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The use of telehealth has become indispensable across the country in recent months due to the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)’s temporary expansion of payment for telehealth services. CMS reports that virtual visits for Medicare beneficiaries have jumped from approximately 14,000 per week pre-PHE to almost 1.7 million in the last week of April.
Continue Reading CMS Proposes Permanent Expansion of Telehealth Beyond the Public Health Emergency

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

In light of the public health emergency and the urgent need to help individuals and small employers experiencing economic hardship, CMS announced on August 4, 2020 that it has adopted a temporary policy to allow health plan issuers to offer premium credits for 2020 coverage. In its guidance, CMS encouraged states to adopt a similar

On July 16, 2020, Colorado Governor Jared Polis issued an Executive Order requiring masks to be worn in all public indoor spaces, with limited exceptions. Executive Order D 2020 138 went into effect at midnight on July 16 and remains in effect for 30 days unless extended. It mandates that individuals wear masks “when entering or moving within any Public Indoor Space.” Many employers had questions about the scope and reach of this requirement and in particular how it applies in office environments with conference rooms and cubicles.

Continue Reading Masks Are Mandatory in Office Environments, Including Cubicles

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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Texas: On July 9 Governor Abbott issued a Proclamation (the Proclamation) amending Executive Order GA-27. The Proclamation expands the number of counties required to postpone all non-essential surgeries and procedures indefinitely to preserve hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients to include:
Continue Reading Abbott Expands Counties Required to Postpone All Non-essential Surgeries

On Monday, June 30, 2020, HHS spokesman Michael Caputo tweeted that HHS intends to extend the COVID-19 public health emergency before it expires on July 25, 2020. Once extended, the public health emergency will be effective for an additional 90 days. Extending the emergency declaration will allow providers to continue to use waivers and flexibilities issued to assist them in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Continue Reading HHS Extends COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

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 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

For long-term care (“LTC”) facilities such as assisted living facilities and nursing homes, the high risk of spread once coronavirus disease 2019 (“COVID-19”) enters a facility  means such facilities must take immediate action to protect residents, families, and healthcare personnel from severe infections, hospitalizations, and death.  One such action that many States are taking is mandatory testing for the residents and employees of LTC facilities.  Specifically, several states, including West Virginia, South Carolina and Florida, are now requiring mandatory testing of residents and employees of skilled nursing and assisted living facilities.  Other states have similar proposed legislation in the works, including Pennsylvania, and it is likely that the number of states implementing such measures will continue to grow in the coming weeks and months. The White House has also indicated that the federal government may mandate testing nationwide for all nursing home residents and employees. While widespread testing of residents is an appropriate measure to protect the populations most vulnerable to the disease, mandatory testing raises the issue of whether and how to obtain informed consent from residents, many of whom use a medical powers of attorney (“MPOA”) for decisions regarding their care.
Continue Reading Mandatory COVID-19 Testing Implications for LTC Facilities