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Everything you need to know about BMD and the industry.

DOJ Updates Corporate Compliance Plan Guidance

With the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, all healthcare providers were required to adopt and implement a corporate compliance plan. Historically, having an effective corporate compliance plan in place has been key to defending healthcare providers in fraud and abuse actions by Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial payers. Over the past couple of years, the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Criminal Division has increased the number of prosecutions against U.S. corporations, including healthcare providers. Earlier this month, the DOJ’s Criminal Division updated its “Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs” guidance to educate prosecutors on how a corporate compliance program will be evaluated going forward. https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/page/file/937501/download

If a healthcare provider is able to actively demonstrate its commitment to a culture of compliance as reflected in a comprehensive program, an Assistant U.S. Attorney (hereinafter “AUSA”) may elect to not file charges and/or may seek reduced charges. Regardless if an AUSA does bring formal charges, the new guidance allows a federal judge to impose a reduced sentence. Now, more than ever, it’s critically important that healthcare providers have an effective compliance program in place as it materially affects the penalties imposed for healthcare fraud and abuse violations. Having an effective compliance program can mean the difference in whether criminal charges are brought (which could result in prison time or large fines).

The June 2020 update from the DOJ covers a variety of specific topics, but essentially focuses on three questions in relation to an organization’s compliance program: 

  1. Is the compliance program well designed?
  2. Is the program applied earnestly and in good faith?
  3. Does the program work in practice?

In other words, an effective compliance plan must be a “living, breathing document” and not just a generic set of policies and procedures that is left forgotten on a shelf or computer system. 

A successful compliance program should focus on the provider’s internal compliance training program. The DOJ described an appropriately tailored training as “the hallmark of a well-designed compliance program” and periodic training helps to ensure that a compliance program is integrated into the organization. Relevant employees, as well as, senior managers (and in some situations, agents and business partners) should have training provided by the company regularly so that they may properly communicate and implement compliance policies and procedures. Furthermore, the organization must pay special attention to providing employees with the tools in which to seek assistance and/or respond to any potential compliance issues.

Throughout the update, the DOJ identifies specific areas where AUSA’s should focus in their determination of whether a compliance program is well-designed, earnestly implemented and effective. Two of these areas assist providers in designing, implementing and improving their compliance-based programs.

  1. Risk-Bask Training

Providers are expected to conduct an in-depth analysis of which employees require training and on what subjects. The organization should provide tailored trainings which reflect the specific risks in the work environment. Any employee who works in a high-risk role, has been involved in prior misconduct, or is senior management should receive ongoing trainings. 

  1. Form/Content/Effectiveness of Training

AUSA’s will not be impressed by merely having a program designed. They will instead focus on the form in which the training is being provided, including who is presenting the trainings. Real-world compliance lapses and testing by companies should be frequent.

The attorneys of Brennan, Manna & Diamond’s healthcare team are available to assist healthcare providers in drafting, implementing and improving their corporate compliance programs, trainings, and implementation processes.  Please contact Jeana Singleton at jmsingleton@bmdllc.com or 330-253-2001, Richard Crosby at rlcrosby@bmdpl.com or 614-246-7500, or your BMD healthcare attorney for more information. 

The Masks Are Back: New OSHA Regulations for Healthcare Employers

Employment Law After Hours is back with a News Break Episode. Yesterday, OSHA published new rules for healthcare facilities, including hospitals, home health employers, nursing homes, ambulance companies, and assisted living facilities. These new rules are very cumbersome, requiring mask wearing for all employees, even those that are vaccinated. The only exception is for fully vaccinated employees (2 weeks post final dose) who are in a "well-defined" area where there is no reasonable expectation that any person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 will be present.

New OSHA Guidance for Workplaces Not Covered by the Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard

On June 10, 2021, OSHA issued an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for occupational exposure to COVID-19, but it applies only to healthcare and healthcare support service workers. For a detailed summary of the ETS applicable to the healthcare industry, please visit https://youtu.be/vPyXmKwOzsk. All employers not subject to the ETS should review OSHA’s contemporaneously released, updated Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace. The new Guidance essentially leaves intact OSHA’s earlier guidance, but only for unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers (“at-risk” meaning vaccinated or unvaccinated workers with immunocompromising conditions). For fully vaccinated workers, OSHA defers to CDC Guidance for Fully Vaccinated People, which advises that most fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, or local laws or individual business policies.

Employer Liability for COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects

As employers encourage or require employees to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine, they should be aware of OSHA recording obligations and potential workers’ compensation liability. Though OSHA has yet to revise its COVID-19 guidance in response to the latest CDC recommendations, OSHA has revised its position regarding the recording of injury or illness resulting from the vaccine. Until now, OSHA required an employer to record an adverse reaction when the vaccine was required for employees and the injury or illness otherwise met the recording criteria (work-related, a new case, and meets one or more of the general recording criteria). OSHA has reversed course and announced that it will not require recording adverse reactions until at least May 2022, irrespective of whether the employer requires the vaccine as a condition of employment. In its revised COVID-19 FAQs, OSHA states:

The New Rule 1.510 - Radical Change for Summary Judgement Procedure in Florida

In civil litigation, where both sides participate actively, trial is usually required at the end of a long, expensive case to determine a winner and a loser. In federal and most state courts, however, there are a few procedural shortcuts by which parties can seek to prevail in advance of trial, saving time, money and annoyance. The most common of these is the “motion for summary judgment”: a request to the court by one side for judgment before trial, generally on the basis that the evidence available reflects that a win for that party is legally inevitable and thus required. Effective May 1, 2021, summary judgment procedure in Florida has radically changed.

Vacating, Modifying or Correcting an Arbitration Award Under R.C. 2711.13: Three-Month Limitation Maximum; Not Guaranteed Amount of Time

In a recent decision, the Supreme Court of Ohio held that neither R.C. 2711.09 nor R.C. 2711.13 requires a court to wait three months after an arbitration award is issued before confirming the award. R.C. 2711.13 provides that “after an award in an arbitration proceeding is made, any party to the arbitration may file a motion in the court of common pleas for an order vacating, modifying, or correcting the award.” Any such motion to vacate, modify, or correct an award “must be served upon the adverse party or his attorney within three months after the award is delivered to the parties in interest.” In BST Ohio Corporation et al. v. Wolgang, the Court held the three-month period set forth in R.C. 2711.13 is not a guaranteed time period in which to file a motion to vacate, modify, or correct an arbitration award. 2021-Ohio-1785.