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CASE STUDY

5 strategies to keep high-risk populations safe during disasters

 By Margarita Gil & Racquel Arden  The rapid spread of COVID-19 put healthcare institutions around the country on high alert, with special emphasis placed on those Americans deemed to be most vulnerable or with pre-existing conditions. But what happens when your entire hospital is filled with patients who fit that criteria? Such was the challenge faced at Totally Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. Serving children and their families for nearly half a century, Totally Kids provides complex medical care and treatment to children, adolescents and young adults who are recovering from physical trauma or surgery, have suffered catastrophic illness or who are dependent on technology. Programs include pediatric acute rehabilitation, pediatric subacute, and pediatric intermediate care. As soon as the coronavirus was barely a blip on anyone’s radar, it was apparent that… . . . read more.

COMPLIANCE

How to create a legally sound COVID-19 medical screening policy

 As essential workplaces, medical offices need to remain open and operating during the pandemic. At the same time, they need to ensure that employees practice social distancing and keep the infected and potentially infected away from the well. Like so many other companies facing the same challenge, you may be considering medically screening your employees each day before letting them into the workplace. While screening is highly problematic in normal times, regulators have grudgingly acknowledged that it may be a justified health and safety measure during the pandemic. The operative phrase is “may be,” which means that limits still apply. As office manager, you need to recognize and ensure keep your facility in compliance with those limits. Here’s how. Three ways COVID-19 screening can get your office into legal hot… . . . read more.

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

New COVID-19 guidance for your medical office from EEOC

By Mike O’Brien bio The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently updated its COVID-19 guidance page, addressing a number of issues. Here are some of them: On coronavirus testing, the EEOC said general testing administered by employers consistent with current CDC guidance will meet the ADA’s “business necessity” standard, and noted that employers should ensure that the required COVID-19 tests are accurate and reliable according to the FDA, CDC, and other public health authorities. If an employer wants to test only one employee, however, the employer should have a reasonable objective belief that he/she might have the disease. The EEOC says an employer can ask employees whether they have had contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 or who may have symptoms associated with the disease, but should not phrase that… . . . read more.

CMS ANNOUNCES NEW TERMS

You have more time to start COVID-19 Medicare loan repayments

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced amended terms for payments issued under the Accelerated and Advance Payment (AAP) Program.  This Medicare loan program allows CMS to make advance payments to providers and are typically used in emergency situations.  Under the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act repayment will now begin one year from the issuance date of each provider or supplier’s accelerated or advance payment.  CMS issued $106 billion in payments to providers and suppliers in order to alleviate the financial burden healthcare providers faced while experiencing cash flow issues in the early stages of combating the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Public Health Emergency (PHE). “In the throes of an unprecedented pandemic, providers and suppliers on the frontlines needed a lifeline to help keep them… . . . read more.

COVID Q&A

5 questions on the virus and your medical office

By Lynne Curry  bio 1 Pushback from employees who choose to stay on unemployment Question: We didn’t expect the pushback we got from two of our furloughed employees when we called them back to work, particularly as we allow employees to work from home part of the workweek if their work can be accomplished remotely. One ignored two “return to work” emails but responded to a “work starts Monday” text with “thanks, but no thanks.” The other emailed he needed a raise if we wanted him back. We called him and said, “that’s not in the cards, we’re barely squeaking by.” He said he made more money on unemployment than working, so there was no real percentage in returning to work. What do we do with this? Answer: A condition… . . . read more.

Quiz

Office’s duty to protect returning employees from COVID-19 discrimination and harassment

SITUATION Fully recovered from his bout with COVID-19, Max is thrilled and excited to return to his custodian job after 14 days of mandatory home isolation. But almost immediately, he senses that something is wrong. His co-workers shun him and leave the room the moment he enters. And, while hygiene and handwashing are de rigueur for all maintenance staff, Max alone is required douse his hands in germicide and don rubber gloves each time he touches a piece of equipment. Worse, his supervisor harasses him and calls him “virus boy.” After weeks of putting up with it, Max complains to office management. But his complaints fall on deaf ears and he continues to be ostracized and made to take extraordinary safety and hygiene measures not required of anybody else. So,… . . . read more.

COVID & TELEWORK

Are employers responsible/liable for an employee’s home ergonomics, safety and expenses?

By Lynne Curry bio Question: COVID-19 has caused employers large and small to require the employers work from home rather than their employer’s worksites. Word has it that this may continue beyond weeks and months and become the new normal. What is my employer’s responsibility/liability for workplace ergonomics and safety when my home becomes my workplace? Do they need to compensate me for my expenses in upgrading my Wifi and getting a new office chair? Answer: “That depends,” says FisherBroyles management-side employment attorney Eric Meyer. According to Meyer, because the “Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) ensures safe and healthful working conditions–even outside of the normal workplace, employers technically have a duty to protect remote workers at home.” “But in reality,” notes Meyer, OSHA won’t inspect employees’ home offices. Additionally, OSHA… . . . read more.

Tool: Model Mandatory Face Mask Policy

More than 20 states have enacted laws requiring the use of face masks or coverings in indoor public places, which would include workplaces like medical offices. Here’s a Model Policy incorporating current legal requirements and public health guidance that you can adapt for your own office.

QPP

2019 MIPS performance feedback and final score available now

The Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services (CMS) has released 2019 Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) performance feedback and final scores. If you submitted data for the 2019 performance period, you can view your MIPS performance feedback and final score on the Quality Payment Program website. You can access your 2019 MIPS performance feedback and final score by: Going to cms.gov/login Logging in using your HCQIS Access Roles and Profile (HARP) system credentials; these are the same credentials that allowed you to submit your 2019 MIPS data If you don’t have a HARP account, please refer to the Register for a HARP Account document in the QPP Access User Guide and start the process now. To learn more about performance feedback, review the 2019 MIPS Performance Feedback Resources: 2019 MIPS Performance Feedback FAQs—Highlights what performance… . . . read more.

COVID-19

Can my employer fire me for going to a bar or do I have any freedom left?

By Lynne Curry bio  Question: My employer sent a two-part email to every employee last week. “As you know we’ve had a local spike in COVID-19 infections. The health department has provided a list of the establishments, primarily bars, where COVID-19 individuals spent extended time. The health department asks that anyone who was in these businesses during these times monitor themselves for symptoms, check their temperatures twice daily for 14 days and avoid potentially exposing others who fall into high-risk categories for COVID-19 vulnerability. Please comply with this guidance.” That was okay, but then the email obligated me as an employee to offer up personal information. “We have learned that a bartender at (named) bar has tested positive and was serving customers on ____ date and between ____ p.m. and… . . . read more.


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