Recently, in Dantry v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, No. 1665 C.D. 2017 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2019), the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania reversed the order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) which had affirmed the Unemployment Compensation Referee’s decision that Jami M. Dantry (Dantry) was ineligible for unemployment compensation benefits because Dantry’ s conduct rose to the level of willful misconduct based on a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and for insubordination. The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania remanded the matter to the Board for the issuance of a decision determining whether Dantry’s alleged insubordination constituted willful misconduct.
Senate Democrats recently introduced the Stop Price Gouging Act (S. 378), which seeks to place an excise tax on pharmaceutical companies in proportion to price spikes on prescription drugs.
The bill generally requires a company to justify to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) any spike in prescription drug prices, but it is short on details regarding the criteria the inspector general of DHHS would have to abide by when analyzing the spike.
Private equity (PE) investors entered the physician practice management (PPM) market in 2011, and eight years later the PPM sector continues to be a ripe middle market for PE investors looking to diversify their portfolios. However, as the healthcare market continues to change in light of increasing vertical integration between payors and providers and disruption caused by new players such as Amazon, changes may be on the horizon for PE investment in the PPM space. Read more >>
Smart speakers are voice-activated, internet-connected devices with an integrated virtual assistant that can answer questions, follow instructions and control other smart devices. Nearly one in five U.S. adults has access to a smart speaker, and it has been estimated that in 2018, the number of smart speakers installed reached 100 million worldwide. Using voice recognition, a smart speaker’s virtual assistant can understand what is being said and act upon it. Once the system is activated, it records what is being said and sends it over the internet to the main processing service, which deciphers the speech and sends a response back to the smart speaker. Smart speakers can control other smart devices upon verbal command and perform tasks such as controlling music, lights, television and home security systems, as well as playing audible books.
In December 2018, Pagosa Springs Medical Center settled potential Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rule violations and entered into a corrective action plan with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The incident involved a former employee who continued to have remote access to Pagosa Springs Medical Center’s web-based scheduling calendar for two months after the employee’s termination, which resulted in 557 individuals’ electronic protected health information (ePHI) being improperly disclosed. Additionally, there was no business associate agreement between Pagosa Springs Medical Center and Google, the web-based scheduling calendar vendor. Pagosa Springs Medical Center, an 11-bed critical access hospital located in rural Colorado, paid $111,400 and entered into a two-year corrective action plan. The corrective action plan includes updates to Pagosa Springs Medical Center’s HIPAA security management, business associate agreement, and policies and procedures, as well as training its workforce in these areas.
On Dec. 5, 2018, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that Advanced Care Hospitalists PL (ACH) had entered into a $500,000 settlement and resolution agreement (RA) resulting from OCR’s investigation of ACH’s breach notification on April 11, 2014, and subsequent supplemental notification. On Feb. 11, 2014, ACH was initially notified by a local hospital that patient demographic and clinical information, including Social Security numbers, were viewable on the website of Doctor’s First Choice Billing Inc. (First Choice). On April 11, 2014, ACH initially notified 400 patients, and after further investigation, notified an additional 8,855 patients.
This week’s “Capitol Hill Healthcare Update” includes the latest on a pending Senate vote on opioid legislation as Congress races to enact a response to the crisis before the November election; the Senate votes to expand Sunshine Act disclosure requirements; and a key House Republican backs requiring drug manufacturers to include prices in their ads; and more. (Note: Congress is in recess today and Tuesday in observance of Rosh Hashanah. The House and Senate will reconvene Wednesday for legislative business.)
This week’s “Capitol Hill Healthcare Update” includes the latest on a series of healthcare bills scheduled for House votes, including one to repeal the medical device tax; Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins’ scheduled testimony on before a House committee; reaction from congressional leaders to the Trump administration’s plan to import drugs from other countries; and more.
HOUSE PANEL TO EXAMINE POTENTIAL CHANGES TO STARK LAW
Senior Health and Human Services (HHS) officials are scheduled to testify this week before a House subcommittee examining whether laws governing physician self-referral are an impediment to coordinated care.
HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan and Deputy General Counsel Kelly Cleary are scheduled to testify Tuesday before the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee.
Subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) has said the physician self-referral law, or “Stark Law,” impedes value-based reforms that reward better outcomes and higher-value care.
LAWMAKERS COOL TO TRUMP PLAN ON HHS, GOVERNMENT REORGANIZATION
The response from lawmakers on Capitol Hill to the White House plan to reorganize the federal government – including proposed changes to multiple healthcare agencies – ranged from lukewarm to outright opposition.
President Donald J. Trump’s plan would rebrand Health and Human Services (HHS) as the “Department of Health and Public Welfare.” It would consolidate certain welfare and nutrition assistance programs, now run by the Agriculture Department, into the new department.