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
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
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
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
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
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
The catchphrase of the day is “social distancing” and it is the primary means of flattening the COVID-19 pandemic (the “Pandemic”) curve by keeping contagious and healthy people apart. However, there is another kind of distancing that may play a role in fighting the Pandemic – “health care distancing.” Health care distancing is a mechanism to keep the sick patients, … 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
Among the many obstacles facing businesses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are new cyberattacks targeting key infrastructure and industry in the United States. With all the compounding factors making this threat even more dangerous, the spike in cyberattacks was so significant that the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) has become involved and issued a “purple notice” alert to … Continue Reading
Facing unprecedented community spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has provided additional guidance to a variety of health care providers that is designed to minimize further transmission of the disease. CMS responds to frequently asked questions related to the logistics for minimizing transmission of COVID-19 in various patient settings. Specifically, … 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 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.
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
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 … Continue Reading
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 Reading
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 … Continue Reading
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 … Continue Reading
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 … Continue Reading
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 … Continue Reading
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 … Continue Reading