On January 15, 2021, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the initial pilot projects selected for the Connected Care Pilot Program (“Pilot Program”) for telehealth services.  The list includes 14 pilot projects spanning 11 states and more than 150 treatment sites, totaling $26.6 million awarded of the allotted $100 million under the Pilot Program.  We first introduced the Pilot Program on this blog back in April, including a full breakdown of guidance and filing requirements to request funding.
Continue Reading FCC Announces Initial Connected Care Pilot Program Projects For Telehealth

N.B.  Concurrent with the posting of this article, the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee of the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) has decided to recommend to the FDA that the FDA approve the emergency use authorization applications submitted by Pfizer and BioNTech.  It is being reported that the FDA may formally approve the applications as soon as tomorrow, Friday, December 11, 2020.  More detail regarding the recommendation and the FDA’s decision will be discussed in a follow-up article.

On Monday, December 7, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that, “Hope is on the horizon with the [COVID-19] vaccination. We continue to accelerate our planning and preparedness for a safe and equitable vaccine distribution.”  As noted by the Governor, California expects to receive a little more than two million doses of the vaccine this month including 327,000 doses from pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, and 2.6 million doses from biotechnology maker, Moderna.
Continue Reading “Hope Is On The Horizon”: California Governor Gavin Newsom Announces COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan

G force is used to describe the acceleration of an object relative to gravity. The Wright brothers understood that the lift of the airplane had to be greater than the force of gravity.  In much the same way, the pull of gravity that healthcare providers are facing today is COVID-19.
Continue Reading And We Have Lift-Off: Improvements in Healthcare Revenue Cycle Management to Address COVID-19 Challenges

In an effort to provide additional relief to a health care system strained by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (“ONC”) released an Interim Final Rule with Comment Period (“IFC”) on October 29, 2020 that extends the compliance dates under the 21st Century Cures Act Interoperability, Information Blocking, and ONC Health IT Certification Program Final Rule (the “Final Rule”) and offers some technical corrections and clarifications.
Continue Reading Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT Extends Compliance Deadlines under Interoperability Final Rule

On October 6, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) released guidance regarding the requirements and enforcement process for hospital reporting of COVID-19 data elements (the “Guidance”). The Guidance follows the September 2, 2020 Interim Final Rule, which included new requirements for Medicare and Medicaid participating hospitals and critical access hospitals (“CAHs”) to report data that allows CMS “to monitor whether individual hospitals and CAHs are appropriately tracking, responding to, and mitigating the spread and impact of COVID-19 on patients, the staff who care for them, and the general public.”
Continue Reading Clarity on Reporting and Enforcement: CMS Issues Guidance Regarding Hospital COVID-19 Reporting Requirements

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

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

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

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