On November 1, 2023, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a proposed rule titled “21st Century Cures Act: Establishment of Disincentives for Health Care Providers That Have Committed Information Blocking” (the Proposed Rule). The Proposed Rule, if finalized, would create disincentives for health care providers that the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) determines have committed “information blocking” (as defined at 45 C.F.R. § 171.103).Continue Reading HHS Proposes Disincentives for Providers that Commit Information Blocking
On May 2, 2023, legislators approved the $229 billion New York State FY 2023-2024 Budget Bill (“the Budget”), which was signed by Governor Hochul on May 3, 2023. Article VII of the Budget touches almost every aspect of the New York healthcare system, including home health, hospitals, laboratories, and reproductive health. It contains wide-ranging provisions that expand access to care, allow clinicians to provide more services, and allocate needed resources to providers. It targets Medicaid in multiple ways, including an extension of the Medicaid Global Cap on system-wide spending growth through FY 2025.[i] Here, we outline some of the key provisions that this Budget contains.Continue Reading New York Enacts Long Negotiated Budget Bill with Sweeping Implications for Health Care
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 November 4, 2022, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published the calendar year 2023 Home Health Prospective Payment System Rate final rule, which updates Medicare payment policies and rates for home health agencies. Some of the key changes implemented by the final rule are summarized below.Continue Reading CMS Issues Calendar Year 2023 Home Health Final Rule
Health care providers subject to the Information Blocking rules issued under the 21st Century Cures Act, Pub.L. 114–255, are reminded that such Information Blocking rules will apply to an expanded set of information beginning on October 6, 2022. The Information Blocking rules currently apply only to a limited portion of electronic health information (EHI) represented by the specific data elements identified in the United States Core Data for Interoperability version 1 standard (commonly referred to as USCDIv1). Effective October 6, 2022, the Information Blocking rules will apply to all EHI, which is defined as all electronic protected health information (as defined by HIPAA) to the extent that such electronic protected health information is included in a designated record set (also as defined by HIPAA), and excluding psychotherapy notes and information compiled in reasonable anticipation of, or for use in, a civil, criminal, or administrative proceeding.Continue Reading REMINDER: October 6 Deadline for Information Blocking Rules Approaches
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently issued new guidance (Guidance) on the use of remote communication technologies to deliver audio-only telehealth in accordance with HIPAA. Per OCR, the Guidance is intended to ensure continued access for patients to audio-only telehealth in a secure and compliant manner, particularly once OCR’s notification of enforcement discretion (previously discussed here) tied to the COVID-19 pandemic is rescinded (i.e., once the HHS-declared COVID-19 public health emergency is ended).Continue Reading HHS Issues HIPAA Guidance to Support Audio-Only Telehealth Services
Certain COVID-19 emergency declaration blanket waivers are being phased out by the federal government, and health care providers should take steps to determine whether current arrangements are compliant. As background, in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency CMS previously enacted extensive temporary COVID-19 Emergency Declaration Blanket Waivers for Health Care Providers. However, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have now determined that various regulatory requirements must be restored in order to protect the health and safety of residents in long-term care facilities.Continue Reading NOTICE TO PROVIDERS: CMS Phasing Out Certain COVID-19 Regulatory Waivers in Long-Term Care Facilities, Hospices, and ESRD Facilities
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently created a new webpage related to telehealth. The purpose of the webpage is to summarize the OIG’s telehealth oversight work to provide a summary of its findings and recommendations that can be used by policymakers and other stakeholders to evaluate potential changes to federal telehealth policies.
Continue Reading OIG Creates New Telehealth Resources Webpage
On February 28, 2022, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) issued data on information blocking claims received since April 5, 2021, the effective date of information blocking regulations enacted under the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act). As a reminder, in accordance with the Cures Act’s prohibition on certain information blocking practices, in 2020 ONC issued a pair of rules (available here and here) to implement information blocking regulations (now found at 45 CFR Part 171). Due to COVID-related delays, ONC ultimately set a compliance date for such regulations of April 5, 2021. ONC is now sharing preliminary data on the information blocking claims received for the first time.
Continue Reading ONC Information Blocking Data Show Majority of Claims Against Health Care Providers
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently undertaken a number of notable actions with respect to vaccines in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Below is an overview of these actions and related COVID-19 vaccine information:
Full Approval of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine for 18+
On January 31, 2022, the FDA announced its full approval (licensing) of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine for individuals 18 and older. The Moderna vaccine had been administered under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA since December 18, 2020. This is the second COVID-19 vaccine to be approved by the FDA following approval of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine on August 23, 2021. Notably, the approved Moderna COVID-19 vaccine will be marketed and known as the ‘Spikevax.’Continue Reading COVID-19 Vaccine Update – February 2022