On April 30, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an interim final rule with comment period published in the Federal Register on May 8, 2020 (the April 30 Interim Rule) building on previous regulatory waivers and other revisions to regulations issued March 31, 2020 in an interim final rule (March 31 Interim Rule) in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE). Among other changes, the April 30 Interim Rule further broadens access to patient care provided via telehealth and other communication technology-based services and increases reimbursement for some of these services. Highlights of these changes and pertinent background are provided below.
Continue Reading CMS Broadens Telehealth Access Across the Board, Including Audio-Only Telephone Services

On April 30, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an interim final rule with comment period (the “Rule”) which sets forth additional regulatory waivers and other changes to healthcare regulations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Today’s actions are informed by requests from healthcare providers as well as by the Coronavirus

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont recently issued four new executive orders to address the COVID-19 state of emergency (Executive Orders 7CC – 7FF) that contain provisions relevant to health care providers and facilities in the state.  Among other things, the Executive Orders (i) expand access to telehealth services, (ii) expand the available health care workforce, (iii) increase current reporting requirements for long-term care facilities, (iv) allow the Commissioner of the Department of Social Services (DSS) to scale back certain Medicaid program requirements, and (v) update requirements related to out-of-network emergency billing.  A summary of particularly significant changes contained in those Orders follows.
Continue Reading Connecticut Governor Expands Health Care Workforce, Access to Telehealth Services and Issues Other Important Health Care Updates in New Executive Orders

On April 17, 2020, Massachusetts bill S. 2640 was signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker.  The law provides certain liability protections for the acts or omissions of defined health care professionals, health care facilities and volunteer organizations, occurring during the period of the COVID-19 emergency that was declared on March 10, 2020.
Continue Reading New Massachusetts Law Provides Liability Protections for Health Care Professionals, Health Care Facilities and Volunteer Organizations During COVID-19 Emergency

On March 30th, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued blanket waivers (Blanket Waivers) of sanctions under the federal physician self-referral law (Stark Law) to relax regulatory requirements related to health care providers’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Blanket Waivers were issued under the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s authority in Section 1135 of the Social Security Act to ensure that (i) sufficient health care items and services are available to federal health care program beneficiaries, and (ii)  health care providers are reimbursed for providing such health care items and services while addressing the COVID-19 crisis. The Blanket Waivers apply to remuneration that is between an entity (as defined under the Stark Law) and (1) a physician, (2) the physician organization in whose shoes the physician stands (under 42 C.F.R. 411.354(c)) or (3) the physician’s immediate family member.
Continue Reading CMS Issues Blanket Waivers of Physician Self Referral (Stark) Law Penalties to Support COVID-19 Response Efforts

On March 27, Congress enacted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act, or the Act), Public Law 116-136, a trillion-dollar stimulus bill intended to provide financial assistance to individuals and business affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Act contains a broad range of measures intended to bolster the economy in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Unsurprisingly, a central focus of the Act is the provision of relief and support for hospitals and health care providers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.  This article provides a brief overview of some of the major pieces of the CARES Act, and the firm will provide additional updates on key aspects of the Act.
Continue Reading CARES Act Provides Vital Financial Support for Health Care Providers on COVID-19 Front Lines

Rhode Island has issued important updates for health care providers related to COVID-19, available at https://health.ri.gov/diseases/ncov2019/for/providers/.  Providers should be aware of these updates including, among others, the following described below.
Continue Reading Rhode Island Issues Emergency Regulations on Off-Label Prescribing for COVID-19, and Guidance on Telehealth and Reciprocal Licensure

As part of Executive Order No. 7F issued on March 18, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont authorized the Commissioner of the Department Social Services (DSS) to “temporarily waive any requirements” set forth in state law, regulations, rules, policies or other directives concerning telehealth as is necessary to enable the Medicaid program “to cover applicable services provided through audio-only telehealth services.”  As a result, DSS will be able to expand Medicaid coverage for telehealth services that are provided by phone, and not just audio-video technology.
Continue Reading COVID-19: Lamont Authorizes DSS to Expand Access to Telehealth Services for Medicaid Beneficiaries in Response to Coronavirus Pandemic

On March 17, the Trump Administration announced expanded reimbursement for clinicians providing telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published an announcement, a fact sheet and Frequently Asked Questions.  To further facilitate telehealth services, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a notification describing certain technologies that would be permitted to be used for telehealth without being subject to penalties under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act regulations (HIPAA). In addition, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) announced it will allow healthcare providers to reduce or waive cost-sharing for telehealth visits.
Continue Reading Federal Government Significantly Expands Telehealth Reimbursement During COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

Following the President’s proclamation on March 13 that the COVID-19 outbreak constitutes a national emergency, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar issued a Waiver or Modification of Requirements Under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act (full text available here) that waives or modifies certain health care laws and regulations in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.  This “1135 Waiver” applies nationwide and took effect on March 15 at 6:00 p.m., but its applicability is retroactive to March 1, 2020.  The 1135 Waiver applies for a period of 60 days (subject to extension by the Secretary for successive 60-day periods) or for the duration of the COVID-19 national emergency (if earlier), except the waiver of the HIPAA Privacy Rule described below applies for only 72 hours following a hospital’s implementation of its disaster protocol.
Continue Reading HHS Issues Section 1135 Waiver, and CMS Issues Blanket Waivers of Health Care Laws, in Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) Emergency