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Physician Practices and Non-Physician Practitioners

COVID-19 has affected all aspects of hospice care, operations and personnel, including the person whose judgment is at the center of the Medicare hospice benefit: the hospice physician. In this episode of Hospice Insights, we discuss the increased significance of, and scrutiny applied to, hospice physicians in the age of COVID-19, and identify potential traps

The Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA) introduces changes to paid sick and family leave that will impact Colorado employers in potentially significant ways. Also, the new law codifies whistleblower protections for workers who raise concerns about workplace safety related to a public health emergency, potentially spawning a wave of future lawsuits.

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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

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

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

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

On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act) into law. Section 3221 of the CARES Act ratified fundamental changes to the Public Health Service Act, codified at 42 U.S.C. § 290dd-2 and associated regulations, which govern the confidentiality requirements of substance use disorder records, commonly known as 42 C.F.R. Part 2, or simply, “Part 2.” Substance use disorder (SUD) records are defined broadly as “[r]ecords of the identity, diagnosis, prognosis, or treatment of any patient which are maintained in connection with the performance of any program or activity relating to substance abuse education, prevention, training, treatment, rehabilitation, or research.” The changes are significant and align with the increasing movement to align the Part 2 rules with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The CARES Act requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to revise the Part 2 regulations within 12 months to comply with the CARES Act.
Continue Reading CARES Act Changes to Federal Substance Use Privacy Law

physiciansRecent clarifications by Arizona state officials seemingly relaxed restrictions for certain physician practices adhering to the March 21, 2020 executive order prohibiting all non-essential or elective surgeries.  Such direction from the governor’s office should give physician groups much needed relief in continuing certain elective procedures, such as those related to pain management services, in outpatient settings.
Continue Reading Arizona Physician Practices Should Exercise Discretion in Continuing Elective Procedures in Clinics and Outpatient Treatment Centers

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.
Continue Reading COVID-19 Update: Kansas 1135 Waivers and State Flexibilities