North America

The 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act Extends Pandemic Unemployment Benefits

On December 21, 2020, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (CAA) which modifies or extends to March 14, 2021 many of the relief programs first created in March 2020 by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), including three expanded unemployment insurance benefits programs (which we previously blogged about here) and a new benefit program for “mixed earners”.  We provide here a summary of the updates to those programs.

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President Biden Issues Executive Order on Workplace Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic

On January 21, 2021, in an effort to provide enforcement of more stringent worker safety standards, President Biden issued an Executive Order (‘EO”) on Protecting Worker Health and Safety. The EO specifically orders the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) of the Department of Labor to:

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Podcast: The Biden Administration’s First 100 Days – Diagnosing Health Care

In this episode of the Diagnosing Health Care Podcast, dive into the Biden Administration’s first 100 days in office and the potential executive orders, regulations, and new legislation with noteworthy health care policy implications.

Epstein Becker Green attorneys Ted Kennedy, Philo Hall, and Paulina Grabczak discuss President Biden’s priorities, including his COVID-19 response plan, and examines which “midnight rules” put in place by the Trump Administration could be intercepted or retained.

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DOJ False Claims Act Statistics 2020: Over 80% of all Recoveries Came from the Health Care Industry

On January 14, 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) reported its False Claims Act (FCA) statistics for fiscal year (FY) 2020. More than $2.2 billion was recovered from both settlements and judgments in 2020, the lowest level since 2008 and almost $1 billion less than was recovered in 2019. The total recoveries in 2020 reflect the first of many anticipated resolutions of fraud enforcement actions in the COVID-19 world, and over 80% of all recoveries—amounting to almost $1.9 billion—came from the health care and life sciences industries.

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What’s in President-Elect Biden’s COVID-19 American Rescue Plan?

On January 14, 2021, President-elect Joe Biden released his $1.9 trillion emergency stimulus plan, designed primarily to guide the country through the next medical and economic stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The American Rescue Plan (“ARP”) also includes non-COVID-19 related proposals, such as a mandatory $15 per hour minimum wage and funding to improve cybersecurity.

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First Reported FCA CARES Act Settlement Announced

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on January 12, 2021, the first civil settlement to resolve allegations of fraud against the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.[1] SlideBelts Inc. and its president and CEO, Brigham Taylor, have agreed to pay the United States a combined $100,000 in damages and penalties for alleged violations of the False Claims Act (FCA) and the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA).[2]

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Podcast: Forecast for Telehealth Fraud and Abuse Risk in 2021 – Diagnosing Health Care

This Diagnosing Health Care episode examines the fraud and abuse enforcement landscape in the telehealth space and considers ways telehealth providers can mitigate their enforcement risks as they move into the new year. Hear how the uptick in enforcement warrants close consideration by telehealth providers, especially those that are new to the space and have not yet built their compliance infrastructures.

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ONTARIO’S SECOND PROVINCIAL EMERGENCY AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR THE WORKPLACE

On January 12, 2021, the Ontario government declared a second provincial emergency under section 7.0.1 (1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, in response to the drastic rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in the province.

Stay-At-Home Order

As part of the provincial emergency, Ontario has issued a stay-at-home order that will come into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, January 14, 2021, and will last for at least 28 days. This stay-at-home order requires that Ontarians remain at home except for certain permitted purposes, including going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, exercising, or working, where permitted. The province has mandated that “all businesses must ensure that any employee who can work from home, does work from home” (emphasis added).

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How the Biden Administration Can Reverse Trump’s Medicaid Work Requirements

The U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether the federal government can approve state programs that force Medicaid participants to work, go to school, or volunteer to get benefits. Both Arkansas and the Justice Department sought review of the issue. Epstein Becker Green attorney Clifford Barnes provides potential paths for the Biden administration to best position itself in the case.

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HITECH Act Amendment Incentivizes Adoption of NIST and Other Recognized Cybersecurity Safeguards as a Defense or Mitigation to HIPAA Enforcement

On January 5, 2020, HR 7898, became law amending the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act), 42 U.S.C. 17931, to require that “recognized cybersecurity practices” be considered by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) in determining any Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) fines, audit results or mitigation remedies. The new law provides a strong incentive to covered entities and business associates to adopt “recognized cybersecurity practices” and risk reduction frameworks when complying with the HIPAA privacy and security standards to reduce risk associated with security threats and HHS enforcement determinations. Specifically, the earlier adoption of an established, formalized and recognized cybersecurity framework, may significantly insulate entities from regulatory enforcement in the wake of subsequent security incidents or data breaches.

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