The AHA strongly supported HHS’ proposal to make a one-time lump-sum repayment to hospitals for the amounts they were underpaid from 2018 to 2022, as well the proposal to pay 340B hospitals what they would have received in beneficiary cost-sharing had the unlawful 340B payment policy not been in effect. It urged HHS to finalize these aspects of the proposal immediately.
At the same time, the AHA pressed HHS not to finalize its proposal to recoup funds from hospitals as a “budget neutrality adjustment.” The AHA explained that HHS’ legal and public policy justifications for this proposed recoupment were groundless and, in reality, the agency has “both the legal obligation and legal flexibility to not seek a clawback of funds that hospitals received as a result of HHS’ own mistakes and have long since spent on patient care.” Specifically, the AHA stated:
HHS should not pursue any ‘budget neutrality adjustment.’ If it does, it should 1) drastically reduce the overall amount; 2) delay any recoupment until 2026 or later; 3) finalize the current aspect of the proposal that would spread the “adjustment” across 16 years; and 4) recoup funds in a way that does not lead to a Medicare Advantage Organization windfall at the expense of hospitals and health systems.
The AHA has prepared a model comment letter for members to use to help them craft their own comments and submit by the Sept. 5, 2023 deadline. We strongly urge all entities affected by this remedy to submit their own comment letter.
When HHS previously sought comment on a potential remedy in connection with the 2023 outpatient prospective payment system rule, it observed that the “majority” of comments supported the AHA’s proposed remedy. It is critical that HHS receive a similar strong response from the hospital field on this proposed remedy during the current comment period.