News from the Health Law Gurus™: Week of April 27th, 2014
News from the Health Law Gurus™ is a weekly summary of notable health law news from around the country with helpful links to related content. Check back every Friday for the latest health law news stories.
FSMB Provides Guidance for State Medical Boards on Use of Telemedicine Technology—The Federation of State Medical Boards (“FSMB”) released its “Model Policy for the Appropriate Use of Telemedicine Technologies in the Practice of Medicine” (the “Policy”). FSMB is a national organization representing 70 medical and osteopathic boards in the United States. The Policy, an 11-page document, “provides guidance to state medical boards for regulating the use of telemedicine technologies in the practice of medicine and educates licensees as to the appropriate standards of care in the delivery of medical services directly to patients via telemedicine technologies.” Topics covered by the Policy include licensure, physician-patient relationships, continuity of care, and compliance with privacy laws like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, among many other issues. To read the Policy, click here. To read more about telemedicine, click here.
Oregon to Transition to Federal Health Care Exchange, Maybe—After a rollout of its health insurance exchange that has been arguably much more troubled than the launch of HealthCare.gov, Oregon has decided to abandon its state-run health insurance exchange, Cover Oregon, for a federally-facilitated exchange. An advisory panel estimated that it would cost only $4 to $6 million for Oregon to switch to HealthCare.gov, but that fixing the glitch-ridden Cover Oregon would cost approximately $78 million. Although the choice to switch might seem obvious given the stark contrast between the estimated costs, Oregon’s Legislative Counsel has indicated that there may be significant legal hurdles in the way of such a transition. As reported by the Oregonian, the Legislative Counsel issued an April 29 opinion finding that Cover Oregon’s Board is without authority to make the switch to HealthCare.gov and that any such change would need to be preceded by significant legislative action. To read the Legislative Counsel’s opinion, click here.
Affordable Care Act Enrollees a Boon to U.S. Economy—Health care spending increased gross domestic product (“GDP”), an indicator of the economy’s health, by 1.1 percentage points in the first quarter of 2014, according to recently released data. Without such spending, GDP growth would have been -1.0 percent in the beginning of 2014. According to a Wall Street Journal report, much of the spending is due to the millions of Americans covered by health insurance as a result of the Affordable Care Act, who have now begun to use their health insurance to buy medical services and prescription drugs. Read the Wall Street Journal article here.
NJ Medical Center Enters into $435,640 Settlement for FCA Allegations—The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey announced Wednesday a settlement with Somerset Medical Center (“Somerset”) to the tune of $435,640. Somerset was accused of making rental payments above fair market value for space leased to a cardiology practice in return for the cardiology practice referring patients to Somerset in violation of the False Claims Act. Somerset has not admitted any wrongdoing in connection with the settlement. In announcing the settlement, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman stated, “Making inflated rental payments to induce referrals is no better than slipping a doctor an envelope stuffed with cash.” Read more here.