Tag Archives: health

New Jersey Continues to Improve Access to Medicinal Marijuana

In response to Executive Order No. 6, issued by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, the New Jersey Department of Health (the “Department”) reviewed certain elements of New Jersey’s Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act and the implementation of the Medical Marijuana Program (“MMP”) (Executive Order 6 Report).

The Department’s review focused on improving and expanding patient access to medicinal marijuana, and included, but was not limited to, (i) a review of the current list of debilitating medical conditions for which medical marijuana may be authorized; (ii) physician flexibility to make determinations about qualifying conditions; (iii) rules of operation and siting for dispensaries; and (iv) methods by which patients and caregivers obtain product.

The Department’s analysis resulted in the recommendation and approval of an immediate expansion to the MMP. The first stage of the expansion includes the addition of five conditions to the existing list of diagnoses for which medicinal marijuana can be prescribed. Patients with chronic pain related to Musculoskeletal Disorders, Migraines, Anxiety, chronic pain of Visceral Origin, and Tourette’s Syndrome are now eligible to participate in the MMP.

The Department will also be revising New Jersey regulations to permit Alternative Treatment Centers (“ATC”) to operate and dispense at multiple satellite locations. In advance of formal revisions to MMP, providers can apply to the Department for waivers from the ATC-dispensary restrictions.

Additional formal revisions to existing MMP regulations will allow patients to designate two care-takers instead of one, will eliminate the 10% TCH limit currently in place, and will repeal the requirement for psychiatric evaluation prior to prescribing to a minor.

The Department is continuing to evaluate recommendations for further expansion of the MMP, evidencing the State’s continued efforts to improve and increase accessibility to alternative treatment.

Illinois Posts Medicaid Managed Care Performance Report

In January 2018, The Office of the Auditor General for the State of Illinois published its Performance Audit (“Audit Report”) of Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (“Medicaid MCOs”) for Fiscal Year 2016. What was unleashed was a startling review of the Medicaid MCOs’ performance over FY 2016 in administering the Medicaid Program for what was then called the Integrated Care Program (“ICP”) or Medicare/Medicaid Alignment Initiative (“MMAI”) Programs. You may recall these ICP and MMAI Medicaid MCO programs in Illinois involved almost a dozen Medicaid MCOs that covered about 70% of the State of Illinois Medicaid recipients.

The Audit Report played into health care providers’ deepest fears in Illinois: showing that Medicaid Managed Care may not be working as it was intended; namely, to reduce costs and improve quality of care in the Medicaid Program in Illinois. For example, long term care providers in Illinois had to fight tooth and nail with Medicaid MCOs under the ICP and MMAI programs, experiencing cumbersome Medicaid contracts, denied claims, delayed claims, and worse yet, a prior authorization administration problem (administrative MCO delay) which in some instances prevented residents from receiving care timely. Most, but not all, of those issues are still being resolved, but providers had hoped that there was a good reason for this madness involving Medicaid MCOs: better and lower cost care for Medicaid beneficiaries. Continue reading Illinois Posts Medicaid Managed Care Performance Report

WellPoint Pays HHS $1.7 Million to Settle HIPAA Security Violations

Covered Entities Cautioned Regarding Use of Business Associates

On July 8, 2013, health insurer WellPoint, Inc. entered into a Resolution Agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (HHS), agreeing to pay HHS $1.7 million to resolve an HHS complaint regarding violations of the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules during the period of October 23, 2009, through March 7, 2010. WellPoint reported a breach of electronic protected health information (ePHI) on June 18, 2010, leading to an HHS investigation that commenced on September 9, 2010.

The WellPoint matter serves as a reminder to HIPAA-covered entities and subcontractors that are business associates to comply with the HIPAA Security Rule and to prudently oversee the services provided by these business associates.

Click here to read the full Alert.

Obama Administration Delays ACA Employer Reporting and Penalties for 2014

In a July 2, 2013, blog posting on the U.S. Department of the Treasury website titled “Continuing to Implement the ACA in a Careful, Thoughtful Manner” the Obama administration announced that it will provide an additional year before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) mandatory employer and insurer reporting requirements begin. These reporting requirements, which were originally scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2014, will now be delayed until January 1, 2015. More significant is the fact that the Obama administration acknowledges that the delay in the reporting requirements will make it impractical to determine which employers owe shared responsibility payments for 2014. Therefore, the employer shared responsibility provisions will also not be applicable until 2015.

Click here to read the full Alert.

The Accretive Matter Is a Wake-Up Call for Hospitals: Examine Your Debt Collection and Revenue Cycle Practices ASAP

The Minnesota Attorney General is on a mission to eliminate over-aggressive debt collection behavior in the hospital industry. Her target is Accretive Health, Inc., a national company that provides support services to hospitals in Minnesota and other states on debt collection and revenue cycle management using sophisticated data analysis tools. Already other states have announced investigations, and federal investigations are likely to follow. The AG has also raised issues regarding the health system that used Accretive, Fairview Health Services, a nine-hospital system in Minnesota. Any hospital that outsources collections, revenue cycle management and related financial activities, or even performs them in-house, should closely review its compliance with best practices, including the AHA’s Statement on Hospital Billing and Collection Practices, agreed to in writing by many hospitals some years ago.

Continue reading The Accretive Matter Is a Wake-Up Call for Hospitals: Examine Your Debt Collection and Revenue Cycle Practices ASAP

California Spotlights Mobile Applications and Privacy: The Impact on the App (Including the mHealth) Industry

The relationship between privacy and mobile applications is coming into focus. On February 27, 2012, the California Attorney General entered into a Joint Statement of Principles with the six largest mobile application companies – Apple, Google, H-P, Microsoft, Amazon and RIM – regarding consumer privacy and transparency issues when data is collected through an app. http://ag.ca.gov/cms_attachments/press/pdfs/n2647_agreement.pdf. The Five Principles set parameters for good practice. Although not legally binding, the AG promises to review compliance in the fall, and may use California laws on privacy, false advertising, unfair business practices and others as enforcement tools. Since California often leads the way in privacy enforcement it is likely that other states will follow suit.

Continue reading California Spotlights Mobile Applications and Privacy: The Impact on the App (Including the mHealth) Industry

CMS Awards Loans to First Seven CO-OPs

On February 21, 2012, CMS announced its first award of repayable loans to seven Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans (CO-OPs). The awards will help CO-OPs establish private, non-profit, consumer-governed health insurance companies with the goal of expanding health insurance options for consumers and small businesses. The CO-OPs will eventually operate in each states’ health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act, but will also offer plans outside of the exchange. Starting on January 1, 2014, the first seven CO-OPs will become operational in eight states.

Continue reading CMS Awards Loans to First Seven CO-OPs

HHS OIG Notice Seeks Comments on Safe Harbors, Special Fraud Alerts

Once a year, as required by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”) solicits proposals to develop new or revised anti-kickback, fraud and abuse safe harbors. The OIG published its request for proposals for new or revised safe harbors in the December 29, 2011 Federal Register. The notice also seeks comments on developing special fraud alerts.

Continue reading HHS OIG Notice Seeks Comments on Safe Harbors, Special Fraud Alerts