During a May 10, 2021 press conference, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his intention to propose legislation aimed at stopping discrimination against those who choose to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. Unlike many states that are introducing legislation to prevent discrimination against those who are unvaccinated, this bill would protect those who are vaccinated. The Governor referenced a report that certain summer camps are not allowing campers to attend or staff members to work at the camp if they have received the vaccine. Audio of his remarks is available here.
Governor Cuomo signed the HERO Act (the Act) into law on May 5, 2021. The Act requires all private New York employers to put certain COVID-19 safety standards into place and prepare a plan aimed at preventing the transmission of COVID-19 and other airborne infectious diseases at work. Most provisions of the Act go into effect on June 4, 2021. However, the provision of the Act that permits employees to form a joint labor-management health and safety committee does not become effective until November 1, 2021, and applies only to private employers with 10 or more employees. Read more…
U.S. Department of Justice Announces First Charges Brought Under the Accelerated and Advance Payment Program
On April 8, 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced the first charges brought in connection with alleged fraud on the Accelerated and Advance Payment Program, administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”). According to the indictment, Francis Joseph, M.D., a Colorado physician, has been charged with misappropriating nearly $300,000 from three different COVID-19 relief programs: the Accelerated and Advance Payment Program, the Provider Relief Fund, and the Paycheck Protection Program.
The City of Chicago recently enacted the Chicago COVID-19 Vaccine Anti-Retaliation Ordinance.
The Vaccine Anti-Retaliation Ordinance allows workers in Chicago – including independent contractors — to get vaccinated during a scheduled “shift,” requires pay for hours taken to get vaccinated (if an employer mandates the vaccine), and prohibits retaliation for getting vaccinated during a scheduled shift.
On April 29, 2021, The Boston Globe published an editorial entitled, “It’s time for employers to impose vaccine mandates.” According to The Boston Globe Editorial Board, “COVID vaccines, which are extremely safe and effective, are Americans’ way out of this nightmare, and employers – including the state – owe it to their workers and the public to create safe working conditions.”
While a mandatory vaccination policy may make sense for some employers, the issues associated with such a policy are complex and require careful consideration. As an employer, does it make sense for you to implement a mandatory vaccination policy at this point? Or in the near future? Should you consider a non-mandatory vaccination policy?
Hitting the Reset Button: NIST Seeks Comments on Version 2.0 of HIPAA Security Rule Compliance Guidance
Cyber threats and cybersecurity controls have evolved significantly over the past two decades since the HIPAA Security Rule were originally promulgated. During this same time, healthcare entities have increasingly become a prime target of hackers seeking to extort payment using ransomware, exfiltrate patient data to commit fraud, or disrupt operations in other nefarious ways. Recognizing these challenges, some security professionals have sought further clarity on the HIPAA Security Rule that they deem to be “long in the tooth”. Yet, regulators have not made any significant modifications – perhaps driven by the original policy considerations of the HIPAA Security Rule that: “the standard should be comprehensive and coordinated to address all aspects of security”; that it be “scalable, so that it can be effectively implemented by covered entities of all types and sizes”; and that it “not be linked to specific technologies, allowing covered entities to make use of future technology advancements.”
The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (“MCA”) vide its circular no. 09/2021 dated May 05, 2021 (“Circular”) has expanded the Covid related expenditure which would qualify as eligible Corporate Social Responsibility (“CSR”). Now, spending CSR funds for ‘creating health infrastructure for COVID care’; ‘establishment of medical oxygen generation and storage plants’; ‘manufacturing and supply of Oxygen concentrators, ventilators, cylinders and other medical equipment for countering COVID-19’; or similar such activities would be considered as CSR.
As featured in #WorkforceWednesday: While the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that employers can institute mandatory vaccination policies, there are many legal considerations that come with those policies, especially as more employees return to work. And employers that do not mandate vaccines are wondering what workplace rules they can implement without legal risk. Attorneys Jennifer Barna and Nathaniel Glasser tell us more. You can also read more about the legal considerations of mandating vaccination.
On May 3, 2021, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced a significant easing of COVID-19-related capacity restrictions on businesses in their respective states. Governor Ned Lamont of Connecticut, who joined the other two governors in the announcement, had previously ordered a comparable lifting of capacity restrictions in his state.
Specifically, effective May 19, New Jersey and New York will remove most capacity limitations on businesses, which are currently based on a percentage of maximum capacity, and replace them with limitations based on the space available for individuals to comply with the social distancing mandate of six-feet; Connecticut’s easing of restrictions will also be in place by May 19. It is not yet clear how the new social-distancing requirement will be enforced, since, as of this writing, only Governor Murphy has issued an executive order regarding the removal of capacity limitations for businesses, and it does not contemplate enforcement. Additionally, no other formal guidance has been issued.
Getting Paid for COVID-19 Test Claims: What Every Clinical Lab Needs to Know to Maximize Collected Dollars
As many labs have discovered, getting reimbursed for COVID-19 tests is not a given. Several sources of risk—such as inadequate posting of prices, improper coding, noncompliance with state & federal laws, and inadequate documentation—result in clinical laboratories not being paid for COVID-19 testing or, more likely, getting paid and later facing post-payment audits that result in the recoupment of some payments.