Texas Telemedicine Updates

Posted in Government Affairs, Licensure & Regulatory, Healthcare Law, Hospitals & Health Systems, Medicare & Medicaid, Pharmacy, Drugs, Medical Devices & Equipment

As with other states, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the guidance that the federal government has issued (see here), Governor Abbott of Texas issued a disaster declaration on March 13, 2020 (the Disaster Declaration) resulting in the loosening of certain existing telemedicine and telehealth related requirements in Texas.

Licensure.

For current license holders, the Texas Medical Board (TMB) will automatically extend any medical licenses expired or set to expire between February 28, 2020 and May 31, 2020 until August 31, 2020 and waive any late fees. Continue Reading

COVID-19: Florida Executive Order on Elective Healthcare Services

Posted in Government Affairs, Licensure & Regulatory, Healthcare Law, Hospitals & Health Systems, Medicare & Medicaid, Pharmacy, Drugs, Medical Devices & Equipment

In an effort to preserve healthcare resources (e.g., personal protective equipment), limit potential contact with infected individuals, and free up healthcare practitioners to assist with those suffering from COVID-19, elective healthcare services must cease. Specifically, on March 20, 2020, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-72 (available here), requiring all Florida licensed healthcare practitioners to immediately cease performing elective services in Florida.

A procedure or surgery is prohibited if delaying it does not place the patient’s immediate health at risk and does not worsen a “serious or life-threatening medical condition.” The guidance that follows, which also takes into account guidance provided by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (available here), is meant to assist you in navigating and complying with this new Executive Order. Continue Reading

Florida Telehealth Updates

Posted in Government Affairs, Licensure & Regulatory, Healthcare Law, Hospitals & Health Systems, Medicare & Medicaid, Pharmacy, Drugs, Medical Devices & Equipment

In response to the public health emergency declared in Florida on March 1, 2020, Florida loosened existing licensure and other telehealth requirements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as outlined below.

However, unless specifically waived or relaxed by the Orders (as defined below), all current minimum practice requirements and standards of care for telehealth services set forth under F.S.A. §456.47 continue to apply, including, but not limited to, the duty to:

  • practice within his/her scope of practice and the prevailing standard of practice as provided for in-person healthcare services;
  • document the telehealth services provided in the patient’s medical record according to the same standards used for in-person services; and
  • maintain the confidentiality of all medical records generated.

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Illinois Telehealth Updates

Posted in Government Affairs, Licensure & Regulatory, Healthcare Law, Hospitals & Health Systems, Medicare & Medicaid, Pharmacy, Drugs, Medical Devices & Equipment

Like many other states, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the guidance that the federal government has issued, Governor Pritzker of Illinois issued an executive order (2020-09) on March 19, 2020, amending and relaxing existing telehealth related requirements under 225 ILCS 60/49.5 regarding: (1) telemedicine services provided by licensed Illinois physicians; (2) telemedicine and telepsychiatry services provided to Illinois Medicaid beneficiaries under 89 Ill. Admin. Code §140.403; and (3) reimbursement for such telehealth services. A general summary of these updates is summarized below. Continue Reading

Florida Board of Pharmacy Adopts Emergency Rule Excusing Off-Site Consultant Pharmacists from Conducting Monthly Visits to Facilities During COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted in Government Affairs, Licensure & Regulatory, Healthcare Law, Pharmacy, Drugs, Medical Devices & Equipment

Like many states, Florida requires consultant pharmacists to conduct on-site monthly visits to the facilities to which they provide pharmacy services. The visits are required for Modified Class IIB Pharmacy Permits, Special ALF Pharmacy Permits, and Special ESRD Pharmacy Permits.  Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, consultant pharmacists—particularly those visiting assisted living facilities—were concerned about off-site consultant pharmacists going from facility to facility and possibly increasing the risk of COVID-19 transmission to pharmacists, staff, and residents in the process.

The Board of Pharmacy heard the concerns with safeguarding the health of both pharmacists and the public during the COVID-19 pandemic and, respecting the implementation of the Division of Emergency Management’s Order 20-006 prohibiting certain persons from visiting assisted living facilities, took immediate action. On March 19, 2020, the Board of Pharmacy adopted an emergency rule that relieves off-site consultant pharmacists from visiting the facilities. The rule was designed to allow some flexibility and does not prohibit the consultant pharmacist from visiting the facilities, so the facility and pharmacist may agree to pharmacist’s visit in certain circumstances. The rule does not relieve on-site consultant pharmacists of the on-site visit requirement, so if the pharmacists were told to leave the facility, such pharmacists may need to seek relief in other ways, though we would expect the regulatory authorities to be reasonable in such situations. Continue Reading

Breaking Developments for Telehealth and Teleprescribing in Georgia

Posted in Government Affairs, Licensure & Regulatory, Healthcare Law, Hospitals & Health Systems, Medicare & Medicaid, Pharmacy, Drugs, Medical Devices & Equipment, Technology

Unsurprisingly, COVID-19 has created a great degree of liberalization in the telehealth requirements previously in place. What has not changed is the fact that telehealth services are governed by a number of different laws and regulations, all of which are constantly changing – now more than ever.  In addition to the multiple changes at the federal level, what follows is the first in a series of blog posts that outline certain state’s changes in their telemedicine rules in response to the pandemic.

For physicians currently providing or interested in providing telehealth and teleprescribing to Georgia patients, the past few days have seen new developments impacting telehealth and teleprescribing requirements tracking some of the federal developments. Continue Reading

Paid Sick Time and FMLA Expansion Law Passes

Posted in Uncategorized

Employers with fewer than 500 employees will be required to provide paid leave to certain employees impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) and will receive a tax credit in return, under a new law approved by the Senate and signed by President Trump on March 18, 2020. These measures are set to take effect no later than April 2, 2020.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, first passed by the House last weekend, was modified in the final version. For employers, the most important provisions of the final version of the law remain Division C – Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, Division E – Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, and Division G – Tax Credits for Paid Sick and Paid Family and Medical Leave.

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OCR COVID-19 Updates on HIPAA and Anti-Discrimination Laws

Posted in HIPAA, Privacy, and Data Security, Hospitals & Health Systems, Physicians

Hospitals will have a limited waiver of HIPAA sanctions and penalties during the COVID-19 outbreak as a result of a bulletin issued on March 16, 2020 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Office of Civil Rights also issued a reminder that even during a medical emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic, all health care providers must comply with applicable civil rights laws.

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Managing the Healthcare Workplace During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Posted in Healthcare Law, HIPAA, Privacy, and Data Security, Hospitals & Health Systems, Labor Relations & Employment Law, Physicians

Healthcare providers have special concerns for their employees during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) global health pandemic.

Because COVID-19 spreads primarily as a result of close exposure to an infected person, healthcare employees are at higher risk of infection. While OSHA has a standard to protect employees from the spread of bloodborne pathogens, it currently has no standard for the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19. Such a standard may be coming – a group of labor unions has filed a petition to require OSHA to adopt an emergency standard to protect those at risk.

In the meantime, U.S. healthcare workplaces should take some basic steps now: Continue Reading

FTC Brings First Hospital Merger Challenge Since 2016

Posted in Antitrust, Government Affairs, Licensure & Regulatory, Healthcare Law, Healthcare M&A, Joint Ventures, Transactions & Health Ventures, Hospitals & Health Systems

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced on February 27 that it has filed an administrative complaint challenging the proposed merger of Jefferson Health (Jefferson) and Albert Einstein Healthcare Network (Einstein), two Philadelphia-area hospital systems. The action is the FTC’s first hospital merger challenge since late 2016, when the agency successfully challenged the Hershey/Pinnacle Health transaction, also in Pennsylvania.

In this new action, the FTC alleges that Jefferson and Einstein are currently two of the leading providers of inpatient general acute care hospital services and inpatient acute rehabilitation services in Philadelphia County and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, and that “the proposed merger would eliminate the robust competition” between them. The complaint also alleges that patients currently “benefit from the direct competition in the quality and services that [the systems] offer,” and that this competition would be lost by the merger. Continue Reading

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