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In First Speech Since the Election, DOJ Deputy Attorney General, Sally Yates, “Optimistic” That Corporate Misconduct Will Remain a DOJ Priority Under New Administration

As many pundits speculate regarding the future of the Yates Memo[1] in a Trump administration, on Wednesday, November 30, 2016, Department of Justice (“DOJ”) Deputy Attorney General, Sally Q. Yates, provided her first comments since the election.  The namesake of the well-known, “Yates Memo,” Yates spoke at the 33rd Annual International Conference on Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in Washington, D.C. and provided her perspective on the future of DOJ’s current focus on individual misconduct.

Yates, who has served at the DOJ for over twenty-seven years, stated that while the DOJ has endured many transitions in leadership … Continue Reading

CMS Issues Proposed Rule Advancing Care Coordination through Three New Mandatory Episode Payment Models and Introducing a Cardiac Rehabilitation Incentive Payment Model

If your organization has missed an opportunity to participate in the voluntary Medicare Bundled Payments for Care Initiatives and/or the mandatory CJR program, CMS’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation has issued a proposed rule introducing three new mandatory Episode Payment Models (EPMs) and a Cardiac Rehabilitation incentive payment model intended to be tested with a broad scope of hospitals which may not have otherwise participated in innovative payment model testing.

In the proposed rule issued August 2, 2016, CMS introduced EPMs for Acute Myocardial infarction (AMI), Coronary Surgery Bypass Graft (CABG) and Surgical Hip/Femur Fracture Treatment- Excluding Lower Joint … Continue Reading

Disruptor Meets Regulator, and Regulator Wins: Lessons Learned from Theranos

On July 7, 2016, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) imposed several administrative penalties on Theranos, a clinical laboratory company that proposed to revolutionize the clinical laboratory business by performing multiple blood tests using a few drops of blood drawn from a finger rather than from a traditional blood draw that relies on needles and tubes. However, after inspecting the laboratory, CMS concluded that the company failed to comply with federal law and regulations governing clinical laboratories and it posed an immediate jeopardy to patient health and safety. CMS has revoked the CLIA certification of the company’s California … Continue Reading

Surprise Health Care Bill Protections Addressed in President Obama’s 2017 Budget for Health and Human Services

In its Fiscal Year 2017 Private Insurance Legislative Proposals, President Obama’s Budget contains a provision seeking to “eliminate surprise out-of-network healthcare charges for privately insured patients.” Described as an attempt to “promote transparency on price, cost, and billing for consumers,” this measure requires hospitals and physicians to collaborate so that patients receiving treatment at in‐network facilities do not face unexpected charges from out‐of‐network practitioners. This provision could have far-reaching effects, potentially impacting enrollees in traditional commercial plans, Exchange plans and government plans (such as Medicare Advantage plans).

A surprise bill situation arises when patients incur unexpected, out‐of‐network charges when … Continue Reading

Zika Virus: What Employers Should Know – Employment Law This Week

The top story on Employment Law This Week is the unfolding Zika virus crisis.

For the fourth time in history, the World Health Organization has declared a global public health emergency, following the spread of the Zika virus throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The disease can have harmful effects on fetuses, and the CDC has warned against travel for pregnant women and their partners. The Zika crisis has important implications for employers. Workers who travel for their jobs may request accommodations, and employers should make them aware of the risks if they aren’t already. Denise Dadika, from Epstein … Continue Reading

New York Considers Possible Solutions for Health Insurer Insolvencies

We recently wrote about the many failures of health insurance co-ops created under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), and the impact of those failures on providers and other creditors, consumers, and taxpayers.

As we described, nonprofit co-op insurers were intended to increase competition and provide less expensive coverage to consumers; however, low prices, lack of adequate government funding, restrictions on the use of federal loans for marketing, and low risk corridor payments from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services created financial challenges for these insurance plans. Facing insolvency, state regulators have ordered many plans to cease offering coverage and … Continue Reading

Zika Update – WHO Declares Public Health Emergency

On Monday, the World Health Organization (“WHO”) declared the rise in birth defects linked to the Zika virus outbreak a public health emergency, marking only the fourth time that the WHO has made such a declaration. This announcement by the WHO underscores the seriousness of the Zika virus outbreak and, hopefully, will pave way for a coordinated and well-funded global response to this serious public health problem that may include intensified mosquito control efforts, expedited creation of a more rigorous diagnostic test to detect the virus, and development of a preventive vaccine.

Reports of the Zika virus first surfaced … Continue Reading

Physician Owned Labs Affiliating with Hospitals

Hospital-physician practice acquisitions represent a large segment of the very active healthcare mergers and acquisitions market, which will likely continue in 2016.[1]  In New York, an acquiring hospital often forms a new professional corporation owned by one or more hospital-based physicians to acquire the business and operations of a group physician practice in an asset purchase. The acquiring hospital will be able to exercise a level of management and control over the new professional corporation, often referred to as a “captive PC”, through a contractual arrangement with the captive PC.  This captive PC structure is used to comply with … Continue Reading

Another Setback for State Regulatory Boards: Federal Court Denies Texas Medical Board’s Motion to Dismiss Teladoc’s Antitrust Lawsuit

On December 14, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas denied the Texas Medical Board’s (“TMB”) motion to dismiss an antitrust lawsuit brought by Teladoc, one of the nation’s largest providers of telehealth services.[1]  Teladoc sued the TMB in April 2015, challenging a rule requiring a face-to-face visit before a physician can issue a prescription to a patient.  Following two recent Supreme Court cases stringently applying the state action doctrine, this case demonstrates the latest of the continued trend where state-sanctioned boards of market participants face increased judicial scrutiny with respect to the state action … Continue Reading

Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 – Potential Impact on Hospitals

House Republican leaders introduced legislation on Monday, finalizing a two-year budget agreement between Congressional leaders and the White House. This legislation is currently being considered and may be up for a vote as early as Wednesday on the bipartisan budget deal.

Hospitals should note the language in Section 603 (which is on pages 35-39 of the draft bill) codifies the definition of a “provider-based off-campus hospital outpatient department” (PBD HOPD) as a location that is not on the main campus of a hospital and is located more 250 yards from the main campus.  The section defines a “new” PBD HOPD … Continue Reading

U.S. District Court Vacates HRSA’s Interpretative Rule on Orphan Drugs

On Wednesday, October 14, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (the “Court”), Judge Rudolph Contreras, vacated the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (“HRSA”) interpretive rule on Orphan Drugs (“the Interpretative Rule”) as “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.”[1]  As a result of the ruling, pharmaceutical manufacturers are not required to provide 340B discounts to certain types of covered entities for Orphan Drugs, even when the drugs are prescribed for uses other than to treat the rare conditions for which the Orphan Drug designation was given.[2]  This issue … Continue Reading

More Time Given To Stakeholders to Respond to CMS’ Request for Information on Physician Payment Reforms

On September 28, 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) issued a request for information (“RFI”) seeking comments on two key components of the physician payment reform provisions included in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (“MACRA”), the law enacted on April 16, 2015, repealing the sustainable growth rate formula used to update payment rates under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule.  The RFI was originally open for a 30-comment period.  However, CMS has announced that it is extending the comment period for an additional 15 days.  Comments to the RFI are now due to CMS Continue Reading

CMS Progress Note Template for Home Health Patients: Comments due by October 13

In January 2015, CMS announced that it was considering developing voluntary clinical templates to help physicians adequately document their encounters with Medicare patients who receive home health services.[1] CMS initially proposed a sample paper template progress note and suggested clinical template elements for an electronic progress note. CMS hosted three Special Open Door Forums to solicit feedback on the proposed templates from physicians, home health agencies, and other interested stakeholders to provide feedback on the proposed templates.

On August 12, 2015, CMS announced that a suggested clinical template had been submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) … Continue Reading

SCOTUS Update – Armstrong v. Exceptional Child Center, Inc.

On March 31, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States decided Armstrong v. Exceptional Child Center, Inc. The Court handed down a hodgepodge of opinions but, in the end, five Justices concurred in the judgment that the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause does not confer a private right of action, and that Medicaid providers, therefore, cannot sue for an injunction requiring compliance with the reimbursement laws.  This ruling will adversely affect at least those health care companies that have contemplated suing on the basis that the reimbursement they are getting is less than what the law entitles them to. 

 … Continue Reading

Key Issues Facing Places of Public Accommodation at the 25th Anniversary of the ADA

Epstein Becker Green’s recent issue of its Take 5 newsletter focuses on the 25th Anniversary of the ADA and recent developments and future trends under Title III of the ADA.

  1. Website Accessibility
  2. Accessible Point-of-Sale Devices and Other Touchscreen Technology
  3. Movie Theater Captioning & Audio (Narrative) Description
  4. The Availability of Sign Language Interpreters at Health Care Facilities
  5. “Drive By” Design/Construction Lawsuits

Read the full newsletter here.… Continue Reading

Extension of Timeline for Publication of the Final Rule – Medicare Programs; Reporting and Returning of Overpayments

CMS announced on February 13  (and to be published in a Federal Register notice this week) that despite the general guideline that final rules be issued within 3 years of a proposed or interim final rule, CMS will be taking an additional year to finalize the “Medicare Program; Reporting and Returning of Overpayments” final rule.   In February 2012 (see EBG’s February 22, 2012 Client Alert), CMS issued a proposed rule on the requirements under the ACA to report and return overpayments within 60 days to the Medicare program for providers and suppliers of services under Parts A and B.  … Continue Reading

CMS Proposes Home Health Physician Documentation Templates

In the most recent updates to the Medicare Home Health Prospective Payment System,[1] CMS made significant changes to the face-to-face encounter documentation requirements by eliminating the physician narrative requirement for most home health services for care episodes beginning on or after January 1, 2015.[2] In making this change, CMS stated that the medical records of the certifying physician or the acute/post-acute care facility (if a patient in that setting was directly admitted to home health) must contain sufficient documentation to support the physician’s certification of patient eligibility for home health services.

Although the changes to the face-to-face encounter … Continue Reading

HHS Announces Goals for Moving Medicare from Volume to Value Payments.

By Arthur J. Fried.

In what is being called an historic announcement, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell announced on Monday the setting of clear goals and timeframes for moving Medicare from volume to value payments.  The stated goals are to tie 30% of all Medicare provider payments to quality and cost of care by 2016, moving to 50% by 2018.   Nearly all fee-for-service payments will be aligned with quality and value – 85% by 2016 and 90% in 2018.  This transformation will be achieved by the expansion of mechanisms already in use – Accountable … Continue Reading

Recent Legislative and Regulatory Efforts Continue to Change the Regulatory Landscape for Hospice and Home Health Providers

Our colleaguesEmily E. Bajcsi, Clifford E. Barnes, Marshall E. Jackson Jr., and Serra J. Schlanger recently published a client alert on legislative and regulatory efforts impacting the hospice and home health industries:

  • President Obama signed the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014 (“the IMPACT Act”) into law;
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (“CMS”) published the Medicare Home Health Prospective Payment System final rule for calendar year 2015 (“Final Rule”); and
  • CMS published proposed changes to the home health conditions of participation and are accepting comments through December 8, 2014.

Each of these … Continue Reading

Eye on Ebola: Latest Updates from the CDC

The 2014 outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (“Ebola”) is the largest in history and continues to affect multiple countries in West Africa. Although reports of new Ebola cases in the U.S. – potential or confirmed – have slowed down in recent weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) and its various domestic and international partners continue their efforts to prevent further transmission of Ebola in the U.S. as well as abroad. Earlier this week, in fact, the CDC released two new pieces of guidance regarding treatment of Ebola that will be of particular … Continue Reading

CMS Implements Sunshine Final Rule Changes for Open Payments

On November 13, 2014, CMS published the 2015 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (“MPFS”) finalizing the following changes to the Sunshine Open Payments regulations.  The MPFS:

  1. Deleted  the provision exempting certain payments to CME providers from the reporting requirements;
  2. Added  three new forms of payment designations;
  3. Made  the reporting of the marketed name of a covered device no longer optional; and
  4. Deleted the definition of covered device.

These changes will be effective January 1, 2016, with reports to CMS in 2017.

(A summary of the final Open Payment regulations can be accessed here)

1. Changes to reporting requirements for certain Continue Reading

Complimentary Webinar – Eye on Ebola: Issues Impacting Health Care Providers

WHEN: November 17, 2014

TIME:    2:00pm – 3:30pm EST

To register for this webinar, please click here.

Please join us for a complimentary webinar addressing the professional and business challenges encountered by health care providers dealing with Ebola and other infectious diseases. This webinar will offer a clinical overview as well as a review of the guidelines which offer protocols for addressing concerns over Ebola and similar diseases, the health regulatory and risk management issues providers might consider in developing a response strategy, and the resulting labor and employment considerations facing health care employers. A question and answer period … Continue Reading

Protecting Your Workforce: What You Need to Know About Ebola

The Ebola virus disease (“Ebola”) has become a worldwide threat, which, among many other effects, has forced employers to think about how to protect their employees. Employers also must consider how Ebola might impact employment policies and procedures, including, but not limited to, those addressing attendance, leaves of absence, discipline, and medical testing.

Employers are generally tasked with maintaining safe and productive workplaces for their employees, and the Ebola scare has brought many challenges in this regard. In particular, employers’ desire to maintain safe workplaces for their employees potentially may be at odds with the legal rights of those same … Continue Reading

Epstein Becker Green Enhances Its OSHA Capabilities with the Addition of Valerie Butera

Epstein Becker Green is pleased to announce that Valerie Butera, an accomplished Occupational Safety & Health (OSHA) lawyer, has joined as a Member of the Firm based in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office.  Valerie is OSHA 30 certified and has substantial training and experience in process safety management (PSM). Valerie represents clients from numerous industries, including health care and life sciences and focuses on OSHA and other workplace safety and health issues.   For more information, click here.

 … Continue Reading