The Coalition to Protect Telehealth and State Representative Deb Conroy of the Illinois 46th House District have introduced legislation that would permanently expand access to telehealth services for Illinoisans. The legislation also details provisions that promote telehealth payment rate partity between telehealth services and in-person care. In a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth providers have been granted temporary waivers to align their payment rates with those prescribed for traditional care in health care facilities. These waivers have served as stabilizing financial mechanisms for many practitioners experiencing revenue loss due to the restrictions on elective procedures and non-emergency care. The proposed legislation would give patients more freedom to utilize telehealth services by removing the patient responsibilities to demonstrate hardship or access issues.
In 1991, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act to control lead and copper in drinking water, referred to as the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR). The Rule was created to protect public health by minimizing lead and copper levels in drinking water, primarily by reducing water corrosivity through corrosion control treatment. While implementation of the LCR has resulted in major improvements in public health, there is still much that needs to be done as research continues to show cities today see higher than normal levels of lead in their drinking water.
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”) regulates the administration of employee benefit plans. ERISA aims to protect the interest of employee-beneficiaries by setting minimum standards for employee benefit plans and voluntarily established pensions. The Act’s preemption clause works to prevent states from regulating these same plans. Initially, a state statute was considered to violate the preemption clause when it possessed, “a connection with, or reference to, covered employee benefit plans.” A few years later the standard was modified, states were considered to have violated ERISA preemption if the state, “mandates employee benefit structures or their administration.”
Colorado Overtime and Minimum Pay Standards Order (“COMPs Order”) #37 has replaced COMPS Order #36 (2020), which substantially expanded coverage in meals and break requirements, minimum wage and overtime requirements to almost every private employer in Colorado. The changes are designed to provide consistency between minimum wage, overtime and paid sick leave standards under the new Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (“HFWA”). Some changes include increasing Colorado’s minimum wage, making exemptions to COMPs #37 more stringent, and continuing paid sick leave benefits through 2021 due to the pandemic. These new employee-friendly adjustments have been adopted and became effective on January 1, 2021.
In February 2021, McKinsey and Company’s 650 global partners turned down Kevin Sneader’s bid for a second three-year term as the firm’s lead partner. The rejection marked the first time in 40 years the storied consulting firm has opted not to offer its leader a second term. The vote came as McKinsey struggles to reconcile its lucrative business model with a series of ethical lapses that have been widely reported in the press, litigated in the courts, and questioned by some of the firm’s next generation of leaders.
Recently, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (“FDA”) announced a scheduled meeting of its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (“VRBPAC”) to discuss the request for emergency use authorization (“EUA”) for a COVID-19 vaccine from Janssen Biotech Inc. The FDA has just under three weeks to complete its report before the VRBPAC’s meeting to make its recommendation on the vaccine. The review process may be more challenging than the past two reviews for Pfizer and Moderna due to the composition differences and effectiveness.
On January 14, 2021, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) issued a Guidance Memorandum (hereinafter “Memo”) addressing the recent decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in the case County of Maui v. Hawai’i Wildlife Foundation, 140 S. Ct. 1462 (2020) regarding the regulation of water pollution under the Clean Water Act (CWA or “the Act”). The Memo outlined how the Court’s recent ruling in the County of Maui applies to the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) permit program created under Section 402 of the Clean Water Act (hereinafter “Section 402”). The intent of the EPA in publishing the Memo is to help clarify the effect of the Court’s ruling in County of Maui for owners and operators of facilities subject to the regulation of the CWA, the primary regulatory framework for governing water pollution in the United States. The ruling in County of Maui expands the types of discharge that are subject to the CWA’s regulatory permit program and illuminates the steps required of facility owners and operators to comply with that framework.
The Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) finalized revised regulations that implemented Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) in June of 2020. This section prohibits discrimination within health programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance based on race, color, sex, age, disability, and national origin. In comparison to the Obama-era regulations issued in 2016, the new final rule does away with gender identity and sexual orientation nondiscrimination protections not only under Section 1557, but under ten other federal regulations as well. This also includes a roll back of certain health insurance coverage protections for transgender individuals.
SPACs have been around for decades and often existed as last resorts for small companies that would have otherwise had trouble raising money on the open market. But they’ve recently become more prevalent because of the extreme market volatility caused, in part, by the global pandemic.
While many companies chose to postpone their IPOs due to the pandemic, others chose the alternate route to an IPO by merging with a SPAC. A SPAC merger allows a company to go public and get a capital influx more quickly than it would have with a conventional IPO.
A new President and a changing administration mean new priorities across some, if not all of the major executive agencies. One of the more heavily impacted industries will be transportation—specifically the automotive sector. From re-instating stricter emissions standards to moving forward with automated vehicle regulations, the automotive industry in the early 2020s should see innovation and progress at the forefront of the country’s new federal regulatory scheme.