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Vaccination Mandate for Healthcare Facilities Blocked by Federal Court

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Interim Final Rule which would have required COVID-19 vaccination for employees of healthcare facilities that receive Medicare and/or Medicaid funding has been blocked by a federal court in Louisiana. Here’s what healthcare employers need to know. More >

Policy Reversal Means Return of Per Day Fines for Nursing Homes

On July 19, 2021, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) rescinded a guidance issued in 2017 that significantly limited the discretion of CMS Locations to impose substantial fines for noncompliance. (For reference, the 2017 Guidance can be found here. The accompanying CMP Analytic Tool can be found here.)  More >

Pandemic Pivot to Telemedicine Creates New Compliance Issues for Healthcare Providers

The shift to telemedicine in the United States predates the pandemic, but COVID-19 has accelerated its widespread use. In April of 2019, the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) finalized rules to increase telehealth benefits for Medicare Advantage enrollees, effectively incentivizing health systems with high numbers of private Medicare plan recipients to invest in telehealth services. More >

FDA Approval Means Smoother Road to Vaccine Mandates for Healthcare Employers

Amidst the new surge of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. due to the highly contagious Delta variant, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, one of three that has been available under Emergency Use Authorization, has achieved full approval. As the need for a fully vaccinated healthcare workforce grows more critical, this FDA announcement paves a smoother path for healthcare facilities’ employee vaccine mandates. Healthcare employers should understand how to implement an effective vaccine mandate to protect the health and safety of their employees and patients. More >

Healthcare Providers Take Notice: AMA Updates E/M Codes for 2021

In addition to staying up to date on the constantly changing landscape of COVID-19 requirements, healthcare providers must also stay well-informed of industry changes unrelated to the pandemic. On January 1, 2021, changes in Evaluation and Management (‘E/M’) codes for physicians took effect. These changes, proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (‘CMS’), primarily impact 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (‘MPFS’) reimbursements. More >

The 2020 CARES Act: Caring About Substance Abuse Treatment Document ("SUD") Privacy

As of March 8th, 2021 there were more than 28,813,424 cases and 523,850 COVID-19-related deaths in the U.S., representing 20% of the world's known COVID-19 deaths, and the most deaths of any country.[1] More >

A Christmas Miracle! Congress Agrees on a New Coronavirus Relief Bill

After nine months of negotiations and stalemates, Congress finally reached an agreement for a $900 billion relief package on December 20, 2020. Included are many familiar provisions from the March CARES Act, with a particular emphasis on small business benefits and relief for health care providers. More >

Malnutrition Diagnosis Codes: The Compliance Danger You’re Not Taking Seriously Enough

It may seem like hair-splitting, but including the wrong diagnostic codes for malnutrition on hospital inpatient claims – using codes for severe malnutrition in place of other forms of malnutrition – is a costly mistake. The estimated overpayment as a result of these coding errors is a reported $1 billion. Because the payment error rate was so high at a colossal 31%, Medicare-Severity Diagnosis Related Group ("MS-DRG") applicable entities must take note and prepare for a marked increase in Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General ("OIG") audits for these coding practices. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services ("CMS") also plans to implement review practices for malnutrition coding on a sample of inpatient claims. The increased payer audits will result in severe financial damage for hospitals and other MS-DRG applicable entities if they do not mitigate coding and documentation risks. More >

Alert: Rural Health Clinics - Your COVID-19 Testing Program Report is Due NOW!

While the extra health care dollars distributed by HHS for coronavirus testing were well received by rural health clinics and other providers, those funds come with important reporting requirements that take effect immediately.  The Department of Health and Human Services’ funding initiative of $225 million for rural health clinics’ coronavirus testing efforts, known as the Rural Testing Relief Fund or Rural Health Clinic (“RHC”) COVID-19 Testing Program, is no exception to such requirements. These reporting requirements as well as the others for state and federal health care dollars related to the pandemic should be carefully followed as the HHS Inspector General and the Department of Justice are already investigating to ferret out misuse, fraud, waste, and abuse of these funds.   More >

WARNING: DOL Moves the Goalposts on FFCRA for Healthcare Providers

When the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) was passed, healthcare providers breathed a sigh of relief to see that an exception had been carved out for them regarding the mandatory leave provisions of the law. This exclusion permitted entities with less than 500 employees to exclude “health care providers” from mandatory leave provisions. The first rules to interpret this provision defined “health care providers” in such a manner that all employees of a healthcare provider that itself met the definition would also meet the exclusion. This interpretation is no more. More >

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