During the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth usage has dramatically increased, as discussed in a recent Health Law Rx post. Telehealth makes it easier for individuals who cannot drive, including many minors, to seek necessary care, leading to many questions regarding when “minors” (individuals under 18 years of age) can consent to treatment – when the “disability of nonage” has been … Continue Reading
After over 8 years of hard-fought litigation, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, together with its 36 Blue Cross/Blue Shield members (“the Blues”), recently announced a proposed settlement of class action antitrust litigation (In re Blue Cross Blue Shield Antitrust Litigation) brought against them by a nationwide class of subscriber members. The settlement terms, summarized in the … Continue Reading
COVID-19 has made healthcare organizations acutely aware of the need to fine-tune their internal safety systems. The National Steering Committee for Patient Safety (NSC), comprised of 27 organizations, has come to the rescue. NSC recently released guidance entitled, “Safer Together: A National Action Plan to Advance Patient Safety” (the Plan). The Plan provides a methodology for improving safety … Continue Reading
Healthcare providers are generally required by HIPAA to provide patients or their legal representatives with the ability to inspect or obtain copies of their medical records within 30 days of a request (state specific requirements are not addressed herein.) The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has been enforcing this requirement through its Right of Access Initiative, which it announced in … Continue Reading
Healthcare practitioners, including medical students, are now prohibited from performing pelvic examinations on female patients without first obtaining written consent, but many specific, logistical questions were left unanswered. The new law became effective July 1, 2020. “[P]elvic exams will now require specific consent, except in cases of emergency, finally halting the wholly inappropriate practice of unapproved pelvic exams on unconscious … Continue Reading
Physician offices have seen a dramatic increase in telehealth visits during the COVID-19 pandemic. This development has raised questions regarding the appropriate standard of care when performing a telehealth examination, in particular the “physical examination.” Naturally this blog can never supplant the physician’s expertise in evaluating patients. As in other contexts, physicians practicing telemedicine should strive to act reasonably to … Continue Reading
The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1418, the “Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act,” by a voice vote on September 21. The legislation, which was introduced back in early 2019 by Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon), would reduce the scope of the McCarran Ferguson Act’s antitrust exemption, which currently provides insurers with an exemption from the federal antitrust laws. … Continue Reading
The Department of Justice Antitrust Division has advised several pharmaceutical companies that they can share competitive information regarding the status of their respective efforts to develop a COVID-19 treatment without running afoul of the federal antitrust laws. Specifically, in a letter issued on July 23, the Antitrust Division stated that it had no intention to challenge a proposal by … Continue Reading
The Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) recently clarified that CARES Act Provider Relief Funds (“Relief Funds”) are considered taxable income for for-profit providers, including physician practices. This news comes as a surprise as many thought such funds would be considered “qualified disaster relief payments” and therefore not includible in gross income under Section 139 of the Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”). … Continue Reading
As healthcare providers around the country struggle to respond to patient needs during the Covid-19 crisis, many are reportedly struggling financially as well. In the past, this scenario has led to an increase in merger and acquisition activity, and many healthcare analysts are predicting an increase in such activity for the second half of the year and into 2021.
In … Continue Reading
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to urgent changes to how and where healthcare services are delivered. These changes could require expedited entry into new or modified arrangements for the delivery of essential healthcare goods and services, creating potential conflicts with the Stark Law (Section 1877 of the Social Security Act) and its regulations and potential Office of Inspector General (OIG) … Continue Reading
To ensure Medicare beneficiaries have access to necessary care without risking exposure to COVID-19, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has further expanded telehealth services and relaxed certain requirements related to the same with the issuance of additional waivers (available here) and an interim final rule (IFR) available here. … Continue Reading
Pharmacists can now engage in a new role in the battle against COVID-19 – testing patients for the virus. Recognizing the advanced health care training that pharmacists receive and the unique consumer access to community pharmacies during the Pandemic, the Florida Department of Health has designated pharmacists as medical professionals authorized to order and provide COVID-19 tests. Additionally, pharmacies, as … Continue Reading
Despite Congress’ efforts to use riders to neutralize a provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Act), the Federal government (Government) owes certain insurers $12 billion. On April 27, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled 8-1 that congressional riders added to appropriations bills that funded the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in 2014, … Continue Reading
Many employers are now making plans to have their employees return to the workplace. Based on recent alerts from the FBI, part of preparing to protect workers from COVID-19 at work should include protecting the company from falling prey to fraudsters. To do that, employers should put in place procedures to carefully screen vendors from whom they will purchase COVID-19 … Continue Reading
While the CARES Act signals relief for many healthcare providers, it is important to remember that there are strings attached and reasons for providers to involve their compliance departments in the use and tracking of the CARES Act relief funds.
The CARES Act promised, through the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund, to provide $100 billion in relief funds … Continue Reading
While this period of crisis due to the pandemic has led competitors to cooperate, the crisis does not serve as an excuse for anticompetitve conduct. The Department of Justice Antitrust Division (the “Antitrust Division”) and the Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC” and with the Antitrust Division, the “Agencies”) have issued a warning to the healthcare industry that, while combatting the … Continue Reading
Even in this time of crisis, nothing has changed about a hospital’s obligation to comply with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). However, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued guidance (available here) to, and some flexibility for, hospitals on how to provide care to the growing influx of patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.… Continue Reading
California has joined the growing ranks of states, as well as the federal government, in efforts to facilitate the efficient provision of healthcare services during the pandemic. Accordingly, in response to federal agency updates with respect to relaxations to existing requirements related to telehealth services, California’s Governor Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Order No. 43-20 on April 3, 2020 (the … Continue Reading
The Department of Justice Antitrust Division (the “Antitrust Division”) has granted its approval to a plan by a group of medical supply manufacturers to collaborate in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a business review letter issued on April 4, the Antitrust Division stated that McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health, Owens & Minor, Medline Industries and Henry Schein Inc. could work … Continue Reading
The COVID 19 epidemic is bound to overwhelm available medical resources in the United States. Healthcare institutions and practitioners will be forced to make impossible life-or-death decisions regarding the allocation of manpower and supplies. They must also be ready to defend those decisions against a backlash of grief—and lawsuits—once the crisis has passed.
A defensible triage protocol must enable reasonable … Continue Reading
North Carolina has drastically expanded its telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to give individuals increased access to remote care. The following article outlines many of the important changes implemented.
Health and welfare benefit plans and insurers are affected by various provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) passed on March 27, 2020. In addition to provisions impacting tax-qualified retirement plans and executive compensation (summarized here), the CARES Act affects coverage of diagnostic testing, preventive services, telehealth services, and drug reimbursement. Here are the … Continue Reading
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.
For current license holders, the Texas … Continue Reading