Tag Archives: COVID-19

Joint Commission to Resume Surveys in June

The Joint Commission (JC) announced yesterday that it will resume its regular surveying and reviews beginning in June. The JC will identify and prioritize low-risk organizations, and organizations due for a survey can expect to be contacted by the JC for an assessment of the impact that COVID-19 has had on the organization. Although surveying will resume, the JC announced there will be changes to the process to maintain social distancing and protect all parties involved. Those changes include:

  • Limited number of individuals in meetings and increased use of audio

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

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 …

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

The new Acting Director of Public Health in Connecticut, Deidre Gifford, recently rescinded a prior May 6, 2020, Department of Public Health (DPH) order that had eliminated the requirement that a request for collection or analysis of a COVID-19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 We previously wrote about the now rescinded DPH order and its relation to Governor Lamont’s Executive Order …

Connecticut Governor Lamont Releases Guidance for Dentists Expanding Services Beyond Emergency-Only Care

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 …

CMS Releases Additional Blanket Waivers in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

On May 11, 2020 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced additional blanket waivers for hospitals and other facilities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to CMS, the new waivers “provide the flexibilities needed to take care of patients during the COVID-19 public health emergency.” The blanket waivers have a retroactive effective date of March 1, 2020 and do not require a waiver request or notice to CMS to apply.…

CMS Interim Rule Makes Sweeping Changes in Response to COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

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 …

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont Issues Executive Order Allowing Pharmacists to Order COVID-19 Tests

On May 7, 2020 Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont issued Executive Order 7KK allowing pharmacists to order COVID-19 tests.

The order modifies Section 19a-36-D29 of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies to permit licensed pharmacists to order COVID-19 diagnostic tests consistent with the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments. The modification also permits pharmacists to order any Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved COVID-19 serology test that does not require venipuncture. Pharmacists are required to comply with all Department of Health testing reporting requirements. The Executive Order is effective immediately.…

OCR Issues Guidance About Media Access to Health Care Facilities

These days, news stations are frequently running stories concerning people being treated for COVID-19, the providers working tirelessly to care for them, and politicians visiting health care facilities for a first-hand look at the crisis. In response to the media interest, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued guidance on May 5, 2020 to healthcare providers answering the question “Does the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency alter the HIPAA Privacy Rule’s restrictions on disclosures of protected health information to the media?” The guidance reminds them “that the HIPAA Privacy Rule does …

CMS Interim Rule Makes Changes to COVID-19 Laboratory Test Ordering and Payment For Medicare and Medicaid Providers and Beneficiaries

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 Interim Rule) which – among other things – makes changes to Medicare requirements for ordering COVID-19 laboratory tests, Medicare reimbursement for specimen collection and Medicaid reimbursement for laboratory services.…

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 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 …

CMS Issues Explanatory Guidance of Blanket Physician Self-Referral (Stark) Law Waivers for COVID-19 in Response to Industry Feedback

Amidst the cavalcade of regulatory and policy changes from federal and state governments intended to help health care providers confront the COVID-19 pandemic, on April 21, 2020 the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published “Explanatory Guidance” (Guidance) of the applicability of the blanket waivers of the federal Physician Self-Referral Law (PSR Law) CMS previously issued on March 30, 2020. See our analysis of the PSR Law blanket waivers here.…

CMS Issues New Interim Final Rule With Sweeping Regulatory Changes in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

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 Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act” states CMS in its press release. Spanning 279 pages, the Rule makes sweeping changes for the full spectrum of health care providers. On a high …

Connecticut Governor Expands Health Care Workforce, Access to Telehealth Services and Issues Other Important Health Care Updates in New Executive Orders

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.  …

CMS Announces Merit-Based Incentive Payment for Clinicians Participating in COVID-19 Clinical Trial

On April 21, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that clinicians participating in the Quality Payment Program (QPP) can earn credit in the Merit-based Incentive payment system (MIPS) by attesting to a new COVID-19 Clinical Trials improvement activity based on participation in a clinical trial and reporting information. Clinicians who may earn this MIPS credit include physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and others. MIPS is one of two options for clinicians to participate in Medicare’s QPP, and requires clinicians to report certain quality, cost and other …

CMS Issues Phase-In Recommendations for Non-COVID Non-Emergent Care

On April 19, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued recommendations for Re-opening Facilities to Provide Non-emergent Non-COVID-19 Healthcare: Phase I. The recommendations apply to areas with a low, or relatively low and stable incidence of COVID-19, in states or regions that have passed Phase I gating criteria that were previously announced by the Administration on April 16, 2020. Initially, the recommendations apply to non-emergent care that is currently on hold, such as chronic disease care, surgery and other procedures, and, eventually, preventive care. CMS is …

Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and the Treasury Issue FAQ guidance on the FFCRA, the CARES Act, and other health coverage issues related to COVID-19

On April 11, 2020 the U.S. Departments of Labor (DOL), Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Treasury (collectively, the Departments) issued guidance in the form of frequently asked questions (the “FAQs”) regarding the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the FFCRA), the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act), and other health coverage issues related to COVID-19.  The guidance states that the FAQs “answer questions from stakeholders to help individuals understand the law and benefit from it, as intended.” Certain guidance offered by the FAQs is summarized …

CMS Updates and Revises COVID-19 FAQs on Medicare FFS Billing

On April 9 and 10, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) updated and revised their COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Medicare Fee-for-Service (FFS) Billing. The updates were intended to bring the FAQs up to date in light of new section 1135 waivers, provisions from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the interim final rule for Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Policy and Regulatory Revisions in Response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. The extensive new FAQs are marked in the document as “New: …

CMS Updates Blanket Waivers to Help Expand Health Care Workforce

On April 9, 2020 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) updated blanket waivers issued previously in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. According to CMS, the new waivers “focus on reducing supervision and certification requirements so that practitioners can be hired quickly and perform work to the fullest extent of their licenses.” The blanket waivers have a retroactive effective date of March 1, 2020 and do not require a waiver request or notice to CMS to apply.…

Massachusetts Issues COVID-19 Orders and Guidance for Providers

Massachusetts continues to issue directives and guidance for health care providers in response to COVID-19. In this post we highlight Orders and Guidance issued by Massachusetts Governor Baker and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH). The guidance addresses topics including collection of COVID-19 demographic information, use of alternative space for provision of health care treatment, health professional licensing, EMS transport of patients, hospital policies for returning exposed health care personnel to work, use of PPE and equipment, and updates for pharmacies.…

HHS Waives HIPAA Penalties for Operation of a Community-Based COVID-19 Testing Site

On April 9, 2020 the Department of Health & Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued another Notification that it will exercise its enforcement discretion and not impose penalties for HIPAA violations in connection with good faith participation in the operation of COVID-19 testing sites during the COVID-19 emergency.…

OIG Will Not Impose Administrative Sanctions for AKS Violations for Conduct Covered by Certain Blanket Waivers of the Stark Law

On April 3, 2020 the Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a Policy Statement to notify health care providers and other parties subject to the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) that the OIG will not impose administrative sanctions for potential AKS violations for COVID-19-related arrangements that are covered by some – but not all – of the Blanket Waivers of the Physician Self-Referral (Stark) Law issued on March 30 (see here for our analysis of the Blanket Waivers).…

Connecticut Governor Limits COVID-19 Liability for Providers and Facilities, Restricts Surprise Billing for COVID-19 Treatment, and Expands the Health Care Workforce in Recent Executive Orders.

Governor Lamont issued two new executive orders designed to expand the health care workforce, immunize providers from COVID-19-related liability, and protect patients from out-of-network bills for COVID-19 treatment. On April 5, 2020 Governor Lamont issued Executive Order 7U creating financial protections for uninsured patients and insured patients receiving out-of-network care. On April 7, 2020 Governor Lamont issued Executive Order 7V expanding temporary practice permits, allowing practice before licensure for certain health care profession graduates and applicants, and limiting civil liability for health care professionals and facilities for acts and omissions …

Governor Lamont’s Announces COVID-19 Medical Surge Plan that Includes Opening of Vacant Nursing Homes

On April 1, 2020, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont announced a medical surge plan to address the state’s needs for responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The plan, under which the state will collaborate with long-term care facilities, involves the creation of dedicated spaces for COVID-19 positive patients and moving non-infected patients to separate facilities. …

CMS Issues Blanket Waivers of Physician Self Referral (Stark) Law Penalties to Support COVID-19 Response Efforts

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 …

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