From 340B to short-term health plans: Here are the top 4 regulations to watch for in 2022

The Biden administration released its 2022 unified agenda that details regulations it plans to release in the coming year.

The agenda, released Friday by the Office of Management and Budget, is not binding but gives a look at which areas Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials are hoping to address in the year ahead.

Here are some of the regulations HHS is considering:

Short-term health plans

The Trump administration controversially introduced regulations to shorten the duration of short-term health plans and made other moves to increase the use of the plans that are cheaper than those offered on the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA's) exchanges but offer fewer benefits.

Now, such plans may be in line for a walk-back. HHS aims to propose a rule by August of 2022 that would ensure short-term plans do not “undermine the Affordable Care Act, including its protections for people with pre-existing conditions.”

Prior authorization and interoperability

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) wants to propose a rule by February that would install new requirements to government insurers such as ACA exchange issuers and Medicare Advantage plans to improve the electronic exchange of healthcare data and streamline prior authorization, a major source of provider administrative burden. It would also add a new provision for critical access hospitals and clinicians to boost access to health information.

The Trump administration passed a final rule in January that called for similar requirements to streamline prior authorization.

New administrative dispute resolution rule for 340B

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) aims to publish a new proposed rule creating requirements for resolving disputes between 340B-covered entities and drugmakers. The rule would replace a final rule that was published in December 2020; a judge halted the rule back in March after objections from drugmakers.

The proposed rule would be released in January, the unified agenda said. The new rule comes as HRSA is pushing to fine several drugmakers for restricting access of discounted products to contract pharmacies,

Requirements for rural emergency hospitals

CMS is expected to release a proposed rule that creates health and safety requirements for rural emergency hospitals, a new provider type intended to help improve emergency care in rural areas. A spending bill last year created the new designation, which will allow rural hospitals to convert into such facilities.

Such hospitals would be able to provide outpatient and emergency care but not inpatient services.