The American Hospital Association (AHA) and the American Medical Association (AMA) have dismissed their lawsuit challenging the No Surprises Act's payment arbitration process, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from the District of Columbia and Illinois.
- District of Columbia: Juul on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against FDA after the agency refused to release documents that support its order that Juul take all its e-cigarette products off the market. In its lawsuit, Juul argued that FDA violated the Freedom of Information Act by withholding "scientific disciplinary reviews" behind the decision to ban Juul's sales. "We took this necessary action as we remain concerned about the inequitable treatment of our applications given the political pressure on the agency to reach a specific result," a Juul spokesperson said. "This action will help us obtain information about the FDA review of our applications relevant to our continued appeal of the agency’s decision." So far, FDA has declined to comment on ongoing litigation. (Ravipati, Axios, 9/20)
- Illinois: AHA and AMA on Tuesday dismissed their lawsuit challenging an interim final rule covering the arbitration process for payment disputes under the No Surprises Act. The groups, along with UMass Memorial Health Care, Renown Health, and two individual physicians, initially filed the lawsuit in December 2021. However, after the Biden administration released a final rule on the arbitration process in August, the lawsuit became moot, according to an AHA spokesperson. Still, AHA and AMA said they remain concerned that the final rule continues to favor insurers and does not function as Congress intended when it initially passed the law. "Congress enacted the law with a balanced, patient-friendly approach, and it should be implemented that way," AHA and AMA wrote in a joint statement. "We have serious concerns that the August 2022 final rule departs from Congressional intent just as the September 2021 interim final rule did. Hospitals and doctors intend to make our voices heard in the courts very soon about these continued problems." (Goldman, Modern Healthcare, 9/20; AHA News, 9/20)
- Illinois: Walgreens Boots Alliance will spend $1.37 billion to completely acquire Shield Health Solutions, a specialty pharmacy company. In September 2021, Walgreens paid $970 million to become a majority stakeholder in Shields, and it will acquire the remaining 30% from other equity holders by the end of 2022. According to a Walgreens spokesperson, acquiring Shields, which works with 80 health systems and represents over 1 million patients, will give the company an opportunity to further invest in the specialty pharmacy market, which is growing quickly. Once the transaction is finalized, Shields' co-founder and current president John Lucey will become the company's CEO, and the current CEO Lee Cooper will lead Walgreens' pharmacy segment as of Oct. 1. Shields will continue to function as its own business within Walgreens even after the acquisition. (Devereaux, Modern Healthcare, 9/20)