Beginning on June 1, 2017, health care providers of services and suppliers must submit all information necessary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) to analyze actual or potential violations of the federal physician self-referral law (the “Stark Law”) using approved forms designed to streamline the CMS Voluntary Self-Referral Disclosure Protocol (the “SRDP”).  If you are currently working on a self-disclosure filing for CMS, you must convert that disclosure to this new format or risk CMS rejecting the disclosure in its entirety. The new forms, contained within Form CMS-10328 available here, must be used for all voluntary Stark Law self-disclosures submitted on or after June 1, 2017, except disclosures by physician-owned hospitals and rural providers regarding a failure to disclose physician ownership on the provider’s website or in any public advertisement.[1] Continue Reading Revised SRDP Process Begins June 1

The United States Supreme Court has long upheld the validity and enforceability of arbitration agreements. Thus, it was no surprise when the Court reversed a decision from the Kentucky Supreme Court that declined to recognize arbitration agreements executed by individuals pursuant to powers of attorney. In Kindred Nursing Centers LP. v. Clark, the Court held that family members with powers of attorney may enter into arbitration agreements on behalf of nursing home residents.

In Kindred Nursing Centers, two separate families admitted their elderly family members, (hereafter “the residents”) to a Nursing Home. In both cases, the family members completed admission paperwork on behalf of the residents, pursuant to powers of attorneys. The admission paperwork included an arbitration agreement, which provided that “any and all claims or controversies arising out of or in any way relating to…the Resident’s stay at the Facility” would be resolved through binding arbitration. When the residents subsequently died, their estates brought lawsuits against the Nursing Home. The Nursing Home moved to compel arbitration.

The Kentucky Supreme Court held that the arbitration agreements were invalid. In so holding, the Kentucky Supreme Court purported to create a “clear statement rule.” Under the “clear statement rule,” the Kentucky Supreme Court held that the family members could only enter into arbitration agreements on behalf of the residents, if the powers of attorney expressly gave them the right to enter into arbitration agreements. Because neither power of attorney expressly addressed arbitration agreements, the Kentucky Supreme Court found them insufficient to authorize the family member to waive the residents’ right to a jury. The United States Supreme Court reversed.

On appeal, the United States Supreme Court explained that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) makes arbitration agreements valid, irrevocable, and enforceable.  While arbitration agreements are subject to generally applicable contract defenses, they cannot be invalidated pursuant to rules that apply only to arbitration agreements. The Supreme Court then held that Kentucky’s “clear statement rule” ran afoul of the FAA because it required arbitration agreements to be expressly authorized by powers of attorney when other contracts did not require such express authorization. This violates the FAA because the FAA requires that arbitration agreements be on equal footing as all other contracts.

The United States Supreme Court then analyzed the specific powers of attorney at issue. The first power of attorney authorized the family member to (among other things) “institute legal proceedings” and “make contracts of every nature in relation to both real and personal property.” On remand, the United States Supreme Court instructed the Kentucky Supreme Court to evaluate whether the forgoing language encompassed the ability to execute arbitration agreements. The second power of attorney authorized the family member to “transact, handle, and dispose of all matters affecting [the resident] and/or [the resident’s] estate in any possible way” including the power to “draw, make, and sign in [the resident’s] name any and all … contracts, deeds or agreements.” The Supreme Court held that this second power of attorney was broad enough to encompass the execution of an arbitration agreement. Thus, the second resident’s arbitration agreement must be enforced.

Kindred Nursing Centers removes any doubt that nursing homes may enforce arbitration agreements executed on a resident’s behalf by their attorney-in-fact, provided that the underlying power-of-attorney provides sufficient contracting authority.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held recently that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”)—which prohibits sex discrimination in the “education programs or activit[ies]” of entities receiving federal financial assistance—can apply to residency programs at hospitals. The ruling may profoundly impact how hospitals respond to complaints of sex discrimination (including sexual harassment) by resident physicians and necessitate that hospitals comply with federal Title IX regulations and guidance. The ruling also opens the door for residents who experience sex discrimination to sue under Title IX, thereby avoiding the complex administrative exhaustion process required to file a similar claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which generally governs sex discrimination in the workplace. For more information on this new development, visit the legal alert authored by Derek Teeter and Lorinda Holloway.

abaEmerging Issues in Healthcare Law is coming to the Big Easy. The American Bar Association’s 18th annual conference is slated for New Orleans March 8-11.

Husch Blackwell is a platinum sponsor of this event featuring the most emergent topics facing the healthcare bar. As the industry faces changes and continues to grow under healthcare reform and enforcement, this conference allows attendees a perfect opportunity to stay ahead of the developments. Continue Reading Don’t miss Emerging Issues in Healthcare Law

Phone_000011163163SmallA California federal court handed down a decision last Friday that may further influence how healthcare entities should approach the Telephone Consumer Protection Act’s (TCPA) “emergency purpose” exception as applied to calls or texts related to patient health and safety. In St. Clair v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc., No. 16-CV-04911-VC, 2016 WL 7489047, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 30, 2016), the plaintiff alleged that CVS Pharmacy called him multiple times about his prescriptions after he told a customer representative that he no longer wished to be called. CVS moved to dismiss the lawsuit by claiming that all of the calls at issues fell under the emergency purpose exception contained in the statute, and therefore were not subject to the TCPA. Continue Reading St. Clair v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc. and healthcare calls under the TCPA’s emergency purpose exception

White gift box wrapped with vibrant red bow and ribbon isolatedOn Dec. 7, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) released an update to its 2000 policy regarding gifts of nominal value given to a Medicare or Medicaid beneficiary. The update increases the nominal value of gifts given to a Medicare or Medicaid beneficiary to $15 per occurrence and $75 in the aggregate for a year (the previous limit was $10 per occurrence and $50 in the aggregate). If a gift complies with these limits, the arrangement does not need to fit within a “safe harbor” to 42 U.S.C. §1320a-7b(b) (the federal anti-kickback statute). Continue Reading OIG updates policy regarding gifts of nominal value

Exercising Office WorkerHusch Blackwell was recently named a finalist for the St. Louis Business Journal’s Healthiest Employers 2016 competition. The Business Journal’s profile of Husch Blackwell highlights the firm’s effective use of wellness challenges in the workplace and praises Chris Smith, a partner in our St. Louis office, for his dedicated participation in the wellness initiatives.

Given our firm’s success with health and wellness initiatives, we decided to take this opportunity to discuss and reflect on just a few (of the many) legal requirements relevant to employer wellness programs. Continue Reading EEOC’s targeting of wellness programs and what that means for your company

A stethoscope and American money on a white background - HealthcUnder MACRA, the merit-based incentive payment system (MIPS) automatically applies to eligible clinicians (generally a physician or mid-level – see our previous blog post for details) and most clinicians who treat Medicare patients are expected to be included in MIPS. As a result, one of the most common questions about MACRA is when it starts. CMS’s final MACRA rule confirms that implementation begins Jan. 1, 2017. Continue Reading Managing MACRA – Part IV: When does it begin?

work incident injuri formLast week, OSHA published its new “Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs,” which advises employers in the healthcare industry and other private sector industries to establish comprehensive internal safety and health programs. The OSHA bulletin also provides extensive guidelines and resources for creating such programs.

In releasing the updated recommendations, OSHA argues that employers adopting such programs could reduce injuries and illnesses and promote sustainability. To the extent that this new guidance creates new compliance burdens and risks (see below), healthcare is likely to be one industry in which OSHA focuses its efforts. After all, OSHA believes that “[m]ore workers are injured in the healthcare and social assistance industry sector than any other.” Continue Reading OSHA issues recommendations for employer safety and health programs

Cuban flag against skyThe U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) recently announced additional rule amendments intended to continue improving relations between the U.S. and Cuba by allowing even greater commerce and humanitarian efforts between the two countries. These new OFAC  and BIS  rules took effect last week. Continue Reading Revised Cuba rules allow medical collaboration, ease some pharmaceutical trade