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.
Continue Reading HHS Announces COVID Funds for Skilled Nursing Facilities

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

UPDATE: OIG Issues COVID-19 Enforcement Policy Statement

04.08.20

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.Continue Reading CMS Issues COVID-19 Stark Law Blanket Waivers

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

On March 23, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that during the next three weeks, State Survey Agency (SSA) and CMS surveyors will only prioritize and conduct surveys related to complaints and facility-reported incidents (FRIs) that are triaged at the Immediate Jeopardy level, in addition to an infection control review using an Infection Control Survey Checklist developed by CMS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 
Continue Reading CMS Prioritizes Immediate Jeopardy and Infection Control Surveys

We have already seen extensive regulatory responses to the COVID-19 public health emergency (visit Winstead’s COVID-19 Resource Center for more information). On March 24, 2020, the Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”), a department of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) issued guidance clarifying when entities covered under HIPAA and the Privacy Rule can disclose the protected health information (“PHI”) of patients exposed to COVID-19 to first responders and other individuals.
Continue Reading COVID-19 and HIPAA – Law Enforcement, First Responders and Public Health Authorities Can Get PHI

Under the Ryan Haight Act, healthcare providers must usually conduct an in-person examination before prescribing controlled substances, such as opioids, via the internet (including telehealth or telemedicine). However, as a result of the Public Health Emergency Declaration, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) issued a statement clarifying that—for the duration of the Public Health Emergency—DEA-registered practitioners utilizing telehealth or telemedicine solutions do not need to conduct an in-person examination to prescribe Schedule II-V controlled substances so long as:
Continue Reading COVID-19 Emergency Update: Physicians Can Prescribe Controlled Substances via Telemedicine

On March 22, 2020 Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order prohibiting all surgeries and procedures that are “not immediately medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition of, or to preserve the life of, a patient” who would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death without the immediate performance of the surgery or procedure. The determination is to be made by the patient’s physician. Procedures that would not deplete hospital capacity or supplies of personal protective equipment are allowed.
Continue Reading COVID-19 Emergency Update: Texas Governor Prohibits Elective Surgeries and Suspends Hospital Capacity Limits

The nation’s healthcare system is preparing to reach record capacity in the coming weeks. Much focus has been on the limited capacities of the nation’s acute care hospitals. As a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Health and Human Services (“HHS”) Secretary is authorized to make temporary waivers under the Social Security Act (known as “Section 1135 Waivers”). In turn, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) COVID-19 Emergency Declarations have expanded the ability to move patients from acute care setting to skilled nursing settings in an expedited manner to reserve hospital beds for the most severely ill patients.
Continue Reading Using Skilled Nursing Facilities to Expand Hospital Capacity During COVID-19 Crisis