Author:

Laura Ng

Telehealth in the Age of COVID-19

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act – enacted in 1996 by the U.S. Congress and signed by then-President Bill Clinton – has long served to maintain the standards of electronic health records and patient privacy, among many other provisions. Violating HIPAA can result in both criminal prosecution as well as steep civil penalties. As the healthcare industry transitioned from the use of paper records to storing patient data on electronic health records over the last two decades, health organizations have learned to adapt to HIPAA compliance, with many increasing their compliance programs by hiring full-time compliance officers, designating an individual as the compliance manager, and/or appointing a compliance committee within the organization.

Employer Compliance with CARES Act

On March 27, 2020, President Donald J. Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (H.R. 748), otherwise known as the “CARES” Act. Originally introduced in January as the Middle-Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act, the bill was then revised to address the needs of the United States amid the coronavirus pandemic. The bi-partisan CARES Act, with strong support from the White House, ultimately passed the House of Representatives with a 419-6 roll call and the Senate with 96-0 votes.

Student Loans and Conforming Mortgage Guidelines

In the United States, a mortgage is considered “conforming” if it meets the guidelines of Freddie Mac (the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation) and Fannie Mae (the Federal National Mortgage Association). Both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae buy mortgages, pools them, and then sells them back to the open market for investors. In 2008, the federal government put both organizations into a conservatorship due to the financial meltdown and subsequent economic recession. As such, the government now has stringent guidelines that homebuyers must meet if they want to qualify for a Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae mortgage.

Training Staff to Protect Patient Privacy in the Era of Electronic Health Records

The rapid evolution of electronic health records has dramatically changed the healthcare system in the past two decades. Healthcare organizations, both large and small, have transitioned from paper records to hybrid records, and then finally, for many organizations, to completely electronic data. In 2009, the American Reinvestment & Recovery Act (ARRA) created the federal “Meaningful Use” program. This program essentially amounted to a significant government subsidy for practices transitioning to electronic health records and provided funding for organizations to purchase electronic health records subscriptions from health information technology companies in exchange for complete adoption, implementation, and the regular development of quality reporting measures using the new software.

Leasing Agents And The Fair Housing Act

At first glance, the Fair Housing Act is fairly straightforward: one must not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. These classes are protected by federal law and applicable universally in the United States of America. In practice, however, the fine line complying with FHA anti-discrimination laws and complying with internal leasing policies – aimed at protecting the company from high-risk renters — can be difficult to discern for apartment leasing agents.

Managing Human Resources and Compliance in the #MeToo Era

In October of 2017, the downfall of disgraced sexual harasser Harvey Weinstein made national news and started what is now popularized as the #MeToo movement. Since then, numerous people have come forward to share their stories of workplace harassment in various industries. This leaves those in the human resources and/or compliance departments with a two-fold task: (1) protecting their employees, and (2) protecting the organization from legal liability regarding sexual (and other forms of) harassment in the workplace.