Children's Hospitals and Pediatric Providers

For decades, pundits, policymakers and consumer groups have called for better tools to make health care purchasing decisions easier.  Greater cost transparency and clear indicators of quality, they say, would help consumers make the right choices, which would lead to lower costs and better quality care.

If only it were as easy as using Angie’s List:  describe the need and up pops the names of local providers, along with comparative information on their performance.

Increasingly, such information and tools are available.  But their impact is unclear.

Since 2010, Medicare consumers have had an “Angie’s List” type of resource in Physician Compare, an online service produced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  The website was mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).  It serves a two-fold purpose, according to CMS:
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Courts recognize the complication that exists when determining what constitutes actionable harassment where a healthcare employee is a caretaker for a patient with diminished capacity. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently reviewed this issue in a Title VII case that highlights the risks posed to employers in the healthcare and social assistance industries by patient harassment and violence: Gardner v. CLC of Pascagoula, LLC, No. 17-60072 (February 6, 2019). In Gardner, the Fifth Circuit explained the risks to healthcare employers when it reversed summary judgment on a nurse assistant’s claim for hostile work environment and retaliation, holding that a genuine dispute of material fact existed as to whether an assisted living facility took reasonable precautions to prevent sexual harassment and physical violence by a resident.

Background

Gardner was a Certified Nursing Assistant employed at the Plaza Community Living Center, an assisted living facility, and “often worked with patients who were either physically combative or sexually aggressive.” Gardner had been assigned to work with a patient who had been diagnosed with multiple “physical and mental illnesses,” and had a reputation for groping female employees, as well as a history of violent and sexual behavior toward both patients and staff at the facility. Gardner alleged that she put up with propositioning and sexual assault by the patient on a regular basis, but that when she complained to the administrator at the facility, she was told to “put [her] big girl panties on and go back to work.”
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When Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. § 1681, et seq. (“Title IX”), which prohibits many forms of discrimination on the basis of sex, appears in the news or on social media, we typically associate it with traditional colleges and universities.  But recent case law suggests that Title IX likely applies to a broader set of institutions, including, under certain circumstances, some hospitals.

Over the years, an extensive body of federal case law and regulation has arisen around Title IX, imposing detailed requirements on institutions concerning how they must respond to and investigate complaints, how complaints must be adjudicated and the nature of appropriate remedies.  Moreover, these regulations also have recently been in flux.  As a result, Title IX compliance often requires significant institutional resources and constant vigilance.

Because compliance with Title IX requires significant attention from the institution, it is critical that hospitals determine whether they meet the developing criteria to be subject to the requirements of Title IX and, if so, whether they have in place the proper policies, procedures and personnel to ensure compliance.  In this article, we describe those criteria and provide a brief summary of the broader legal context.
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With the New Year underway, the deadline is quickly approaching for HIPAA covered entities to file their annual breach reports with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”).

While breaches involving 500 or more individuals must be reported no later than 60 calendar days from the date of discovery,

The 60-day repayment rule was implemented by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) effective March 14, 2016 to clarify Medicare providers’ obligations to investigate, report, and refund identified overpayments under the Affordable Care Act. The rule specifically details what it means to “identify” an overpayment and explains how to report and return identified overpayments to CMS.1 The rule also states that an overpayment must be reported and returned if it is identified within six years of the date it was received. This time period is generally referred to as the “lookback” period.
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ChildrenRunningHallway99900284According to an article published by USA Today, nearly $1 trillion in federal cuts to the Medicaid program approved by House Republicans threaten getting low income and special needs children covered by insurance. Concerns are magnified by the Sept. 30 deadline for CHIP reauthorization, which some worry will be used as a bargaining tool to

Childrens_Hopsital_Shuttle_1xThe Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently implemented a new safe harbor to the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and beneficiary inducement statute, which went into effect on January 6, 2017.1 The new safe harbor, which was published by the OIG in a final rule dated December 7, 2016,2 protects the provision of free or discounted local transportation by eligible entities to Medicare or Medicaid beneficiaries, provided that certain conditions are met. While non-compliance with the safe harbor does not necessarily mean that a transportation arrangement will violate the Anti-Kickback Statute, children’s hospitals should take note of the safe harbor requirements and assess whether any of their existing transportation arrangements should be restructured.
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Group of Children in a CircleOn January 6, 2017, several new regulatory exceptions to the beneficiary inducement statute went into effect. These regulations, published by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) in a final rule dated December 7, 2016,1 bring long awaited closure to many of the outstanding issues raised in the statutory versions of the exceptions implemented by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and in the proposed regulations issued by the OIG on October 3, 2014.2 Several exceptions that may be of particular interest to children’s hospitals are highlighted below.
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On May 9, 2016, the Middle District of Pennsylvania in FTC et al. v. Hershey Medical Center et al. (“Hershey”) denied a preliminary injunction request by the FTC to block a merger between Penn State Hershey Medical Center and PinnacleHealth System. The District Court rejected the FTC’s request based on its finding that the FTC’s geographic market definition was “unrealistically narrow and does not assume the commercial realities faced by consumers in the region.” The proper geographic market is one from which the defendant hospitals draw the bulk of their patients, with few patients entering in from outside that area to seek medical care and few patients within that area leaving to seek care from other hospitals. The District Court found the FTC’s proposed geographic market to be “starkly narrow,” particularly “given the realities of living in Central Pennsylvania, which is largely rural and requires driving distances for specific goods and services.” By failing to set forth a relevant geographic market, the District Court held that the FTC could not demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits of its Clayton Act case against the merger and denied the preliminary injunction.
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