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Just How Many Employers Will Mandate Vaccines?

An August Willis Towers Watson poll found that 52% of 961 surveyed companies intend to implement at least one vaccine mandate by 2021’s fourth quarter. In a poll in May, 72% of respondents said they had no plans to require vaccines.

To encourage vaccination, some employers—like Delta Air Lines—are introducing or considering company healthcare plan surcharges for unvaccinated employees. However, in this article published via Advisory Board, McDermott partner Judith Wethall said few employers have actually “pulled the trigger” on such a move.

Access the article.




Protecting the Telehealth Consumer: FTC and State-Based Considerations

Telemedicine in the United States is facing an important crossroads. While telehealth services have demonstrated their value as an integral part of care delivery, federal and state waivers instituted during the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to expire soon. As lawmakers and agency officials consider updated or expanded digital health rules, regulators are expected to intensify their scrutiny of providers.

In this webinar, McDermott partners Jiayan Chen and Brian J. Boyle explore consumer protections for telehealth consumers, including the following:

  • Privacy considerations beyond the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, including Federal Trade Commission requirements;
  • How to prepare for the Health Breach Notification Rule;
  • The ins and outs of advertising telehealth, including claims, endorsements and social media;
  • Strategies for engaging with users in the digital environment; and
  • Increased fraud enforcement.

Access the webinar.




Red Tape, Legal Risk Douse Fervor for Surcharges on Unvaccinated

Companies curious about Delta Air Lines’ unvaccinated healthcare premium surcharge are discovering that it may be too complex to copy. The airline recently announced that unvaccinated employees enrolled in the company’s health plan would see a $200 monthly surcharge. In this Bloomberg Law article, McDermott partner Judith Wethall said the compliance hurdles are “tricky and kind of dilute the message.”

Access the article.




CMS Addresses Virtual Care Expansion in CY 2022 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Proposal

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently published its annual proposed changes to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, which include several key telehealth and other virtual care-related proposals. The proposals address long-standing restrictions that have historically limited the use of telehealth and virtual care, including geographic and originating site restrictions, and limitations on audio-only care, as well as coverage extensions for some services added during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Read more here.




Leniency on Implementation Timetables for Surprise Billing and Insurer Price Transparency

The Biden administration is giving insurers more time to follow the insurer price transparency rule and the ban on surprise billing. Federal regulators will delay enforcement of machine-readable file provider rates until July 1, rather than the start of 2022. In this article published in Modern Healthcare, McDermott partner Kate McDonald noted that the initial timeline was “very aggressive.”

Read more here.




Companies Eye Financial Penalties for Unvaccinated Workers

As companies consider whether or not to introduce vaccine mandates for employees, there is interest among some employers to increase health care premiums or impose financial penalties on employees who refuse vaccination. Delta Air Lines, for example, recently announced that unvaccinated employees enrolled in the company’s health plan would see a $200 monthly surcharge. However, according to McDermott partner Judith Wethall in The Hill, financial penalties for the unvaccinated are legally complicated, and vaccine mandates likely pose less regulatory issues for employers to impose.

Access the article.




Requirements Related to Surprise Billing: Policy Update

The US Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury and Labor, and the Office of Personnel Management issued an Interim Final Rule with comment implementing portions of the No Surprises Act, legislation enacted in December 2020 that bars surprise billing beginning January 1, 2022. Under the law, payers and providers (including hospitals, facilities, individual practitioners and air ambulance providers) are prohibited from billing patients more than in-network cost-sharing amounts in emergency and non-emergency circumstances. This IFR establishes regulations defining the payment methodology. The regulation proposes the methodology payers must use to determine cost sharing; the information payers must share with out-of-network providers; the process for submitting and receiving consumer complaints; and the format and details of the notice and consent requirements.

Read more here.




Mask Up, Vax Up: Illinois Governor Issues Immediate Face Covering Mandate for All, COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate for Healthcare, School and State Workers and Students

On August 26, 2021, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued Executive Order 2021-20 (the Order). The Order mandates that all individuals in Illinois who are at least two years old and who are medically able must wear face coverings indoors and in other specified settings.

In addition, the Order mandates COVID-19 vaccination for certain professionals in healthcare and education, as well as for students and state employees, subject to certain exemptions which require regular COVID-19 testing.

Read more here.




Four Things To Know About COVID ‘Long-Haulers’ At Work

Research continues to shed light on COVID-19’s long-term health effects for some people, and these “post-COVID conditions” will create additional challenges for employers.

In this Law360 article, McDermott partner Carole A. Spink says employers should be aware that long-haul COVID symptoms mean additional accommodations for employees.

“As they have done throughout the pandemic, employers should have a plan for addressing potential long-term absences as a result of post-COVID effects. On the practical side, at some point employers may need to determine whether a particular situation has become such that providing a continuing reasonable accommodation would pose an undue burden,” Spink notes.

Access the article.




Pfizer’s Full Approval Triggers New Vaccine Mandates

The full US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has led to vaccine mandates by both governments and businesses. More companies will implement their own vaccine requirements in light of the FDA approval, according to McDermott partner Michelle Strowhiro in this The Hill article.

“What employers are trying to balance right now is implementing the right safety standards for their workforce while also being cognizant of the fact that the labor market is so difficult and many employers are already struggling with having the right number of people on staff,” Strowhiro said.

Access the article.




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