On Friday, August 26, 2022, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Department of Labor, and Department of Treasury (collectively, the Departments) issued a new Final Rule updating key regulations pertaining to the No Surprises Act. The Final Rule addresses disclosure requirements for group health plans and health insurance issuers related to the Qualified Payment Amount (QPA) for out of network services, as well as establishing the factors and information which certified federal independent dispute resolution (IDR) entities must consider in arbitrating disputes for out of network services or items. The Final Rule takes effect October 25, 2022 and covers services and items rendered during plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2022.
The July 2021 interim final rule initially required group health plans and health issuers to make certain disclosures. When the QPA serves as the recognized amount or the amount that serves as the basis for cost sharing with respect to out of network services, plans and issuers must disclose the QPA and certain related information, as well as certain additional information at the request of the provider or facility. When a plan or issuer down-codes the billed claim, the plan or issuer must automatically provide additional information about the QPA with an initial payment or notice of denial. The additional information must include a statement that the claim was down-coded, an explanation of why the claim was down-coded, and the amount that would have been the QPA had the claim not been down-coded.
In October 2021, the Departments issued their first attempt at establishing the information an IDR entity must consider, however these rules were challenged in court and subsequently vacated. Under the most recent Final Rule, a Federal IDR entity must weigh specific considerations and select the offer that “best represents the value of the qualified IDR service or item” as the out of network rate. Specifically, the IDR entity must consider the QPA for the same or similar qualified IDR service or item for the applicable year, as well as additional information submitted by a party related to: