On August 8th, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued the largest Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) settlement to date with Advocate Health Care System (Advocate). Advocate agreed to pay $5.55 million to settle a variety of HIPAA violations. Advocate is the largest health system in Illinois and operates more than 400 sites of care with 12 acute care hospitals. This settlement comes in the wake of a series of recent HIPAA violation settlements and other enforcement activities by OCR, including phase 2 of the HIPAA audit program.
All is Well: FDA to Host Webinar on its Final Guidance for Low-Risk General Wellness Devices on September 1, 2016
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released final version of its guidance, General Wellness: Policy for Low-Risk Devices (Policy), with a webinar slated for September 1st as part of the rollout. While not much has changed from the 2015 draft guidance, the number of mobile apps and general wellness products that are pushing the limits of what the FDA believes could be “devices” under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) increases daily.
In order to fit under the FDA Policy, the product needs to both solely marketed for general wellness and present a low risk of safety to the user and other persons. The guidance provides useful examples that anticipate the desire to help “reduce the risk of” or “live well with” chronic conditions, the most interesting boundaries of the Policy for those wishing to differentiate themselves within the wellness industry.
Agency metrics on the 513(g) Requests for Information may provide some feedback on the impact of the Policy since its draft issuance, and future enforcement needs to be monitored for defining the limits of the Policy.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced in the 2017 Physician Fee Schedule proposed rule that since publication and implementation of the Open Payments Final Rule and the 2015 Physician Fee Schedule, various stakeholders have provided feedback to CMS regarding aspects of the Open Payment program, including identification of certain areas that may benefit from revision. Thus, CMS is soliciting comments to inform future rulemaking, but made it clear that it was not intending to finalize any Open Payments requirements directly as a result of the 2017 Physician Fee Schedule.
To further discuss the topics listed in the 2017 Physician Fee Schedule, CMS held today a Special Open Door Forum for industry stakeholders “to inform future rulemaking and other enhancements” to the Open Payments program. CMS provided a presentation slide deck for the Open Door Forum, which outlined various topics in which it was soliciting stakeholder feedback, including:
Last week, Vermont adopted the first state law that requires drug companies registering the highest hike in prices to justify the rationale for the increase. Vermont policymakers are not alone pursuing laws that address rising drug prices. California and Ohio are eyeing pricing-related bills and ballot initiatives. This begs the question: If several states begin adopting a patchwork of drug pricing laws, what can or will happen at the federal level?
Health care policy issues continue to stream out of Congress and the Administration. The Senate held a markup of various health bills as part of its effort to produce a companion to the House of Representatives-passed 21st Century Cures legislation and CMS released long awaited Medicare Advantage rates. Continue reading
Chairwoman Edith Ramirez of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced the release of new guidance directed towards developers of mobile health apps (the “Guidance”), while speaking today at the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) conference in Washington, DC. The Guidance is a tool created in collaboration with the FTC, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to assist app developers in determining what laws and regulations apply to their products. Continue reading