Google has begun offering business associate agreements to HIPAA-covered entities who use Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendar or other Google Apps, allowing protected health information to be used or stored on these platforms. Learn more from Helen Gregg in Becker's Hospital Review here.
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights on Sept. 19 issued guidance on how changes to privacy rule marketing provisions effective Sept. 23 under the HITECH Act apply to refill reminders and other communications about drugs or biologics. The guidance explains the refill reminder exception to the marketing rule, the scope of communications that fall within the exception, and the types of third-party payments for such communications that are considered “reasonable” under the statute and regulations.
According to OCR, HHS will not enforce the restrictions on remunerated refill reminders and other communications about drugs and biologics until Nov. 7.
HHS maintains a list of 51,588 people who are categorically excluded from providing even indirect care to Medicare patients, and new guidelines that will be published today recommend healthcare providers check their personnel rosters against the list once a month.
That obligation extends to temporary nurses and doctors who work under contract from staffing firms. And it might not hurt to print out screen shots proving that the list was checked, the new guidance says (PDF).
National Government Services, a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services contractor, this month will host a series of “listening sessions” with health care providers and others on best practices and lessons learned from the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act’s Version 5010 upgrade, and a process and methodology for future health care provider testing of HIPAA administrative simplification requirements, beginning with ICD-10. The contractor will host sessions with “small providers” on Jan. 3 and 10, and with “large providers” on Jan. 3 and 15.
The 5010 code sets were implemented last year. Hospitals and health systems must convert to ICD-10 by Oct. 1, 2014.
The American Hospital Association on Nov. 11 in a letter to the departments of Health and Human Services and Justice reiterated the important role of electronic health records and the hospital field's commitment to combating fraud and abuse while calling for further guidance. The letter, the second in response to the departments’ Sept. 24 letter stating that trends in increased levels of severity for emergency department coding suggest that some providers may be using automated tools to inappropriately increase their Medicare reimbursements, highlights three areas where AHA believes “additional discussions and cooperative actions would lead to greater mutual understanding of the rules and how they are enforced”: development of national guidelines for hospital coding of evaluation and management services provided in clinics and emergency departments; greater understanding of functionalities that vendors embed into EHRs and other automated tools used by hospitals; and further discussion of law enforcement concerns, with the goal of jointly developing compliance guidance for hospitals.
“Hospitals share the administration’s goal of a health system that offers high-quality, affordable care and work hard to ensure billing is correct the first time,” said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock. “Working together, we can undertake a set of activities to provide national guidelines for E/M coding by hospitals, create greater certainty that products sold by the vendors of EHRs and other automated tools promote compliance with those guidelines, and develop meaningful guidance on compliance.”
Hospitals and other health care facilities may in certain cases use medications that have been repackaged into smaller doses from unopened single-dose/single-use vials, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services clarified in a memorandum sent to state survey agencies on June 15. To comply with CMS requirements and avoid a citation from surveyors, facilities must appropriately repackage the medications in accordance with United States Pharmacopeia General Chapter 797 standards for sterile compounding; store the repackaged doses consistent with USP 797 standards and the manufacturer’s package insert; and use each repackaged dose only for a single patient.
The agency said it “shares the concerns of providers and suppliers about patient access to critical medications that are in short supply and appreciates the efforts of health care facilities to meet the needs of their patients.”
Every hospital that has an emergency department and accepts Medicare and Medicaid patients must follow the federal law on EMTALA. Stiff penalties may apply for the hospital for violating this law including up to a $50,000 fine and exclusion from the Medicare program. Physicians can be fined and excluded from participating in any federal program and can have a lawsuit filed and their license revoked by the state medical board.
On March 13, the Mississippi Hospital Association will host a webinar on EMTALA on-call physician requirements from noon until 1:30 p.m. The cost is $175 for MHA members and $325 for non-members. Nursing CEUs are available.
Register online here. A complete brochure is available here.
The Department of Health and Human Services on Jan. 5 released an interim final rule with comment period adopting standards for electronic fund transfers and remittance advice transactions under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. The rule adopts streamlined standards and operating rules called for by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act for the format and data contained in transmissions from health plans to their banks when they seek to pay a provider claim electronically, and for the notices of payment then sent to providers.
The regulation took effect Jan. 1; health plans must comply by Jan. 1, 2014.
The National Labor Relations Board further delayed until April 30 implementation of a final rule requiring employers subject to the National Labor Relations Act to post a notice informing employees of their rights under the Act. The rule, which applies to most hospitals and health systems, previously had a delayed effective date of Jan. 31.
The Board agreed to the additional postponement of the implementation date at the request of the federal court in Washington, DC, hearing a legal challenge regarding the rule. Under the rule, failure to post the notice may be an unfair labor practice and, in appropriate circumstances, may toll the statute of limitations for filing unfair labor practice charges against an employer.
For more on the rule, members can access an AHA Legal Advisory at www.aha.org. If you are an MHA member and would like a copy of the advisory, email Shawn Rossi at email@example.com.
The National Labor Relations Board is reminding internal staff and employers about the new Jan. 31 deadline for posting an employee rights notice. The final rule, postponed in October, requires employers subject to the National Labor Relations Act, which includes most hospitals and health systems, to post a notice informing employees of their rights under the Act.
Under the rule, failure to post the notice may be an unfair labor practice and, in appropriate circumstances, may toll the statute of limitations for filing unfair labor practice charges against an employer.