Podcast: Whistleblowing, Retaliation Risks Are On the Rise for Health Care Employers – Diagnosing Health Care

In this episode of the Diagnosing Health Care Podcast: Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many jurisdictions have enacted protections from COVID-19-related liability claims through legislation and executive orders. These liability shields, however, may give health care businesses a false sense of security and offer little protection when it comes to employment claims.

Epstein Becker Green attorneys Denise Merna DadikaGregory Keating, and Elena Quattrone discuss the unintended liability consequences health care employers must consider as they transition more employees back to in-person work and the ways to mitigate increasing whistleblower and retaliation risks.

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Small and midsize employers may be entitled to tax credits for providing paid leave related to COVID-19 vaccinations

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 allows small and midsize employers, and certain governmental employers, to claim refundable tax credits that reimburse them for the cost of providing paid sick and family leave to their employees due to COVID-19. This includes leave taken by employees to receive or recover from COVID-19 vaccinations.

Click here for more information on eligible employers, the amount of the tax credits and how they are calculated, and how to claim the credit.

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OIG Audits on Medicare Advantage Plans Continue

On April 19, 2021, the Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) Office of Audit Services (OAS) released the results of an audit conducted on the accuracy of diagnosis codes submitted to CMS by Humana, Inc. for 2015 dates of service. Based on the audit results, the OIG recommended Humana return a whopping $197.7 million in alleged overpayments and enhance its policies and procedures to prevent, detect and correct noncompliance with Federal requirements for diagnosis codes that are used to calculate risk-adjusted payments.

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The Federal Communications Commission Announces Narrow Window to Apply for Second Round of COVID-19 Telehealth Program Funding – Applications Due May 6, 2021

On April 29, 2021, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will begin accepting applications for the second round of its COVID-19 Telehealth Program (the “Program”). However, the application filing window will only be open for a very short seven day period and will close on May 6, 2021. To give all applicants an equal opportunity to have their applications reviewed, the FCC announced that all applications filed during this period will be reviewed once the application filing window has closed.

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Due to the evolution of the epidemiological situation in Portugal, in the context of the pandemic caused by COVID-19 disease, the Government decided to adopt a set of measures, through the creation of support mechanisms for workers and companies, as a result of the economic and social effects emerging from the worsening of the pandemic situation in Portugal, as well as to extend a set of extraordinary and temporary support measures to mitigate the effects of the pandemic crisis. Read more…

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Employees being infected with Covid-19 can have a significant impact in the workplace, including lost productivity and the self-isolation of groups of employees who may have been exposed, not to mention the potentially severe impact on the health of infected employees. Employers have duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 towards their employees to provide a safe system of work, as well as duties towards members of the public on their premises.

Given this, a measure employers may be considering, particularly as more workplaces begin to open up or people return from working remotely, is carrying out Covid tests in the workplace, or providing tests for employees to do on a regular basis. Read more…

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NY Chiropractor Sentenced to Nine Years in Prison for Health Care Fraud Scheme

On April 13, 2021, a New York-based chiropractor, was sentenced to nine years in prison, and ordered to pay close to $20 million, for running what the federal government alleged was a large scale scheme to defraud Medicare and other third party insurers.[1]   The sentencing stems from a case originally filed under seal on August 29, 2018, in which the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York alleged that two New York chiropractors – James and Jeffery Spina – improperly owned and controlled multiple medical practices and engaged in submission of fraudulent health care claims from 2011 until September 2017.

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U.S. Department of Justice Reports on Heightened Enforcement Activities Against COVID-19 Related Fraud

On March 26, 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) reported on the agency’s heightened criminal and civil enforcement activities in connection with COVID-19-related fraud.[1]  As of that date, DOJ had publicly charged 474 defendants with criminal offenses in connection with COVID-19-related schemes across 56 federal districts to recover more than $569 million in U.S. government funds.

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Video: OSHA ETS on Hold, Retaliation Claims Increase, “Vaccination Ambassadors” – Employment Law This Week

As featured in #WorkforceWednesday:  This week, employers continue waiting on OSHA’s COVID-19 emergency temporary standard as retaliation claims rise.

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How should employers manage the COVID-19 vaccination rollout?

With COVID-19 vaccinations rolling out in Australia, employers may be considering asking their employees whether they have been, or will be, vaccinated against the virus. They may also be wondering whether they can, or should, require that their employees get the vaccine.

It is extremely important that employers consider their obligations, as well as their employees’ rights in relation to the collection, use, storage and disclosure of information regarding the health of employees, and in particular in relation to their COVID-19 vaccination status.

They should also understand that there are very limited circumstances under which they may be permitted to mandate that their employees are vaccinated.

In order to assist employers in managing the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out, we ask the big questions in the context of Fair Work and Privacy considerations. Read more…

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