On January 18, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) proposed a new rule for regulating non-compete clauses. The proposed rule, which has been named the “Non-Compete Rule,” could potentially ban employers from entering into, or attempting to enter into, a non-compete clause with employees and independent contractors collectively referred to as “workers.” The proposed rule has recently sparked several discussions on the scope and constitutionality of the rule. One concern is how the proposed rule, if finalized, would impact the healthcare industry and especially non-profit hospitals.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) manages an oversight program for nursing homes known as the Special Focus Facilities (SFF) program. Nursing homes that are placed in the program have almost double the deficiencies as other nursing homes, more serious issues in terms of injury and persistent problems that are never addressed. On October 21, 2022, CMS issued a press release regarding changes to its SFF program. The new changes will increase accountability for these facilities and encourage them to make quicker improvements. This action comes following the Biden-Harris Administration’s promise to increase safety and quality of care in poor-performing nursing homes.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have guarded controlled substances zealously since the inception of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), passed in the 1970s. However, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic challenged nearly all of society’s conventional protocols, and the federal government responded to concerns that patients wouldn’t receive care by loosening its regulations for healthcare services. In 2020, the DEA permitted health providers to prescribe schedule II-controlled substances to patients via telehealth appointments instead of in-person visits. Now, two years later, the FDA has confirmed an Adderall shortage, which is a schedule II controlled substance that is in high demand and used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The Justice Department’s DEA division has initiated probes against various online mental health companies and worries that the drug is overprescribed and abused by young adults.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) temporarily lifted the Ryan Haight Act’s mandate that imposes federal prohibition on online prescribing of controlled substances. The DEA waived its in-person medical examination requirement and set forth different criteria for controlled substances. For as long as the duration of the public health emergency (which was extended through January of 2023 this month), a patient can receive a controlled substance prescription without an in-person examination if the communication was conducted in a two-way, audio-visual, and real-time interactive communication. Covid highlighted the increased use of telehealth and digital health platforms. However, as telehealth surged, public policy has failed to move at the same speed.
Home health agencies (HHAs) provide health care services to assist individuals with a disability, or who are ill, injured, or elderly. It is a cost-effective and convenient method of receiving quality care that is provided from the comfort of the patient’s own home. While HHAs have been around for years, primarily to serve the elderly and avoid hospitalization, the post-pandemic “at-home” era has made it the fastest-growing healthcare industry in the country. However, the high demands and good intentions of instilling home health agencies come with its adverse counterpart- fraud and abuse.
As the number of hospital mergers and acquisitions increases, legal, compliance, clinical, and administrative staff should be aware of the challenges of consolidating hospitals. One challenge often overlooked is the consolidation of hospital policies and procedures.