Tag Archives: CMS

CMS proposed rules would impact Part D drug costs and plan designs

On November 16, 2017, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released 713 pages of proposed changes to Medicare Advantage (MA) and the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit. The proposed changes (file code CMS-4182-P) would take effect for contract year 2019 and are intended to manage utilization of opioids, reduce costs, and provide more plan choices. The updates present major changes to the way the programs operate. According to CMS, “the proposed changes would result in an estimated $195 million in savings a year for the Medicare program over 5 years (2019 through 2023).”

Some significant impacts on Part D that plans need to be aware of would include:

Midyear formulary changes: Plans would have more flexibility to immediately incorporate generic drugs as soon as they are available.

• Plans could assess the cost impact of each new generic drug based on member utilization to weigh against administration and disruption issues.
• This proposed rule could be significant, especially if the increases in generic approvals continue. According to Milliman’s internal research, there were about 14 and 31 significant first generic launches in 2015 and 2016, respectively. And this year the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has continued to speed up the generic approval process.

Opioid treatment: Plans would be able to restrict access and manage opioid utilization. The proposed rules codify and expand upon the current Part D Opioid Drug Utilization Review Policy and Overutilizing Monitoring System.

Biosimilars: Plans would be able to categorize certain low-cost biosimilars as generics for low-income subsidy (LIS) cost sharing and non-LIS catastrophic cost sharing. Because the LIS copays will be $3.35 for generics and $8.35 for brands in 2018, this is likely not to have a large impact on 1) lowering member costs or 2) increasing biosimilar utilization.

Point-of-sale costs: The proposal includes a request for information (RFI) regarding applying price concessions and rebates at the point of sale, which could lower member cost sharing when taking brand medications that offer rebates, but may increase premiums and government cost.

Meaningful differences testing: With the elimination or modification of this testing, plans may be able to add more enhanced alternative Part D plans to their product portfolios in the same region.

A link to the Fact Sheet issued by CMS can be found here. CMS is accepting comments until January 16, 2018.

Regulatory roundup

More healthcare-related regulatory news for plan sponsors, including links to detailed information.

CMS issues revocation notice bulletin
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a notice by issuer or third party administrator for employer/plan sponsor of revocation of the accommodation for certain preventive services. The bulletin addresses notice requirements in the recently published interim final rules addressing the religious and moral exemptions from the requirement to provide contraceptive benefits in group health plans and health insurance coverage.

For more information, click here.

Ninety delay of applicability date for disability claims procedure amendments
The Department of Labor (DOL) has announced a 90-day delay of the applicability date for ERISA plans to comply with a final rule amending the claims procedure requirements applicable to disability benefits.

The three month delay of the applicability date announced today is intended to give interested stakeholders the opportunity to submit, and for the DOL to consider, data and information related to concerns by some insurance industry and employer groups, and some members of Congress, that the claims procedure amendments will drive up disability benefit plan costs, cause an increase in litigation and, in so doing, impair workers’ access to disability insurance benefits.

The final rule amending the disability benefits claims procedure requirements for ERISA plans was published in the Federal Register on Dec. 19, 2016. The amendments were to become applicable to claims for disability benefits filed on or after Jan. 1, 2018.

For more information, click here.

Financial implications for Next Generation ACO Program

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has released the 2016 financial results for each of the Next Generation Accountable Care Organizations (NGACOs). The financial results may influence key decisions that each NGACO needs to make very soon regarding the magnitude of their risk parameters for 2018.  In this article, Milliman consultants explains those results and offer considerations for NGACOs to think about.

Medicare Advantage proposed rule could have a profound impact on product development for 2019 and beyond

The Medicare Advantage (MA) and Prescription Drug (PD) Benefit Program proposed rule for 2019 discusses important policy updates that may have a significant impact on the product development process for 2019. The proposed changes provide new opportunities for plans to innovate benefit designs and tailor packages for selected enrollees. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is also requesting feedback on Part D rebates and price concessions that could have a profound impact on the way formularies and pharmacy benefits are managed. Finally, we also highlight additional proposed changes in enrollment policies that may result in strategic implications.

The key advantage for product development is CMS’s proposal to discontinue the use of “meaningful differences” requirements. By removing the restriction that limits the number of plans a Medicare Advantage Organization (MAO) could offer, MAOs would be in a position to develop a more diverse portfolio of products. In addition, plans can focus on creating product designs that are meaningful to beneficiaries instead of making benefit decisions based on the results of the CMS out-of-pocket cost (OOPC) calculator prescribed methodology. CMS did not propose waiving the Total Beneficiary Cost (TBC) requirements, meaning that plans would still need to rely on the OOPC methodology to determine year-over-year plan changes.

CMS is proposing additional flexibility in the benefit design process. One proposal would allow plans to offer different cost sharing and/or additional supplemental benefits for specific subsets of enrollees based on defined health conditions (e.g., zero cost share for diabetic supplies for patients diagnosed with diabetes). In addition, CMS also proposes to allow additional flexibility with plan designs for segments within plans by being able to offer different supplemental benefit packages by segment. Finally, CMS also discusses the possibility of additional maximum out-of-pocket (MOOP) levels and associated cost-sharing limits to allow plans a greater range of options versus the currently prescribed mandatory levels and to encourage plan offerings with lower MOOP limits.

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Regulatory roundup

More healthcare-related regulatory news for plan sponsors, including links to detailed information.

Cost-sharing reduction subsidies to cease
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma issued a memorandum stating cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments made to issuers of qualified health plans will stop. The decision is based on a legal opinion provided by the Office of the Attorney General.

Executive order on healthcare allows the purchase of insurance across state lines
President Donald Trump signed an executive order on healthcare directing the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to update rules allowing small employers to create association health plans. Small businesses will be able to band together if they are within the same state, in the same line of business, or are in the same trade association.

For more information, click here.

Proposed extension of information collection request submitted for public comment
The DOL released a notice providing the general public and federal agencies the opportunity to comment on a revision of the “Coverage of certain preventive services under the Affordable Care Act—private sector” information collection request (ICR). The notice was issued to align the ICR with the executive order signed on May 4, 2017, “Executive order promoting free speech and religious liberty.”

For more information, click here.

Regulatory roundup

More healthcare-related regulatory news for plan sponsors, including links to detailed information.

Medicare offers more health coverage choices and decreased premiums in 2018
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that people with Medicare will have more choices and options for their Medicare coverage in 2018. CMS estimates that the Medicare Advantage average monthly premium will decrease by $1.91 (about 6%) in 2018. More than three-fourths (77%) of Medicare Advantage enrollees remaining in their current plans will have the same or lower premium for 2018.

For more information, click here.

Fee funding the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund issued
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Notice 2017-61, which provides the adjusted applicable dollar amount to be multiplied by the average number of covered lives for purposes of the fee imposed by §§ 4375 and 4376 of the Internal Revenue Code for policy years and plan years that end on or after October 1, 2017, and before October 1, 2018.

The fee imposed by §§ 4375 and 4376 helps to fund the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund (PCORTF) and is calculated using the average number of lives covered under the policy or plan and the applicable dollar amount for that policy year or plan year.

The applicable dollar amount must be used to calculate the fee imposed by §§ 4375 and 4376 for policy years and plan years that end on or after October 1, 2017, and before October 1, 2018, is $2.39. The increase from the prior amount is calculated by multiplying the adjusted applicable dollar amount for policy years and plan years ending in the previous federal fiscal year, $2.26, by the percentage increase of the projected per capita amount of National Health Expenditures published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on February 14, 2017.

For more information, click here.