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National Hospital Associations Release Statements Endorsing Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policies for Healthcare Workers

The nation’s largest healthcare groups and associations have released separate statements endorsing the position that all healthcare workers should be fully vaccinated and supporting the implementation of mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies in hospitals and health systems nationwide. On July 21, 2021, the American Hospital Association (“AHA”), an organization representing close to 5,000 members, released a … Continue Reading

COVID-19 Vaccine Benchmarking Survey for Healthcare Employers: Report from the Trenches

Employers in the healthcare setting have been grappling with issues related to COVID-19 vaccinations that raise many practical and legal questions, starting with: should we ask about vaccination status? Should we require employees to be vaccinated? If not required, should we encourage employees to be vaccinated? How should we encourage it? Identifying these questions is … Continue Reading

Ready or not, back to the workplace we might go…

Before the pandemic hit, remote work was, in most cases, a thing of the future. Concern about the productivity of remote workers caused many employers to resist these arrangements. Employees, they thought, would rather be taking care of laundry or kids than taking care of their duties. Enter Covid-19 – and most employers around the … Continue Reading

Long-Term Care Facilities Must Educate, Offer, and Report on COVID-19 Vaccinations for Residents and Staff, According to CMS Interim Rule

On May 11, 2021, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services published an interim final rule/guidance to establish COVID-19 vaccination requirements for Long-Term Care (LTC) facilities. The requirements are applicable to both residents and staff. LTC facilities have already been managing COVID-19 vaccination requirements both … Continue Reading

OSHA Provides Guidance for Healthcare Employers COVID-19 Inspections

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) recent Updated Interim Enforcement Response Plan for COVID-19 (Response Plan) was issued on the same day it announced its National Emphasis Program (NEP). Healthcare employers will continue to be a target of OSHA’s inspection efforts pursuant to the NEP. The Response Plan provides directions for OSHA compliance officers … Continue Reading

The COVID-19 Strain on Health Care Remains, As Administrators Look to Long-Term Impacts

In March 2021, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released results from a national survey conducted between February 22-26, 2021 of front-line hospital administrators at 320 hospitals across 45 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.  The purpose of the survey was to assess … Continue Reading

Small NJ Medical Practice Becomes 18th Target of OCR’s HIPAA Right of Access Enforcement Initiative

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has taken enforcement action against a small New Jersey plastic surgery practice for its failure to timely respond to a patient’s records access request. Putting in place relatively simple policies, carefully developing template forms, assigning responsibility, training, and documenting responses can go a long way toward substantially minimizing the … Continue Reading

One Year Later: Five Post-COVID-19 Considerations For Healthcare Employers

Most healthcare employers have been dealing with COVID-19 for a year now. With vaccines widely available for this workforce, we offer five considerations for healthcare employers as they move toward a post-pandemic environment. Will COVID-19 vaccinations become an annual event? For years many healthcare providers have required employees to get a flu shot. Are we … Continue Reading

Updated Guidance for Healthcare Personnel Returning To Work Post-Vaccination

As more healthcare employees receive their COVID-19 vaccinations, questions about when vaccinated healthcare employees can return to work if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms continue to arise.  Coupled with ongoing staffing shortages in the industry, the need for employees to return to work when safe to do so is a pressing concern for many healthcare employers. To … Continue Reading

CDC Issues Post Vaccine-Considerations for Healthcare Personnel

As employers in healthcare settings prepare to administer the vaccine to healthcare personnel, they are likely grappling with new practical considerations.  Undoubtedly, one of the most widespread challenges is how to manage employees with potential post-vaccination systemic signs and symptoms (“signs and symptoms”), without unnecessarily imposing work restrictions to the detriment of patient care demands.  … Continue Reading

Families First Coronavirus Response Act’s 80 Hours of Emergency Paid Sick Leave is ‘One Time Use’

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, employees who took leave earlier in the year may be requesting additional COVID-19-related leave. Employers covered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) are again seeking guidance in determining which employees qualify for the emergency sick leave and family leave portions of the FFCRA. In September 2020, the federal … Continue Reading

Court Decision Restores Affordable Care Act’s Discrimination Protections for Transgender Patients

A New York court has restored anti-discrimination protections for transgender patients under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Walker et al. v. Azar et al., No. 20-cv-2834 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 17, 2020). Section 1557 of the ACA extends Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972’s prohibition against “sex discrimination” to covered entities in the healthcare setting. … Continue Reading

Affordable Care Act No Longer Interpreted to Prohibit Discrimination Against Transgender Patients

Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) contains anti-discrimination provisions, which include prohibitions on sex discrimination, that apply to certain health care providers and insurers receiving federal funding. On June 13, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) published a final rule walking back protections for transgender patients, among other changes (“2020 … Continue Reading

OCR’s Relaxed Enforcement of HIPAA During COVID-19 Paves The Way For Increase in Telehealth Services

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across the country, doctors, dentists, therapists and other healthcare providers have turned to telehealth use with their patients by way of videoconferencing applications such as Zoom, Skype and WebEx. The Office of Civil Rights and the Department of Health and Human Services (“OCR”) defines telehealth as “the use … Continue Reading

New York Imposes New COVID-19 Standards on Dental Practices for Reopening

Following Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement that dental practices across New York State may reopen to perform all dental care, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) has issued minimum safety and social distancing standards in its “Interim Guidance for Dentistry During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.” The Interim Guidance applies to all dental care, … Continue Reading

New York State Nursing Home, Adult Care Facility Staff Testing, Certification of COVID-19 Compliance

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order No. 202.30 (EO 202.30) implements significant changes for nursing homes (NHs) and adult care facilities (ACFs) in the state, including the testing of all personnel for COVID-19 twice a week. The changes include: NHs and ACFs must test or arrange testing all personnel, including all employees, contract staff, … Continue Reading

New Jersey Executive Directive Requires Testing Protocols at Certain Healthcare Facilities

The New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) has issued an Executive Directive (ED) requiring all licensed long-term care facilities, assisted living residences, comprehensive personal care homes, residential healthcare facilities, and dementia care homes to implement testing and response protocols by May 19, 2020. Although many facilities likely have already implemented crisis response protocols, the ED … Continue Reading

Guidance Released on Seeking Reimbursement for COVID-19 Testing and Treatment to Uninsured Individuals

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, enacted on March 18, 2020, appropriated $1 billion to reimburse providers for conducting COVID-19 testing for the uninsured. In addition, part of the $100 billion Provider Relief Fund established by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, enacted on March 27, 2020, will be used to reimburse hospitals … Continue Reading

NLRB Rejects Hospital’s Bid to Stay Representation Election based on COVID-19 Pandemic

In an unpublished decision, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has denied an acute- care hospital’s request to stay a representation election based on the COVID-19 pandemic. Crozer-Chester Medical Center, Case 04-RC-257107 (Apr. 23, 2020). The union’s representation petition was filed on February 28, 2020. The union, which did not represent any of the other … Continue Reading

New Jersey Governor Signs Bill Requiring ‘Title 26 Hospitals’ to Report Demographic Data on COVID-19

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has signed a bill requiring hospitals licensed under New Jersey Statutes Title 26 to report demographic data on COVID-19 cases. To the extent they have not already done so, hospitals affected by the new law should initiate data collection protocols on the demographics of COVID-19 patients by including age, ethnicity, … Continue Reading

New Jersey Legislature Passes Bill Requiring Hospitals to Report Demographic Data on COVID-19

The New Jersey Legislature has passed a bill requiring hospitals licensed under New Jersey Statutes Title 26 to report COVID-19-related demographic data (e.g., age, ethnicity, gender, and race) to the New Jersey Department of Health (DOH). Previously, the Governor required specific healthcare facilities to report personal protective equipment inventory (see our article, New Jersey Authorizes … Continue Reading

CDC: Asymptomatic Critical Infrastructure Workers Can Continue Working after Potential COVID-19 Exposure

When can employees who may have been exposed to COVID-19 return to work? Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that “critical infrastructure workers may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community.” This … Continue Reading

Department of Labor’s Latest FAQs Expand “Health Care Providers” and Define “Emergency Responders” Under FFCRA

The Department of Labor has been hard at work issuing FAQs to try to explain the provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act before it goes into effect on April 1, 2020.  To see earlier reports on these FAQs, see our blog posts on March 24th and March 27th. The latest FAQs (we are … Continue Reading

OCR HIPAA Guidance For Getting PHI of COVID-19 Exposed Individuals to First Responders

With first responders on the front lines of helping to fight the coronavirus, sharing information about potential exposure to COVID-19 is critical to protecting them and preventing further spread. In these situations, the information shared is most often “protected health information” (PHI) under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy Rule. … Continue Reading
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