North America

Florida Legislature Provides COVID-19 Liability Protection for Health Care Providers

At the end of March, Florida joined the roster of states that have erected legal shields for health care providers against COVID-19-oriented liability claims. Concerned about uncertainty surrounding the emergency measures taken in response to COVID-19 and the effects that lawsuits could have on the economic recovery and the ability of health care providers to remain focused on serving the needs of their communities, the Florida Legislature passed CS/SB 72 on March 29, 2021.  Governor Ron DeSantis signed CS/SB 72 into law as Laws of Florida 2021-1.  This law creates two new statutory provisions – section 768.38 and section 768.381, Florida Statutes – effective on passage.

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Podcast: CMS and OIG Final Rules for Innovating Your Value-Based Payment Program – Diagnosing Health Care

In this episode of the Diagnosing Health Care Podcast:  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) and the Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) of the Department of Health and Human Services have at last published their long-awaited companion final rules advancing value-based care. The rules present significant changes to the regulatory framework of the federal physician self-referral law (commonly referred to as the “Stark Law”) and to the federal health care program’s Anti-Kickback Statute, or “AKS.”

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FAQ: California’s Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Requires Paid Time-Off for COVID-19-Related Reasons

On Friday, March 19, 2021, Governor Newsom signed a new law that provides California employees with COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (CA CSPSL) for certain employees (covered employees) who have been affected by COVID-19. The law took effect Monday, March 29, 2021 and applies retroactively to January 1, 2021. The text of the law is available here. Read more…

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Podcast: American Rescue Plan Delivers New Stimulus Funding – Diagnosing Health Care

In this episode of the Diagnosing Health Care Podcast: Epstein Becker Green attorneys Mark LutesPhilo Hall, and Timothy Murphy discuss the health-specific portions of the American Rescue Plan, including increased funding for federal oversight activities, changes to public insurance programs, and what these changes might mean for stakeholders.

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COBRA Benefit Included in American Relief Plan

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) which includes, among its many provisions, a COBRA premium assistance benefit. This provision treats an individual eligible for COBRA assistance, for purposes of any COBRA continuation provision, as having paid in full the COBRA premiums for the period April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021 (the Premium Assistance Period). This relief will be available for anyone who (1) becomes COBRA eligible during the Premium Assistance Period, (2) is currently enrolled in COBRA, or (3) is within their COBRA continuation period (generally 18 months) but did not elect or previously dropped COBRA coverage. Any person who qualifies for assistance and is currently enrolled in COBRA – or did not elect COBRA but is within their COBRA continuation period – must elect COBRA coverage within 60 days of receiving notice of the extended election period from their former employer.

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Podcast: President Biden’s Use of the Defense Production Act – Diagnosing Health Care

New from the Diagnosing Health Care Podcast:  The Biden administration has invoked the Defense Production Act (“DPA”) to speed up the production of vaccines and increase the domestic production of COVID-19 tests, personal protective equipment (or “PPE”), and other essential supplies. Epstein Becker Green attorneys Neil Di SpiritoConstance Wilkinson, and Bonnie Odom discuss the administration’s reliance on the DPA as it continues to operationalize its pandemic response, and the challenges these actions are likely to present for medical product suppliers.

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OSHA Launches New COVID-19 Initiatives: With More to Come

President Biden’s January 21, 2021 Executive Order (EO) on COVID-19 tasked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to: launch a national enforcement program, review and correct any shortcomings in their prior enforcement strategies and to determine whether any Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) were necessary and, if so, to issue an ETS by March 15, 2021.  The prior Administration had not issued an ETS, and was severely criticized by the Congress and labor unions.

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Building Compliance Programs for AI Tools

Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) applications are powerful tools that already have been deployed by companies to improve business performance across the health care, manufacturing, retail, and banking industries, among many others. From largescale AI initiatives to smaller AI vendors, AI tools quickly are becoming a mainstream fixture in many industries and will likely infiltrate many more in the near future.

But are these companies also prepared to defend the use of AI tools should there be compliance issues at a later time? What should companies do before launching AI tools and what should companies do to continue to feel confident about compliance while the AI tools simplify and hopefully improve processes? The improper application of AI tools or the improper operation or outcomes from the AI tools can create new types of enterprise risks. While the use of AI in health care presents many opportunities, the enterprise risks that might arise need to be effectively assessed and managed.

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Illinois Coalition Backs Telehealth Bill Supporting Payment Parity Beyond COVID-19 Pandemic

The Illinois Coalition to Protect Telehealth, a coalition of more than thirty Illinois healthcare providers and patient advocates, announced its support for a bill that would, among other things, establish payment parity for telehealth services and permanently eliminate geographic and facility restrictions beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many states, Illinois issued an executive order at the outset of the pandemic temporarily lifting longstanding barriers to consumer access to telehealth via commercial health plans and Medicaid.[1]  The executive order expanded the definition of telehealth services, loosened geographical restrictions on physician licensing requirements, and barred private insurers from charging copays and deductibles for in-network telehealth visits.

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COBRA Changes under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (the Act) into law on March 11, 2021. While direct payments to certain taxpayers and extending unemployment benefits have received most of the attention in the media, the Act also provides for the federal government to pay 100% of the cost of COBRA premiums for the period beginning April 1 through September 30 (the Subsidy Period). The federal government will pay for the cost of the COBRA subsidies by providing certain tax credits to the employer in the case of self-insured medical plans or the insurer in the case of fully-insured medical plans. Read more…

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