Photo of Noreen Vergara

As a Healthcare Regulatory Attorney and former executive, Noreen is a transparent communicator and innovative problem solver with a deep background in operations and risk management.

Noreen’s career in healthcare operations, healthcare compliance and executive leadership began as a behavioral health admissions representative – she understands the day-to-day regulatory hurdles facing healthcare clients. Most recently, Noreen served as Acting CEO, General Counsel and Chief Human Resources Executive for a national managed behavioral health venture with employees across 50 states. In this position, Noreen leveraged her experience in strategic planning, corporate governance, complex contracts, employment law and compliance. Noreen navigated tough decisions including guiding 500 percent growth over 6 years, moving online quickly during COVID-19 and helping secure the largest contract in company history. Earlier in her career, Noreen collaborated in-house at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), where oversight, peer review, best practices and standards are established by state regulators.

In the United States, mental health (“MH”) and substance use disorder (“SUD”) (collectively “MH/SUD”) have continued to represent areas of intense concern. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the MH struggles of essential workers and health care professionals were pushed to the forefront. However, issues related to MH/SUD have continued to escalate.Continue Reading Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act: Comprehensive Final Rule Expected in 2024

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through its Office of Inspector General (OIG), announced plans for significant updates and modernization of OIG compliance program guidance (CPG) to improve their accessibility and usability for healthcare entities.[1] Originally issued in 1998, the CPG provide healthcare organizations across the industry with guidance on developing, implementing, and maintaining internal compliance controls. In the 25 years since, the OIG has issued multiple and specific CPGs that apply to particular segments of the healthcare industry including Medicare Advantage organizations, hospitals, home health agencies, nursing homes, and clinical laboratories. However, over time the CPGs have not sufficiently kept up with the innovations and growth of the healthcare industry.Continue Reading OIG Announces Upcoming Changes to Its Compliance Program Guidance Resources for the Healthcare Industry

On October 14, 2022, President Joe Biden signed Executive Order 14036, directing the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) to consider innovative actions to drive down certain single-source prescription drug costs as the Biden-Harris Administration works to implement the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (the “Act”).Continue Reading Inflation Reduction Act Imposes Prescription Drug Pricing Reforms

We continue to see an increase in fiduciary litigation involving employer-sponsored group health plans, particularly litigation involving mental health.  A recent New York Federal District Court case, Collins et al. v. Anthem, Inc. & Anthem UM Services, Inc., Case No. 1:20-cv-001969, is one example that may have wide-ranging impact. This case caught our attention because of its potential impact on plan design and plan administration of its mental health and substance use disorder (collectively “behavioral health”) benefits.
Continue Reading New York District Court: The Choice of Medical Necessity Criteria is a Fiduciary Act

On February 23, 2022, Judge Jeremy Kernodle of the Eastern District of Texas ruled that certain parts of the Interim Final Rule Part II (the Rule) implementing the No Surprises Act are invalid. Specifically, the provisions of the Rule governing the methodology for how arbitrators determine the amount of payments insurers and self-funded health plans

On July 1, 2021, the Office of Personnel Management (“OPM”), the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”), the Department of Treasury (“Treasury”), the Employee Benefits Security Administration (“EBSA”), the Department of Labor (“DOL”), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”), and the Department of Health and Human Services (“CMS”) (collectively the “Departments”) jointly issued the Interim Rule – Requirements Related to Surprise Billing; Part 1 (hereinafter, the “Interim Rule” or the “Rule”). This Interim Rule is the first implementing regulation of the federal No Surprises Act (alternatively the “Act”) which was enacted on December 27, 2020 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act. Both this Interim Rule, and the Act, are effective applicable for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2022.
Continue Reading Federal Guidance on Balance Billing: The No Surprises Act and its Interim Final Rule: Part I

Join Meg Pekarske and our newest member of our Hospice & Palliative care team, Noreen Vergara, where they discuss different ways hospices can come together to succeed in the value-based care landscape. They explore a continuum of options from messenger-model networks to networks that are clinically and financially integrated all the way to common ownership

On April 2, 2021, the Departments of Labor (DOL), Health and Human Services (HHS) and Treasury (collectively the “Departments”) jointly released nine (9) questions and answers (“FAQs Part 45”) related to recent changes made to the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (“MHPAEA”) by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (the “Appropriations Act”).

FAQs