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Labor Department Provides Resources on Mental Health Parity Laws

The U.S. Department of Labor has released a series of documents designed to help stakeholders understand the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) of 2008, the 21st Century Cures Act, the SUPPORT for Patient and Communities Act, and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. The documents, which provide examples and illustrations of how the laws work, include FAQs about mental health and substance use disorder parity implementation and the 21st Century Cures Act, and an MHPAEA disclosure template and enforcement fact sheet.

CHA News

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As 2019 Session Closes, Focus Turns Toward DC

With the legislative year coming to an end in Sacramento last week, and important signing decisions yet to be made by the Governor, our advocacy in Washington, D.C., is heating up.

Congress returned Sept. 9 facing a full legislative agenda. Because neither party wants another government shutdown, the House of Representatives passed a measure to keep funding flowing through Nov. 21. The Senate is expected to consider that legislation in the next few days.  

There’s also a full slate of health care issues up for debate in the coming months, so it was important that we took the opportunity last week, alongside nearly two dozen of California’s hospital CEOs, and with our partners at the American Hospital Association, to spend time with members of the California congressional delegation to discuss the issues most important to your hospitals and your patients. 

As we made the rounds on Capitol Hill, some common themes emerged: 

• Surprise billing: This issue is top of mind for Congress. Over the summer, one House committee reported legislation, the No Surprises Act; two others are expected to craft additional bills, and we could see a House floor vote sometime this fall. This week, the issue took on a new depth when the House announced an investigation into private equity firms that own physician-staffing companies, and whether they use out-of-network billing as an intentional strategy. In the meantime, we’ll keep reinforcing our message that hospitals support taking patients out of the middle when it comes to out-of-network bills, but we stand firmly against rate setting as part of the solution.

• Eliminating payment cuts to Medicaid disproportionate share hospitals (DSH): Set to take effect Oct. 1, cuts to Medicaid DSH hospitals will be unsustainable for many hospitals and could sever the safety net for your most vulnerable patients. We’re fighting hard on this one, urging that the cuts be eliminated or – at a minimum – delayed. The good news is that we have strong support in Congress, and a delay in the cuts for the first quarter of the 2020 fiscal year is part of the current House bill to temporarily fund the government. It’s good to be part of “must-pass” legislation, and we’ll keep pressing to get this done.

• Drug pricing: Reducing consumer drug prices remains a high priority for both Congress and the president. As we monitor those evolving efforts, we’re engaged in discussions with California congressional leaders to fully understand the various forms any pending legislation might take, as well as any impact on patients and hospitals.

As we continue to fight for policies that help you care for your patients and communities, last week’s meetings in the nation’s capital make clear that our greatest strength is in our unity, and when you lend your personal voice to the conversation, our message resonates. Thanks to all of our AHA regional policy board representatives who traveled to set the stage for our senators and representatives as they prepare to make decisions that will affect all of your hospitals.

— Carmela

Deadline to Join Area Wage Index Litigation Extended to Sept. 27

CHA has extended the deadline to join its legal effort in response to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ changes to its area wage index (AWI) policy to Sept. 27. CHA is coordinating and paying for the litigation as well as the necessary provider reimbursement appeal process and subsequent legal challenge to the AWI calculation changes as finalized in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ federal fiscal year 2020 inpatient prospective payment system final rule.

Upcoming Webinar Will Explain 2020 Labor and Employment Laws

CHA will host a member-only Labor & Employment Law Legislative Updates webinar Oct. 30 from 10 a.m. – noon. Informative and interactive, the webinar will focus on new laws that take effect in 2020 and recommendations for implementation, and will include a robust question-and-answer period.