North America

CARES Act amends Bankruptcy Code to raise debt limit on subchapter V cases

While not as widely reported, the CARES Act amended the SBRA and the Bankruptcy Code in an important respect that should further facilitate reorganizations under the Bankruptcy Code for small businesses. READ MORE

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The CARES Act may help your non-profit

Non-profit organizations are facing challenges similar to those being faced by for-profit businesses as a result of the coronavirus crisis. Fortunately, the CARES Act contains provisions that may be beneficial to your non-profit organization. READ MORE

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Expansion of work share programs under the CARES Act

Among other temporary revisions to unemployment assistance programs, the recently passed CARES Act includes provisions aimed at expanding the effectiveness of state “short-time compensation” programs, also known as “work share” programs. READ MORE

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CARES Act: No required distributions for 2020

The CARES Act waives the 2020 minimum distribution requirement for many retirement plans and IRAs. You can take the distribution if you prefer, of course, but you will not be penalized if you do not. This will be welcome relief for people who do not want to liquidate investments in a down market in order to satisfy the minimum distribution requirement. READ MORE 

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Canada’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Act came into force on March 25, 2020. Perhaps overlooked amongst emergency relief, health care and financial effects is Part 12 of the Act which makes changes to the Patent Act.

Why should the general public care about this? I’m glad you asked.

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HHS Office for Civil Rights Bulletin on Civil Rights Issues During the COVID-19 Crisis

Numerous media reports concern the shortage of medical resources, personal protective equipment, and qualified professionals during the growing COVID-19 medical emergency.  As a result, providers may ultimately have to make choices regarding resource allocation among hospitalized patients suffering from COVID-19.  Disability rights and other advocacy groups have expressed concern about resource allocation from the point of view of how individuals with pre-existing disabilities and other individuals may have been treated in the past by the medical system.  While bioethicists may work to address the ethical issues involved with treating patients under conditions of resource scarcity, providers rightfully may worry about potential legal liability in distributing scarce resources among those in need.  While both the Trump Administration and Congress have acted to allay some of these worries, concerns remain for both individual practitioners and the facilities with which they work.

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As COVID-19 cases surge, medical regulators are taking swift action to ensure that drugs required to treat the virus are prescribed based on evidence, and that they remain available to patients who need them. A directive was issued this week from the Ontario Pharmacists Association, Ontario Medical Association, and Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario, which can be found here. The Directive reminds medical professionals of their obligation to educate patients that treatments for COVID-19, like with any illness, need to be evidence based. Read the full article.

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The Government of Canada is responding to the economic hardships faced by businesses throughout Canada. On Friday March 27th, 2020, the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a new measure to support small businesses and not-for-profits dealing with the economic impacts of the pandemic. The announcement is part of the government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, which already commits $107 billion in support to Canadians. Read the full article.

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Some States Are Prioritizing Telehealth Through Section 1135 Waiver Requests

On March 13, 2020, President Trump issued a proclamation that the novel coronavirus (“COVID-19”) outbreak in the United States constituted a national emergency. Following this proclamation, pursuant to section 1135(b) of the Social Security Act, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), Alex Azar, invoked his authority to waive or modify certain requirements of titles of the Act as a result of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, to the extent necessary, as determined by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”), to ensure that sufficient health care items and services are available to meet the needs of individuals enrolled in the Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Programs (“CHIP”). This authority took effect on March 15, 2020, with a retroactive effective date of March 1, 2020 and will terminate at the conclusion of the public health emergency period.[1] Pursuant to this authority, HHS announced a number of nationwide blanket waivers, including a waiver related to telehealth, in order for providers to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency.[2]

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HHS Issues Blanket Waivers for Certain Financial Relationships Subject to the Stark Law

WHO: The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

WHAT: Issued nationwide “blanket waivers” of the federal Stark Law (Section 1877 of the Social Security Act) pursuant to his authority Section 1135 of the Social Security Act.

WHEN: Although issued on March 30, 2020, the waivers are retroactively effective as of March 1, 2020.

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