Hospitals & Health Systems

On June 12, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (OCR), issued guidance confirming HIPAA permits a covered healthcare provider (Provider) to use protected health information (PHI) to identify and contact recovered COVID-19 patients to inform them of how they can donate their blood and plasma.  As background, HIPAA

On June 19, 2020, the Texas Department of Insurance adopted final rules specifying patient notice and election requirements in order for out-of-network providers to balance bill. The final rules replace similar emergency rules that were adopted on December 18, 2019.

Under the new rules, which are meant to implement legislation passed in 2019 by the Texas Legislature, out-of-network providers are prohibited from Balance Billing for nonemergency services unless a patient elects, in writing, to obtain the service from the out-of-network provider. The patient’s election is only effective if the provider satisfies the following notice and disclosure requirements: (1) the patient is provided with a “meaningful choice between an in-network provider and an out-of-network provider,” (2) the patient is not “coerced” into choosing the out-of-network provider, and (3) the patient is provided with a written notice and disclosure. The notice and disclosure statement must be signed by the patient at least 10 business days before receiving any care.[1]
Continue Reading Texas Department of Insurance Rolls Out Final Rules on Out-Of-Network Notices and Disclosures

Under new guidance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), hospices and other providers who received CARES Act Provider Relief Fund payments can hold off on filing their first quarterly compliance report, slated to be due on July 10, 2020.[1] Instead, HHS states that it will develop its own report and this report itself will contain “all information necessary for recipients of Provider Relief Fund payments to comply with” the quarterly reporting requirements under the Relief Fund Terms and Conditions.

Continue Reading Surprise for Providers As HHS Lifts Relief Fund July 10th Quarterly Compliance Report Deadline

On June 9 the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it will distribute $15 billion to Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (“CHIP”) providers. HHS spokesman Eric Hargan noted that this distribution will be focused on the approximately 275,000 providers who care for Medicaid and CHIP recipients but who did not receive funds in HHS’ April distribution of $50 billion. Mr. Hargan specifically mentioned providers such as dentists, pediatricians, assisted living facilities and behavioral health provider such as opioid treatment programs. Medicaid/CHIP providers can apply for the funds through the enhanced Provider Relief Portal by providing data that will determine their payments, including information concerning their payer mix to inform future distributions to providers who serve a large portion of Medicaid patients or provide a large amount of uncompensated care.
Continue Reading Medicaid Provider Relief Fund Distribution of $15 billion

After the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) automatically distributed $30 billion to providers as Tranche #1 Relief Fund payments based on 2019 Medicare fee-for-service payment data, HHS subsequently released a new formula that was based on 2018 “program service revenue” and intended to calculate providers’ payments under Relief Fund Tranches #1 and #2 cumulatively.  For providers whose Tranche #1 payments alone exceeded their expected payment under the new “program service revenue” formula, there have been ongoing questions about whether such providers were “overpaid” and needed to reject and return their Tranche #1 payments.
Continue Reading CARES Act Provider Relief Fund: Connecting HHS’s Dots on Whether Your Tranche #1 Payment Is An Overpayment

Private nonprofit (“PNP”) organizations that own and/or operate medical facilities, such as hospitals and long term care facilities, are eligible for FEMA Public Assistance (PA) Program disaster relief funds.  Under the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration, FEMA is authorized to provide assistance for certain emergency protective measures if not funded by other federal agencies.  PNP healthcare organizations can apply for funding for emergency protective measures that are incurred as medical care costs.

Continue Reading COVID-19 Medical Care Costs Eligible for FEMA Public Assistance

COVID-19 is not the sole focus of the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) these days. On May 15th, the Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) announced that it added to its Work Plan a “Review of Institutions of Higher Education Grantees Receiving National Institutes of Health Awards” to address areas of potential risk at institutions of higher education (“IHE”).
Continue Reading OIG Tags Higher Education Grantees Receiving NIH Awards

On May 12, 2020 the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued additional 1135 blanket waivers which are applicable to a wide variety of healthcare providers. These COVID-19 Emergency Declaration Blanket Waivers for Healthcare Providers are retroactively effective from March 1, 2020 through the end of the public health emergency (PHE). The waivers in this issuance do not require a request be sent or a notification be made to any of the CMS regional offices.  Each waiver must be consistent with the state’s emergency preparedness or pandemic plan.

Continue Reading CMS Adds Additional Blanket Waivers for Healthcare Providers

Due to expanded COVID-19 diagnostic testing availability, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (MDHSS) is encouraging providers to test both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals, if the clinician’s medical judgment determines it is necessary. At the same time, MDHSS also posted words of caution regarding the use of serological testing, which is not considered diagnostic for COVID-19 but rather detects antibodies which could reveal exposure to SARS-CoV- 2 (the virus which causes COVID-19) or a different  infection, including other strains of coronavirus, altogether. The recent MDHSS COVID-19 Serological Testing Quick Facts (Quick Facts) cautions that:
Continue Reading Missouri Encourages COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing but Urges Caution with Serological/Antibody Testing

Although Wisconsin hospitals have remained busy providing COVID-related treatment and services for the last two months, many Wisconsin health care providers chose to postpone elective surgeries and procedures in compliance with CMS guidance. Notably, Wisconsin never expressly prohibited elective surgeries or procedures at any point during the last few months; however, Emergency Orders #12 and #28 specified that individuals may obtain services at ambulatory surgery centers for response to urgent health issues or related COVID-19 activities. Further, guidance from the Wisconsin DHS Division of Public Health issued on March 20 recommended that dental practices postpone all elective and non-urgent care treatment.  With the issuance of the Badger Bounce Back Plan (the “BBB Plan”), Wisconsin facilities and providers have expressed their intent to prep for elective services and procedures. 
Continue Reading Bouncing Back into Healthcare in Wisconsin