Posts in COVID-19.
Can Businesses That Rent Office Space Enforce COVID-19 Protocols on Landlords?

As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues, and the rate of newly recorded infections is starting to decline, many California counties are moving to less restrictive tiers and lifting restrictions applicable to the business environment. A hot topic for many employers has been developing COVID-19 protocols and vaccine requirements for employees returning to corporate office buildings. (See “Can a Healthcare Provider Require Employees to Take a COVID-19 Vaccine?” for protocol guidelines.) Some healthcare businesses that utilize both traditional office space and medical ...

The Biden Administration’s Potential Impact on Health Care

Congress and the Biden Administration are grappling with an economic stimulus bill that will touch many segments of American life, including health care, if it passes in the Senate. This has many clients wondering what impact the Biden Administration will have on the healthcare sector from a regulatory perspective. Early indications point to a focus on four issues that continue to resound: the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), COVID-19-related regulatory relief, lowering prescription drug prices and restricting the occurrence of surprise billing.

The ACA

To strengthen the ACA ...

Can a Healthcare Provider Require Employees to Take a COVID-19 Vaccine?

As pandemic restrictions begin to lift and the prospect of employees returning to the workplace becomes a reality, many employers are wondering, whether they can or should make the COVID-19 vaccine a mandatory requirement as a condition of employment or continued employment. The short answer is, per recent EEOC guidance, employers can require employees to be vaccinated, subject to certain exceptions, requirements and caveats discussed below. However, a critical issue is whether employers should mandate COVID-19 vaccinations. First, many states like California have not ...

New Disclosure Requirements for Those that Contract with ERISA Group Health Plans

Included within the 5539 pages of statutory changes in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (the COVID-19 relief bill signed into law at the end of December 2020) are important new “transparency” laws that affect third party administrators and other providers who contract with ERISA-regulated group health plans for certain brokerage and consulting services.

Section 202

Section 202 of the new law requires “covered service providers” who enter into contracts or arrangements with ERISA-regulated group health plans to disclose direct and indirect compensation ...

Cities Consider Creating Their Own Public Health Departments

In response to public health restrictions ordered by county health departments and the resulting disruption of local business, a number of California cities are exploring whether or not to create their own health departments. While city health departments were common in California during the 1800s and early 1900s, most cities deferred this governmental function to the better-equipped county level. A number of California statutes empower city governments to create their own health departments.

There are four California cities that have historically maintained their own ...

Posted in COVID-19
Healthcare Providers’ Crisis Care Guidelines in Light of Recent OCR and CDPH Guidance

Faced with an ongoing public health emergency that threatens to overload healthcare systems, many states, including California, have developed or revisited their crisis care guidelines to address a potential COVID-19 patient surge. Many of these provide a framework, guided by ethical principles and a commitment to treating patients with equity, for hospitals, county health departments and healthcare providers to plan for the potential allocation of critical care resources (such as ventilators) should they become scarce.

The California Department of Public Health ...

Department of Consumer Affairs Waives Physician Assistant Supervision Requirements to Make More Providers Available for COVID Surge

California Governor Gavin Newsom’s March 30th Executive Order authorized the Department of Consumer Affairs to issue waivers of certain laws and regulations pertaining to healthcare licensees. On April 14th, the Department of Consumer Affairs issued Waiver Order 20-04, waiving certain key restrictions on physician assistants’ (“PAs’”) supervision.

The waiver order “only applies if” a PA moves to a hospital or practice setting “to assist with the COVID-19 response”; or, if no supervising physician is available to supervise the PA pursuant to a practice ...

Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act

On April 21, 2020, the United States Senate passed the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (the Act). The House is expected to pass the Act and send it to the President on April 23, 2020. Broadly speaking, the Act amends the CARES Act to provide additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, hospitals and providers, and includes funding for coronavirus testing.

The Act provides an additional $75 billion on top of the $100 billion appropriated in the CARES Act for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund of the Department of Health and Human ...

CMS Expands the Accelerated and Advance Payment Program in Response to COVID-19

On March 28, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) announced that the agency would provide relief to Medicare providers and suppliers by expanding the Accelerated and Advance Payment Program for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency.  According to CMS’ guidance, to qualify for accelerated or advance payments, the provider or supplier must:

  • Have billed Medicare for claims within the prior 180 days
  • Not be in bankruptcy
  • Not be under active medical review or program integrity investigation
  • Not have any outstanding delinquent Medicare ...
Understanding the Department of Managed Health Care’s Response to COVID-19

On March 5th, the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) issued its first COVID-19 related All-Plan Letter (APL 20-006) regarding screening and testing. The DMHC directed all full service commercial and Medi-Cal health care service plans to immediately reduce cost-sharing to zero for all medically necessary screening and testing for COVID-19. Of note, the APL directed that health plans “ensure” provider networks are adequate to handle an increase in the need for healthcare services, including offering access to out of network services as COVID-19 cases increase. The ...

California Hospitals May Extend Two-Year Reappointment Period

Healthcare regulatory bodies have responded to the challenges of the coronavirus by relaxing standards with which hospitals must comply. Among them, the Joint Commission (“TJC”) and DNV GL, an international accredited registrar and classification society, have issued guidance for hospitals that addresses concerns regarding the timeliness of reappointments during the declared national emergency related to COVID-19.

According to a FAQ posted under TJC’s Emergency Management Standards, TJC will permit hospitals to grant an automatic extension of the two-year ...

Considerations for Conducting Remote Peer Review Committee Meetings

Many medical staffs are wondering whether they may conduct remote peer review committee meetings in the interest of supporting social distancing efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. While it is certainly reasonable to do so, the medical staff must ensure that they have appropriate safeguards in place prior to conducting such meetings. Below we have provided the answer to some questions that may arise when deciding whether to conduct peer review meetings remotely.

Do the governing documents already allow for meetings to be conducted by telephone or video?

Medical staffs should ...

Posted in COVID-19, HIPAA
Providers Permitted to Use Video Chat Applications During COVID-19 Pandemic

Recognizing the need to empower healthcare providers to reach those most at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights recently issued a notification announcing that it will not impose penalties for noncompliance with HIPAA Rules against those healthcare entities who utilize video and voice applications to provide telehealth services.

During this national emergency, covered healthcare providers can use any non-public facing application to communicate with patients, such as Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger ...

Posted in COVID-19
Supporting Businesses in the Wake of the COVID-19 Outbreak

In response to the outbreak of COVID-19, we are closely monitoring guidance issued by local, state and federal authorities, as well as information distributed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. We are dedicated to helping clients address business disruptions, anticipate potential challenges and mitigate risk associated with irregular operations. We are available to assist in a number of core areas that may impact public agencies and businesses in this rapidly changing environment. Please visit our COVID-19 Response Team page ...

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Our Health Law Ticker is a one-stop resource for everything new and noteworthy in healthcare law. We cover recent developments in healthcare legislation, healthcare reform, Medicare/Medicaid, managed care, litigation, regulatory compliance, HIPAA, privacy, peer review, medical staffs and general business operations for healthcare companies and licensed healthcare professionals.

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