Jeff Wurzburg (US)

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COVID-19 Update: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Updates Mask Guidelines

On Tuesday, April 27, 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC) unveiled updated guidelines detailing activities that vaccinated people can safely resume. The guidelines continue the trend of public health authorities relaxing previous guidelines for individuals that have received a COVID-19 vaccine.  See Health Law Pulse posts here, here and here. After … Continue reading

Urgent New Survey Standards From The Joint Commission Address Aisle Widths and CAH Suites

This week The Joint Commission (“TJC”) announced new requirements that are effective immediately and require suites to have aisles with at least “36 inches of clearance from side to side to facilitate egress.”  The standard aligns with the National Fire Protection Association’s (FPA) Life Safety Code and is applicable to hospitals accredited by TJC and … Continue reading

COVID-19 Update – HHS OCR Releases Legal Guidance for Expanding Vaccine Access to People with Disabilities and Older Adults

On April 13, 2021, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) published a press release with resources, including from the Administration for Community Living (“ACL”) and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (“ASPE”), to improve access to vaccinations for individuals with disabilities and older adults. … Continue reading

COVID-19 Update: CDC Updates Travel Guidelines While New Double Variant Emerges

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) has updated its travel guidelines, advising that there is low risk for fully vaccinated individuals to travel domestically.  The CDC further provides that for fully vaccinated individuals COVID-19 testing or a quarantine period is unnecessary following travel. When traveling internationally, the CDC states that testing is … Continue reading

Xavier Becerra Confirmed as HHS Secretary – Implications for Health System “all-or-nothing” clauses

Xavier Becerra was confirmed as U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services (“HHS”) on March 18, 2021.  While the parameters of the Biden administration’s antitrust policy priorities and objectives are not yet clear, a groundbreaking lawsuit brought by Xavier Becerra while Attorney General of California offers important insight and warrants a close reexamination of managed … Continue reading

Biden Administration Withdraws Work Requirement Approvals in Arkansas and New Hampshire

Medicaid is the largest health coverage source in the United States, covering approximately 70 million individuals including children, pregnant women, people with disabilities, elderly adults, and in states that have expanded their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act, low-income adults without children with household income up to 138%. One of the unique designs of … Continue reading

COVID-19 Update: CDC Updates School Guidelines

On March 19, 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) released updated guidelines for K-12 schools that is anticipated to facilitate the reopening of schools across the country.  The CDC states that “[o]pening schools for in-person learning as safely and quickly as possible, and keeping them open, is important given the many … Continue reading

COVID-19 Update: CDC Releases Guidance for Vaccinated Individuals

Ever since the U.S. declaration of a public health emergency on March 13, 2020, Americans have wondered what life would look like if and when a vaccine was developed.  In December, the first vaccine was administered in the U.S.  On March 8, 2021, the positive momentum accelerated when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and … Continue reading

COVID-19 Update: CDC Increasing Sequencing for Virus Variants

The Biden Administration recently announced additional funding to increase genomic sequencing of COVID-19 to 25,000 samples a week.  In a recent article in the Journal for the American Medical Association, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) Director Rochelle Walensky and Dr. Anthony Fauci of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases … Continue reading

COVID-19 Update: CDC Recommends Double Masking and Changes Quarantine Guidelines

Two recent updates in COVID-19 guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) demonstrate the challenges faced by public health officials to appreciate and incorporate the ever-changing science surrounding the global pandemic. New guidance from the CDC recommends wearing a cloth mask over a medical mask.  The CDC’s guidelines recommend: Choosing a … Continue reading

The Joint Commission’s First Special Edition Sentinel Event Alert

Recognizing its unique position to understand and shed light on the collective experience of America’s health care organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic, on February 2, 2021, the Joint Commission published the first in its series of special edition Sentinel Event Alerts. The special edition publication addresses COVID-19-specific concerns and comments that the Joint Commission’s Office … Continue reading

COVID-19 Update: Biden Executive Order Creates Special Enrollment Period

On January 28, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order entitled Executive Order on Strengthening Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act (“Executive Order”).   “In light of the exceptional circumstances caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic”, the Executive Order creates a special enrollment period in states that operate Federally-facilitated exchanges from February 15, 2021 – May … Continue reading

COVID-19 Update: US President Joe Biden Releases COVID-19 Roadmap and Executive Orders

On January 20, 2021, Joseph R. Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.  Within hours of taking the oath, President Biden signed an executive order entitled Executive Order on Protecting the Federal Workforce and Requiring Mask-Wearing that requires wearing masks and encouraging social distancing in Federal buildings and on Federal … Continue reading

COVID-19 Update: HHS OGC Issues PREP Act Advisory Opinion

On January 8, 2021, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released Advisory Opinion 22-01  entitled On The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act Scope of Preemption Provision.   The Advisory Opinion addresses the Fourth Amendment to the Declaration Under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act for Medical Countermeasures Against COVID-19 and Republication of … Continue reading

HHS Issues Final Rule Requiring Retrospective Review of Regulations

On Friday, January 8, 2021, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) released a final rule that would provide HHS with five years to review existing regulations that are more than ten years old, subject to certain exceptions, to determine if each regulation is still necessary. HHS will be permitted to extend this deadline … Continue reading

COVID-19 Update: Secretary Azar Extends Pubic Health Emergency

On January 6, 2021 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar renewed the Public Health Emergency declaration, effective January 21, 2021.  In a tweet, Secretary Azar announced the renewal and stated that “[o]ur work to combat the virus will continue, as will our work to ensure a peaceful and orderly transition.”  The … Continue reading

COVID-19 Update: Healthcare provisions (Including Medicare GME Revisions) in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021

On December 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the fourth round of COVID-19 emergency relief that passed both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (“Act”) includes approximately $900 billion in pandemic relief and is reportedly the longest bill (5,593 pages) to be passed in Congress’s history. … Continue reading

D.C. Circuit Upholds CMS Price Transparency Rule

On December 29, 2020, three days before the implementation date, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) price transparency final rule.  Beginning January 1, 2021, hospitals will be required to make public their standard charges for 300 shoppable services, including 70 services identified by … Continue reading

Congress Passes Surprise Medical Bill Legislation

After two years of negotiations Congress has enacted legislation to protect patients from certain surprise medical bills as part of Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.   The No Surprises Act (the “Act”) amends the Public Health Services Act and will take effect on January 1, 2022.  While several states have passed surprise billing protections in recent years … Continue reading

CMS releases special alert on monitoring hospital compliance with price transparency requirements

On Friday, December 18, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) issued a special alert to remind hospitals that the Hospital Price Transparency final rule (“final rule”) requirements are effective starting January 1, 2021 and that CMS will monitor a “sample of hospitals” when the final rule goes into effect to determine compliance … Continue reading

COVID-19 Update: First Person Receives COVID-19 Vaccine in U.S.

Almost eleven months after the first confirmed coronavirus patient in the State of Washington (HL Pulse post here), the first dose of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine was administered in the U.S. to a critical care nurse a little after 9:00 a.m. ET.  This happened just three days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration … Continue reading

CMS releases proposed interoperability rule to improve prior authorizations and the electronic exchange of healthcare data

On December 10, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) issued a proposed rule to revise the prior authorization process and to add new requirements for state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (“CHIP”) fee-for-service programs, Medicaid managed care plans, CHIP managed care entities, and Qualified Health Plan issuers on the Federally-facilitated Exchanges … Continue reading

CMS Publishes 2021 Hospital OPPS and ASC Final Rule

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) has published the Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (“OPPS”) and Ambulatory Surgery Center (“ASC”) final rule for CY 2021.  CMS finalized an annual increase OPPS and ASC rates of 2.4 percent for CY 2021, based on a 2.4 percent market basket update and without a cut for … Continue reading
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