On May 9, 2023, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a temporary rule that extends pandemic-era flexibilities allowing prescribing of controlled substances based on a telehealth relationship, after receiving in excess of 38,000 comments on its March 1, 2023 proposed rules (previously discussed here) to extend certain of those flexibilities but allow others to end upon expiration of the COVID-19 public health emergency on May 11, 2023. The Temporary Rule provides the DEA with additional time to assess feedback on its proposed rules for post-pandemic tele-prescribing, and provides practitioners and patients with additional time to utilize pandemic-era flexibilities and to transition away from such flexibilities once final rules are issued.Continue Reading DEA Extends Pandemic Telehealth Prescribing Flexibilities For Up To 18 Months
Conor Duffy is a member of Robinson+Cole's Health Law Group and the firm's Data Privacy + Security Team. Mr. Duffy advises hospitals, physician groups, accountable care organizations, community providers, post-acute care providers, and other health care entities on general corporate matters and health care issues. He provides legal counsel on a full range of transactional and regulatory health law issues, including contracting, licensure, mergers and acquisitions, the False Claims Act, the Stark Law, Medicare and Medicaid fraud and abuse laws and regulations, HIPAA compliance, state breach notification requirements, and other health care regulatory matters. Read his full rc.com bio here.
Below is an excerpt of an article published in the May 2023 issue of Health Law Connections, the member magazine of the American Health Law Association. Kate and Conor were assisted on this article by Health Law Group intern Paul Sevigny.
COVID-19 has driven increased telehealth access and technology-based health care services.
On April 12, 2023, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Proposed Rule) that seeks to enhance safeguards of reproductive health care information through changes to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule. The proposal is intended to align with President Biden’s Executive Order…
On April 11, 2023 – one month in advance of the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) on May 11, 2023 – the federal Office for Civil Rights (OCR) confirmed that various Notifications of Enforcement Discretion issued under HIPAA during the PHE will expire at the end of the day on May 11, 2023.Continue Reading OCR Reminder: Pandemic-Era HIPAA Flexibilities Will End May 11, 2023
On March 29, 2023, the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office for the Eastern District of Michigan announced a notable set of three settlements (collectively, the Settlement) in excess of $69 million dollars total with a regional hospital system (Hospital) and two individual physicians, respectively.Continue Reading Stark Settlement Targeting Hospital and Physicians a Reminder for Health Care Organizations
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently issued a Fact Sheet (Fact Sheet) providing guidance on the impact of the end of the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) on certain regulatory waivers, legislative changes, and flexibilities that have been established during the PHE. The government previously announced that the PHE will expire at the end of the day on May 11, 2023. CMS is providing this guidance as part of efforts to ease the transition for health care providers, patients, and other industry stakeholders away from pandemic-era policies and practices tied to PHE authorities. CMS emphasizes that many of the waivers and flexibilities are or will become permanent or extended, and others are intended to end on or soon following May 11, 2023.
Below please find a summary of key guidance provided by CMS in the Fact Sheet and in related CMS PHE guidance documents issued recently:Continue Reading CMS Issues Guidance for Providers on Waivers, Flexibilities and End of COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
On February 24, 2023, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a pair of proposed rules to make permanent certain “telemedicine flexibilities” related to the prescribing of controlled substances via telehealth that have been relied upon by prescribers and patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposed rules respectively address (1) telemedicine prescribing of certain controlled substances without an in-person medical examination (Tele-Prescribing Rule), and (2) expansion of buprenorphine prescribing via telemedicine encounters (Buprenorphine Rule). Below please find a high-level summary of the Tele-Prescribing Rule. A separate post will follow addressing the Buprenorphine Rule in detail.Continue Reading As COVID-19 Emergency Waivers End, DEA Proposes to Expand Tele-Prescribing of Controlled Substances
On December 27, 2022, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a proposed rule (Proposed Rule) which proposes certain policy and technical changes to Medicare regulations, including a notable change to the current standard under the “60-Day Rule” for identifying a Medicare overpayment. Specifically, CMS indicated that it is proposing to (i) “adopt by reference” the federal False Claims Act’s (FCA) definitions of “knowing” and “knowingly” as governing when an overpayment is identified, and (ii) eliminate the “reasonable diligence” standard that has been in place, but subject to challenges, for a number of years.Continue Reading No More Reasonable Diligence? CMS Proposes to Change Standard for Identifying Medicare Overpayments to Align with False Claims Act
On October 5, 2022, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) published Advisory Opinion 22-19 (Advisory Opinion), in which it determined that a proposed oncology drug discount arrangement could constitute grounds for the imposition of sanctions under the federal anti-kickback statute (AKS). The OIG concluded that while beneficiary access to potentially life-saving medications is essential, the provisions of the proposed arrangement “would present more than a minimal risk of fraud and abuse” under the AKS.Continue Reading Advisory Opinion 22-19: OIG Warns That Proposed Drug Cost Subsidization Arrangement May Warrant Sanctions
On September 26, 2022, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a $900 million settlement with pharmaceutical company Biogen Inc., which arose from alleged violations of the federal False Claims Act (FCA) and Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) tied to payments from the company to physicians, which were allegedly intended to induce prescription of Biogen’s drugs. The matter initiated as a qui tam whistleblower complaint filed by an employee under the FCA.Continue Reading DOJ Announces $900 Million Settlement Tied to Speaker Bureau Payments to Physicians