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August 17, 2022

Around the nation: HHS issues proposed rule addressing discrimination in health care

Daily Briefing

    HHS issued a proposed rule that implements the non-discrimination policies in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from the District of Columbia

    • District of Columbia: HHS earlier this month issued a proposed rule that would implement Section 1557 of the ACA, which bars discrimination in health care. The proposed rule would apply to a wider range of health care providers under the Biden administration's expanded interpretation. According to Katie Keith, director of the Health Policy and the Law Initiative at the Georgetown University Law Center, the proposed rule will "apply to Medicare Part B providers for the first time, and will require physicians to not be discriminatory in all these ways." Separately, Maryanne Tomazic, clinical instructor at the Harvard Law School Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation noted that "[t]his proposed rule is a lot stronger, and a welcome change for many," adding that the proposed rule would expand protections for several groups, including "people who are LGBTQIA." According to Tomazic, "[d]iscrimination manifests itself in the healthcare system in many ways; patients can face physical or linguistic barriers when they try to access care. Some patients have health insurance that will categorically exclude care related to gender dysphoria or other diagnoses." (Frieden, MedPage Today, 8/15)
    • District of Columbia: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said in a new paper that states do not have the ability to adequately oversee hospital mergers under certificate of public advantage (COPA) laws. Certain states currently allow hospital mergers through COPAs—a practice that protects the merging entities from federal antitrust investigation in exchange for extended state oversight. According to an FTC analysis of hospital deals, some mergers under COPAs have resulted in higher costs and worse outcomes. "We are not aware of any proven benefits of COPAs," said Elizabeth Wilkins, FTC director of policy planning. "We urge state lawmakers to consult local health insurers, employers and workers regarding the potential impact of COPA legislation." (Kacik, Modern Healthcare, 8/16; FTC Press Release, 8/15)
    • District of Columbia: First lady Jill Biden on Monday evening tested positive for the coronavirus while vacationing in South Carolina with President Joe Biden. "After testing negative for COVID-19 on Monday during her regular testing cadence, the First Lady began to develop cold-like symptoms late in the evening," said Elizabeth Alexander, the first lady's spokesperson. "She tested negative again on a rapid antigen test, but a PCR test came back positive." According to Alexander the first lady is "double-vaccinated, twice boosted and only experiencing mild symptoms." Jill Biden has been prescribed Pfizer's antiviral treatment Paxlovid. "Close contacts of the First Lady have been notified," Alexander added. "She is currently staying at a private residence in South Carolina and will return home after she receives two consecutive negative COVID tests." (Wang, Washington Post, 8/16; Shear, New York Times, 8/16)

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