In March 2019, Rush University Medical Center (“Rush University”) sent out breach notification letters to approximately 45,000 patients. The letter advises patients that a privacy incident occurred that may have involved the patients’ personal information. The privacy incident was caused by an employee of a third-party financial services vendor. The employee released a file that contained patient information to an unauthorized person. According to the breach notification letter, law enforcement and regulatory officials were involved in the investigation of the privacy incident. Rush University sent the breach notification letter in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act’s privacy and security rules.
In December 2018, Dr. Christopher Duntsch lost his appeal and the court upheld his life sentence. The name may not sound familiar, but to the medical community in Dallas, Texas, Christopher Duntsch represents what happens when every part of the medical regulatory system fails to protect patients. Christopher Duntsch was given the nickname “Dr. Death” in November 2016 when the DMagazine ran a cover story on him and his victims. In 2018, Wondery produced a six-part podcast series named “Dr. Death” detailing Duntsch’s educational and medical history and the acts that led him to incarceration.
On September 7, 2018, the United States District Court in the District of Columbia (“D.C. District Court”) vacated Medicare’s overpayment “report and return” rule as applied to Medicare Advantage Organizations (“MAOs”). The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) created the requirement to report and return overpayments. The Centers of Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) issued rules to provide definitions that the PPACA did not define, create a procedure, payment options and timeframes. MAOs may no longer need to comply with CMS’ overpayment rule, but the PPACA remains intact. Providers who service Medicare beneficiaries will need to conduct the same analysis in order to comply with the PPACA “report and return” requirement.
Will new litigation affect Beto O’Rourke’s campaign? With election polls opening up for early voting last week, a one week left of campaigning and the new Telephone Consumer Protection Act (the “TCPA”) litigation to defend, it is unlikely that Beto O’Rourke will be slowing down any time soon. O’Rourke has made it his mission to reach all voters, not just those residing in the three major cities: Austin, Houston and Dallas. New litigation filed October 19, 2018, raises the question whether “Beto for Texas” reached those voters in violation of the TCPA and the recent Marks v. Crunch decision. The litigation will address whether the 5th Circuit will implement Marks expansive definition of an “automated telephone dialing system.”
On November 6, 2018, Massachusetts voters will determine whether they want to establish patient assignment limitations for registered nurses working in hospitals. The Massachusetts Nurses Association (“MNA”) has been the driving force behind the proposed legislation. After acquiring more than 100,000 signatures for the initiative to appear on the ballot and a victorious litigation outcome regarding the legislation’s employment implications on hospitals, the Massachusetts voters will ultimately determine the legislation’s fate.