On May 17, 2023, the Texas Senate approved Senate Bill No. 14, prohibiting physicians from providing gender-affirming medical care to minors experiencing gender dysphoria (distress that results from having one’s gender identity not match one’s sex assigned at birth). The bill is expected to be signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott and take effect on September 1, 2023.
A group of conservative Texas lawmakers is warning employers of potential civil or criminal consequences if they offer out-of-state abortion access to their employees. In this Bloomberg Law article, McDermott Partner Scott Weinstein said many companies offering reproductive healthcare benefits are making sure such benefits aren’t tied to a particular procedure.
“The goal is not to know,” Weinstein said.
On July 8, President Biden signed an executive order for abortion access. In this order, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) pledged to take steps to ensure that all patients have access to the full rights and protections for emergency medical care afforded under the law. Currently, medical providers and hospitals are required by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act to provide stabilizing treatment for patients with emergency medical conditions. On July 11, the Biden administration reiterated, through new guidance from HHS, that medical providers must offer abortion services if the life of a mother is at risk and that procedures conducted under such circumstances would be protected regardless of state law. The state of Texas has already filed a lawsuit challenging the Biden administration on this new guidance on the grounds that it violates the rights of physicians who oppose providing abortions and violates a state’s right to invoke its own policies.
Additionally, the Office of Civil Rights released guidance for retail pharmacies on access to reproductive healthcare services. The guidance, directed toward the nation’s 60,000 retail pharmacies, directed that pharmacists must provide medications related to reproductive healthcare as directed and prescribed by providers. This includes abortion pills, birth control and other reproductive care treatments. The agency cited reports outlining instances in which women were denied certain medications because the drugs may be linked to abortion or the drugs have ingredients like those used for medication abortion, for example Methotrexate, which is sometimes used to treat certain types of cancer, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis, but can also be used off-label to end ectopic pregnancies.
In the past few years, several states and localities have passed paid sick leave laws. These laws generally require employers to offer workers paid sick leave due to illness or injury, domestic or sexual assault, or care of a family member. Proponents of paid sick leave laws say that they help the local economy by improving workers’ health, safety and welfare and by reducing employee turnover. The ordinance San Antonio passed last year required businesses with more than 15 employees to provide 64 hours of paid sick leave per year. Businesses with 15 or fewer employees were required to provide 48 hours of paid sick leave. (more…)
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.
The Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (Compact) has now been adopted by 26 states, which means the Compact will be taking effect on January 19, 2018. Nurses who seek to practice telemedicine and deliver in-person care across state lines and who meet the Compact’s licensure requirements in these states will have one less obstacle to overcome going forward.
According to U.S. News & World Report, estimates for the cost of Hurricane Harvey’s damage have come in as high as $190 billion, and damage estimates for Hurricane Irma are still rolling in but range up to $100 billion. To assist taxpayers affected by these devastating storms, the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Labor, and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation have granted multiple forms of relief to taxpayers impacted by Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, and other disasters enumerated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Section 139 of the Internal Revenue Code allows an employer to provide tax-free qualified disaster relief payments to Texas and Louisiana employees in designated areas affected by Hurricane Harvey.