New York - Volume XI, Number 10 - October, 2002
HIPAA Extension Filing Deadline Nears
In seeking to address the enormous impact of the new HIPAA regulations, HHS is allowing physicians to obtain an extension of the upcoming deadline for meeting the Electronic Transactions Standards deadline by filing a HIPAA Extension Form/Model Compliance Plan before October 15, 2002. Those physicians who have neither complied with the Transaction Standards nor filed for an extension run the risk of not being paid for claims submitted to Medicare. The model form may be obtained on the internet at http://www.ama-assn.org/go/hippa or be filed electronically at http://www.cms.hhs.gov/hipaa/hipaa2/ascaform.asp.
Department of Health and Human Services Issues Final HIPPA Rules.
Final HIPAA privacy rules, recently published in the Federal Register, vest the health care provider with the responsibility of developing a Privacy policies that fit his or her individual needs. The rules also hold that the provider need not obtain a signed �consent form� from patients before administering routine treatment. Providers may still maintain sign-in sheets in the office and hospital charts may be maintained at bedside. Any unusual disclosure of patient information must be preceded by the execution of a HIPAA compliant authorization by the patient. All �covered providers� must comply with the new regulations by April 14, 2003.
President Bush Proposes Limitations on Malpractice Awards.
In response to rising malpractice rates and the exodus of physicians from high risk specialties, President Bush has proposed a $250,000 limitation on awards for non-economic loss. The proposal does not limit recovery for economic loss. However, the President has proposed a cap on awards for punitive damages of $250,000 or twice the economic loss, whichever is higher. The proposal faces a stiff uphill challenge from tort reform opponents.
Law Exempting Certain Retired Physicians From Paying Biennial Fees Signed into Law.
Governor George Pataki recently signed into law a bill that exempts retired physicians who participate in the new Physician Volunteer Pilot Program from paying biennial fees. The aim of the program is to provide care to underserved residents of the Schenectady area where the pilot project will be undertaken.
Government Acts to Prohibit Provider�s Waiver of Medicaid/Medicare Co-Payments
Reflecting a recent change in policy, the Office of the Inspector General now opines that the waiver of Medicaid or Medicare co-payments may constitute both an illegal kickback and a false written statement when the waiver is not disclosed on the HCFA 1500 form used by Part B providers. Such acts may be prosecuted as criminal offenses under 18 U.S.C. 287 and may also give rise to civil liability for monetary damages under the federal False Claims Act. While the new rule has not yet been tested in court, if a co-payment is waived in the interim, it should be so reflected as a reduction in the amount charged for the service rendered. Drug Industry Prohibited From providing Gifts to Providers In an effort to discourage pharmaceutical manufacturers from rewarding providers for prescribing their medications, new standards issued by the United States Department of Health and Human Se