Category Archives: Hospitals & Health Systems

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Direct Patient Billing Can Create Provider Liability in Florida

To bill or not to bill, that is the question. Or, more appropriately, who to bill and when to bill, that is the question. Providers who bill patients under the circumstances described below may face liability. What is a provider to do?

A patient was injured in the course of her employment in December 2013 and applied for workers’ compensation … Continue Reading

Addressing Acute Mental Health Concerns: Parkland’s Legacy – Florida’s Red Flag Law

We are all too aware of the horrors of the Parkland shooting. In response to that awful day, the Florida Legislature enacted Florida Statute Section 790.401 in 2018, “the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Safety Act.”  Part of this new law is the “red flag” provision which allows courts to proactively remove firearms from individuals who pose a significant danger … Continue Reading

Healthcare Providers Must Remember HIPAA Before Responding to Online Reviews

The latest HIPAA resolution agreement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is a reminder that healthcare providers must take the high road when responding to unflattering online reviews by patients. While it is tempting to respond to a bad and perhaps untrue online review, healthcare providers need to take care to not … Continue Reading

Possible Relief for Hospitals in the Protection of PSO Information?

Last Thursday, September 5, 2019, Judge James Moody, Jr. of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida issued a positive ruling for hospitals dealing with patient safety organization (PSO) data. The opinion can be reviewed here. Note, while this decision is not binding on state courts, it is persuasive authority. It may be used to … Continue Reading

Florida Patient Brokering Act Amended – Does it Clarify or Create New Issues?

The Florida Legislature recently passed HB 369 (the Bill), which would tweak an important provision of the Florida Patient Brokering Act, Section 817.505 of the Florida Statutes (Patient Brokering Act).  It seeks to clarify the exception to the Patient Brokering Act which incorporated by reference the criminal provisions of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (42 U.S.C. S1320a-7b(b)) pertaining to illegal remuneration) … Continue Reading

A Wake Up Call for Hospital Boards

The Georgia Legislature recently passed House Bill 321 (the Act) adding a new code section (O.C.G.A. §31-7-22), which imposes significant financial and business transparency requirements on certain hospitals in Georgia, including non-profit hospitals. Beginning October 1, 2019, non-profit hospitals operating in Georgia will be required to post links in a prominent location on their homepages. These links must direct the … Continue Reading

FTC Prevails in Physician Merger Case Before the 8th Circuit

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals recently handed the Federal Trade Commission another appellate victory in its efforts to curtail anticompetitive mergers in the healthcare industry, affirming the FTC’s earlier District Court victory in Federal Trade Commission v. Sanford Health. The decision follows a number of other recent FTC appellate victories in healthcare merger cases – in the … Continue Reading

Florida Legislature Repeals its “Certificate of Need” Law

In a somewhat surprising move, on April 29, 2019 the Florida Legislature passed legislation (HB 21) that repeals the state’s “Certificate of Need” (CON) laws with respect to general hospitals and tertiary services. Such laws, which are in place in many states, typically prohibit a healthcare provider from expanding its services and from entering new markets absent its … Continue Reading

Antitrust Exemption Allows Health System to Avoid All Claims for Damages in Antitrust Class Action

Atrium Health (formerly known as Carolinas Healthcare System) scored a big victory in its defense of an antitrust class action on March 4, when the Court ruled that the plaintiffs in Benitez v. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority, d/b/a Carolinas Health System, could not seek damages in the action. In granting the defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings on … Continue Reading

Multiple States Considering Possible Modification to Their “Certificate of Need” Laws

In December, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a report – “Reforming America’s Healthcare System Through Choice and Competition” – expressly calling upon the states to repeal their “Certificate of Need” (CON) laws. In the report, HHS indicated that the existence of such laws – which typically prevent healthcare providers from expanding their services/entering new … Continue Reading

California Attorney General Brings Action Against Sutter Health Contending its Contracting Practices Violate the Antitrust Laws

The California Attorney General recently filed a precedent-setting antitrust action against Sutter Health, the largest health system in Northern California (People of the State of California v. Sutter Health, Case No. CGC-18-565398, San Francisco Superior Court), contending that Sutter Health’s contracting practices violate the antitrust laws. The action, filed in the San Francisco Superior Court, seeks to “restore competition … Continue Reading

GDPR: What You Need to Know Now

It is safe to say that there has been much fear and confusion over the European Union (EU) General Data Protection Rule, or GDPR. With an effective date of May 25, 2018, and little guidance as to how the GDPR applies to organizations that do not have a physical presence in the EU or do not target their goods and … Continue Reading

Outpatient Surgery Center Avoids Dismissal of Antitrust Action Through an Assist from the DOJ

In 2012, Marion Healthcare, an outpatient surgery center in southern Illinois, commenced an antitrust action against Southern Illinois Healthcare (“SIH”), a multi-hospital system operating in the same market. Marion alleged that SIH had negotiated exclusive dealing relationships with several area health insurers, and that these agreements made it difficult, if not impossible, for Marion to compete for surgical patients in … Continue Reading

Class III Hospital Permits – Efficient Drug Management May Become a Reality

At the close of the 2018 session, the Florida Legislature passed Senate Bill (SB) 675, which if allowed to become law by the Governor, will help hospitals and their facilities that are under common control manage their patients’ drugs much more efficiently. Under prior law, the hospitals had to obtain a restricted drug distributor-health care entity permit to allow the … Continue Reading

Florida Clinic License Exemptions Subject to Change

Holders of Florida healthcare clinic license exemptions take note. Exemption certificates, which currently bear no expiration date, will expire every two years if a bill recently passed by the Florida Legislature becomes law. Senate Bill 622 will require exemption holders to renew their clinic license exemption biennially.

The bill is silent as to treatment of existing certificate holders, but businesses … Continue Reading

Get your Single IRB lined up for Multi-Site Research

Changes to the federal regulations governing the protection of human subjects participating in research (known as the Common Rule) were amended earlier this year. The changes to the Common Rule impact research conducted, supported, or regulated by the federal government. While many of the Common Rule changes go into effect in 2018, the single IRB requirement has a compliance date … Continue Reading

Hospitals Take Heed: Gradual Evolution of the IRS’ Position on Tax Exemption

There has been much fanfare, but little discussion, among healthcare experts in the United States regarding the Internal Revenue Service recently published PLR 201731014 (the Letter Ruling). The Letter Ruling provides a good opportunity to review where we have come and where we are going in the tax-exempt hospital industry in America.

Let’s focus first on the Internal Revenue … Continue Reading

Uncertainty Surrounds Low Income Pool (LIP) Funding

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), in an August 3, 2017 letter to Florida’s Medicaid Director, approved a five-year extension of the State’s 1115 demonstration project, the Managed Medical Assistance Program (MMA). As part of this extension, CMS approved low-income pool (LIP) funding of approximately $1.5 billion annually. The LIP was created in 2005 to support hospitals, county … Continue Reading

Senate Healthcare Bill Released for Public Review

Just over four weeks after the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its score of the American Healthcare Act (AHCA), the bill passed by a narrow margin in the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate released ‘The Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017’. Upon initial review, we are providing a quick overview of this proposed legislation. … Continue Reading

Repeal of the Affordable Care Act Will Not Include Changes to Tax Exempt Hospitals’ 501(r) Charitable Care Obligations

While the Senate Budget Committee works to draft legislation to reconcile the American Health Care Act, the repeal and replace bill passed by the House, there is no expectation of a repeal of the charitable care obligations imposed on tax exempt hospitals under Section 501(r) of the Internal Revenue Code as part of the Affordable Care Act.… Continue Reading

ERISA Exemption Upheld for Religious-Affiliated Hospitals

Hospitals that are “church-affiliated” may be breathing easier this week, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Monday that defined benefit qualified retirement plans (a/k/a pension plans) are not subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The Supreme Court confirmed that ERISA does not require an exempt “church plan” to have actually been established by the church itself.  … Continue Reading

“Sometimes Wrong, Never in Doubt” – A New Perspective?

Two recent studies of medical malpractice claims highlight how patient complaints may identify those surgeons at greater risk for complications, a significant decrease in paid medical malpractice claims since 1992, and the need for greater understanding of the causes of differences in claims experience across medical specialties.… Continue Reading

The American Health Care Act, the Sequel Receives Its CBO Grade

Perhaps the high fives in the Rose Garden of the White House a few weeks ago may have been a bit premature. On Wednesday, May 24, 2017, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its analysis of the revised American Health Care Act (AHCA), and the review contained positive budgetary news, but the overall impact of the bill on health … Continue Reading

Global Ransomware Attack Makes Healthcare Organizations Wanna Cry

As has been widely reported, on May 12, 2017, organizations around the world, including Britain’s National Health Service, found their data held hostage by actors using a new variant of ransomware called WannaCry. According to news reports, 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries have been hit by the cyberattack which appears to be spread by phishing emails. There are … Continue Reading

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