As the pandemic rages on, and the United States has seen a spike in coronavirus cases in recent days, many healthcare providers are still struggling to care for patients and remain afloat. In response, HHS is continuing support and extending flexibility.
Continue Reading More Relief on the Way for Healthcare Providers: Provider Relief Fund Payment Opportunities and Flexibility in Repayment Requirements

On September 19, 2020, the Health Resources and Services Administration (“HRSA”) of the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) issued guidance (“September Guidance”) regarding the post-payment reporting requirements applicable to providers who received more than $10,000 in relief fund payments from the Provider Relief Fund (“PRF”) – a fund created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (the “CARES Act”) and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (the “PPP Act”) to provide financial relief to hospitals, physicians, and other health care providers.  In addition to the reporting requirements, the September Guidance includes information regarding the PRF audit procedures applicable to PRF recipients.
Continue Reading Department of Health and Human Services Releases New Provider Relief Fund FAQs: Reporting, Single Audits and What You Can Do Now

As noted in our March 31, 2020 blog article, “Strategies in Responding to COVID-19: Expanding Scope of Practice to Increase Patient Access to Healthcare” and in our May 8, 2020 blog article, “COVID-19: Medical Liability for Expanded Scope of Services,” the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed limitations in the healthcare system that have impeded access to medical care, often for rural, low-income, and minority communities. In order to increase healthcare access, many states and the federal government have worked to (i) expand the scope of practice for different types of non-physician practitioners (“NPPs”) to provide a wider range of healthcare services; (ii) eliminate or relax physician supervision requirements so that NPPs can practice independently without having to rely on physicians who are, themselves, scarce healthcare resources; and (iii) insulate NPPs from liability for the provision of those healthcare services that fall outside of their traditional scopes of practice.

Continue Reading The Scope-of-Practice Debate Takes Center Stage: The 2021 Medicare Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility Prospective Payment System Final Rule

On August 3, 2020, President Trump signed Executive Order 13941 (the “Executive Order”) which expands access to certain telehealth services post-pandemic.  The Executive Order focuses on telehealth access for individuals living in rural areas and implements the following mechanisms:
Continue Reading It’s Official: Telehealth Benefits Have Been Expanded For Medicare Beneficiaries

In a July 21, 2020 American Hospital Association (AHA) Press Release, the AHA announced the results of a new analysis prepared by Kaufman, Hall & Associates, LLC that, “highlights the dire impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the financial health of hospitals and health systems.”  According to the Press Release, the analysis shows that, without further government support, margins could sink to -7% in the second half of 2020, with half of all hospitals operating in the red.  In this same Press Release, the AHA referenced its own studies that estimate a minimum of $323.1 billion in COVID-19 – related financial losses for hospitals and health systems in 2020.
Continue Reading Hospitals, Home Health Agencies, and Skilled Nursing Facilities: The Costs of COVID-19 and Federal Relief for Healthcare Providers

Many areas of the country are experiencing resurgences of COVID-19, and it is foreseeable that second and perhaps third waves of the virus will hit pockets of the country throughout the remainder of 2020. As healthcare organizations struggle to balance their continued response efforts to the pandemic, with preparations for future waves, we have received many questions from provider organizations regarding how best to prepare their organizations.
Continue Reading Reopening Challenges: FAQs On Preparing For Additional Waves Of COVID-19

On July 17, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) announced it will begin distributing $10 billion in a second round of funding to hospitals operating in high impact COVID-19 areas. The distribution is anticipated to begin as early as today, Monday, July 20, 2020. Hospitals with over 161 COVID-19 admissions between January 1 and June 10, 2020, or one admission per day, or that experienced a disproportionate intensity of COVID-19 admissions (exceeding the average ratio of COVID-19 admissions/bed) will receive funding in this distribution in the amount of $50,000 per eligible admission.
Continue Reading More Money On the Way in COVID-19 Fight: HHS Announces Additional $10B for Hospitals in High Impact COVID-19 Areas

This week, Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) proposed the Equal Access to Care Act (the “EACA”), which would allow licensed providers to provide services via telehealth in any state, in any location for up to 180 days after the end of the public health emergency period.
Continue Reading The Post COVID-19 World: Continued Focus on Relaxing Telehealth Barriers

On Thursday, June 11, 2020, the U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis,[1] chaired by Rep. James E. Clyburn, held a video briefing (the “SCC Briefing”) with experts and affected individuals to examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on nursing home residents and workers.
Continue Reading Opening Up America: Recent COVID-19 Data And Congressional Hearings Show That Nursing Homes May Be The Last To See “Business As Usual”

According to an April 13, 2020 Press Release issued by the National Association of ACOs (“NAACOS”),  a recent NAACOS survey shows that 56% of the survey-participating at-risk accountable care organizations (“ACOs”) – i.e., ACOs participating in a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (“CMMI”) alternative payment model (“APM”) and assuming financial risk thereunder – said that they were likely to drop out of their APM because of their fear of having to cover massive losses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.  In addition, the survey revealed that, as a result of swings in unpredictability and spikes in expensive hospitalizations, 21% of at-risk ACOs were “very likely” to leave the Medicare ACO program, 14% said they were “likely,” and another 21% said they were “somewhat likely” to leave.  Almost 80% of responding at-risk ACOs said they were “very concerned” about their 2020 financial performance in general and how their financial performance compared to their applicable annual APM benchmarks.
Continue Reading More Help Is On The Way For Accountable Care Organizations: CMS Announces New Relief For ACOs Struggling With The COVID-19 Crisis