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Showing 8 posts from May 2015.

Issues Concerning Substance Abuse Patient Confidentiality Laws

It was with the best of intentions that Congress passed the Federal Confidentiality of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records Law over forty years ago. The patient privacy regulations (“Part 2”) spawned by this law reflected a sensitivity to the stigma that can accompany substance abuse, preventing highly vulnerable patients in need from seeking appropriate treatment.[1] In the interim, however, the field of behavioral health care has experienced seismic shifts in coordinated patient care while the regulations concerning these patient records have failed to adapt to changing standards such as electronic health records or health information exchanges. Due to this inflexibility, providers and patients are now facing a host of impediments in the provision of behavioral healthcare. More >

Time to Exclude the IMD Exclusion

Some rules are borne out of the best of intentions, and the Institutions for Mental Disease Exclusion (“IMD exclusion”) bears the hallmarks of such a beginning. The IMD exclusion bars federal funding for care of patients between the ages of 21 and 65 who receive inpatient treatment in an IMD, a hospital, nursing facility or other institution with more than 16 beds that primarily treats those with mental illness. This provision came into being in 1965, primarily as a way to prevent dubious institutions from stocking up on mentally ill patients for the purposes of collecting federal funds en masse, but also to put the onus on states, rather than the federal government, to care for the mentally ill. More >

What a PA Should Know When Searching for a Supervising Physician

Although supervising physicians are required to follow regulatory guidelines, it is also important that physician assistants (“PAs”) understand their role in the authority delegated to them and the specifics of regulatory compliance for supervision. More >

What Physicians Should Know About New Kentucky Law Regarding Physician Assistants

During the 2015 legislative session of the Kentucky General Assembly, HB 258, was approved by lawmakers and signed by Governor Beshear.  This legislation amends KRS 311.854 to allow a physician to supervise up to four physician assistants (“PAs”) at the same time. This amended regulation goes into effect on June 24, 2015. More >

FDA Issues Guidance for Mobile Medical Apps

Just so you know, that iPhone or iPad you have with you may be an FDA-regulated medical device. More precisely, the apps on the device may meet the definition of a medical device under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (“FD&C Act”).[1] In February of this year, the FDA released a revised set of guidance concerning how it will apply regulatory oversight to mobile apps, addressing the growing number and potential uses of these apps as they proliferate alongside rapidly changing mobile technology. More >

OIG Guidance for Healthcare Boards

In April, the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“OIG”), in conjunction with the American Health Lawyers Association, the Association of Healthcare Internal Auditors, and the Health Care Compliance Association, released “Practical Guidance for Health Care Governing Boards on Compliance Oversight.” Rather than merely discussing aspirational goals or stating governing principles, the guide lives up to its name in giving practical suggestions for how health care governing boards oversee compliance programs, a true product of a partnership between the OIG and associations that represent those regulated by the office. The document stressed new compliance challenges for healthcare governing boards, such as value-based payment systems and the effect of ever-expanding publicly available data (under the Sunshine Rule, for instance). The guidance covered specific topic areas of concern, each of which will be discussed briefly. More >

Wellness Programs and the EEOC, Part Two

Tuesday’s post discussed recent Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) litigation concerning employer-sponsored wellness programs. Today’s discussion turns toward further guidance recently issued by the EEOC to assist employers in ensuring that their wellness plans are compliant with federal law. More >

Wellness Programs and the EEOC, Part One

On May 29, 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services finalized rules regarding wellness programs offered in conjunction with group health plans. These changes were made in light of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). Prior to the enactment of the ACA, HIPAA provisions generally prohibited group health plans and group health insurance issuers from discriminating against individual participants and beneficiaries in eligibility, benefits, or premiums based on a health factor. The exception to the general rule allows premium discounts, rebates, or modifications to otherwise applicable cost-sharing systems (including copayments, deductibles, or coinsurance) in return for adherence to certain programs promoting health or preventing disease. More >

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