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WORKPLACE SAFETY

AMA renews call for gun violence prevention in wake of Tulsa shooting

The American Medical Association (AMA) has again called for prevention of gun violence, this time in response to the targeted killing of physicians on June 1 in Tulsa, Okla., one of the latest in a string of mass shootings across the country. “As we have said repeatedly since declaring gun violence a public health crisis in 2016, gun violence is out of control in the United States, and, without real-world, common-sense federal actions, it will not abate,” said AMA President Gerald E. Harmon, M.D. “The victims are grade school children and their teachers, people shopping for groceries on a Saturday afternoon, those attending their house of worship, and most recently in Tulsa, those who have dedicated their lives to healing. The House Judiciary Committee is taking an important first step… . . . read more.

ADVICE FROM THE WHITE HOUSE

Is your medical office vulnerable to Russian cyberattacks?

The White House is urging businesses to review and improve cybersecurity because of a heightened risk of cyber attacks from Russia. A statement from the Biden-Harris Administration advises businesses to take the following steps: Mandate the use of multi-factor authentication on your systems to make it harder for attackers to get onto your system; Deploy modern security tools on your computers and devices to continuously look for and mitigate threats; Check with your cybersecurity professionals to make sure that your systems are patched and protected against all known vulnerabilities, and change passwords across your networks so that previously stolen credentials are useless to malicious actors; Back up your data and ensure you have offline backups beyond the reach of malicious actors; Run exercises and drill your emergency plans so that… . . . read more.

MOM WEBINAR

Learn about changes and updates to telehealth

There’s a lot you need to know about telehealth. That’s why Medical Office Manager is offering a webinar, Telehealth—What Managers Need to Know, on April 6. It’s free to Medical Office Manager members. Presenter Jen Bell of Karen Zupko and Associates will give you the tools and knowledge you need to comply with new telehealth regulations. Meanwhile here is Jen’s update on telehealth changes to early 2022. POS 10 Telehealth Provided in Patient’s Home Patient is located in their home (which is a location other than a hospital or other facility where the patient receives care in a private residence) when receiving health services or health related services through telecommunication technology. Home may be defined to include temporary lodging (hotels, homeless shelters) and patient travels of short distance from the exact… . . . read more.

DRUGS & ALCOHOL

High at work: Anyone else smell that?

By Paul Edwards More often than you would think, we get calls from managers wondering what they can do about someone whom they think is impaired at work. When that happens, we immediately go into crisis control mode because, well, impairment at work is never acceptable. In this article, we are going to discuss impairment and odors from the perspective of marijuana legalization. From job candidates showing up to interviews smelling like a skunk to employees showing up to their shift distracted with bloodshot eyes, knowing how to handle an employee’s potential marijuana use has only gotten more complicated. Currently, marijuana legalization is in limbo between state versus federal government. While many states have moved to legalize or decriminalize its use, marijuana is still an illegal Schedule I drug under… . . . read more.

AWAITS SIGNATURE

Forced arbitration of sexual assault and harassment coming to an end

By Mike O’Brien The United States Senate passed the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act in February. The legislation had previously been approved by the House of Representatives, and now awaits President Biden’s signature. Once signed, the new law will amend the Federal Arbitration Act to make pre-dispute mandatory arbitration agreements unenforceable with respect to claims of sexual assault or sexual harassment. Rather than being required to arbitrate such claims, the employee-plaintiff will have the option to bring the case in court or before an arbitrator. The bill had broad support in both political parties. Importantly, the law does not apply to arbitration agreements for other types of employment-related claims. Employers who use mandatory arbitration agreements should consult with experienced employment law counsel about how this… . . . read more.

EMPLOYMENT LAW

EEOC updates guidance related to COVID-19 and ADA

By Mike O’Brien The EEOC recently released updated guidance on the intersection between COVID-19 and major federal employment laws. In particular, the agency explained that COVID-19 may be considered an ADA-protected disability in certain cases. While mild or asymptomatic cases of the illness do not constitute an ADA-protected disability, other more severe cases, including “long COVID” presentations, may be a disability and thereby trigger the accommodation, non-discrimination, and non-retaliation components of that statute. Additionally, the EEOC’s guidance addressed employers’ obligations to provide religious exemptions for vaccination and masking requirements under Title VII. Employers must provide exemptions to employees with sincerely held religious beliefs. NLRB signals possible reversal of Trump era board decisions There’s a lot going on at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency charged with enforcing… . . . read more.

BILLING

Newly proposed Medicare Part B Physician Fee Schedule contemplates Making COVID-19 telehealth changes permanent

On July 13, 2021, CMS published its proposed physician fee schedule rule for FY 2022. One of the key items is the proposal to make the temporary change allowing Medicare providers to deliver healthcare services via telehealth a permanent part of Medicare Part B. The Proposed Medicare Changes During the public health emergency (PHE), Congress added the home of the beneficiary as a permissible originating site for telehealth services for the purposes of diagnosis, evaluation or treatment of a mental health disorder. In addition to updating the fee schedule, the proposed CY2022 rule would allow certain services added to the Medicare telehealth list to remain on the list until the end of December 2023. This would allow CMS to continue to evaluate whether the temporary expansion of telehealth services adopted… . . . read more.

BILLING

New federal rule to protect consumers from surprise medical bills

The Biden-Harris Administration has announced a rule to protect consumers from surprise medical bills. The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor, and Treasury, and the Office of Personnel Management, issued “Requirements Related to Surprise Billing; Part I,” an interim final rule that will restrict excessive out of pocket costs to consumers from surprise billing and balance billing. Surprise billing happens when people unknowingly get care from providers that are outside of their health plan’s network and can happen for both emergency and non-emergency care. Balance billing, when a provider charges a patient the remainder of what their insurance does not pay, is currently prohibited in both Medicare and Medicaid. This rule will extend similar protections to Americans insured through employer-sponsored and commercial health plans. “No patient should… . . . read more.

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Disability discrimination and lookism in the workplace

By Mike O’Brien EEOC sues a work placement agency on behalf of disabled workers for disability discrimination The EEOC announced this week that it has filed suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) against a Hawaii work placement agency for disabled workers. The suit alleges that the agency refused to provide sign language interpreters for deaf employees, despite repeated requests by several deaf individuals. The workers had asked for interpreters to be present at staff meetings where matters such as work safety, protocols, and assignments were discussed. Despite these requests for accommodation, the agency declined to provide interpreters and instead gave the deaf workers written notes and handouts, or asked a deaf employee to interpret for other deaf employees. The EEOC asserts that these accommodations were ineffective and that as a… . . . read more.

GETTING PAID

Getting Medicare reimbursement for telehealth services: The new CONNECT for Health Act

Like most cliches, the one about the COVID-19 pandemic’s transformation of medicine forever is laden with truth. Telemedicine is Exhibit A. Of course, telemedicine goes back decades. But the pandemic accelerated the breakdown of resistance on the parts of providers, regulators and above all, patients. It was supposed to be just temporary. But to use still one more cliché, now that the toothpaste is out of the tube, it becomes a matter of figuring out how to regulate it effectively. Ironically, but hardly unexpectedly, one of Congress’ first attempts to impose systematic regulation involves recycling a piece of legislation that falabiled to gain support in pre-pandemic times but may make it into law this time. Here’s a quick overview of the so-called CONNECT for Health Act and what medical office… . . . read more.


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