North America

U.S. Treasury Department Issues Preliminary Guidance for Paycheck Protection Loans Under the CARES Act

On March 31, 2020, the U.S. Department of the Treasury (“Treasury”) issued preliminary guidance regarding implementation of the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”), which is the $349 billion program contained in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) that provides forgivable loans to eligible small U.S. businesses to help them weather the coronavirus (“COVID-19”) crisis.  The guidance consists of three advisory documents: (i) an overview of the program; (ii) information for lenders about the PPP; and (iii) information for potential borrowers.  Additionally, the Treasury released a copy of the PPP application form.

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PANDEMICS AND EMERGENCY ACCESS TO PATENTED TECHNOLOGY IN CANADA

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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CAUTION FOR PHYSICIANS DURING COVID-19

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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IS YOUR BUSINESS ELIGIBLE FOR THE CANADA EMERGENCY BUSINESS ACCOUNT?

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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Business Development in 2020? Let’s Take a Breath.

Our second quarter of the year begins tomorrow, and for many of us, we’re facing a new normal that didn’t seem possible three months ago. One of my lawyers emailed me last night and said “what a year this past week has been.” I don’t think truer words have ever been spoken.

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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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The Race To Embrace Remote Online Notarization (“RON”) In Response To The COVID-19 Pandemic

Sometimes a crisis can be an opportunity to embrace new technologies and changes that were already on the horizon – albeit at a much more expedited pace.  As employees are required to work remotely and practice social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government and several state governments (including New York and New Jersey) are moving (New York more quickly than New Jersey) to enable remote online notarization and keep businesses operating.

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NJ Gov. Murphy and State Director of Emergency Management Clarify Permissible Operations for Certain Businesses

On March 30, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Superintendent of the State Police Colonel Patrick Callahan (who also acts as the State Director of Emergency Management) issued Administrative Order 2020-6  providing additional guidance regarding how certain businesses may operate under Gov. Murphy’s Executive Order 107 (which we wrote about here).  The Administrative Order clarifies and directs that:

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