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Implications of the Section 1557 Final Rule

On June 17, 2024
The non-discrimination protections of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act are not new, as the Affordable Care Act was originally enacted in 2010. However, the recent Final Rule published on May 5, 2024, provided clarification and additional requirements as they relate to strengthening civil rights protections for individuals.

2024 Benefest: Not Just Massachusetts in Focus

On June 14, 2024
Earlier this month, 2024 Benefest, hosted by the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Association of Benefits and Insurance Professionals (NABIP), took place at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Boston-Westborough. While the conference largely focused on the Massachusetts healthcare ecosystem – panel discussions of which reached the general consensus that, from an affordability and access perspective, these are incredibly challenging times due to unprecedented staffing shortages reducing providers’ daily bandwidth – there was considerable time spent examining federal healthcare developments, including how November’s election will impact employer-sponsored benefit plans.

Empowering Plans: P193 – Stopping Esophageal Cancer In Its Tracks

On June 7, 2024
In this episode of Empowering Plans, The Phia Group’s CLO – Ron Peck – sits down with experienced surgeon, Dr. Victoria Lee, to discuss a very dangerous – and costly – threat. Esophageal cancer is generally considered to be a death sentence, and historically screening options are invasive and costly, resulting in a low uptake. With the introduction of EsoGuard, however, plans can identify which participants are at risk, and have them tested quickly, non-invasively, and inexpensively. You can save lives and money… but you cannot afford to miss this episode.

The Price is Wrong, Y’all

On June 4, 2024
National spending on healthcare was approximately $74 billion in 1970. Fast-forward to 2022, the growth alone on healthcare spending from 2021 was $175 billion, topping out around $4.5 trillion total spending for that year. It’s a well-worn saying in the healthcare industry but it still rings true: “It’s the prices, stupid.” Every ounce of work and creativity that we at The Phia Group, and many of our colleagues in the industry, pour into trying to reduce healthcare costs may ultimately be for naught if the prices continue to rise indefinitely. One of the driving factors behind those ever-increasing costs: consolidation.

The Phia Group Honored as One of the 50 “Best Places to Work in Greater Louisville” by Louisville Business First.

On May 28, 2024
The Phia Group LLC is very proud to announce that it was recently named one of the 50 “Best Places to Work in Greater Louisville” by Louisville Business First. The Phia Group was one of the 50 honorees in the 2024 Best Places to Work program based strictly on employee survey results. Earning this distinction reflects a company’s unwavering commitment to fostering an inclusive and overall exceptional workplace environment. This marks the fourth consecutive year in which The Phia Group has received this prestigious honor.

HIPAA Final Rule Protects Access to Reproductive Healthcare

On May 28, 2024
On April 26, 2024, HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released a HIPAA Privacy Rule to Support Reproductive Health Care Privacy (Final Rule). This modifies the HIPAA Privacy Rule to enhance the privacy safeguards around protected health information (PHI) related to reproductive health care and serves to protect access to this care in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (Dobbs) decision. This decision, overturning the constitutional right to abortion, led to renewed efforts by many states to more heavily restrict and criminalize certain types of reproductive health care, particularly abortion services.

Empowering Plans: P192 – Places, Promises, and Plan Documents

On May 23, 2024
In this installment of The Phia Group’s Empowering Plans podcast series, attorneys Jon Jablon and Cindy Merrell discuss a health plan that lost its ERISA protections because of a pre-cert snafu. Specifically, the provider was quoted benefits at U&C, but that’s not quite what the SPD said – so the court called it a promise outside the SPD, and the security blanket of federal law flew right out the window! Tune in for the full details, and advice on how to not let this happen to you!

The Cost of Cancer

On May 21, 2024
During the COVID 19 pandemic, experts anticipated that we would see a surge in undiagnosed cancers. That prediction proved to be accurate. Driven by this ongoing issue, on March 8 the Biden Administration announced updates to its “Cancer Moonshot.” Combining efforts to address navigation, research, treatment, costs and coverage – for health benefit plans, this new focus on cancer represents both an opportunity and risk. Cancer and oncology claims have always been one of the most expensive items health plans encounter. Only those who are aware of ongoing developments and plan ahead will minimize risks and maximize beneficial outcomes. Join The Phia Group as they delve into this and other new regulatory and legal developments, including the aforementioned “Moonshot,” the effect of the Dobbs decision on cancer care, specialty drugs, high cost threats – both present and forthcoming, and a very important personal message from Ron Peck.

The Stewardship of Hospitals

On May 16, 2024
Hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, long-term care facilities, primary care physician practices, nursing homes, hospice care. They are the most indispensable institutions of any functioning society, but unlike a Fortune 500 company or professional sports franchise, the identity of their respective owners often remains an afterthought. That is, unless you work for or are served by a financially distressed health care system, such as for example Steward Health Care, the massive private-for-profit healthcare conglomerate that recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Empowering Plans: P191 – Derby Reflections and Gambles on Healthcare Strategies (Part 2)

On May 14, 2024
In this concluding episode of our special two-part series on the Empowering Plans Podcast, Adam Russo and Corey Crigger return to unpack more significant developments in the self-funded space. This episode focuses on Walmart’s surprising withdrawal from the healthcare arena—a sector it heavily invested in just a year ago. Listen as they analyze the impact of this move on rural markets and what it signifies for the industry's future.

Empowering Plans: P190 – Derby Insights and Gambles on Healthcare Strategies (Part 1)

On May 9, 2024
Join us for a captivating two-part episode of the Empowering Plans Podcast. Adam Russo, CEO and Founder of The Phia Group, is back alongside Corey Crigger to delve into the exhilarating 150th Kentucky Derby and share why Corey’s insights are indispensable. This episode also addresses pressing concerns in the self-funded sector that are crucial for our clients. Packed with valuable information, we had to split the discussion into two parts!

Empowering Plans: P189 – SCOTUS Showdowns and Derby Delights

On May 3, 2024
The Empowering Plans podcast gets a southern infusion in this very Kentucky-centric podcast! Cindy Merrell and Corey Crigger get together to discuss the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby. Before you hear about all things Derby, Cindy and Corey review two impactful Supreme Court cases that were argued in the last session and discuss the implications of presidential immunity as well as the role EMTALA can play in state regulations. No other podcast in the country will break down SCOTUS cases and Derby winners like the Empowering Plans Podcast!

The End of a (Brief) Era

On May 2, 2024
Five years ago, Walmart, the multi-billion-dollar retail behemoth, opened its first-ever health clinic in Georgia. Soon, dozens more Walmart-sponsored clinics started opening their doors across not just Georgia, but also Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, and Texas. Most of these pop-up clinics operated in rural communities where chronic diseases were rampant and (affordable) primary care options were scarce. Irrespective of the pandemic soon unfolding, they served their purpose: customers shopping for microwaveable dinners and bath supplies could stop by for a doctor’s appointment, get stitched up, take a flu test, or even get X-rays done, all for a very reasonable fee. As many of these shoppers/patients either lacked health insurance or had high deductible plans with imposing out-of-pocket costs, these clinics represented their only viable option for obtaining any semblance of proper healthcare. Surely, some had not been to a doctor of any type for years.

Empowering Plans: P188 – Fiduciary Duties in the Spotlight – Lewandowski v. Johnson and Johnson

On April 25, 2024
Attorneys Brady Bizarro and Andrew Silverio discuss the pending case of Lewandowski v. Johnson & Johnson, a lawsuit brought against plan fiduciaries for violating their fiduciary duties under ERISA. How did they violate those duties? By failing to negotiate drug prices and sufficiently oversee their PBM or investigate alternatives. No matter who wins, this case highlights the importance of ERISA’s fiduciary duties and the gravity of the decisions fiduciaries are (or should be) making.

Not Surprised – First NSA Analysis Shows That You’re Paying Too Much…And Phia Can Help!

On April 25, 2024
On Dec. 27, 2020, the No Surprises Act (NSA) was signed into law, with an eye towards protecting patients against so-called “surprise” balance bills. The law leaned heavily on “good faith” negotiations between payers and providers, as well as “objective” decision making via independent dispute resolution. Three years later, The Brookings Institution reported that you are paying nearly four-times what Medicare pays (an average of 390%) and are spending at least 50% MORE than an average PPO network. The bottom line? Providers are winning and you are paying MORE now than you did before the NSA’s passage.