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.
On April 27, 2022, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) published Advisory Opinion 22-08 (Advisory Opinion) in which it declined to impose sanctions against a federally qualified health center (Requestor) for an arrangement involving the loaning of smartphones to patients to allow those patients to receive telehealth services from the Requestor. The OIG concluded that although the arrangement would constitute prohibited remuneration under the Federal anti-kickback statute (AKS) and the beneficiary inducement prohibitions of the Civil Monetary Penalties Law (CMP), the limited scope of the arrangement and the safeguards in place did not warrant the imposition of sanctions.
Continue Reading Advisory Opinion 22-08: OIG Declines to Impose Sanctions for Loaning of Smartphones for Receipt of Telehealth Services
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
The federal Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently published a report (OIG Report) as part of a series of analyses of the expansion and utilization of telehealth in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. In its report, the OIG concludes that telehealth was “critical for providing services to Medicare beneficiaries during the first year of the pandemic” and that the utilization of telehealth “demonstrates the long-term potential of telehealth to increase access to health care for beneficiaries.” The OIG’s conclusions are notable because they come at a time when policymakers and health care stakeholders are determining whether and how to make permanent certain expansions of telehealth for patients nationwide.
Continue Reading OIG: Telehealth “Critical” to Maintaining Access to Care Amidst COVID-19
To ensure the continued availability of health care workers, on November 12, 2021, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) issued Order 2021-13 (COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Order No. 2021-13), extending licensure reciprocity for certain out-of-state providers to provide services (in person or via telemedicine) to patients in Massachusetts. Order 2021-13 extends prior DPH orders which authorized issuance of temporary licenses for certain health care providers and renewal or reactivation of certain temporary licenses.
Continue Reading Massachusetts DPH Issues Two Orders To Ensure Continued Availability of Health Care Provider Workforce
Below is an excerpt of a contributed article co-authored with Robinson+Cole Business Litigation Group partner Seth Orkand published in Medical Economics on July 27, 2021.
How a hodgepodge of federal and state telehealth waivers creates compliance concerns for providers practicing across state lines.
In response to the devastating COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the federal government
On November 20, 2020, the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) released heavily anticipated final rules revising the regulatory exceptions to the Physician Self-Referral Law (also known as the Stark Law), the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) safe harbors, and the Beneficiary Inducements Civil Monetary Penalties (CMP) regulations. The changes to the regulations go into effect on January 19, 2021 (except for one change to the Physician Self-Referral Law that becomes effective January 1, 2022). In a separate rule also released November 20th, HHS removed safe harbor protection for rebates involving prescription pharmaceuticals and created a new safe harbor for certain point-of-sale reductions in price on prescription pharmaceuticals and pharmacy benefit manager service fees.
The full text of each rule is available below.
- Final Physician Self-Referral Law Rule, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS): https://public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2020-26140.pdf
- Final AKS Rule and Beneficiary Inducements CMP Regulations, Office of Inspector General (OIG): https://public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2020-26072.pdf
- Final Rule on Rebate/Point-of-Sale Price Reductions Safe Harbor, OIG: https://public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2020-25841.pdf?utm_campaign=pi+subscription+mailing+list&utm_source=federalregister.gov&utm_medium=email
Excerpt of a contributed article published in Medical Economics on August 13, 2020.
The public health emergency (PHE) caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in systemic changes throughout the nation’s health care system. Almost overnight, health systems, providers and the government were forced to collaborate to ‘stand up’ field hospitals, testing sites, and quarantine…
On May 8, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published an interim final rule with comment period (the “Interim Rule”) in the Federal Register, setting forth additional regulatory waivers and other changes to healthcare regulations and policies in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE). At a high level, the Interim Rule encompasses topics including expansion of telehealth, support for and expansion of COVID-19 testing, allowing certain licensed professionals to practice at the top of their licenses, Medicare payments for teaching hospitals, changes to the Medicare Shared Savings Program regarding financial methodologies, and application and risk assumption deadlines for accountable care organizations, among other changes. CMS has also updated provider-specific fact sheets on recent waivers and flexibilities, available here. Below are highlights from the Interim Rule. Providers are encouraged to read all applicable sections of the Interim Rule in their entirety here. Comments may be submitted to CMS within 60 days of the date of publication in the Federal Register.
Continue Reading CMS Interim Rule Makes Sweeping Changes in Response to COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
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