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[1], demonstrating an increase in the need for behavioral and mental health treatment and services during the public health crisis.

Continue Reading Considerations for Telehealth Providers When Developing Policies and Procedures for Treating Patients with Behavioral/ Mental Health Warning Signs

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

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

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