Health Care Law Blog

HIPAA Deadline Quickly Approaching – Are your Business Associate Agreements Up To Date?

The Final HIPAA Omnibus Rule ("Final Rule"), published January 25, 2013, contains several new requirements for business associate ("BA") agreements. While the requirements went into effect on September 23, 2013, grandfathered BA agreements that were in place prior to January 25, 2013 were deemed to be in compliance for one year. Now that the one year expiration of the deemed compliance is quickly approaching, covered entities and business associates must ensure that their grandfathered BA agreements are updated to comply with the Final Rule before the September 22, 2014 deadline.

To meet the deadline, covered entities and business associates should review and update all existing BA agreements to determine whether they are HIPAA-compliant. The Final Rule also requires business associates to have written BA agreements with their subcontractors that comply with the new requirements. Read More ›

Categories: Compliance, HIPAA

Proposed Bill Would Require Michigan Employers to Provide Information on Reproductive Health Coverage

Michigan legislators Gretchen Whitmer (D- East Lansing) and Gretchen Driskell (D-Saline) plan to introduce a bill in the Senate and House this week entitled the "Reproductive Health Coverage Information Act," which would require employers to provide both prospective and current employees with information about health insurance coverage relating to reproductive health. Read More ›

Categories: Employment

Michigan Supreme Court Refuses to Reconsider its Decision to Reject Class Action Against Pharmacies for Allegedly Overcharging Medicaid for Generic Prescription Drugs

On August 5, 2014, the Michigan Supreme Court (the "Court") declined to reconsider its decision to reject two class actions and a qui tam action against CVS Caremark Corporation, Rite Aid of Michigan, Inc., and several other pharmacies. The lawsuits were based on allegations that the companies had overcharged Medicaid for generic prescription drugs.

The underlying case was argued before the Court on January 16, 2014, and the Court ruled against the plaintiffs on June 11, 2014. The plaintiffs argued that the pharmacies violated Michigan Public Health Code, MCL 333.17755(2), which requires a pharmacist to “pass on the savings in cost” when dispensing a generic drug instead of a brand name drug. Read More ›

Categories: Medicare/Medicaid, Pharmacy

CMS Proposed Rule Affecting Home Health Agencies

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services ("CMS") recently announced proposed changes to the Medicare home health prospective payment system (“PPS”) for the 2015 calendar year. CMS is proposing to tighten eligibility requirements for home health services and set a minimum requirement on Home Health Agencies ("HHAs") to prove their effectiveness, as well as revise how much CMS will pay for certain services. These proposed changes are expected to reduce Medicare payments to HHAs by $58 million next year alone, a reduction of .30 percent.

To qualify for the Medicare home health benefit, a beneficiary must be under the care of a physician, have a need for skilled nursing care, physical therapy, speech-language pathology, or continued need for occupational therapy. Further, the beneficiary must be homebound and receive home health services from a Medicare approved agency.

The proposed changes include the following: Read More ›

Categories: Health Care Reform, Medicare/Medicaid

OIG Issues Special Fraud Alert on Clinical Laboratory Payments to Physicians

The Office of the Inspector General for the United States Department of Health and Human Services (the “OIG”) recently issued a Special Fraud Alert regarding laboratory payments to referring physicians (the “Alert”). The Alert relates to two types of compensation arrangements - Specimen Processing Arrangements and Registry Arrangements - between clinical laboratories and physicians who order clinical laboratory tests that the OIG believes present a substantial risk of fraud and abuse under the federal anti-kickback statute. Read More ›

Categories: Compliance, Fraud & Abuse, Physicians

Michigan's Tax on Paid Health Care Claims is Upheld

The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has upheld Michigan’s tax on paid health care claims in an opinion published on August 4.  The decision has very significant implications for the State of Michigan, which uses the revenues to partially fund the Medicaid program, and for employers, group health plans, and third-party administrators, which are subject to the tax. Read More ›

Categories: 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, Tax

Dumping Medical Records Results in $800,000 HIPAA Fine for Health Care System

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently announced that it reached a resolution agreement with a health care system in connection with alleged violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Protection Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Pursuant to the settlement, Parkview Health System, Inc. (Parkview) agreed to adopt a corrective action plan (CAP) to address deficiencies in its compliance program and to pay $800,000. 

As explained by OCR in a news release, Parkview, a covered entity under the HIPAA Privacy Rule, took custody of medical records of approximately 5,000 to 8,000 patients while assisting a retiring physician to transition patients to new providers, and while considering the purchase of some of the physician’s practice. Subsequently, Parkview employees, with notice that the physician was not at home, left 71 cardboard boxes full of medical records unattended and accessible to unauthorized persons on the driveway of the physician’s home. The physician complained, prompting the HHS investigation. Read More ›

Categories: Compliance, HIPAA, Providers

Health Facilities and Agencies Face Liability for Terminating or Dismissing Employees Who Report Malpractice

A recent decision by the Michigan Court of Appeals holds that a health facility or agency can be sued for taking or threatening disciplinary action against an employee for reporting or intending to report malpractice by a health professional. Employers should carefully review existing policies and practices, or if necessary, adopt appropriate policies, to protect against potential wrongful termination lawsuits. Read More ›

Categories: Compliance, Employment, Providers

HHS Report Reveals That Many Affordable Care Act Consumers Received Large Subsidies

In a recently released 26 page report the Department of Health and Human Services revealed that federal subsidies cover 76 percent of premiums for those who have signed up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act in the 36 federally administered markets. According to the Los Angeles Times, the total cost of subsidies could exceed $16.5 billion this year, which is significantly higher than the $10 billion cost that the Congressional Budget Office projected earlier this year. Read More ›

Categories: Health Care Reform, Health Insurance Exchange

Planning for CHOWs of Home Health Agencies and the 36-Month Rule

Due to regulatory and reimbursement constraints, health care providers are increasingly merging, affiliating, and acquiring other health care entities. In these transactions, the Medicare providers must identify whether a Medicare change of ownership (“CHOW”) will occur. Although it may appear, from a business standpoint, that a change of ownership will occur, the transaction may not necessarily be considered a CHOW for Medicare. Essentially, if the person or entity with ultimate responsibility for the provider changes, typically there will be a Medicare CHOW. Sometimes, but not always, this will be indicated by whether there has been a change in the taxpayer identification number.

CHOWs impact the Medicare provider agreement involved in the sale. Unless the buyer takes steps to affirmatively reject the seller's provider agreement, in a Medicare CHOW, the seller's provider agreement is automatically assigned to the buyer. This provides billing advantages for the buyer without having to enroll as a new Medicare provider, go through the initial enrollment process, and be re-surveyed or re-accredited, which takes several months.   Read More ›

Categories: Compliance, Medicare/Medicaid, Providers