Health Law Gurus

Health Law Gurus

Health Law: News,
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Early New Year’s Resolution: Update Partnership and LLC Agreements to Comply with New IRS Audit Rules

Posted in Compliance Issues, Guest Contributor, Physician Practice Models, Regulations

In 2015, Congress repealed the complex and heavily criticized Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (“TEFRA”) partnership-level audit rules which apply to partnerships and most LLCs.  The new audit rules, which Congress adopted in place of the TEFRA rules, go into effect in less than a month (on 1/1/2018).  This change in audit rules will have a direct impact on the healthcare industry since many healthcare entities, such as physician practice groups, medical device companies, and diagnostic laboratories, are organized as partnerships or LLCs. Now is the time to update all partnership agreements and LLC operating agreements to include these new IRS audit rules.  Continue Reading

Fresh New Jersey Physical Therapy Rules for 2018

Posted in Compliance Issues, Legislation, Physical Therapy, Regulations, Trends

This past summer Governor Christie signed into law an amendment (“SB 1315”) to the New Jersey Physical Therapy Licensing Act of 1983 (“PT Licensing Act”), to be effective as of January 17, 2018.  Most importantly, SB 1315 will expand the scope of practice for Physical Therapists (each a “PT” and collectively “PTs”) and allow greater utilization of Physical Therapy Assistants (“PTAs,” or individually a “PTA”). In addition, SB1315 adds additional mandatory notice requirements for PTs and PTAs and makes other changes related to students, title protection, and the unlawful practice of physical therapy. Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Legislature Exploring Court-Ordered Outpatient Treatment

Posted in Behavioral Health, Legislation, Mental Health, Mental Health Procedures Act, Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania legislature is currently considering legislation that would amend the Pennsylvania Mental Health Procedures Act (the “Act”) to provide for court-ordered outpatient treatment for those suffering from mental illness or other impairment covered by the Act. The legislation, known as House Bill 1233: A Better Standard for Outpatient Commitment for Persons with Serious Mental Illness (“HB 1233”), would allow for involuntary outpatient treatment where there is clear and convincing evidence that a person would benefit from it. If passed, HB 1233 would add Pennsylvania to a list of 46 other states that have established standards for court-ordered outpatient mental health treatment. Continue Reading

Corporate Actors Held Individually Accountable in Recent False Claims Act Settlement

Posted in False Claims Act, Fraud and Abuse, Medicare, Pennsylvania, Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices, Trends

The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) has sent a clear message that individuals cannot hide behind the corporate shield in its recent settlement with Med-Fast Pharmacy, Inc. and the charges brought against its associated individuals and entities (“Med-Fast”). Under the agreement, which includes a $2.66 million payout by Med-Fast, the DOJ dropped civil charges against the corporation but will continue to pursue criminal charges against individual actors involved in the alleged conduct in violation of the Federal False Claims Act (“FCA”). Continue Reading

Hurricane Harvey, HIPAA, and Access to Health Information

Posted in Business Associates, Compliance Issues, Covered Entities, EHR, HIPAA, Privacy, Regulations, Security

Hurricane Harvey has been pummeling the Gulf Coast since Monday, with nearly 52 inches of rainfall in parts of Texas. The storm has displaced thousands of people from their homes and has resulted in over 30 reported deaths. Disasters like Hurricane Harvey impose significant challenges on healthcare providers and entities. Emergency rooms are inundated with patients seeking care or shelter. Some hospitals are forced to close and evacuate patients. Family and friends are frantically trying to obtain information to ensure their loved ones are safe. Continue Reading

Antidotes for America’s Addiction Crisis

Posted in Fraud and Abuse, OIG Fraud Alert, Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices, Trends

Opioid addiction and abuse has exploded into a national epidemic. Every three weeks, America faces a death toll equivalent to the September 11th attacks due to drug overdoses, 75 percent of which are from opioid use. With more Americans dying each year from drug overdoses than gun violence and car crashes combined, the issue has been catapulted to the forefront of national policy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of the biggest sources of opioid addiction has been the extensive use of opioid painkillers in clinical treatment. A recent report from the CDC found that enough opioids were prescribed in 2015 “for every American to be medicated around the clock for 3 weeks.” Therefore, the government and public health policy makers have looked for ways of reducing the use of opioids in clinical care to diminish increases in addiction. Continue Reading

The Doctor Is In – or Better Be, to Satisfy PA’s New Informed Consent Requirements

Posted in Compliance Issues, Medical Records, News from the Health Law Gurus, Pennsylvania, Physician Practice Models

With the increased presence of qualified staff members in a physician’s office and the constant time-pressure on physicians, many patients rely heavily on individuals other than the physician to answer questions about medications, procedures, and treatment plans. Physicians, in turn, lean heavily on qualified staff members to ensure patients have access to adequate information and to foster the provision of high quality and cost-effective care. However, a ruling by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania last week has greatly altered the practice of obtaining informed consent in Pennsylvania. As of June 20, 2017, physicians are now required to personally obtain informed consent from patients and to answer patients’ questions themselves. Continue Reading

Anchors Away! Physical Therapists Rejoice (and Book a Tropical Getaway) as CMS Extends Locum Tenens Arrangements

Posted in Legislation, Medicare, News from the Health Law Gurus, Regulations, Trends

Even doctors get sick sometimes, or need to take a vacation, and when they do, patients are not seen and billing does not happen. Cue locum tenens – a system used by providers to ensure continuity of care and revenue when providers need to complete continuing medical education requirements or take time off for vacations or medical or maternity leave. Continue Reading

Organizations Want to Cry After WannaCry Ransomware Attacks

Posted in Cybersecurity, HIPAA, HITECH, Privacy, Security, Trends

Earlier this month a massive ransomware attack spread throughout 150 countries, infecting 300,000 computers and crippling businesses across the globe. The ransomware, called “Wannacry,” infiltrated a variety of institutions, encrypting the user’s files and demanding payment of $300-$600 in bitcoin to unfreeze files. Hundreds of hospitals and health clinics in the British National Health Service were infiltrated by the WannaCry ransomware. As a result, the National Health Service was required to reroute patients and reschedule surgeries and appointments while its files were encrypted. As evidenced by the WannaCry attack and the increasing frequency of ransomware attacks, particularly ransomware attacks targeting hospitals, health care entities need to be vigilant regarding the secure storage of patient information, and proactive to ensure patient continuity of care in case of a ransomware attack. Continue Reading

Securing ePHI in a Mobile Health World

Posted in HIPAA, Privacy, Security, Technology, Telemedicine

Could a lost cell phone or laptop cost your organization millions of dollars?

Mobile devices have enabled vast improvements in the efficiency and quality of healthcare delivery. Through the use of mobile devices, patients and providers can access real-time information that can lead to better health outcomes through improving medication compliance and understanding of treatment instructions, increasing access to care through telehealth and remote care functionalities, and enhancing the quality of physician-patient interactions. Additionally, the ability to collect and track data regarding health outcomes and deviations has enormous benefits for population health research. However, the proliferation of mobile devices in the healthcare space can create issues under the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Mobile devices can lead to patient privacy issues and can raise numerous concerns over whether covered entities have sufficient safeguards in place to secure patient protected health information (PHI). Continue Reading