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KBML Reminds Physicians of Exceptions to Prescribing Rules for Controlled Substances During Declaration of Emergency

The KBML has issued an advisory opinion on prescribing requirements for controlled substances, reminding licensees that 201 KAR 9:260 Section 2(2) addresses situations when a physician is unable to conform to professional standards for prescribing of controlled substances due to circumstances beyond the physician’s control or when the physician makes a professional determination that it is not appropriate to comply with a specific standard. Given the “current but temporary state of emergency,” the KBML notes that there may be circumstances where it would not be appropriate to require a patient to come into the office prior to refilling a prescription. More >

Providing Medically Assisted Therapy During the National COVID-19 Crisis

With the President’s declaration of a national emergency, the HHS Secretary has issued waivers of certain regulatory requirements that enable health care providers that provide medically assisted therapy to provide services in a manner that will reduce the risk of transmission of the COVID-19 virus. The waivers relax Medicare and other regulatory requirements for telehealth that are to the benefit of physicians who can implement a telehealth program.  With the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure’s guidance about prescribing refills of controlled substances for established patients that will apply to Buprenorphine, clinics have the authority to establish robust telehealth programs during this crisis. This is especially appropriate for substance use disorder patients as they may be particularly susceptible to the COVID-19 virus, often facing respiratory challenges as a result of pulmonary damage caused by drug use. In addition, substance use disorder patients often experience co-morbidities. More >

Coronavirus: Section 1135 Waivers Bring Relief to Healthcare Providers

Invoking powers under the National Emergency Act and the Stafford Act on March 13, 2020, the President declared a national emergency, which, in turn, authorized the Secretary of Health and Human Services to waive conditions of participation requirements for payment for healthcare providers through waivers provided under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act.  The 1135 waivers do not replace 1115 waivers that require states to individually submit requests for waiver of selected Medicaid requirements, but the 1135 waivers are designed to temporarily give healthcare providers more flexibility in providing services during the pandemic crisis. The 1135 waiver is very helpful but does not address all situations or answer all questions, and it creates ambiguity in certain circumstances.   More >

Kentucky Hospitals - Need Additional Acute Care Beds? It Can be Done

Given the recent predictions for an increase in the need for access to additional acute care beds, Kentucky hospitals have the option to seek emergency approval from the Kentucky Office of Inspector General's Division of Certificate of Need for operating these beds. The process is relatively simple, but requires affidavits that meet regulatory specifications. More >

Healthcare Entities: HIPAA's Privacy Rule Exceptions in Light of COVID-19

While the HIPAA Privacy Rule protects the privacy of patients’ health information (PHI), it is balanced to ensure that appropriate uses and disclosures of the information still may be made when necessary to treat a patient, to protect the nation’s public health, and for other critical purposes. More >

Tough Issues: Privacy and COVID-19

Now more than ever, healthcare providers face important issues about HIPAA and patient privacy requirements for patients being evaluated for COVID-19, for those being treated for it, and for those exposed to it.  Patient privacy issues are complicated and if not handled correctly create risks for healthcare providers and healthcare employees, including financial penalties. Even in times of emergency, the protections of the Privacy Rule are not set aside. With the public wanting to know who has been exposed, who has been tested, and who has COVID-19, as well as all the details about individual patients and their families, healthcare providers need to know what can be disclosed in a manner consistent with HIPAA’s Privacy Rule.  Healthcare workers must also know that they are not authorized to disclose information on individuals even when they think that it is in the best interest of the public. HIPAA privacy standards still apply even when disclosures are permitted.  Thus, now more than ever, healthcare providers must have strong policies and procedures in place that their employees know and follow. From clinicians to maintenance staff, healthcare providers should make sure that individual staff members understand their obligations and HIPAA’s privacy protections.   

Lisa English Hinkle is a Member of McBrayer law. Ms. Hinkle chairs the healthcare law practice and is located in the firm’s Lexington office. Contact Ms. Hinkle at lhinkle@mcbrayerfirm.com or (859) 231-8780, ext. 1256, or reach out to any of the attorneys at McBrayer. 

Services may be performed by others.

This article does not constitute legal advice.

EMS PROVIDERS: WHAT TO DO ON THE FRONT LINES OF COVID-19

Emergency Medical Services (“EMS”) providers play a critical role in the provision of front line healthcare for patients with known or suspected COVID-19 and are faced with the unique challenges of varying or enclosed treatment spaces, immediacy in decision-making, and often limited patient information.  It is imperative for EMS providers to stay up to date on COVID-19 protocols and guidance, and the McBrayer team is available today to ensure that you stay prepared throughout this public health crisis. More >

New Telehealth Expansion May Benefit Healthcare Entities

Telehealth may be the answer to sustaining rural health care, hospital outpatient services, and primary care during the COVID-19 health crisis. With the CMS announcement on March 17th of how it will pay for telehealth, delineation of the codes, and major changes for patient location requirement, all rural health clinics, physician practices that provide MAT, primary care practices, federally qualified health care centers, and hospital outpatient departments should immediately review the expansion of telehealth coverage and determine how practices and clinics can benefit from the relaxed requirements and how these services can be quickly implemented.

Also, on March 19, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services expanded Medicaid services to include “any appropriate health service related to or rationally related to the declared emergency” and telehealth services which may include the use of a telephone. This new regulation temporarily suspends certain income and institutionalization restrictions. The regulation also expands its reach to services provided under WIC. These changes will have a corresponding effect on Medicaid coverage and payments.

Implementation of a telehealth program requires careful consideration of the requirements and new policies and procedures.  Also, all services regardless of ambiguous government guidance must be well documented.

Telehealth may be the way to provide services and protect health care providers.  Let us know if McBrayer can be of assistance.  The CMS fact sheet related to the telehealth expansion can be found here

Lisa English Hinkle is a Member of McBrayer law. Ms. Hinkle chairs the healthcare law practice and is located in the firm’s Lexington office. Contact Ms. Hinkle at lhinkle@mcbrayerfirm.com or (859) 231-8780, ext. 1256, or reach out to any of the attorneys at McBrayer. 

Services may be performed by others.

This article does not constitute legal advice.

Need Extra Clinical Support? Here's How

Are you a healthcare provider hoping to hire additional clinical support during COVID-19? It may be time to consider a professional services agreement or lease. More >

Getting Long-Term Lost with Compliance for Long Term Care? OIG Has A Roadmap

Long Term Care (“LTC”) facilities have been a renewed area of focus for regulators in recent years, due to changes in Medicare and the potential for harm to a vulnerable population at the hands of bad actors. In April of 2019, for instance, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) put out a Data Brief with the ominous headline, “Trends in Deficiencies at Nursing Homes Show That Improvements Are Needed To Ensure the Health and Safety of Residents.” Unfortunately, this renewed focus exponentially increases the need for a push to instill compliance as a key tenet of a facility’s culture. Luckily, in 2000 and again in 2008, the OIG released a very clear roadmap for compliance that’s still reliable today. We’ll hit some of the highlights. More >

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