The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) goes into effect today, April 1, 2020, and applies to leave taken between April 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020.  The FFCRA expands certain medical leave rights previously established by the Family and Medical Leave Act (“E-FMLA”) to provide up to twelve (12) weeks of paid, job-protected leave for employees with school closure or childcare coverage issues related to the current coronavirus pandemic.  The FFCRA also provides for two (2) weeks of paid sick leave under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“E-PSLA”) for certain COVID-19-related reasons (the E-FMLA and E-PSLA are collectively referred to as “Expanded Leave”).[1]  However, employers who employ “health care providers” may, but are not required to, exempt these individuals from Expanded Leave.  Most, if not all, of a hospice’s employees will fall within the broad definition of “health care provider.”  Therefore, hospices will need to evaluate who of its employees it will exempt or not, being certain to treat similarly situated employees equally and to consider the potential impact to its workforce.
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Updated Thursday, April 2, 2020

CMS 1135 waivers allow the U.S. Dep’t of Health and Human Services Secretary to temporarily waive or modify certain Medicare, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Policy (CHIP), and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements to ensure that sufficient health care items and services are available to meet needs during a declared public health emergency.  Individual health care providers and associations may trigger additional waivers through feedback and requests to the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response or CMS Regional Offices.
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Updated Thursday, April 2, 2020

CMS 1135 waivers allow the U.S. Dep’t of Health and Human Services Secretary to temporarily waive or modify certain Medicare, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Policy (CHIP), and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements to ensure that sufficient health care items and services are available to meet needs during a declared public health emergency.  Individual health care providers and associations may trigger additional waivers through feedback and requests to the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response or CMS Regional Offices.
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Updated April 3, 2020

In response to the growing Coronavirus pandemic, the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) will make loans available to businesses that employ fewer than 500 people (and in certain instances a larger number of employees) through the new Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”). In this post we address some of the most frequently-asked questions about the PPP, and how eligible healthcare entities can apply.
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On March 24, 2020, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) prepared correspondence to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) seeking waivers of certain Medicaid requirements pursuant to Section 1135 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. § 1320b-5) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The correspondence to CMS was shared on March 24, 2020 with the Wisconsin Legislature Joint Committee on Finance seeking their approval to submit the Section 1135 Waiver to CMS. The letter to CMS prepared by DHS states that Wisconsin is implementing all the blanket waivers issued by CMS on March 13, 2020 in Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), to the extent applicable.
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At Husch Blackwell we understand the financial hardships our healthcare industry clients face in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. While you have no doubt heard about the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act signed into law on Friday, March 27, 2020, we want to make sure you are aware of the estimated $377 billion in Small Business Administration (“SBA”) relief that may be available to you as an eligible small business. We encourage you to act immediately so that you may secure funding as quickly as possible.
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In a March 24th letter to all of the nation’s Governors, Secretary Alex Azar of the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) called upon states to take immediate action to loosen regulations that present obstacles to the delivery of effective in person and telehealth services during the COVID-19 emergency. In an effort to “carry out a whole-America response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Secretary Azar asked governors to urgently take steps to “extend the capacity of the health care workforce.”
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On March 17, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued guidance related to how Covered Entities can comply with HIPAA and the Privacy Rule and still disclose protected health information (PHI) about individuals infected with or exposed to COVID-19 to law enforcement, paramedics, other first responders, and public health authorities (Essential Providers).
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Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced last week that he will delay the implementation of a sales tax on medical billing services until the Texas Legislature considers the proposed change when it meets in a regular session in 2021. The Comptroller’s staff will work with industry leaders leading up to the 140-day session in order to develop language that could amend the state’s sales tax statutes. The regular session of the Texas Legislature is scheduled to begin January 12, 2021, and end June 1, 2021.

Our prior article discussed the Texas Comptroller’s policy change in the fourth quarter of 2019, which would have rendered medical billing services subject to Texas sales tax, after longstanding reliance on rulings which exempted such services.
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On March 20, 2020, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) released revised guidance to prevent and control COVID-19 in Long Term Care Facilities and Assisted Living Facilities.  This revision is based on the knowledge that older and medically vulnerable adults have a significantly higher risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.

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