On April 14, 2020, CMS released a ruling that will increase the reimbursement for tests conducted to detect SARS–CoV–2 (the diagnosis of the virus that causes COVID–19) for tests utilizing “high throughput technologies.” The reimbursement under Medicare Part B for these laboratory tests will be raised from about $51 per test to $100 per test. This increase will begin with tests performed on or after March 18, 2020 and end when the national emergency is over. Continue Reading CMS Doubles Payment for Diagnostic Lab COVID-19 Testing

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has opened the COVID-19 Telehealth Program Application portal and is now accepting applications for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program (the “Telehealth Program”). Authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”), the Telehealth Program will provide $200 million in funding to assist eligible health care providers deliver telehealth services to patients in their homes or other mobile locations in an effort to combat the novel Coronavirus 2019 disease (“COVID-19”).  The funding is available for eligible health care providers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by fully compensating providers for their telecommunication services, information services, and devices necessary for them to provide critical telehealth services. Notably, the Telehealth Program is not currently available to certain types of health care providers, including for-profit providers. Consequently, some providers, including local hospitals that are part of a larger for-profit health system, may find themselves ineligible for telehealth funding. Continue Reading The FCC Launches COVID-19 Telehealth Program Amidst Eligibility Concerns

Consistent with NHPCO’s recent regulatory guidance, you may have received an unexpected payment on or about Friday, April 10th via Optum Bank with “HHSPAYMENT” as the payment description. That payment was from the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (“Relief Fund”) which was set up pursuant to the CARES Act to provide $100 billion of relief funding to healthcare providers. The payment received is from the first $30 billion of the total $100 billion Relief Fund. The payment is not a loan; it is a grant that the hospice can use for qualified expenses and losses that meet a series of Terms and Conditions. Continue Reading Tools for Your Hospice Toolbox: How to Evaluate, Allocate and Track the Use of CARES Act Relief Payments (An Introduction)

As many of you are aware, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) along with many states have waived licensing and other requirements to allow healthcare providers to use non-hospital space to treat COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients, conduct testing and perform other clinical operations.  Healthcare providers across the country are exploring options to increase their bed capacity in space outside of their traditional hospital campus space.  Educational institutions, professional sport teams, fitness centers and convention space operators have emerged as potential partners in the search for more beds.  While many providers may need to utilize this space to treat COVID-19 patients or address overflow patient needs, other providers may utilize this space to house quarantined staff members, provide housing to its professionals that elect not to return to their homes to protect their families from potential exposure, or for relocation of administrate functions to open up in-hospital space for patient care needs.  We are currently working with organizations on both sides of these arrangements, including hospitals and health systems, institutions of higher education and professional sports teams to navigate the incredible number of regulatory and operational issues that arise ranging from protection of students remaining on campus, evaluating considerations related to sponsors and potential naming rights implications, and indemnification.  Please feel free to reach out to your Husch Blackwell attorney if you have questions about these arrangements.

We understand the growing concern surrounding Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the issues and uncertainties many nonprofit organizations throughout the country are facing as a result of its impact on everyday life around the world.  From the most immediate issues – such as addressing workplace safety issues for employees and community stakeholders – to long term budgetary concerns – such as contingency planning for reduced funding due to the current bear market – we have provided a recap of the various issues the nonprofit executives should address. Continue Reading Coronavirus and Nonprofits

On April 7, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas granted summary judgment in favor of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“DHHS”) in the closely-watched Northport case. In this case, certain nursing facility industry plaintiffs challenged the enforceability of the most recent iteration of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (“CMS”) rule governing the use of pre-dispute arbitration agreements with residents in long-term care (“LTC”) facilities that participate in the Medicare or Medicaid programs. In finding for the government, the Northport court held that the rule was a valid exercise of CMS’s authority under the Administrative Procedures Act (“APA”), was adopted in accordance with federal procedural rules, and does not conflict with the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”). Continue Reading Federal District Court Upholds CMS Pre-Dispute Arbitration Rule

hospital buildingOn April 3, 2020 the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) released DQA Memo 20-001, which establishes the process for hospitals and critical access hospitals (collectively, “hospitals”) to temporarily expand acute care inpatient services in order to maintain the health and safety of hospital patients during the COVID-19 public health emergency. This guidance is provided in conjunction with the blanket waivers recently issued under § 1135 of the Social Security Act by the Center for Medicare and Medicare (CMS). The CMS blanket waivers relieved certain regulatory burdens imposed on healthcare providers, such as the ability to expand inpatient beds to enable healthcare providers to focus on providing care during the current public health emergency.

Continue Reading Wisconsin’s DHS Clarifies Acute Care Inpatient Services Requirements

In today’s COVID-19 edition of the Hospice Labor and Employment Trends series, Meg Pekarske talks with colleague Tom O’Day about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). As one of Husch Blackwell’s healthcare-focused employment attorneys, Tom is uniquely situated to interpret the FFCRA for healthcare providers of all kinds, including hospices. Listen to our Hospice Insights podcast today.

On April 8, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health released guidance authorizing pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 tests.  Immediately following this guidance, on April 9, 2020, the HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR) announced that it will exercise its enforcement discretion and will refrain from imposing penalties for violations of HIPAA for covered entities or business associates participating, in good faith, in the operation of COVID-19 Community-Based Testing Sites (CBTS) during the nationwide public health emergency.  The guidance regarding pharmacists testing for COVID-19 and the notice related to the relaxation of HIPAA rules comes on the heels of pharmacies, such as CVS and Walgreens, taking on a more active and critical role in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Continue Reading OCR to Waive Penalties for Community-Based COVID-19 Testing Sites

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) held a Special Open Door Forum that was open to the public on April 8, 2020. CMS has been working to address the COVID-19 pandemic through 1) increasing hospital capacity, 2) rapid expansion of the healthcare workforce, 3) relaxing health care administrative requirements, and promoting the use of telehealth, which this call was focused on. The call provided an opportunity for health care providers to ask specific questions and express concerns about telehealth and Medicare reimbursement. Continue Reading CMS Special Open Door Forum Addresses Pressing Telehealth Questions