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DEA Proposes New Tele-Prescribing Rules for End of COVID-19 State of Emergency

At the end of January, the Biden Administration announced that May 11, 2023, would mark the end of the federal public health emergency (PHE) declarations that have been in place for the last three years. For healthcare providers, this means change is on the horizon, especially where telemedicine is concerned. In response to the impending end of emergency telehealth provisions, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has proposed a permanent rule regarding the prescription of controlled medications via telemedicine in order to extend COVID-era accommodations. The public will be able to comment for 30 days on the proposed rules. A summary of the rules can be found here: Proposed Telemedicine Rules Summary. More >

Governor Signs HB 200 to Address Healthcare Worker Shortage

The COVID-19 public health emergency has impacted the healthcare field in numerous ways. Like the rest of the country, Kentucky has been facing a dire shortage of healthcare workers that was only worsened by the pandemic. The Kentucky Hospital Association’s Workforce Survey Report showed across the commonwealth, at the end of the calendar year (2021), Kentucky hospitals reported 13,423 full-time equivalent (FTE) vacancies across thirteen (13) professional groups, with a statewide hospital workforce vacancy rate of 17.1 percent. Registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) are the largest profession of direct-care providers and hospitals reported 5,060 RN and 331 LPN vacancies, for a combined vacancy rate of 22.1 percent. More >

OIG, in a Departure, Approves Hospital Provision of Nurse Practitioner Services

Traditionally, the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“OIG”) would take a hard stance on any arrangements that might involve some form of remuneration from a hospital to a referring physician, but the winds of change may be blowing. In Advisory Opinion 22-20, published in December of 2022, the OIG has given a green light, albeit in a limited context, to an arrangement in which a hospital may have its employee nurse practitioners perform some services traditionally performed by the patients’ primary care physicians. This is a small step in the direction of a more flexible OIG stance on the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS”), but it doesn’t completely sidestep risks. More >

Fine Lines in Medical Spa Regulations

Medical spas (also known as ‘medspas,’ ‘medispas,’ or ‘esthetic salons’) combine advanced medical esthetic services that would have previously only been found at plastic surgery clinics or dermatologists’ offices (such as Botox injections, laser hair removal, chemical peels, injectable fillers, and acne treatments) with those found in a traditional day spa. Often, these procedures require the supervision of a licensed physician or nurse practitioner, creating a unique regulatory issue. As medspas have generated billions in revenue annually across the country and involve several types of healthcare and cosmetology professionals, it is critical for healthcare professionals offering services at a medspa to understand their specific obligations to maintain compliance with the law and prioritize patient safety. More >

OIG and CMS Audits Present New Round of Compliance Concerns for Healthcare Providers

Since the beginning of the Public Health Emergency, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) data reflect over 44 million COVID-19 cases, 3 million COVID-19 related hospitalizations, and 720,000 COVID-19 deaths. COVID-19 has placed enormous stress on our healthcare system. Federal and state responses to COVID-19 have woven a complex and complicated safety net by easing regulatory requirements through waivers and funneling billions of dollars to providers among many other actions.  Just as the pandemic may finally be easing, federal focus on use of COVID-19 resources promises to increase healthcare providers’ stress.  More >

SCOTUS Blocks OSHA ETS; Healthcare Mandate Moves Forward

Thursday afternoon, the United States Supreme Court ruled to block the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) issued by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that would require private employers of 100 or more workers to mandate employee vaccination against COVID-19, or weekly testing for the virus. The Court upheld, however, a similar rule for healthcare employers contracted with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) as further outlined below. More >

Not All Surprises Are Presents: Preventing Surprise Medical Bills under the No Surprises Act

To address surprise medical costs for consumers, Congress recently passed an extremely complicated bill: No Surprises Act (“The Act”). No Surprises Act aims to prevent surprise medical bills or balance billing in the American health care system. Specifically, The Act prevents surprise medical bills when patients receive emergency care or are treated by an out-of-network provider at an in-network hospital or ambulatory surgical center. More >

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 >

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