Physicians and Allied Health Professionals

On August 24, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced an “extension of the timeline” for publication of a final rule addressing changes to the Physician Self-Referral Law (or Stark Law) regulations.  In its announcement, CMS set a new deadline of August 31, 2021 for publication of a final rule.
Continue Reading CMS Extends Timeline for Finalizing Changes to Physician Self-Referral (Stark) Law Regulations to August 2021

On July 14, 2020 Connecticut Governor Lamont issued Executive Order No. 7HHH, in which the Governor modified state law to enable the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health (DPH) to temporarily suspend licensure, registration and certification requirements for certain DPH-regulated practitioners for the duration of the state public health and civil preparedness emergency.  Notably, in that Executive Order, the Governor stated that “healthcare providers from outside Connecticut have greatly enhanced the provision of healthcare services in Connecticut during the COVID-19 pandemic and thereby fundamentally improved the state’s ability to protect public health at critical time.”
Continue Reading Connecticut Authorizes Out-of-State Health Care Practitioners to Render Assistance for Remainder of COVID-19 Pandemic

On July 2, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidance documents on the allowance of telehealth encounters for the Eligible Professional and Eligible Clinician electronic clinical quality measures (eCQMs) used in CMS quality reporting programs for the 2020 and 2021 performance periods. The guidance applies to eCQMs used in the:

  • Quality Payment Program: The Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and Advanced Alternative Payment Models (Advanced APMs)
  • APM: Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (CPC+)
  • APM: Primary Care First (PCF)
  • Medicaid Promoting Interoperability Program for Eligible Professionals


Continue Reading CMS Releases Guidance on the Allowance of Telehealth Encounters in eCQMs

On July 6, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed its calendar year 2021 End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Prospective Payment System (PPS) rule. ESRD PPS rules are promulgated on an annual basis, providing updates to payment policies and rates for renal dialysis services furnished to beneficiaries. The 2021 proposed rule also proposes to update the acute kidney injury (AKI) dialysis payment rate for renal dialysis services furnished by ESRD facilities to individuals with AKI, and proposes changes to the ESRD Quality Incentive Program. In addition to the annual technical updates, the 2021 rule proposes, at a high level:

  • Changes to the eligibility criteria and determination process for the transitional add-on payment adjustment for new and innovative equipment and supplies (TPNIES), and defining “new” to be within three years, beginning on the date of the FDA marketing authorization;
  • Expansion of the TPNIES to include new and innovative capital-related assets that are home dialysis machines, used in the home for a single patient;
  • Updates to the outlier policy and outlier services fixed-dollar loss amounts as well as the Medicare allowable payment amounts;
  • An addition to the ESRD PPS base rate to include calcimimetics in the ESRD PPS bundled payment;
  • A change to the low-volume payment adjustment eligibility criteria and attestation requirement to account for the COVID-19 public health emergency; and
  • An update to the ESRD PPS wage index to adopt the new Office of Management and Budget (OMB) delineations with a transition period.


Continue Reading CMS Proposes 2021 End-Stage Renal Disease Prospective Payment System Rule

On June 12, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued timely HIPAA guidance (Guidance) regarding solicitations of blood and plasma donations from recovered COVID-19 patients.

In the Guidance, OCR affirms that health care providers can use patient information to identify patients that have recovered from COVID-19 to provide information about how they may donate plasma or blood with COVID-19 antibodies to support treatment of other patients with COVID-19. OCR explains that this use of protected health information would be permissible as part of a provider’s health care operations to enable case management of COVID-19 patient populations. OCR also reminds providers that because the activity is a health care operation and not for treatment purposes, HIPAA’s minimum necessary standard applies to any use or disclosure of protected health information in connection with the solicitation of blood or plasma donations.
Continue Reading HHS Issues Guidance for Providers on Soliciting COVID-19 Blood and Plasma Donations

On June 9, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it would distribute up to $25 billion of CARES Act Provider Relief Funds to safety net hospitals and state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) providers.
Continue Reading HHS Announces Additional Distribution of $10 Billion to Safety Net Hospitals, and $15 Billion to Medicaid and CHIP Providers Left Out of General Distribution

On June 9, 2020 the Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced it had reached an Early Case Resolution (ECR) with the State of Connecticut and a separate ECR with Hartford Hospital. Both ECRs involve the rights of patients with disabilities to have reasonable access to support persons in hospital settings during COVID-19. OCR had received complaints that the COVID-19 hospital visitor policies of the State and the hospital violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to make exceptions for patients needing support persons for their care.
Continue Reading OCR Reaches Early Case Resolutions with the State of Connecticut and a Private Hospital Regarding Rights of Persons with Disabilities to Have Reasonable Access to Support Persons in Hospital Settings During COVID-19

On May 22, 2020 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a 45-day extension of the deadline for providers who receive payments from the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund to accept the Terms and Conditions attached to such payments. Providers now have up to 90 days from the date a payment is received to accept the Terms and Conditions or return the funds to HHS.  In its announcement, HHS reiterated its prior position that “Providers that do not accept the Terms and Conditions after 90 days of receipt will be deemed to have accepted the Terms and Conditions.”
Continue Reading HHS Extends Compliance Deadline for Providers Receiving CARES Act Provider Relief Funds and Reminds Providers of June 3 Deadline Related to Additional Relief Fund Payments

The new Acting Director of Public Health in Connecticut, Deidre Gifford, recently rescinded a prior May 6, 2020, Department of Public Health (DPH) order that had eliminated the requirement that a request for collection or analysis of a COVID-19 specimen be made by a licensed physician or other licensed person authorized by law to make diagnoses, and eliminated the obligation to report the COVID-19 results to the licensed provider who ordered the testing. We previously wrote about the now rescinded DPH order and its relation to Governor Lamont’s Executive Order 7KK in a post, here. While the DPH order has been rescinded, Executive Order 7KK still remains in effect allowing pharmacists to order COVID-19 tests.

Continue Reading Connecticut DPH Reinstates Requirement that COVID-19 Tests be Ordered by Physician or Other Authorized Practitioner and that Results be Reported to the Ordering Practitioner

On May 17, 2020 Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont – in conjunction with the Department of Public Health (DPH) – released a guidance document for resuming non-emergency dental procedures (the “Guidance”). The Guidance notes that while dental practices were never subject to an executive order to close, the governor’s office and DPH had both strongly encouraged the suspension of all elective procedures and routine non-emergency care. Accordingly, as certain businesses in the state begin to reopen starting on May 20th, the Guidance is designed to inform dental practitioners on preparation and policies for expanding services beyond emergency-only care to include elective procedures and routine hygiene and health exams. The document details policies for expanding offered procedures and notes that dental practices that cannot meet the guidelines “are strongly advised to delay expansion of their operations beyond urgent care until they are able to meet these guidelines.”
Continue Reading Connecticut Governor Lamont Releases Guidance for Dentists Expanding Services Beyond Emergency-Only Care