Update: No Surprises Act Implementation & CMS Guidance on Vaccination Mandate for Health Care Staff

Health Highlights

Editor’s Note: In the article below, Manatt Health provides an update on the latest policy developments around the No Surprises Act (NSA) and the vaccination mandate for health care workers. More information on the latest legal, policy and market developments is available on Manatt on Health, Manatt’s premium information service that keeps you ahead of the trends shaping our evolving health ecosystem. To learn more or schedule a demo, contact Barret Jefferds at bjefferds@manatt.com.

HHS Releases Several Guidance Documents Ahead of January 1 Implementation of No Surprises Act

As of January 1, 2022, the major provisions of the federal No Surprises Act (NSA) have gone into effect. The NSA, enacted in December 2020 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, prohibits out-of-network health care providers from billing patients for amounts above their in-network cost-sharing for any emergency services at a hospital or freestanding independent emergency department or by air ambulance or for certain nonemergency services at an in-network hospital or ambulatory surgery center. The NSA defers to certain state laws in setting out-of-network provider reimbursement in those cases. Where state law does not determine the amount of reimbursement, the NSA establishes a federal independent dispute resolution (IDR) process to set provider reimbursement. However, several hospital and provider groups have challenged the federal regulations that set standards for how IDR entities will determine reimbursement amounts, throwing into question what standards will apply when the first IDR arbitrations occur later this year.

In the final weeks of 2021, the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released several guidance documents for patients, providers and health plans on the NSA, much of which restate rules that were published during 2021. The guidance documents focus on the good faith estimates that providers must give to uninsured or self-pay patients and the dispute resolution process that will apply to bills that exceed those estimates, as well as details of the federal IDR process for out-of-network provider reimbursement and the patient-provider dispute resolution process (PPDR). These guidance documents include the following:

For additional information, please see the HHS press release announcing the implementation of the NSA.

CMS Releases Updated Guidance on Vaccination Mandate for Health Care Staff in Half the U.S.

On December 28, 2021, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidance and an updated set of FAQs on the implementation of the COVID-19 Health Care Staff Vaccination Interim Final Rule. The Interim Final Rule (IFR), released on November 5, 2021, requires vaccination of staff of health care providers and suppliers that are subject to CMS health and safety standards known as Conditions of Participation. As a result of ongoing legal challenges to the IFR, CMS’ implementation and enforcement of the rule is currently enjoined in 25 states (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming).

The updated guidance released last week applies to Medicare- and Medicaid-certified providers and suppliers in the remaining 25 states, the District of Columbia and the territories. The guidance requires that such providers and suppliers establish policies and procedures that ensure as follows:

  • By January 27, 2022 (30 days after the guidance was published): All eligible staff who do not have a pending or granted request for a qualifying exemption must receive either the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or at least the first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines prior to providing any care, treatment or services for the provider/supplier or its patients.
  • By February 28, 2022 (60 days after the guidance was published): All eligible staff who have not been granted a qualifying exemption must be fully vaccinated (either the single Johnson & Johnson dose or both doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, as applicable) before providing care, treatment or other services for the provider/supplier or its patients.

CMS’ publication also included information and infographics on enforcement actions, deadlines and provider types for providers and suppliers in the states where this guidance is effective. The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments later this week regarding the validity of CMS’ vaccine requirement for health care workers as well as of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration emergency temporary standard for large employers to require employee vaccination later this week.

Note: To help you navigate the challenges and complexities that the NSA introduces, Manatt Health has launched a No Surprises Act Toolkit that includes four high-value components to be delivered across the next six months:

  1. An NSA tracker that will track guidance from state and federal regulators on how state and federal laws apply. Updated every two weeks to keep pace with new developments, the tracker will provide brief summaries as well as links to each state regulation, bulletin or other guidance.
  2. Deep-dive analyses of all new NSA-related regulations and their implications.
  3. Detailed checklists for providers and payers, providing a step-by-step road map to compliance requirements.
  4. Access to Manatt on Health: Insights You Trust, Manatt’s premium information service that delivers in-depth insights and analysis focused on the legal, policy and market developments that matter to you, keeping you ahead of the trends shaping our evolving health ecosystem. Manatt on Health includes weekly analyses of federal and state health reform activity, detailed regulatory and guidance summaries and analyses of key federal legislation, and 50-state trackers of state actions across a range of key topics, from telehealth changes to 340B to Drivers of Health. The NSA offering gives you three options for accessing Manatt on Health—a full 12-month subscription at a 10% discount, a six-month subscription or a one-month free trial.

Our NSA Toolkit delivers information that is essential for both health plans and providers—particularly those operating across multiple states. Fully understanding state and federal guidance—and the interactions between them—will be imperative for ensuring that providers’ billing practices and plans’ processing practices are compliant. With guidance remaining in flux, Manatt’s NSA offering ensures that plans and providers have clear, complete and up-to-date information on what regulators are saying so they are prepared to implement the law.

To get more information or schedule a demo of Manatt on Health, contact Barret Jefferds at bjefferds@manatt.com.



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