The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said it has charged an online marketer with promising next-day shipment of facemasks and other personal protective equipment for the COVID-19 pandemic despite that shipment of purchased goods often “took weeks.” The FTC complaint against and its owner, Kevin Lipsitz, was accompanied by a complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. Andrew Smith, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said “unscrupulous merchants are taking advantage of consumers in their hour of need,” adding that the agency “will not tolerate this.” Smith said the FTC is “working closely with criminal authorities to put a stop to it.”

Neovasc Inc., of Minneapolis, said the FDA has set an Oct. 27, 2020, meeting of the circulatory systems advisory committee to provide feedback for the PMA for the company’s Reducer device for treatment of refractory angina pectoris. Neovasc obtained a CE mark for the device in 2011, suggesting a 10-year device lag if the FDA does not approve the application by the end of the current year.

The U.S. Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) said the proposal to use Medicare Advantage (MA) or commercial payer rates to set Medicare rates as described in the draft Medicare inpatient rule for fiscal 2021 “would be circular.” The inpatient draft floats the notion of obtaining MA payment rates for each Medicare severity-adjusted diagnostic-related group, which the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) would use to set rates for the associated services under fee-for-service (FFS) care, and MedPAC said such a proposal “may appear reasonable” at first glance. This is because MA plans serve roughly a third of all Medicare beneficiaries, and because the discharge mix for MA plans is similar to that of FFS discharges. However, the commission said also there is a substantial amount of evidence suggesting that MA plans base their rates on FFS weights, and that evidence in the literature further suggests that MA plan rates are “commonly set at 100% of FFS rates.” Another point of caution is that the rates negotiated by payers exhibit a wide degree of variance, including instances in which the rates paid by commercial carriers “can vary by more than 100%, depending on the insurer’s market power.” Hospitals may also be disinclined to lower the rates they charge for specialty services that are otherwise unavailable in a given market, MedPAC said.

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