Monthly Archives: October 2013

Employee Benefit Alert: The IRS announces new pension plan limitations for 2014

On October 31, 2013, the IRS announced cost of living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for the Tax Year 2014. Many of the limitations have remained unchanged.

Below are the 2014 plan limitations:

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Healthcare Alert: Connecticut weighs in on electronic health record donations

Connecticut joins several other states in restricting the ability of a laboratory to make a donation towards the electronic health record (EHR) system of a referral source. The Connecticut Department of Public Health (CDPH) recently issued a decision that unless the difference between the actual cost of the EHR software interface and the donation is small and the donation is not made to influence the receiving physician’s behavior, a laboratory’s payment of or offering to pay more than the cost of an EHR software interface is a violation of Connecticut law.

In arriving at its decision, the CDPH drew a sharp distinction between the cost of an EHR system (ranging between $80,000 and $120,000) and a software interface (ranging between $8,000 and $12,000), when both allow a laboratory provider to electronically communicate with a physician regarding pathology or laboratory testing orders and results.

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Healthcare Alert- CMS issues advisory opinion that the provision of free disposable biopsy brushes implicates the Stark law

On October 23, 2013, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a Stark law advisory opinion regarding the free provision of disposable single-use cervical biopsy brushes (“Devices”) by a laboratory to referring physicians for use in obtaining a biopsy of visible exocervical lesions. CMS determined that the provision of the Devices by a laboratory free of charge to referring physicians constitutes the provision of remuneration to referring physicians and therefore, the proposed arrangement (the “Arrangement”) constitutes a compensation arrangement that implicates the Stark physician self-referral law. Although the Advisory Opinion does not analyze the Arrangement in light of possible exceptions to the Stark law self-referral prohibition, there is no Stark law exception with which the Arrangement would appear to comply.

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McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies Advisory: This Week in Washington — November 1, 2013

This week, members of the bipartisan and bicameral Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) Budget Conference Committee came together in the hopes of coming to an agreement on federal funding for the remainder of FY14. The budget group is led by House Budget Chairman, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), and Senate Budget Chairwoman, Patty Murray (D-WA), and was established as part of the agreement Congress reached earlier this month to end the government shutdown and raise the debt limit. Under that agreement, budget conferees must reconcile their differences for FY14 by December 13th.

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Understanding Industry Self-Regulation: A Conversation with C. Lee Peeler

Edith Ramirez, the new chairperson of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), said that self-regulation can be “an important tool for consumer protection that can respond more quickly and efficiently than government regulation.”  For the advertising industry, that is certainly the case.  When advertising self-regulation was created in 1971, there were plenty of skeptics.  But today, the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council (ASRC) – which establishes the policies and procedures for advertising industry self-regulation, including the National Advertising Division (NAD), Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), National Advertising Review Board (NARB), and Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) – remains critical for the industry, providing guidance on new developments and technologies, and implementing real monitoring and enforcement to preserve consumer protection standards.  This fall’s NAD Annual Conference, held in conjunction with both the CARU Annual Conference and ERSP Summit, focused on legal trends and new developments, including digital and mobile trends that are impacting self-regulation.

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Obama’s Labor Agenda Continues to Advance – Griffen Confirmed as NLRB GC

Earlier this week the Senate confirmed Richard Griffen as NLRB General Counsel.  As we have noted previously in greater detail, Griffen’s appointment was controversial, having been unconstitutionally appointed as a Board Member and, to the ire of Republicans, seemingly thumbed his nose and multiple Courts of Appeals which ruled he and the other recess appointments did not have the authority to act.

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Supreme Court of Canada Clarifies Ontario Procedure for Withdrawing Life Support

In a recent landmark decision, relating broadly to the area of Elder Law, the Supreme Court of Canada held that two Ontario physicians could not unilaterally withdraw life support for a patient who they believe is in a persistent vegetative state with no realistic hope for recovery.  You should note, however, that because the case involved Ontario legislation, the decision is most narrowly applicable to Ontario.  In fact, the Court went out of its way to state that this case does not resolve the debate over whether a next-of-kin’s decision should trump a physician’s interest in not being forced to provide non-beneficial medical treatment.  Nevertheless, the reasoning and discussion reveals that the majority of the Court is clearly inclined to give families greater control over life-ending medical decisions, which could potentially have an impact on cases dealing with the tension between physicians and families when their loved ones are on life support.

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ILN Today Post


Royal Oak, Michigan, November 1, 2013: Howard & Howard Attorneys PLLC is pleased to announce that twenty-six of our attorneys have been named to DBusiness Top Lawyers 2014. They were selected through a process which included a peer review survey that polled more than 18,000 private attorneys in Oakland, Wayne, Macomb, Washtenaw and Livingston counties. Lawyers were asked to nominate up to three attorneys in any of the fifty specialized practice areas. Special weight was given to those lawyers chosen by attorneys working at firms other than their own as well as prior honorees.  More…

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Marc Nadon Appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC)

On October 3, 2013, Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed Justice Marc Nadon to the Supreme Court of Canada.  Justice Nadon, 64, was most recently a partly-retired Federal Court of Appeal judge.  He replaces Justice Morris Fish, who was a SCC Justice from 2003 up until his retirement earlier this year.

While most estate cases in Canada are dealt with on the provincial, supreme, and appellate levels, there have been some very important cases dealing with estate matters that have been decided at the SCC level over the years.  For example, the landmark case of Tataryn v. Tataryn Estate laid the foundation for our courts’ subsequent interpretation of the British Columbia Wills Variation Act 

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Whistleblowers and Bounty Hunters: Developments Under Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley

By John F. Fullerton III

At the Firm’s 32nd Annual Client Briefing held yesterday, I spoke on the financial services industry panel about the Dodd-Frank bounty program and the whistleblower anti-retaliation provisions of both the Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley Acts.  Here are a few takeaways from that session:

  • There have been at least three reported awards from the SEC to anonymous tipsters under the Dodd-Frank bounty program, the most recent of which, earlier this month, was an award of $14 million to a whistleblower whose information led to the recovery of “substantial investor funds.”
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