Category Archives: Government Affairs, Licensure & Regulatory

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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

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

Healthcare Antitrust – What to Expect in 2021

The year 2020 was an eventful one in the world of healthcare antitrust. The year began with the announcement of the precedent-setting settlement of the California Attorney General’s action against Sutter Health and ended with the settlement of multi-district antitrust litigation against the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (and its member Blues). Along the way, Congress passed legislation repealing the … 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

House Passes Bill that Would Repeal Health Insurer Antitrust Exemption

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

DOJ Antitrust Division Grants Green Light for Pharma Companies Sharing COVID-19 Treatment Drug Production Information

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

California Legislature Responds to COVID-19 Crisis With Legislation that Would Require State Approval of Healthcare Mergers and Acquisitions

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

Pharmacy Testing Centers: A Prescription for Fighting COVID-19 in Florida

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

Buyer Beware – FBI Warns of Fraud Involving Procurement of PPE and Other COVID-19 Supplies

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

Dose of Caution Needed When Making Coronavirus Drug Claims

Just like the dose makes the poison, the claim makes the drug.

With a pandemic well underway, some marketers are offering products that they claim will treat or prevent COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Without federal approval, however, anyone making claims about unapproved drugs risks is inviting a federal enforcement action. As a result, marketers should exercise … Continue Reading

DOJ/FTC Issue Warning to Healthcare Industry Regarding Anticompetitive Conduct Against Employees During the COVID-19 Crisis

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

California Telehealth Updates

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

DOJ Antitrust Division Approves COVID-related Competitor Collaboration Under Expedited Procedures

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

North Carolina Telehealth Updates

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.

Licensure

On March 10, 2020, Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order No. 116 (available here) waiving the requirement that healthcare and behavioral healthcare personnel be licensed in … Continue Reading

The CARES Act Impacts to Employer-Sponsored Health and Welfare Benefit Plans

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

Texas Telemedicine Updates

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 … Continue Reading

COVID-19: Florida Executive Order on Elective Healthcare Services

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

Florida Telehealth Updates

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

Illinois Telehealth Updates

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

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

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 … Continue Reading

Breaking Developments for Telehealth and Teleprescribing in Georgia

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

FTC Brings First Hospital Merger Challenge Since 2016

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

2020 Legislative Session –A Sampling of Health Related Bills Filed

The 2020 Legislative Session will begin its 60-day trek to completion on Tuesday, January 14, 2020. The following is a sample of bills that have been filed. We encourage you to review these bills, and contact us with specific questions about them. The listing of these bills should not be interpreted as any indication that they will pass into law. … Continue Reading

FTC Investigating the Competitive Effects of Certificates of Public Advantage

The Federal Trade Commission has issued orders to five health insurers and two health systems requiring them to provide information that will assist the FTC in studying the competitive effects of certificates of public advantage (COPAs) with respect to prices, quality, access and innovation in healthcare. The orders were sent on October 21 to Aetna, Anthem, Blue Cross Blue Shield … Continue Reading

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