On March 30, 2021, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a second round of funding for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program (the Program). The Consolidated Appropriations Act enacted in December 2020 appropriated $249.95 million for the Program, in addition to the $200 million which had been awarded in Round 1. There are substantial changes in procedures for Round 2 in comparison to Round 1. Rather than accepting applications on a rolling basis, the FCC will establish a seven-day application window. The FCC has established metrics to be followed for prioritizing and evaluating applications, and has announced the intention to fund applicants from each state and territory to the extent feasible. Finally, the new procedures will include a process for notifying a potentially unsuccessful applicant of the intent to deny its application, allowing the applicant to submit additional information.
- Published: 31 March 2021 31 March 2021
Change Healthcare Inc. (Change) announced that it and UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (UnitedHealth) received a second request from the Department of Justice (DOJ) for information relating to their planned merger. The announcement was contained in its Form 8K filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) on March 24, 2021. Change and UnitedHealth had originally filed their premerger notification on January 19, 2021, but refiled it on February 22 to allow additional time for review by the DOJ. The second request from the DOJ extends the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 to 30 days after the companies have substantially complied with the second request. In the proxy statement filed with the SEC on March 5, 2021, Change described itself as “a leading healthcare technology platform that provides data and analytics-driven solutions to improve clinical, financial, administrative, and patient engagement outcomes in the U.S. healthcare system.”
- Published: 29 March 2021 29 March 2021
The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) sounded a warning note to entrepreneurs in the healthcare space with the criminal indictment and SEC complaint filed against the founders of uBiome, Inc. The FBI agent handling the case is quoted in the DOJ press release as stating, “This indictment illustrates that the heavily regulated healthcare industry does not lend itself to a ‘move fast and break things’ approach, but rather to an approach of compliance and accountability.”
- Published: 23 March 2021 23 March 2021
In its most recent report to Congress on Medicare payment policy, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) recommended that some of the expansions to Medicare coverage of telehealth instituted during the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) be retained for one to two years after the PHE ends, so that the impact of telehealth on access, quality and cost can be assessed. MedPAC recommends that after the end of the PHE, Medicare should return to paying the facility rate for telehealth services, and no longer permit providers to reduce or waive cost sharing for beneficiaries. Also, it recommends that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) should implement safeguards to protect against potential fraud relating to telehealth.
- Published: 15 March 2021 15 March 2021