Category Archives: Hospitals & Health Systems

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OIG Weighs In On COVID-19 Vaccination Incentives

The media has widely reported that several governmental, non-profit, and private organizations, including entities in the healthcare sector, are offering a variety of incentives to encourage more individuals to take the COVID-19 vaccine. While this approach may increase the number of vaccinated individuals, it can also implicate the healthcare fraud and abuse laws when Federal healthcare program beneficiaries, e.g., Medicare … Continue Reading

Hiding Data: Hospitals Fail to Comply with Price Transparency Requirements

At first glance, it appeared that hospitals were complying with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) price transparency requirement, which became effective January 1, 2021. Upon a closer look; however, multiple deficiencies were found.

CMS previously advised that it would begin auditing compliance with the rule this past January. Interestingly, it was the published findings of … Continue Reading

Be Prepared For Increase In COVID-19 Inspections Under OSHA’s New National Emphasis Program

On March 12, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a new National Emphasis Program (NEP) designed to significantly reduce worker exposure to COVID-19 by targeting industries and worksites where employees may have a high frequency of close-contact exposures. The new NEP on COVID-19 has two main components:

1. Increases OSHA inspections of high-hazard industries where COVID-19 exposure Continue Reading

Providers: Cyberattacks Are Still Coming–Are You Prepared?

Cyberattacks against healthcare providers accounted for 79% of all reported data breaches in 2020. (See here). The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) responded last month by releasing a comprehensive guide to protect providers against this growing vulnerability entitled “Healthcare System Cybersecurity Readiness & Response ConsiderationsContinue Reading

Providers: Help is Here to Avoid HIPAA Right of Access Headaches

The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) continues to take seriously all allegations of violations of the HIPAA right of access to patient medical records. As discussed in a previous blog, the OCR is enforcing patient rights by issuing enforcement actions against healthcare providers who fail to provide patients with timely access to their medical records, in accordance with 45 Continue Reading

The Sun is Rising on COVID Liability Protection for Florida Healthcare Providers

Good news is here for healthcare providers worried about being left out of COVID-19-related liability protections during the 2021 Florida Legislative Session! The Republican-led Legislature, supported by Governor Ron DeSantis, is upholding its commitment to protect businesses, including healthcare providers, from frivolous lawsuits filed because of exposure to COVID-19. While only a Senate-version of legislation for healthcare providers has been … Continue Reading

Valentine’s Day: Listen to Your Heart, But Not On a Cell Phone

Physicians at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit made a “stunning” heart-altering discovery. New and improved magnets in the iPhone 12 (“12”) may cause heart defibrillators and pacemakers to malfunction, particularly when carried in a breast pocket (See publication).… Continue Reading

Klobuchar Antitrust Bill Could Have Significant Impact on Healthcare Industry

In early February, Senator Amy Klobuchar, new Chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, introduced the “Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act of 2021″(S225). While the legislation is widely understood to be intended to address perceived shortcomings in the ability of federal authorities to regulate the largest and most dominant companies in the … Continue Reading

CMS Tells States and Providers: Value-Based Care is the Answer

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has sent a clear message to states and providers: they already have the tools to improve healthcare. Through a combination of value-based arrangements and already existing services and supports, states and providers can address the social determinants of health (SDOH). This will lead to an improvement in health outcomes, a reduction in … Continue Reading

New Supreme Court Ruling Affirms State Regulation of PBM Reimbursement Pricing

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against pharmacy benefit managers (“PBMs”) last month, in a decision that marks a major win for state regulators. (See Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, 2020 WL 7250098 (U.S. 2020)). On December 10, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Arkansas’s Act 900, which “effectively requires PBMs to reimburse Arkansas pharmacies at a … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Sends PBM “Clawback” Litigation Plaintiffs Back to the Drawing Board

Anthem, Inc., (Anthem) and Express Scripts, Inc., (Express Scripts) had a big win this week, creating another setback for plaintiffs filing ERISA lawsuits against pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs). On December 7, 2020, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos’s decision that Anthem and Express Scripts did not violate fiduciary obligations under the Employer Retirement Income … Continue Reading

Healthcare Providers: Please Be Wary of Accepting Those Gifts!

There has been a longstanding and regrettable practice in the healthcare industry of pharmaceutical and medical device companies giving physicians gifts as illegal inducements. Concerned about this continued trend, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued important warnings regarding providing inducements to healthcare providers (HCPs) – just … Continue Reading

Federal Trade Commission Challenge to Northern Philadelphia Hospital Merger Fails

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has failed – at least for now – in its efforts to derail a merger between Thomas Jefferson University Health System and Albert Einstein Health System, two Philadelphia-area health systems. In a decision announced on December 8, Judge Pappert, District Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, ruled that the FTC, which was joined in … Continue Reading

COVID-19 and Possible Silver Bullets: Update on Vaccine Development

As the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic that has taken the lives of over 250,000 Americans, and worldwide over 1 million people, this year, an effective vaccine has emerged as our silver bullet – a way for the nation, and the world, to fight back and, in time, begin to return to some semblance of normalcy. There … Continue Reading

Florida: Do You Know Where Your “Minor” Is?

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

Is A Safer Healthcare System Within Reach?

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

HIPAA Says To Give Me My Medical Records…NOW!

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

Ransomware Targeting Hospitals and Healthcare Providers

While fighting a surge of new coronavirus infections in many parts of the country, healthcare providers must also be prepared to defend against ransomware. On October 28, 2020, the FBI, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued a joint alert warning of  “credible information of an increased and imminent” … Continue Reading

What Consent for Which “Pelvic Examination”?

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

Telehealth Physical Examinations: Turn on your camera and show me your “rash.”

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

HHS Issues Guidelines to Address Disturbing Trend of Racial Disparities in COVID-19 Testing and Treatment

Data collected during the coronavirus pandemic shows a disturbing trend of inequities in testing and treatment for COVID-19 among people of color. On July 20, 2020 the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a Bulletin for healthcare providers, hospitals, and state and local agencies that receive Federal financial assistance to address “Civil Rights … Continue Reading

CARES Act Provider Relief Funds – The Requirements Are Taxing

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 COVID-19 Spreads, Florida Pharmacists’ Scope of Practice Expands

Florida has been contemplating ways to increase patient access to care, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the anticipated increase in cases. Recognizing the accessibility of pharmacies, Florida is now authorizing certain qualified pharmacists to perform testing, screening, and treatment of nonchronic diseases and specific treatment of certain chronic conditions.… Continue Reading

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