Health Care (COVID-19)
Health care providers are on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. Some of those providers have less visible involvement, but all have been significantly impacted by this virus. Outlined below are a few of the most pressing issues on which we are offering guidance to our health care clients, which range from insurers to hospitals to physicians.
As an additional resource for our clients, we have launched a Health Care (COVID-19) Resource Center, which includes helpful links to federal resources, Missouri and Illinois statutes, regulations, and other guidance that has been forthcoming during this pandemic. The content will be updated regularly. Please contact me to discuss the legal issues affecting your business as a result of the coronavirus.
Stark Regulations Compliance
In order to address concerns about the capacity of the nation’s health care system to confront challenges arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic, CMS has waived a number of regulations that, under other circumstances, would prohibit certain financial relationships between physicians and the entities to which they refer business. Read more.
Transitioning to Telehealth Services
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government loosened restrictions on telehealth services and expanded Medicare’s coverage of such services. New regulations from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ("CMS") will now make it easier for health care providers to administer care to Medicare patients remotely rather than in person. Nonetheless, providers still must comply with state telehealth requirements, including but not limited to licensure, scope of practice, standard of care, and other issues. Additionally, advocacy groups have called upon state governors to waive licensure requirements for out-of-state providers administering telehealth services. Read more.
The Office of Civil Rights ("OCR") of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ("HHS") is responsible for enforcing HIPAA. It notified the health care community on March 17, 2020, that, effective immediately and in light of the pending national emergency, it will exercise its enforcement discretion and will not impose penalties for noncompliance with HIPAA by “covered health care providers in connection with the good faith provision of telehealth during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency.” This applies only to non-public facing remote communication products, such as Skype, FaceTime, and Zoom for Healthcare. This exercise of enforcement discretion applies to all telehealth services, not only those related to COVID-19. Read more.
Waivers of Federal Health Care Program Restrictions
Hospitals and other health care providers are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. They need all the help they can get, including temporary relief from certain restrictions found in the Federal health care programs. However, they must be aware that all other requirements, of state licensing authorities, third-party payors, accrediting organizations, etc., continue to apply and so must be taken into account in planning to care for patients afflicted by the coronavirus. Read more.