• Posts by Arthur J. Fried
    Member of the Firm

    When health care organizations transform and innovate while complying with multiple, complex regulatory schemes and operating under the glare of public scrutiny, attorney Arthur Fried helps support their missions and advance ...

Blogs
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On October 18, 2023, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”), which is tasked with enforcing the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”), issued two new guidance documents pertaining to privacy and security risks associated with the use of telehealth services. One guidance document, entitled “Educating Patients about Privacy and Security Risks to Protected Health Information when Using Remote Communication Technologies for Telehealth,” is aimed at health care providers (the ...

Blogs
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Beginning June 21, 2023, New York State (NYS) Public Health Law (PHL) Section 2830 requires hospitals and healthcare professionals to provide written notice to patients before the patient is charged a facility fee.

Overview of Hospital Billing

Billing by hospitals and certain medical facilities typically involves a combination of a facility fee and a professional fee. Facility fees account for the overhead costs of maintaining a hospital, or other health care facility, and refer to the payments for services provided by the hospital, or other health care facility, for either ...

Blogs
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It is axiomatic that New York State requires every Medicaid provider to have an “effective” compliance program.  New York Social Services Law § 363-d.  In July 2022, the New York State Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (“OMIG”) proposed extensive modifications to the regulatory requirements governing compliance programs for entities receiving “significant” Medicaid revenue (increased by these regulations from a threshold of $500,000 to $1 million).  These regulations were proposed to implement portions of the New York State 2020-2021 Budget Bill ...

Blogs
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The federal government’s announcement that the COVID-19 public health emergency (“PHE”) declaration would end on May 11, 2023 marked the end of various federal mandates and benefits. The Centers for Disease Control’s authorizations to collect certain types of public health data expired, as did the requirement that insurance providers waive costs or provide free COVID-19 tests. However, the Biden Administration announced that COVID-19 hospital admissions, deaths, emergency department visits, test positivity and results of wastewater surveillance will continue to be reported, although the sources of some of this information will change.

Blogs
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New York recently enacted new legislation that will amend Article 45-A of the New York Public Health Law, entitled “Disclosure of Material Transactions”.  Although the legislation, as enacted, contains no description of legislative intent, the budget bill language originally proposed referenced concerns with the “proliferation of large physician practices being managed by entities that are investor-backed” (e.g., private equity platforms) and which are otherwise unregulated by the state outside of the licensure of the individual practitioners.

Effective August 1, 2023, the new legislation requires thirty (30) days advance notice to the New York State Department of Health (“Department”) of any “material transactions” involving “health care entities” that provide administrative or management services for physician practices, provider-sponsored organizations, health insurance plans, “or any other kind of health care facility, organization, or plan providing health care services. . . .”   

Blogs
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On June 8, 2023, the New York City Council passed a bill focused on healthcare accountability, with the goal of increasing access to healthcare services for New Yorkers. Entitled the Healthcare Accountability & Consumer Protection Act (the “Act”), this legislation includes Introduction 844, which establishes an Office of Healthcare Accountability, whose work would allow patients to see through a website what they would be charged for procedures at hospitals throughout New York City. As part of the Act, this Office would also report on insurance and pharmaceutical pricing, as well as monitor the amount of money the City is spending on healthcare services. In addition, the Act includes Resolution 512, which calls on New York State to create an independent commission to oversee hospital pricing and to increase access to healthcare services. This local law, referred to as Local Law 78, was signed by Mayor Adams on June 23, 2023, and will be effective beginning on February 22, 2024.

Blogs
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In September of this year, New York City Councilwoman Julie Menin announced her plan to introduce a series of bills that would create further price transparency requirements for hospitals, with noncompliance resulting in high financial penalties.

The bill package would create an office of hospital accountability that would inform the public as to how much hospitals are charging for various services via a price transparency information portal, where hospitals would be required to provide certain key pricing information to the public. Currently, such pricing data is not typically available for public access, and patients typically have little knowledge regarding how much they will be charged for services.

Blogs
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As we previously reported, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS's) interim final rule (the “Rule”) requiring full COVID-19 vaccination for staff and others at Medicare- and Medicaid-certified providers and suppliers (i.e., the “vaccine mandate”) was effectively stayed nationwide on November 30, 2021, by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana (the “Louisiana Court”).  In yet another twist to the ongoing legal battles, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit lifted the nationwide stay and held that the Louisiana Court only had authority to block the vaccine mandate in the fourteen plaintiff states that brought suit in that court. Those states are Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and West Virginia.

Due to the litigation in the Eastern District of Missouri, as reported here, enforcement of the vaccine mandate is also blocked in ten other states:  Alaska, Arkansas, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.  In total, the vaccine mandate under the Rule is now stayed in twenty-four states, but is now in effect in the remaining twenty-six states.

Blogs
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On December 13, 2021, the Supreme Court of the United States rejected the petition of New York health care workers seeking to stop the State from enforcing regulations requiring covered personnel of hospitals, nursing homes, public health centers, and other health care entities to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of continued employment, subject to narrow exceptions. The Supreme Court’s unsigned order allows the continuing enforcement of the regulations, as litigation of the multiple lawsuits challenging the statewide vaccine mandate for health care workers issued last August continues.

Blogs
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On November 12, 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) released final guidance confirming that hospitals can be co-located with other hospitals or healthcare providers.

CMS’ aim for the guidance is to balance flexibility in service provision for providers with ensuring patient confidence in CMS’ quality of care oversight functions.

The final guidance provides direction to state surveyors in the evaluation of a hospital’s compliance with the Medicare Conditions of Participation (“CoPs”) when it is sharing space or contracted staff through service arrangements with another co-located hospital or healthcare provider.  CMS also reiterated a key tenet of co-location arrangements: that each provider must independently meet its applicable CoPs, but, overall, the final guidance is less prescriptive than the draft guidance CMS released in May 2019, and in its wake raises new questions for providers.

Blogs
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One of the many relief efforts contained in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”), signed into law on March 27th, 2020, is a hiatus of sequestration as it applies to Medicare payments. Section 4408 of the CARES Act exempts Medicare from the effects of sequestration from May 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020.[1] It also postpones the sunset of sequestration as it applies to Medicare from the end of 2029 to the end of 2030.

As background, on January 2, 2013, “sequestration,” automatic spending cuts applicable to all categories of the Federal budget, went into effect. Sequestration included a 2.0% reduction in most Medicare spending, and as a result of its implementation, many providers experienced reductions in their reimbursement. In addition to traditional fee-for-service Medicare payments, some Medicare Advantage plans reduced reimbursement under their contracts with providers to reflect the effect of sequestration, effectively passing on to providers the reductions in premiums recovered by such plans due to sequestration. Even non-Medicare reimbursement was affected for many providers whose participation agreements with plans contained fee schedules based off of Medicare reimbursement.

While this suspension of sequestration is certainly good news for providers participating in traditional fee-for-service Medicare, and plans offering Medicare Advantage products, the effect the suspension will have on reimbursement for providers participating in Medicare Advantage or commercial lines of business which rely on Medicare rates is slightly less clear.

Blogs
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In response to the growing concerns of the capacity of the health care workforce as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, on March 24, 2020 the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, issued a letter and associated Guidance to all Governors urging them to take immediate action.  While the federal government, and some states, have admirably waived and relaxed many rules related to the provision of various types of benefits and services, including relaxed telehealth and privacy rules/enforcement, many necessary actions are within the authority of state governments ...

Blogs
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We hope that everyone is staying safe during the COVID-19 crisis. State health departments are, of course, doing what they can to facilitate management of transmission of COVID-19 by healthcare providers. Some recent actions by the New York Department of Health (“DOH”) to allow or promote telephonic and telehealth services include:

Telephonic Evaluation - Beginning with dates of service of March 13, Medicaid will reimburse telephonic evaluation and management services for established patients where face-to-face visits may not be recommended and it is medically ...

Blogs
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On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared that the 2019 novel coronavirus (known as “COVID-19”) is now a pandemic. The effects continue to be felt in the United States, which currently has well over 1,000 cases of COVID-19. As of March 12, 2020, 19 states have declared a state of emergency to ensure there are resources to address the coronavirus, and President Trump has announced a ban on travel to and from Europe for 30 days starting on Friday, March 13, 2020, which was extended to the United Kingdom and Ireland on March 15th. Additionally, on March 13, 2020 President ...

Blogs
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On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared that COVID-19 is now a pandemic.  The effects continue to be felt in the United States, which now has well over 1,000 confirmed novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases.  As of March 12, 2020, nineteen states have declared a state of emergency to ensure there are resources to address the Coronavirus, and President Trump has announced a ban on travel to and from Europe for 30 days starting on Friday, March 13, 2020.  Given the prevalence of the Coronavirus in the U.S. and the growing numbers of cases globally, health care providers should take extra precaution with their patients, employees, and visitors.  As all public health communications are making clear, efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 will not only prevent illness, but they will also reduce the pandemic’s potential to overwhelm critical health care resources.

This advisory provides guidance for health care providers in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Our best practices for all employers can be found here and here, and all businesses should visit our Coronavirus Resource Center.

Blogs
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As discussed in an earlier blog post, the New York state Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic Data Security Act (or “SHIELD Act”), was signed into law on July 25, 2019.  A potential unintended side effect of the SHIELD Act may require health care companies to provide notification to the NY Attorney General for events that occurred well before its enforcement date. While the SHIELD Act’s data security requirements, which are covered under §4, will not come into effect until March 21, 2020, all other requirements, including the breach notification requirement, became effective on October 23, 2019.  The notification enforcement date is important for any Covered Entity, as defined by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”), that has suffered a Breach, as defined by HIPAA, involving fewer than 500 individuals (“Minor HHS Breach”), was a breach of computerized data, and involved a New York resident.

Blogs
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The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy Rule provides standards for the use and disclosure of "individually identifiable health information," dubbed protected health information, or PHI.  PHI is information, including demographic information, that relates to an individual's physical or mental health, the provision of health care to the individual, or payment for the provision of health care to the individual.  Such information constitutes PHI if it identifies the individual or if there is a reasonable basis to believe it can be ...

Blogs
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On May 16, 2012, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of the Department of Health and Human Services (“CMS”) published regulations announcing various changes to the Medicare Conditions of Participation (“CoP”) applicable to hospitals.  According to the regulatory preamble, these revisions responded directly to the President’s “Executive Order 13563, by reducing outmoded or unnecessarily burdensome rules, and thereby increasing the ability of hospitals and [critical access hospitals] to devote resources to providing high quality patient care.”  ...

Blogs
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RECENT PRESS COVERAGE

Rock Center with Brian Williams recently featured a story about hospitals that were "overwhelmed by ‘permanent residents.’" The focus of the piece was individuals whose need for acute care in a hospital had long since been addressed, but who have no insurance or other way to pay for the long-term care they do need, in a nursing home or rehabilitation facility, or in their own home. Without a safe place to which discharge is available for these patients, hospitals must continue to provide for their care.

 One of the individuals profiled by the piece, and many ...

Blogs
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It is readily apparent that electronic media and the internet are making it much easier to collect, organize and maintain data regarding individuals in our society. This is as true with respect to health care employees, and physicians in particular, as it is of anyone else. Information about physicians’ conduct, publications, and interactions with industry, as well as their regulatory, investigatory, and disciplinary history, is increasingly available through public sources. Information about practice patterns and quality of clinical performance can be readily analyzed ...

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