Among the multitude of relief options under the CARES Act, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) allocated provider relief funds (PRF) to healthcare providers. Phase I in late April saw healthcare providers receive $50 billion in general PRF distributions, largely based on historical Medicare volume or net revenues. Phase II followed in early May with general PRF distributions of $15 billion for Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and dental providers. And continuing after that, HHS issued some $52 billion in targeted PRF distributions among: (1) hospitals treating large numbers of COVID-19 patients; (2) rural providers; (3) skilled nursing facilities; (4) safety net hospitals; and (5) tribal healthcare providers. All in all, HHS issued $175 billion in PRF to support healthcare providers.
On August 4, 2020, the Office of Inspector General of Health & Human Services (OIG) used a new website resource to share informal guidance on the ability of laboratories to provide free COVID-19 antibody testing to Medicare beneficiaries. For the specific situation, the requestors indicated that the clinical lab would provide free COVID-19 antibody testing to patients—including federal healthcare program beneficiaries—in conjunction with other medically necessary blood tests performed by the lab. The lab indicated that it would not charge any patient or other payors for the COVID-19 antibody tests offered in conjunction with other paid lab tests. The requestors also indicated that the purpose of the arrangement had a public health focus as it was intended to increase patient awareness of antibodies to promote donations of COVID-19 blood plasma, which can be used for certain experimental convalescent plasma therapy treatments for COVID-19.
On June 30, 2020, Winstead PC attorney Sarah Churchill Llamas participated in a panel discussion—How to Increase Enterprise UX?—as part of the UX & Telehealth RapidConf. Discussions centered on telehealth and its overall market-effect in the rapidly evolving healthcare landscape. The panel was hosted by Fabien Beckers (Arterys), and included other panelists such as Laura Berrara (ECG Management), John Fryer (Lumeris), and Balint Bene (bene : studio). Here are a few key takeaways from the discussion:
It is difficult to identify any aspect of everyday life that the global COVID-19 pandemic has not, in some way, impacted or altered. As the healthcare community valiantly responds and adjusts to the myriad challenges associated with the novel coronavirus, individual patients have also been forced to rearrange in the midst of the public health crisis. For healthcare providers and patients, COVID-19 has upended many aspects of life that not long ago seemed rather stable and relatively predictable, such as education, travel, employment, entertainment, shopping, finances and social gatherings. A disruption of this magnitude has spurred innovation in the delivery of medical care. At the same time, providers should be mindful of recent studies indicating nearly half (45%) of adult Americans report having their mental health negatively impacted due to COVID-19, demonstrating an increase in the need for behavioral and mental health treatment and services during the public health crisis.
On Friday May 22, HHS announced its decision to award funding in the amount of $50,000 per skilled nursing facility (SNF) with an additional $2500 per licensed bed as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act stimulus package in response to the COVID 19 crisis. This funding is intended to address critical needs such as increased testing capacity, increased labor costs, acquisition costs related to personal protective equipment and other expenses linked directly to the COVID-19 pandemic. SNFs have forty-five (45) days from receipt of the funding to attest to the terms and conditions on the HHS portal. Failure to timely attest is considered automatic acceptance of the terms and conditions.
On April 17, 2020, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a series of Executive Orders, including Executive Order GA-15, which go into effect as of 11:59 pm on April 21, 2020, and continue through May 8, 2020, unless amended or extended by the Governor. Continue Reading Governor Abbott Eases Ban on Elective Procedures
The healthcare real estate industry finds itself in unchartered waters while grappling with the myriad issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Landlords are flooded with requests from tenants for rent relief as healthcare providers are facing unprecedented financial pressure during the COVID-19 crisis. Continue Reading WEBINAR – A Look at Some Legal Implications of COVID-19 on Healthcare Real Estate
Conventional wisdom has held that the healthcare real estate industry is generally recession resistant. While that has historically been the case, the conventional wisdom did not account for a recession caused solely by a public health crisis due to a global pandemic. While the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the healthcare real estate market remain to be seen, the short-term effects of the pandemic are already being felt throughout the industry. Continue Reading A Look at Some Legal Implications of COVID-19 on Healthcare Real Estate
UPDATE: OIG Issues COVID-19 Enforcement Policy Statement
As noted in our recent alert (4.7.20) (see below), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) recently issued “blanket waivers” concerning several Stark Law requirements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. CMS enacted the Stark Law Blanket Waivers to ensure the availability of healthcare services for patients during the current public health emergency and to allow healthcare providers to receive payment for certain claims that, without a blanket waiver, would violate the Stark Law.
On March 27, the CARES Act was signed into law by President Trump in an effort to stem the nationwide effects of the COVID-19 emergency crisis. Healthcare providers, in particular, are currently overwhelmed with the surge in COVID-19 cases. Consequently, the CARES Act allocates over $330 billion to the healthcare industry as a temporary economic respite and makes numerous policy changes to provide greater flexibility to healthcare providers as they continue to fight this disease from the front lines. Continue Reading The COVID-19 Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and its Effects on Healthcare Providers, Hospitals, and Other Professionals