The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) are extending telehealth flexibilities that allow providers to prescribe controlled substances. While the extension is in place, the DEA indicated that it will be further evaluating its recently proposed rules for post-COVID-19 public health emergency telemedicine prescription of controlled substances.
As the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare fraud enforcement remains a top priority for the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and other government agencies with enforcement authority. In this Westlaw Today article, McDermott Partners Laura McLane, Tony Maida and Dana M. McSherry describe some of the areas that have assumed particularly high enforcement priority, including private equity, telehealth and pandemic relief funds.
Telehealth’s state-by-state regulatory patchwork means that healthcare providers must navigate a variety of regulations that govern which types of care can be provided by virtual means, and even what modalities can be used in different care settings. McDermott’s recent 50-state survey explores the standard and requirements that physicians and nurse practitioners must follow when prescribing non-controlled substances or ordering tests via a telemedicine encounter. Key issues addressed in the survey include:
- In what states are asynchronous solutions permitted?
- What are state rules governing prescriptions when a physician-patient relationship does not exist prior to the telehealth encounter?
- What are state rules on prescribing via audio-visual encounters or audio-only encounters?
- Under what state regulations can a questionnaire be sufficient to create a physician-patient or advance practice registered nurse-patient relationship?
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.
- 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.
The COVID-19 pandemic that ravaged 2020 spurred workers to take advantage of telemedicine and mental health benefits more frequently, and demand for those services isn’t expected to wane in the near future, experts say.
A recent article in Law360 examined three ways the pandemic had an impact on employee benefits over the past year, with McDermott partner Jacob Mattinson weighing in.
In the ongoing effort to help individuals impacted by COVID-19, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Securities Act (CARES Act) on March 27, 2020. The President signed the CARES Act into law the same day. The historic stimulus package provides wide-ranging relief for both employers and employees. This includes rules that impact health and welfare, retirement and executive compensation plans and programs.
For more information about the impact of the CARES Act on employer-provided benefits, access our On the Subject articles on the:
- Impact of the CARES Act on Health and Welfare Benefits
- Impact of the CARES Act on Retirement Plans and Student Loan Benefits
- Impact of the CARES Act on Executive Compensation
In addition, for information about the frequently asked questions regarding health and welfare, retirement and executive compensation issues in the COVID-19 era, access our FAQs.
As the telemedicine regulatory and reimbursement environment becomes more cohesive and providers and patients alike embrace technology, opportunities for telemedicine collaborations are likely to grow. Like any collaboration, finding the right partner is crucial for success, particularly at the highly scrutinized intersection of healthcare and technology. This post explores the factors to address when evaluating service providers and vendors for your next telemedicine collaboration.
DOJ’s focus on individual accountability is particularly important with respect to telemedicine. Telemedicine is a burgeoning field, with a projected market increase of 18% annually over the next six years, reaching $103 billion in 2024. In light of this recent surge in profitability, DOJ has begun paying extra attention to telemedicine, with at least one recent HHS-OIG report asserting that more than one-third of all telemedicine claims are improper.
During the most recent Tax in the City event in Dallas, Partners Erin Turley and Judith Wethall, presented on the rise of consumer driven health care. Some popular programs they discussed include wellness, smoking cessation, high deductible health plans and HSAs, telemedicine, direct contracting and affordable care organizations. They also discussed the compliance complexities associated with these programs, including ERISA, FLSA and HIPAA privacy concerns.
In the newest episode of the Of Digital Interest podcast, McDermott Digital Health partners, Lisa Schmitz Mazur and Dale Van Demark, share their perspectives on these questions and the various barriers, risks and opportunities associated with the rise of telemedicine and other technological advancements in health care delivery.