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PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY

OIG Temporarily Waives Anti-Kickback Restrictions for Certain COVID-19 Physician Arrangements

As it previously did with the Stark Law, the OIG is temporarily loosening Anti-kickback Statute (AKS) restrictions to clear the way for health care arrangements during the COVID-19 emergency that would be problematic in times of normalcy. Public Health Emergency (PHE) Waiver Rules During a PHE, the OIG has discretion not to impose penalties on remuneration arrangements that violate the AKS. On March 30, 2020, the OIG announced it was exercising that discretion by issuing what’s called Blanket Waivers for such arrangements. The message: Right now, delivering COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment is more important than the need to avoid arrangements offering remuneration in exchange for Medicare and other federal referrals. Things that labs may be allowed to offer, pay or provide referring physicians (and/or their immediate family members) during the… . . . read more.

COMPLIANCE

Must Employee Notify Employer of DUI?

QUESTION If one of our employees gets a DUI, do they have to notify us? ANSWER It depends. EXPLANATION There are at least four factors affecting whether the employee would have to come forward and tell you about the DUI? Your HR policies: What, if anything, do your current policies say about whether employees must notify you of their DUIs? Conviction or arrest? If the employee was arrested but not convicted, he/she may be able to prove innocence (or may have already done so if the charges were dropped or the employee was acquitted). A conviction, on the other hand, would more likely affect job performance and thus require disclosure. Impact on job performance: Notification is required if the DUI has an actual or potential impact on job performance, such… . . . read more.

Compliance Perspectives: 5 Ways to Avoid Kickback Risks When Placing Phlebotomists in Ordering Physician’s Offices

It’s not uncommon for labs to place a phlebotomist in a physician’s office to collect and process samples for testing. While not strictly illegal, this practice raises bright red flags under kickback laws. So, it’s imperative to carefully vet your in-office phlebotomist arrangements to ensure they don’t cross any kickback lines. Here’s how. The Legal Risks of In-Office Phlebotomist Arrangements The Anti-kickback statute (AKS) bans labs from offering or providing physicians anything of value to induce or reward the referral of patients covered by Medicare, Medicaid and other federal health care programs. The Stark Law and state antikick laws impose similar restrictions. The problem is that while you might not think of it as such, placing a phlebotomist inside the office of an ordering physician may constitute the kind of… . . . read more.

Five reasons you need an employee handbook

By Julie Ellison bio For many employers, the idea of creating an Employee Handbook is overwhelming.  But the importance of having one should outweigh that hesitancy given the peace of mind it can provide you while you are busy running your law firm or business. An Employee Handbook is your roadmap for what your employees can expect from you and what you expect from your employees.  It should be simple, straightforward and relevant.  Not having one in place can create huge headaches that are completely avoidable. Here are five good reasons to have an employee handbook: 1. Handbooks Set Employee Expectations Handbooks allow you to clearly set forth everything from job responsibilities to disciplinary procedures, thus keeping employee expectations consistent with the employer. Experience teaches us that employees are willing to… . . . read more.

WORKPLACE SAFETY

COMPLIANCE: A 10-step compliance strategy for OSHA Recordkeeping Rules

January is the season when employers must compile their OSHA logs for the previous year. Here’s an overview of the OSHA Recordkeeping Standard and a 10-step strategy to ensure compliance. Step 1: Figure out if your office is covered Physician offices are among the industries listed by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) as being partially exempt from the Standard (Section 1904.39), as shown below: Partially Exempt Industries by NAICS Code NAICS Code Industry 6211 Offices of Physicians 6212 Offices of Dentists 6213 Offices of Other Health Practitioners 6214 Outpatient Care Centers 6215 Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories 6113 Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools 8122 Death Care Services Result: You don’t have to keep OSHA injury and illness records (aka OSHA 300 Logs) for any establishment classified under the applicable NAICS… . . . read more.

TOOL: Model Employee Illness/Injury Reporting Policy

The OSHA Recordkeeping Standard requires you to record and potentially report work-related illnesses and injuries. Reporting of illnesses and injuries is also crucial to investigating, identifying and correcting problems that can lead to further incidents and OSHA violations. So, it’s crucial to establish a policy and procedure for workers to report workplace injuries and illnesses. You can adapt this Model Policy to ensure prompt and proper reporting of workplace injuries and illnesses.

ENFORCEMENT

Feds Take Down $2.1 Billion Medicare Genetic Test Fraud Scheme

You know that a branch of lab testing has gone from fad to mainstream when it becomes the subject of a major federal enforcement takedown. Accordingly, the newly announced breakup of a $2.1 billion genetic billing fraud scam, one of the largest Medicare frauds ever undertaken, signifies that genetic testing has officially arrived. Operation Double Helix Known as Operation Double Helix, this landmark investigation and prosecution was a joint HHS, DOJ and FBI crackdown carried out in five federal districts against 35 defendants associated with genetic testing labs (CGx) and telemedicine companies, including doctors, CFOs and CEOs that allegedly “capitalized on the fears of elderly Americans to induce them to sign up for unnecessary or non-existent cancer screening tests,” according to one of the U.S. Attorneys involved. Old Wine in… . . . read more.

INFORMATION SECURITY

HIPAA enforcement takes a dramatic new direction

Historically, HIPAA enforcement has focused predominantly on the failure of covered entities to keep protected health information (PHI) private and secure; but now the scope is broadening to encompass keeping PHI too private and too secure. The HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the agency that enforces HIPAA rules, has broken new ground by fining a Florida hospital for failing to provide access to PHI to the individual it relates to. Here’s a look at the case and what it portends about the new direction in HIPAA enforcement. The HIPAA Right of Access When you hear the term “HIPAA Privacy Rule,” the first thing likely to jump into your mind is the obligation to keep PHI secure and refrain from disclosing it to third parties without appropriate authorization. But there’s… . . . read more.

HIPAA compliance with document management

By Andreas Rivera bio Recordkeeping can be one of the most stressful aspects of running a healthcare business since privacy compliance is scrutinized in healthcare more than any other industry. Anyone with experience in the healthcare industry knows that violating HIPAA comes with steep penalties. It’s a constant anxiety to make sure your records are being stored in an appropriate manner, with all the security and privacy requirements being met for each new record added. Even if you’re being diligent with how you file your paperwork, having physical paper exacerbates the possibility of human error occurring. Most of the time, the most common HIPAA violations usually occur without the facility realizing it. Here are a few common HIPAA violations when it comes to electronic data storage. Insufficient or lack of… . . . read more.

Department of Labor enters final stage of update to ‘regular rate’ rule under FLSA

By Mike O’Brien  bio Department of Labor enters final stage of update to ‘regular rate’ rule under FLSA. As we have discussed previously in these updates, the Department of Labor has been working to update the definition of “regular rate” of pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The regular rate is used to calculate overtime pay. The rule has not been updated in half a century, and fails to capture the realities of the modern workplace. The DOL recognized this, and has now proposed a final rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget. Although the details are not yet publicly available, prior versions of the rule clarified that forms of compensation like tuition reimbursement, employee discounts, employer-provided gym costs, wellness programs, and certain other benefits are… . . . read more.


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