present. This is due to both the possibility that the proposed per-patient-encounter fee would be used to induce or reward referrals to Requestor and the associated risk of improperly steering patients to Requestor.