Legal Preparedness – Are You Ready for Ebola?

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With confirmed Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) patients in the United States, health care facilities and providers should review whether they are compliant with existing laws and recommendations for emergency preparedness. Providers should take the time during non-emergency circumstances to identify issues, make advance legal decisions, and focus on training and education. There is a misperception that liability arises during exigency, but providers risk civil (and even potentially criminal) liability and loss of accreditation if they fail to plan for reasonably foreseeable emergency situations. This liability risk also extends to hospital administrators and emergency planners, who can be held individually liable. Planning requires an awareness of current laws and recommendations as well as an understanding of available resources. Continue reading this entry

Does the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2014 Stand a Chance?

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“Telehealth saves money and helps save lives. By expanding telehealth services, we can make sure the best care and the best treatments are available to all Americans, no matter where they live.”

With those words, Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) introduced forward-looking, bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by himself and Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) — the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2014. The Act proposes a three-phase rollout of changes to the way that telemedicine services are reimbursed by Medicare and expands coverage not only for residents of rural areas, but urban areas as well. Continue reading this entry

Hospice Industry Will Face Stricter Scrutiny Under New Law Aimed at Post-Acute Care Data Standardization

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President Obama signed the “Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014” or the IMPACT Act of 2014 (the Act) on October 6, 2014. The new law is broadly focused on requiring all post-acute care providers to adopt standardized data protocols for patient assessment, quality of care and resource use data so as to allow for the exchange of such data.  However, one section of the Act singles out hospices for heightened scrutiny by federal regulators.

The hospice provisions of the Act implement recent Office of Inspector General (OIG) and Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MEDPAC) recommendations and follow on the heels of several recent, high-profile fraud settlements involving hospice providers the government contends routinely admitted patients who did not meet Medicare hospice eligibility standards. Recent media coverage surrounding these settlements has generated concerns about whether hospice patients are receiving appropriate levels of care in Medicare-certified hospices. Continue reading this entry

Building the Oncology System of the Future: Transforming Patient Care Through Data Transparency and Analytics

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Virtually everyone agrees that the time is now to seriously reexamine our fragmented, expensive healthcare system and to innovate sustainable approaches to curing its ills. At the center of this activity is the patient, as the ultimate consumer of healthcare services. Until recently, patients largely have been shielded from healthcare costs by health insurance and governmental payment programs with low copays/deductibles or first dollar indemnity coverage. Patients have also been relatively unaware of quality differentials because of the lack of standard reporting on meaningful quality measures. Continue reading this entry

Privacy Issues in the Sharing of Genetic Information

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Low cost sequencing of a patient’s genome and advances in the interpretation of a patient’s genetic information is promised to transform the delivery of health care. To date, much of personalized medicine has focused on the use of genetics and data analytics to match a patient to the best treatment, especially in the area of oncology. However the use of genetics and data analytics is moving into the design of clinical trials, the validation of biomarkers, and point of care diagnostics. Thus, there is a growing interest in the aggregation, analysis, and use of a patient’s genetic information for commercial and research purposes. However, in the United States, the use of such information depends on a variety of state and federal privacy laws. Continue reading this entry