April 15, 2010
This blog is dedicated to the many facets of whistleblowing and the tensions and contradictions that inhere in defining compliance objectives and the permissible means by which they will be attained and preserved. At its core, whistleblowing should be about corporate compliance and the common institutional and individual purpose of assuring that internal and external standards of conduct are respected. Reality may draw a another picture, perceived differently from the perspective of the individual and the institution – and by public opinion, media comment, markets, administrative, regulatory, enforcement or legislative bodies or by courts and juries.
Is the whistleblower a selfless altruist properly advancing compliance objectives or an individual bent on undeserved personal advantage by way of protection or windfall gain?
April 8, 2010
Narrowing the Ability of Physicians to Own an Interest in a Hospital
In 2003, Congress modified the federal physician self-referral law (commonly referred to as the “Stark Law”) and adopted an 18-month moratorium on the ability of physicians to own an interest in a specialty hospital. Although the moratorium officially lapsed in June 2005, over the last several years, Congress has continued to monitor and debate the issue of whether this exception to the Stark Law should be modified.
April 7, 2010
On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Act”), which provides for significant changes in the delivery of health care. The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (“Reconciliation Bill”), which reconciles and amends certain provisions of the Act, was signed into law by President Obama on March 30, 2010. The following is a high-level summary that identifies some of the key provisions of the Act, as amended by the Reconciliation Bill.
April 5, 2010
On April 1, 2010, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) delivered on its promise to focus its agenda and resources on enforcement efforts, launching a new public awareness campaign called We Can Help.
The campaign is designed to educate workers about their rights under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), but its implications are more significant and far-reaching. According to the DOL’s Web site, the Wage and Hour Division is targeting workers’ rights and pay issues—and it is doing so regardless of their immigration status, reaching out to employees who are traditionally among the lowest paid, including non-citizens and/or undocumented workers. The Webs site directs workers how to file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division, and it encourages them to provide information to the Division, including copies of pay stubs, hours of work and any information related to the employer’s pay practices.
April 5, 2010
While many employers worry that some court decisions will add “insult to injury,” New Jersey employers must now be aware of Stengart v. Loving Care Agency Inc., — A.2d –, — N.J. — (2010), decided March 30, 2010, which presages adding “injury to injury.” That is because it first injures employers’ interests by stating that an employer cannot write an enforceable policy that “ban[s] all personal computer use and provide[s] unambiguous notice that an employer could retrieve and read” all emails that an employee wrote through a personal email account using an employer’s computer. Slip op. at 28. InStengart, this meant that an employee’s communications with personal counsel concerning matters adverse to the company may occur during work time using the employer’s resources. And if that were not injury enough to the employer’s interests in having employees actually work on company business while at the office using the company’s resources, the Stengart Court then went on to add another possible injury—on remand, the trial court should consider disqualifying the company’s counsel for not immediately upon finding such communications on the employer’s computer returning to the departed employee (or her counsel) all copies of such communications. The Stengartdecision demands that employers, especially in New Jersey, not only revisit their written policies, but also that they consider how such policies are actually being applied and enforced. Decisions like Stengart can also directly impact on steps that have become part of best practices responses in trade secret and restrictive covenant cases involving departing employees, and which occur in all manner of employment situations.
April 1, 2010
On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“PPACA“), into law. Following the enactment of PPACA, H.R. 4872, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, was enacted into law on March 30, 2010, “reconciling” and revising portions of PPACA. This expansive legislation includes provisions from the Physician Payment Sunshine Act (“Sunshine Act“) introduced previously by Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Herb Kohl (D-WI) in 2009. Early versions of the Sunshine Act were endorsed by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the Advanced Medical Technology Association, the American Medical Association and individual industry organizations.
April 1, 2010
With very little fanfare, the New York State Department of Labor (the “Department”) recently filed a Notice of Emergency Adoption and Proposed Rule Making (the “Emergency Regulations”) that significantly amends the existing regulations to the New York State Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (the “NYS WARN Act” or the “Act”). The Emergency Regulations became effective on February 12, 2010. For additional information about the Emergency Regulations, visit the Department’s Web site at http://www.labor.ny.gov/workforcenypartners/warn/warnportal.shtm.
April 1, 2010
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the “Act“) was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010. The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (the “Reconciliation Bill“), which reconciles and amends certain provisions of the Act, was signed into law by President Obama on March 30, 2010. The tax provisions in the Act, as amended by the Reconciliation Bill, will significantly impact how large employers structure their health benefits. At a minimum, employers will be subject to new administrative obligations relating to their employee health benefits. Given that some of the more significant provisions will not become effective for a number of years, employers will have time to become familiar with and plan accordingly for such new demands. The tax-related provisions of the Act that affect large companies and employers include:
March 31, 2010
Today, BC Hydro added an additional 451 GWh/year of firm energy from four new renewable energy projects awarded EPA’s under BC Hydro’s Clean Power Call. Here is the press release.
The selected projects are:
March 30, 2010
On March 5, 2010, the Health Resources and Services Administration (“HRSA”) published the final Contract Pharmacy Guidelines, nearly three years after the close of the comment period to its proposed guidelines. The final guidelines now formally recognize the ability of a 340B covered entity to enter into a broader range of arrangements with contract pharmacies.
To what extent can covered entities enter agreements with contract pharmacies?
Prior to the issuance of these final guidelines, a covered entity was allowed to use only a single point of service for pharmacy such that it could not supplement an in-house pharmacy with a contract arrangement. Also, prior to the issuance of these final guidelines, a covered entity could only enter into an agreement with one contract pharmacy. A limited variety of other arrangements could be approved as Alternative Methods Demonstration Projects. These final guidelines now expand the types of permissible contract pharmacy arrangements.