Hospitals & Health Systems

The National Labor Relations Board (the “Board”) recently held that a California hospital illegally maintained a dress code policy that effectively prohibited employees from wearing pins and badge reels with union insignia.  The hospital’s policy at issue required that “[o]nly [employer] approved pins, badges, and professional certifications may be worn.” In addition, employees were only permitted to wear identification badge reels with “approved logos or text.” Continue Reading NLRB Prohibits Hospital from Banning Union Pins or Badges

The debate over providing transportation to patients is nothing new. Hospitals, doctors and other providers have long struggled with whether they can provide free or discounted taxis, shuttles, metro cards or other transportation means to patients to come to appointments and receive care. On one hand, there is evidence that without reliable transportation options, patients are more likely to miss preventative, primary care appointments, increasing the risk of more costly and unnecessary medical services down the road. On the other hand, certain federal laws like the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) and Civil Monetary Penalty (CMP) law have given providers serious concerns that such transportation services might be considered an illegal “kickback” to gain patients, or an illegal inducement to receive care. Continue Reading What Health Care Providers Need to Know About Patient Rideshare

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, breaches involving less than 500 individuals can be documented throughout the course of the year and submitted 60 days after the end of the calendar year.[1] This means that covered entities have until February 28, 2018 to complete their annual breach reporting obligations.

If you need assistance completing or filing your breach reports, please contact Julie Sullivan at 303.749.7255 or your usual Husch Blackwell attorney.

[1] 45 C.F.R. §§ 164.408(b),(c), available at https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/45/164.408.

The National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) recently adopted a new and employer welcomed standard for determining whether facially neutral workplace rules unlawfully interfere with the exercise of employee rights that may be protected by the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”).

Going forward, the NLRB will consider the following factors:

  • the nature and extent of the potential impact on NLRA rights, and
  • legitimate justifications associated with the rule.

Continue Reading NLRB Establishes New Test for Determining Whether Workplace Rules Violate the NLRA

On November 2, 2017, the House Ways and Means Committee released draft text of H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, proposing significant changes to the Internal Revenue Code. Of particular concern to private hospitals, healthcare systems and educational institutions operating as 501(c)(3) entities is the bill’s proposed termination of the tax exemption available to “qualified 501(c)(3) bonds,” which would substantially increase borrowing costs for these entities. Please visit our website to read the legal alert authored by Jonathan W. Giokas.

On July 13, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) put out its 2018 Medicare Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System Proposed Rule. The Rule proposes, among other things, to dramatically reduce Medicare Part B reimbursement of drugs procured by hospitals at 340B prices—from the current rate of Average Sales Price (“ASP”) plus 6 percent to ASP minus 22.5 percent.  By CMS’s estimate, this could result in savings to the Part B program of $900 million and a corresponding cut to the 340B hospitals which currently receive those payments (and ostensibly use them in furtherance of the 340B program’s goal of assisting safety net providers in stretching their scarce resources).   Continue Reading CMS Proposes Drastic Reduction to Medicare Part B Reimbursement of 340B Drugs

On June 5, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the employee benefit plans of church-affiliated hospitals and healthcare facilities may be exempt from the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), in Advocate Health Care Network et al. v. Stapleton et al. More background information can be found in our December legal alert on this case.

Continue Reading Supreme Court Holds Church-Affiliated Hospitals are Exempt From ERISA Requirements

On May 23, 2017, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill (SB) 507, expanding the current law dealing with “balance billing.”

Balance billing occurs when an insured patient receives care from a physician, hospital or other healthcare provider, who is not part of a patient’s health plan provider network. The out-of-network provider then bills the patient directly for the portion of medical expenses not covered by insurance, typically at a much higher rate.

In 2009, Texas passed legislation establishing a Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) mediation system aimed at resolving balance billing issues. The 2009 legislation made mediation available to patients who were balanced billed by six types of facility-based providers: radiologists, anesthesiologists, pathologists, ER physicians, neonatologists and assistant surgeons. Effective September 1, 2017, SB 507 expands access to balance billing mediation eligibility to all types of out-of-network providers treating patients at in-network hospitals and other facilities, including freestanding ERs. SB 507 also allows mediation for emergent care balance bills over $500 at any healthcare facility, whether in or out of network. The legislation will cover Texans with PPO plans receiving care from an out-of-network provider at an in-network facility. It will also cover the Teachers Retirement System, in addition to the Employee Retirement System covered by the original legislation.

SB 507 also expands disclosure requirements on network status by health plans, facilities, and other healthcare providers. These new requirements include, among other things, that a bill sent to a patient contain an explanation of the mediation process, and a statement that is substantially similar to the following:

“You may be able to reduce some of your out-of-pocket costs for an out-of-network medical or health care claim that is eligible for mediation by contacting the Texas Department of Insurance at (website) and (phone number, including requiring that the following statement be added to balance bills.”

Providers should become familiar with the new balance billing requirements to determine how they will impact current billing practices. A full copy of SB 507 is available at Texas Legislature Online.

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.