HHS Announces Initial $30 Billion Distribution from CARES Act Provider Relief Fund

Immediate funds are now available for providers to receive a cash influx at a critical time. The challenge will not be receiving the funds, but rather keeping the funds after a future audit of compliance with the terms and conditions.

On April 10, 2020, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the immediate distribution of an initial $30 billion in relief funding to providers in support of the nationwide COVID-19 response. The distribution is part of the $100 billion provider relief fund included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act recently passed by Congress. Importantly, HHS has noted that these are payments, not loans, to healthcare providers, and will not need to be repaid unless the provider does not comply with the terms and conditions.

To read the full text of this Duane Morris Alert, please visit the firm website.

CARES Act Expands Immunity Protections for Covered Countermeasures and Healthcare Volunteers

As discussed in our March 18 Alert, the Secretary of Health and Human Services has issued a declaration authorizing drugs, devices and biologics used to treat or mitigate COVID-19 as covered countermeasures under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act. Following Secretary Azar’s declaration of a public health emergency, covered persons may obtain immunity under federal law for all claims arising from manufacturing, distributing or administering covered countermeasures, subject to the conditions laid out at 42 U.S.C. § 247d-6d, the declaration and other applicable regulations.

Subsequent to our previous Alert, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which expanded the covered countermeasure protections offered by the PREP Act.

To read the full text of this Duane Morris Alert, please visit the firm website.

Crisis Standards of Care Guidelines to Address the COVID-19 Pandemic

Since March 13, 2020, when President Trump declared a national state of emergency due to the COVID-19 crisis, we have been in a healthcare crisis. The United States’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been plagued by increasing shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), supplies, beds and physicians necessary to care for COVID-19 patients. In addition, drastic patient surges, limited numbers of life-saving ventilators and healthcare providers who have been working tirelessly for weeks in a constant state of emergency all contribute to an extremely strained health system. Not only do more and more patients need care each day, healthcare providers must work quickly to diagnose, triage and treat patients, as well as make difficult decisions on how ventilators are assigned and reassigned. And we have yet to hit the anticipated spikes in COVID-19 cases.

Accordingly, states have either implemented or developed Crisis Standards of Care (CSC). A CSC is triggered when healthcare systems are so overwhelmed by a pervasive or catastrophic public health event, such as COVID-19, that it is impossible for them to provide the normal, or standard, level of care to patients. Instead of meeting the standard of care to avoid liability, providers must now meet the crisis standards of care as set-forth on a statewide basis or adapted by individual facilities.

To read the full text of this Duane Morris Alert, please visit the firm website.

Life-or-Death Hospital Decisions Come With Threat of Lawsuits

Doctors and hospitals overwhelmed in the pandemic will have to make their excruciating life-or-death decisions meticulously or they risk being second-guessed by a jury when the onslaught is over.

Lawyers who defend health care providers are already giving advice on how their clients can avoid liability if they’re forced to choose between patients. How they prepare for this battlefield triage now — and how they practice it in the chaos of peak infections — will determine whether negligence cases against them are dismissed or lead to trials or settlements over the death of a parent or spouse.

[…]

Hospitals and doctors are focused on care right now, as they should be, said Sean Zabaneh, a lawyer with Duane Morris LLP in Philadelphia who represents them in court.

Still, he said, they should be “making sure they have insurance coverage in place that is applicable to the new circumstances that are becoming more normal every day as a result of the pandemic, and staying up to date on the quickly evolving legal standards and legislation.” Lawmakers could pass legislation to protect health care providers that adhere to the standard of care, he added.

[…]

To read the full article, visit the Bloomberg website.

The CARES Act Amends Federal Law Governing the Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder Patient Records

The CARES Act, enacted on March 27, 2020, makes notable changes to federal law governing the disclosure of substance use disorder records.  The Act amends 42 U.S.C. 290dd-2, the governing statute of the regulations at 42 C.F.R. Part 2 to better align certain of its confidentiality requirements with HIPAA.

To read the full text of this post by Duane Morris attorney Melissa Sobel Snyder, please visit the Duane Morris Health Law Blog.

Historic CARES Act Puts $2 Trillion Toward COVID-19 Response Efforts

Enacted on March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) is the largest economic stimulus package in American history, providing $2 trillion in essential financial, medical and economic assistance to industries, businesses and individuals affected by this global health and financial crisis. Since the early stages, the Duane Morris COVID-19 Strategy Team has been closely monitoring developments and advising clients on the complex legal issues and far-reaching implications of the pandemic. Our attorneys have reviewed the key provisions of the CARES Act and have summarized the significant benefits, resources and opportunities that may be available to you.

To read the full text of this Duane Morris Alert, please visit the firm website.

HHS Activates DEA Exemption to Allow Remote Prescribing of Controlled Substances

In order to facilitate social distancing measures during the COVID-19 pandemic, state and federal regulatory agencies are moving quickly to permit providers to continue to provide medical care through telemedicine. On March 16, 2020, Alex Azar, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, has declared a public health emergency and, therefore, activated the telemedicine allowance under 21 U.S.C. § 802(54)(D). Per the Secretary, this applies to all schedule II-V controlled substances in all areas of the United States for as long as the public health emergency declaration is in place so long as certain conditions are met.

To read the full text of this post by Duane Morris attorney Ryan Wesley Brown, please visit the Duane Morris Health Law Blog.

New Jersey Orders Citizens to Stay at Home Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

On March 21, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy issued Executive Order 107 mandating that New Jersey citizens stay home and that nonessential businesses close, with limited exceptions, until further notice. Governor Murphy also issued Executive Order 109, indefinitely postponing all elective surgeries and invasive medical procedures as of March 27, 2020. These restrictions are the state’s latest measures to curb the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

To read the full text of this Duane Morris Alert, please visit the firm website.

OCR Loosens HIPAA Enforcement Amidst Coronavirus Pandemic

Let’s face it, there has not been much positive news lately surrounding the Coronavirus (“COVID-19”).  However, the Office For Civil Rights (“OCR”), the agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) that enforces the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) Privacy and Security Rules, announced several recent measures to allow health care providers avoid certain HIPAA penalties and sanctions amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are several measures OCR/HHS has taken to lessen the regulatory burden of HIPAA for health care providers amidst COVID-19.

To read this full blog post by Duane Morris partner Neville Bilimoria, please visit the Duane Morris Health Law Blog.