Coronavirus (COVID-19)

As health care entities around the country face staffing shortages, hospitals have started to turn to apps to fill nursing shifts. New apps allow hospitals to engage nurses as independent contractors to fill open shifts, allowing nurses to bid on shifts and select hours that match their schedule. Apps allow nurses to work as independent contractors and engage directly with the hospital as opposed to employees of the hospital or a nursing staffing agency that then engages on their behalf to staff the hospital. The Wall Street Journal recently reported on these apps, crediting their rise to nurses retiring or leaving the field after burn out from the COVID-19 pandemic, from which hospitals are still struggling to recover. But, these apps have existed for several years, and employment issues such as correct calculation of wages and tracking work time are something Epstein Becker Green has previously spotted.

Continue Reading Hospitals May Risk Penalties with Use of “Gig” Nurses

On April 11, 2023, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced its plan for termination of the existing notifications of enforcement discretion related to the expiration of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) on May 11, 2023. 

Continue Reading Full HIPAA Enforcement to Resume as the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Ends

In this episode of the Diagnosing Health Care Podcast:  In conjunction with the national COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and other federal agencies have issued waivers and other declarations with the goal of giving providers flexibility in order to render services during the PHE. 

How should stakeholders prepare for the end of the PHE on May 11, 2023?

Continue Reading Podcast: The End of the Public Health Emergency – What’s to Come? – Diagnosing Health Care

In this episode of the Diagnosing Health Care Podcast:  While the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be moving into our rearview mirror, government investigations and enforcement actions targeting COVID-19-related fraud are just starting to heat up.

What can businesses do to prevent or mitigate potential civil and criminal charges in this area?

Continue Reading Podcast: Hot Areas in COVID-19 Enforcement, Testing, and Funding – Diagnosing Health Care

In this episode of the Diagnosing Health Care Podcast:  For years, pharmacy advocates have urged policymakers to make changes to state scope of practice laws that would permit pharmacists to prescribe and administer certain tests and vaccines at the pharmacy. How has COVID-19 impacted these efforts?

Hear from special guest Will Chang, Chief Legal Officer of UpStream.

Continue Reading Podcast: Impact of COVID-19 on Pharmacist Scope of Practice: Before and After the PREP Act – Diagnosing Health Care

On April 20, 2022, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a nationwide coordinated enforcement action targeting COVID-19-related fraud involving charges against 21 individuals across nine federal districts, and over $149 million in alleged false claims submitted to federal programs.[1]

This marks the first significant DOJ enforcement action since Attorney General Merrick Garland named Associate Deputy Attorney General Kevin Chambers as the Director for COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement on March 10, an appointment President Biden previewed in his State of the Union address on March 1.
Continue Reading DOJ Announces Enforcement Action Involving “Largest and Most Wide-Ranging” COVID-19 Fraud Detected to Date

On April 7, 2022, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance terminating numerous blanket waivers applicable to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), inpatient hospices, intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ICF/IIDs), and end stage renal disease (ESRD) facilities.  The amount of blanket waivers ending is notable; while there have been terminations of waivers previously, these were usually limited to a single waiver.

CMS expressed concern “about how residents’ health and safety has been impacted by the regulations that have been waived, and the length of time for which they have been waived.” CMS reported that findings from onsite surveys at these facilities “revealed significant concerns with resident care that are unrelated to infection control.” Accordingly, CMS is acting to remove certain operational flexibilities not directly related to infection control.

Continue Reading CMS Ending Numerous COVID-19 Blanket Waivers for SNFs, Inpatient Hospice, ICF/IIDs, and ESRD Facilities

On March 22, 2022, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that it had partially reopened the comment period for its permanent standard to protect health care and health care support workers from exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.
Continue Reading OSHA Reopens Rulemaking Record for a Permanent Standard to Protect Health Care Workers Against COVID-19 and Considers Expanding Its Scope

On February 4, 2022, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued important updated guidance in a memo (QSO-21-08-NLTC) regarding how acute and continuing care facilities—including hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, end-stage renal disease facilities, home health agencies, and hospices—manage infection control procedures in light of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Continue Reading CMS Discontinues Prior Guidance on Visitation Restrictions and Rescinds COVID-19 Focus Infection Control Survey Procedures