On May 6, 2020, Secretary Betsy Devos, through the Department of Education (the “Department”) issued the new Title IX regulations (the Final Rule) scheduled to take effect August 14, 2020. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The statute states that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance”, yet it does not define sexual harassment. The Final Rule is heavily contested due to its demanding provisions and implementation period during the pandemic.
On May 19, 2020, the Department of Education published a final Title IX regulation that changes the rights and responsibilities for schools, complainants, and respondents. In summary, these regulations respond to the need to provide a prompt and just response to individuals who have suffered sexual harassment and provide due process for an alleged perpetrator. These changes create a standard grievance process, define conduct that constitutes sexual harassment, outline conditions that activate a school’s obligation to respond, impose a minimum standard of school response, and establish procedural due process protections.
The ability to access experimental drug treatments has long been contentious in the United States. Prior to the 1938 Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act, pharmaceutical drugs were largely unregulated. This Act required, for the first time, that drugs sold to the public were safe. Increasing regulations regarding the marketing, testing, and distribution of pharmaceutical drugs were established throughout the next fifty years. In the 1980s, however, a puzzling illness became known to the public. This illness was called HIV/AIDS, a debilitating virus that caused the body’s own immune system to attack itself. This illness has killed over 32 million people in the United States and worldwide, and particularly impacted the population of gay men. Because homosexuality was still fairly taboo in the 1980s, many argue that the country dragged its foot in researching and approving treatment for HIV/AIDS. Due to significant advocacy, much progress has been made with this particular illness, and the country has slowly evolved from the slow and strict processes that once regulated potential pharmaceutical drug treatments.
This past spring the world locked down. Stores were closed, everyone was required to work from home, and masks became the latest fashion trend. This shift occurred because a virus, Covid-19, began making its way around the world. It has been about 4 months since our society locked down for the protection of its people and while it is slowly opening back up there are fears that without a vaccine or cure for Covid-19 it is going to keep spreading and we are going to have to remained locked down. Many pharmaceutical companies are working night and day to create a vaccine that can be widely distributed to help stop the spread of Covid-19. A drug that is for humans needs to be tested on humans to ensure it works before it can be approved and sold.
During the expedited legislative session on May 20-24, the Illinois General Assembly passed HB 2455 which was signed into law as Public Act 101-633 on June 5, 2020. While well-intentioned, this Act could create a huge liability for school districts depending on how the Illinois Department of Employment Security (“IDES”) interprets the law. School districts are already facing an uncertain financial future and this law is adds more uncertainty and possibly more financial insecurity.
The Firearms Dealers License Certification Act (also known as the Combating Illegal Gun Trafficking Act) was signed into law on January 18, 2019 and requires all Federal Firearms License (FFL) dealers engaged in the business of transferring firearms to have their FFL certified by the Illinois State Police. Nevertheless, many areas of the regulations remain in dispute and strong opposition has led to the delay of dates for required compliance. The Act is also being challenged by the Illinois State Rifle Association and a number of gun dealers in Illinois who deem that the Act is an unconstitutional infringement on their right to keep and bear arms.
COVID-19 was an unexpected pandemic that hit the United States, causing Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) to rush to make accommodations for the states. States administer their Medicaid programs following a state plan and under the regulation of federal rules. With approval, states are allowed to amend their state plan and apply for waivers to improve the effectiveness of their Medicaid program. During COVID-19, the Trump Administration made available for states to apply for 1115 waivers, creating a new section labeling 1115(a), the 1135 waiver, and Appendix K to amend 1915(c) waivers for national emergencies. As of May 2020, CMS reported over 200 approved waivers across multiple states.
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.
The meat and poultry packing industry has recently fallen victim to the spread of COVID-19. Among fierce backlash over the federal government’s lack of action to protect meat packing facility workers, the CDC and OSHA released interim guidelines. These guidelines are to be followed by employers not only to keep workers safe, but to avoid a shortage of one of America’s most prized food sources: meat and poultry. The meat packing industry, as one of the most heavily-regulated industries in the United States, now faces increased regulation during a global pandemic.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”), older adults and people with severe underlying medical conditions are at higher risk for developing more serious complications from the COVID-19 illness. For this reason, among others, long-term care facilities have been hit particularly hard by the virus. Although it was difficult to be prepared for this pandemic, there are concerns that many long-term care facilities did not have proper preventative measures in place in even before COVID-19 became an issue. Because of this, long-term care facilities have become hot spots for the viruses spread. As states and the federal government continue to monitor long-term care facilities’ compliance with local and federal laws, regulatory agencies are now also faced with added pressure to not only slow the spread of COVID-19 within the facilities, but also to control the legal environment in the anticipated aftermath of the outbreak.