Minimum Wage, Overtime Risks Highlighted By Labor Department Strike Force Targeting Residential Care & Group Homes

December 16, 2010

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has appointed a strike force to investigate violations of federal minimum wage, overtime, recordkeeping and child labor law by residential care and group homes in North Carolina.  The announced strike force targeting violations in the Charlotte and Raleigh areas with the intention to expand the strike force actions statewide over the next 10 months highlights the growing risks that health and other caregivers face for wage and hour and other employment law violations. 

Group homes, including those providing adult resident care, family care, assisted housing and special care, employ more than 7,000 workers in North Carolina. Wage and Hour Division officials project the strike force investigations will affect more than 1,700 workers in the Charlotte area and more than 400 workers in the Raleigh-Cary area.

In cases where a staffing or other middle-layer management company provides services to a residential care facility, Wage and Hour Division investigators will focus on determining whether both companies may be held jointly liable for violations. With multi-establishment enterprises, investigators will be looking to enter into enterprise-wide agreements that affect all operations of the parent corporation.  

Misclassification of workers and inappropriate compensation time practices are common compliance concerns among employers generally and for health and caregiver industry employers particularly.  As in other industries, these employers often overestimate the scope and applicability of the exempt classification, misclassify workers as independent contractors who are actually common law employees, overestimate their ability to provide “comp time” in lieu of overtime, misapply “on-call” policies, or misunderstand other FLSA requirements. 

Wage & Hour Division Fact Sheets and other enforcement actions reflect that many health and other caregiver employers incur overtime and minimum wage violations because improperly classify workers as exempt or contractors, fail to properly count and pay for all hours that an employee works in accordance with the FLSA, fail to properly credit time spent traveling or on call, fail to credit time spent for required attendance at lectures, meetings, training programs, recordkeeping and similar activities, improperly deduct time for breaks, fail to properly credit on call time, and fail to pay for unauthorized hours worked. Enforcement of these requirements against health and other caregiver employers also is rising since the Wage & Hour Division has included employers in these industries among the industry groups targeted for special compliance monitoring under the FLSA and the highly-publicized implementation of updated FLSA regulations regarding the classification of workers a few years ago has peaked the interest of plaintiffs’ attorneys . 

These mistakes can be very costly.  Health industry and other employers that fail to properly pay employees under Federal and state wage and hour regulations face substantial risk. Violation of wage and hour mandates carries substantial civil – and in the case of willful violations, even criminal- liability exposure.  Civil awards commonly include back pay, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.  As a consequence, health care and other employers should review and document the defensibility of their existing practices for classifying and compensating workers under existing Federal and state wage and hour laws and take appropriate steps to minimize their potential liability under applicable wages and hour laws. 

Under the FLSA, an employer generally must pay an employee in accordance with the minimum wage and overtime requirements of the FSLA unless the employer can prove that the employee qualifies as “exempt” as a white collar employee under the DOL’s FLSA regulations.  The FLSA mandates that the base hourly rate of pay of each “non-exempt” employee of not less than the current Federally-established minimum wage for each of the up to initial 40 hours of work performed by the employee in any workweek.  Subject to certain limited exceptions, the FLSA’s overtime rules generally also mandate that “non-exempt” employees be paid overtime pay at a rate of not less than one and one-half times the regular rate of pay for hours in excess of 40 hours of work performed in a given work week.  The regulations also provide guidance for determining when leased, contract or other non-traditionally employed workers will be treated as employees, for determining when an employer must treat “on-call” time, travel time, meal and break times, and certain other  time periods as compensable hours worked by a non-exempt employee, when “comp time” in lieu of the payment of wages is permitted, various alternative methods for calculating overtime under certain special circumstances, and various other rules applicable to various special circumstances.  In addition to these federal wage and hour requirements, employers also generally must comply with various state-imposed minimum wage, overtime, compensable time, paid break, and other rules governing the calculation and payment of wages to employees employed within the particular state in which the employee renders the services.   

Under the FSLA and applicable state wage and hour laws, employers generally bear the burden of proving that they have properly paid their employees in accordance with the FLSA. Additionally, the FLSA and most applicable state wage and hour laws mandate that employers maintain records of the hours worked by employees by non-exempt employees, documentation of the employer’s proper payment of its non-exempt employees in accordance with the minimum wage and overtime mandates of the FLSA, and certain other records.  Since the burden of proof of compliance generally rests upon the employer, health industry employers should take steps to ensure their ability to demonstrate that they have properly paid non-exempt employees in accordance with applicable FLSA and state wage and hour mandates and that employees not paid in accordance with these mandates qualify as exempt from coverage under the FLSA. 

To minimize exposure under the FLSA, health care employers should review and document the defensibility of their existing practices for classifying and compensating workers under existing Federal and state wage and hour laws and take appropriate steps to minimize their potential liability under applicable wages and hour laws.  Steps advisable as part of this process include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Conducting and audit of each worker current classified as exempt or a non-employee worker to assess its continued sustainability and to develop documentation justifying that characterization;
  • Update policies and procedures;
  • Review of existing practices for tracking compensable hours and paying non-exempt employees for compliance with applicable regulations and to identify opportunities to minimize costs and liabilities arising out of the regulatory mandates;
  • If the audit raises questions about the appropriateness of the classification of an employee as exempt, self-initiation of appropriate corrective action after consultation with qualified legal counsel;
  • Review of existing documentation and recordkeeping practices for hourly employees;
  • Explore available options and alternatives for calculating required wage payments to non-exempt employees;
  • Reengineer of work rules and other practices to minimize costs and liabilities as appropriate in light of the regulations;
  • Confirm the adequacy of recordkeeping and other documentation;
  • Audit and secure appropriate contractual assurance of the adequacy of wage and hour and other practices of staffing, leasing and other organizations providing supplemental workers to provide services; and
  • Verify the appropriateness or worker classification and compliance practices of workers providing services through a staffing, leasing or other arrangement where the worker is not treated as an employee of the employer.

Because of the potentially significant liability exposure, employers generally will want to consult with qualified legal counsel prior to the commencement of their assessment and to conduct the assessment within the scope of attorney-client privilege to minimize risks that might arise out of communications made in the course of conducting this sensitive investigation. 

For assistance with assessing or defending your current worker classification, wage and hour or other health care and human resources policies and controls, please contact Cynthia Marcotte Stamer at cstamer@solutionslawyer.net, 972-419-7188..

For More Information or Assistance

The author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, has extensive experience advising and assisting health care providers and other health industry clients to respond to these and other health care industry enforcement and other compliance, public policy, regulatory, staffing, and other operations and risk management matters.

Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law, Vice President of the North Texas Health Care Compliance Professionals Association, Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Section and the former Board Compliance Chair of the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas, Ms. Stamer has more than 23 years experience advising physicians, hospitals and other health industry, assisted living, educational and other clients about human resources, employee benefits and compensation, regulatory compliance and enforcement, quality assurance, peer review, licensing and discipline, and other medical staff performance matters.  She continuously advises health industry clients about the use of technology, process and other mechanisms to promote compliance and internal controls, workforce and medical staff performance, quality, governance, reimbursement, and other risk management and operational needs. As part of this experience, she has worked extensively with health care providers, payers, health care technology and consulting and other health industry clients, as well as other businesses, on privacy, data security, trade secret and related matters. A popular lecturer and widely published author on health industry concerns, Ms. Stamer also publishes and speaks extensively on health care compliance, staffing and human resources, compensation and benefits, technology, medical staff, public policy, reimbursement, privacy, technology, and other health and managed care industry regulatory, and other operations and risk management concerns for medical societies and staffs, hospitals, the HCCA, American Bar Association, American Health Lawyers Association and many other health industry groups and symposia.  Her highly popular and information packed programs include many highly regarded publications on HIPAA, FACTA, medical confidentiality, state identity theft and privacy and other many other related matters.  Her insights on these and other related matters appear in the Health Care Compliance Association, Atlantic Information Service, Bureau of National Affairs, World At Work, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insurance, the Dallas Morning News, Modern Health Care, Managed Healthcare, Health Leaders, and a many other national and local publications. To review some of her many publications and presentations, or for additional information about Ms. Stamer, her experience, involvements, programs or publications, see here.

Other Recent Developments

If you found this information of interest, you also may be interested in reviewing some of the following recent Updates available online by clicking on the article title:

For More Information

We hope that this information is useful to you.  You can review other recent health care and internal controls resources and additional information about the health industry and other experience of Ms. Stamer here. If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile at here or e-mailing this information here.

About Solutions Law Press

Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, compensation, data security and privacy, health care, insurance, and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and other key operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources.  If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates and notices about other upcoming Solutions Law Press events, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile at here. For important information concerning this communication click here

©2010 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer. Limited license to reprint granted to Solutions Law Press.  All other rights reserved.


Health Care Fraud Enforcement Packs New Heat

December 16, 2010

As part of ongoing efforts to prevent and fight health care fraud, US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder today announced that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) plans to acquire and new state-of-the-art predictive modeling fraud fighting analytic tools to prevent wasteful and fraudulent payments in Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program before they occur  As Sebelius and Holder made the announcement at a Fraud Prevention Summit held at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, CMS issued a solicitation for state-of-the-art fraud fighting analytic tools to help the agency predict and prevent potentially wasteful, abusive or fraudulent payments before they occur.   These actions come as CMS and the Justice Department are touting record recoveries from already ongoing enforcement actions.

CMS intends to use these new tools into the National Fraud Prevention Program and to complement and expand fraud detection and enforcement work and practices utilized by the joint HHS and Department of Justice Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) in recent years. 

CMS is already starting to take administrative action to stop payments in various pilot programs or other anti-fraud initiatives.  The move to acquire and use additional predictive model tools comes as CMS is implementing new and expanded health care fraud detection and enforcement authority provided in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act).  CMS and the Justice Department are moving aggressively to take advantage of these new powers and resources.  In recent months HHS founded the new Center for Program Integrity within CMS would focus on identifying and stopping fraud and acting swiftly to protect beneficiaries. It also proposed new rules implementing enhanced health care fraud investigation and enforcement powers enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act. 

Meanwhile, CMS and the Justice Department have continued to aggressively investigate and prosecute suspected health care fraud.  Already, stepped up fraud enforcement efforts have produced significant recoveries. In Fiscal Year 2010, the Department of Justice obtained settlements and judgments of more than $2.5 billion in False Claims Act matters alleging health care fraud. This is more than ever before obtained in a single year, up from $1.68 billion in Fiscal Year 2009.

In light of these developments, health care providers should tighten billing and other compliance practices and monitoring of enforcement and other oversight activities by CMS and the Justice Department.   Get more details here.

For Assistance

The author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, has extensive experience advising and assisting health care providers and other health industry clients to respond to these and other health care industry enforcement and other compliance, public policy, regulatory, staffing, and other operations and risk management matters.

Vice President of the North Texas Health Care Compliance Professionals Association, Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Section and the former Board Compliance Chair of the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas, Ms. Stamer has more than 23 years experience advising physicians, hospitals and other health industry clients about regulatory compliance and enforcement, quality assurance, peer review, licensing and discipline, and other medical staff performance matters.  She continuously advises health industry clients about the use of technology, process and other mechanisms to promote compliance and internal controls, workforce and medical staff performance, quality, governance, reimbursement, and other risk management and operational needs. As part of this experience, she has worked extensively with health care providers, payers, health care technology and consulting and other health industry clients, as well as other businesses, on privacy, data security, trade secret and related matters. A popular lecturer and widely published author on health industry concerns, Ms. Stamer also publishes and speaks extensively on health care compliance, staffing and human resources, compensation and benefits, technology, medical staff, public policy, reimbursement, privacy, technology, and other health and managed care industry regulatory, and other operations and risk management concerns for medical societies and staffs, hospitals, the HCCA, American Bar Association, American Health Lawyers Association and many other health industry groups and symposia.  Her highly popular and information packed programs include many highly regarded publications on HIPAA, FACTA, medical confidentiality, state identity theft and privacy and other many other related matters.  Her insights on these and other related matters appear in the Health Care Compliance Association, Atlantic Information Service, Bureau of National Affairs, World At Work, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insurance, the Dallas Morning News, Modern Health Care, Managed Healthcare, Health Leaders, and a many other national and local publications. To review some of her many publications and presentations, or for additional information about Ms. Stamer, her experience, involvements, programs or publications, see here.

Other Recent Developments

If you found this information of interest, you also may be interested in reviewing some of the following recent Updates available online by clicking on the article title:

For More Information

We hope that this information is useful to you.  You can review other recent health care and internal controls resources and additional information about the health industry and other experience of Ms. Stamer here. If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile at here or e-mailing this information here. To unsubscribe, e-mail here.

About Solutions Law Press

Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, compensation, data security and privacy, health care, insurance, and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and other key operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources.  If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates and notices about other upcoming Solutions Law Press events, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail- by creating or updating your profile at here. For important information concerning this communication click here.  For important information concerning this communication click here.

©2010 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer. Limited license to reprint granted to Solutions Law Press.  All other rights reserved.

 


President Signs Long-Sought Red Flag Rule Exemption Into Law

December 9, 2010

Allowing customers or clients to pay for services and supplies over time will not cause doctors, dentists, hospitals, veterinarians, and other health care providers, lawyers, accountants, consultants and other service providers to be required to comply with the burdensome “Red Flag Rules” of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACTA) after all.   President Obama earlier today (December 9, 2010) signed into law the “Red Flag Program Clarification Act of 2010 (S. 3987/H.R. 6420) (Act), which exempts businesses engaging in these limited financing transactions from the obligation to comply with the Red Flag Rule’s identity theft monitoring and prevention requirements.

FACTA’s Red Flag Rules generally require “creditors” to comply with burdensome identity theft prevention and monitoring rules issued by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  Before the Act became law today, FTC regulations set to take effect December 31, 2010 construed health care providers, attorneys, consultants or other service providers as covered creditors simply if they allowed customers finance and pay charges to the service provider over time.  Despite widespread outcry over this interpretation, efforts to overturn this interpretation had proven unsuccessful until recent weeks.

The Act intended by Congress to make clear that doctors, dentists, orthodontists, pharmacists, veterinarians, accountants, nurse practitioners, social workers, other types of health care providers, lawyers and other service providers will no longer be classified as ‘creditors’’ for the purposes of the Red Flags Rules just because they do not receive payment in full from their clients at the time they provide their services, when they don’t offer or maintain accounts that pose a reasonably foreseeable risk of identity theft.

As amended by the Act, the Red Flag Rule’s definition of “creditor” generally will continue to apply to a person who obtains or uses consumer reports in connection with a credit transaction, furnishes information to consumer reporting agencies in connection with credit transactions, or advances funds based on the recipients obligation to repay (or permit the funds to be repaid through specific property of the recipient), or otherwise is a creditor that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by rule determines should be covered as a creditor that offers or maintains accounts subject to a reasonably foreseeable risk of identity theft.   However, a person that only “advances funds on behalf of a person for expenses incidental to a service provided by the creditor to that person” now is expressly excluded from the definition of “creditor” for purposes of the Red Flag Rules.

The Act’s passage follows a multi-year battle by health care providers and other professional services providers to reverse the FTC’s interpretation of the Red Flag Rules as applicable to service providers that allow customers and clients to pay for services and supplies over time.  The outcry about the FTC’s interpretation of the scope of the rules and the perceived cost and complexity of their provisions lead the FTC to delay implementation several times.  See e.g., Health Care Red Flag Rule Compliance Deadline Extended To August 1; Prompt Action Still Required.

Congressional action to overturn the interpretation took wings beginning in November.  After the Senate passed S. 3987, on November 30, 2010, the House of Representatives acted quickly to send the Act to the President for signature by approving H.R. 6420 on December 7. 

The relief provided under the Act is particularly welcomed by health care providers, who already face significant civil and criminal liability exposures under the health-industry specific privacy and data security requirements of the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA).  See CVS Settles Privacy Charges; Rite Aid Agrees to Pay $1 Million to Settle HIPAA Privacy Case As Office of Civil Rights Proposes Tighter HIPAA Privacy & Security Regulations; 2 New HIPAA Criminal Actions Highlight Risks From Wrongful Use/Access of Health Information.

While the Act exempts these limited transactions from the Red Flag Rules, businesses should avoid underestimating the scope of relief provided.  Even with the new exemption, these and other businesses generally face significant responsibilities and risk under other federal electronic crimes, and other federal and state data security, identity theft and other laws and precedent, as well as pursuant to contractual commitments incorporated into a broad range of agreements in response to FACTA, HIPAA and other risk management concerns.  Unless they take action to reform contracts and policies, health industry and other services covered by the new exemption generally may face contractual obligations to continue to comply with many of the Red Flag Rule mandates under contractual commitments incorporated into various agreements in anticipation of the effective date of the Red Flag Rule requirements.  Health industry and other businesses expecting to enjoy relief from the Red Flag Rules as a result the Act should review contractual and other obligations to properly understand their continuing legal responsibilities and, where warranted, consider revising contracts and policies to remove or adjust provisions incorporated solely in anticipation of Red Flag Rules mandates.  Health care providers and other businesses that fail to take these and other appropriate steps to clean up their contracts and procedures risks unnecessarily obligating themselves to continue to comply with rules despite their exemption from these legal mandates.

For More Information or Assistance

If you need assistance evaluating or responding the health industry or other privacy and data security concerns or other technology and process, compliance, risk management, transactional, operational, enforcement or public policy concerns, please contact the author of this update, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, at (469) 767-8872, cstamer@Solutionslawyer.net.

Vice President of the North Texas Health Care Compliance Professionals Association, Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Section and the former Board Compliance Chair of the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas, Ms. Stamer has more than 23 years experience advising physicians, hospitals and other health industry clients about quality assurance, peer review, licensing and discipline, and other medical staff performance matters.  She continuously advises health industry clients about the use of technology, process and other mechanisms to promote compliance and internal controls, workforce and medical staff performance, quality, governance, reimbursement, and other risk management and operational needs. As part of this experience, she has worked extensively with health care providers, payers, health care technology and consulting and other health industry clients, as well as other businesses, on privacy, data security, trade secret and related matters. A popular lecturer and widely published author on health industry concerns, Ms. Stamer also publishes and speaks extensively on health care staffing and human resources, compensation and benefits, technology, medical staff, public policy, reimbursement, privacy, technology, and other health and managed care industry regulatory, and other operations and risk management concerns for medical societies and staffs, hospitals, the HCCA, American Bar Association, American Health Lawyers Association and many other health industry groups and symposia.  Her highly popular and information packed programs include many highly regarded publications on HIPAA, FACTA, medical confidentiality, state identity theft and privacy and other many other related matters.  Her insights on these and other related matters appear in the Health Care Compliance Association, Atlantic Information Service, Bureau of National Affairs, World At Work, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insurance, the Dallas Morning News, Modern Health Care, Managed Healthcare, Health Leaders, and a many other national and local publications. To review some of her many publications and presentations, or for additional information about Ms. Stamer, her experience, involvements, programs or publications, see here.

For More Information

We hope that this information is useful to you.  You can review other recent health care and internal controls resources and additional information about the health industry and other experience of Ms. Stamer here. If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile at here or e-mailing this information here.

About Solutions Law Press

Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, compensation, data security and privacy, health care, insurance, and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and other key operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources.  If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates and notices about other upcoming Solutions Law Press events, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail- by creating or updating your profile here. For important information concerning this communication click here.

©2010 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer. Limited license to reprint granted to Solutions Law Press.  All other rights reserved.


Red Flag Rule Relief For Health Care Providers, Lawyers & Other Service Providers Awaits President’s Signature

December 8, 2010

Congress has approved and sent to the President for signature legislation exempting doctors, dentists, hospitals, veterinarians, and other health care providers, lawyers, accountants, consultants and other service providers that allow customers to pay for their services and supplies over time from the burdensome “Red Flag Rules” of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACTA). 

FACTA’s Red Flag Rules generally require “creditors” to comply with burdensome identity theft prevention and monitoring rules issued by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  Under current FTC regulations set to take effect December 31, 2010, health care providers, attorneys, consultants or other service providers become covered creditors simply by allowing customers finance and pay charges to the service provider over time. 

Yesterday (December 7, 2010), the House of Representatives by voice vote passed H.R. 6420, the “Red Flag Program Clarification Act of 2010.:  Like the Senate version of the Bill, S. 3987, passed by the Senate on November 30, 2010, the Red Flag Program Clarification Act (“Act”) is intended by Congress to make clear that doctors, dentists, orthodontists, pharmacists, veterinarians, accountants, nurse practitioners, social workers, other types of health care providers, lawyers and other service providers will no longer be classified as ‘creditors’’ for the purposes of the Red Flags Rules just because they do not receive payment in full from their clients when they provide their services, when they don’t offer or maintain accounts that pose a reasonably foreseeable risk of identity theft.

Assuming the President signs the Act into law, the Red Flag Rule’s definition of “creditor” generally would continue to apply to a person who obtains or uses consumer reports in connection with a credit transaction, furnishes information to consumer reporting agencies in connection with credit transactions, or advances funds based on the recipients obligation to repay (or permit the funds to be repaid through specific property of the recipient), or otherwise is a creditor that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by rule determines should be covered as a creditor that offers or maintains accounts subject to a reasonably foreseeable risk of identity theft.   However, a person that only “advances funds on behalf of a person for expenses incidental to a service provided by the creditor to that person” will be expressly excluded from the definition of “creditor” for purposes of the Red Flag Rules.

The Act’s passage follows a multi-year battle by health care providers and other professional services providers to reverse the FTC’s interpretation of the Red Flag Rules as applicable to service providers that allow customers and clients to pay for services and supplies over time.  The outcry about the FTC’s interpretation of the scope of the rules and the perceived cost and complexity of their provisions lead the FTC to delay implementation several times.  See e.g., Health Care Red Flag Rule Compliance Deadline Extended To August 1; Prompt Action Still Required. The relief provided under the Act is particularly welcomed by health care providers, who already face significant civil and criminal liability exposures under the health-industry specific privacy and data security requirements of the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA).  See CVS Settles Privacy Charges; Rite Aid Agrees to Pay $1 Million to Settle HIPAA Privacy Case As Office of Civil Rights Proposes Tighter HIPAA Privacy & Security Regulations; 2 New HIPAA Criminal Actions Highlight Risks From Wrongful Use/Access of Health Information.

While when signed into law the Act will the technical burdens that health care providers and other service industry businesses by exempting them from FACTA’s Red Flag Rules, these and other businesses generally face significant responsibilities and risk under other federal electronic crimes, and other federal and state data security, identity theft and other laws and precedent, as well as pursuant to contractual commitments incorporated into a broad range of agreements in response to FACTA, HIPAA and other risk management concerns.  Even after the President signs the Act into law, however, health industry and other businesses still may face contractual obligations to continue to comply with many of its mandates under contractual commitments incorporated into various agreements in anticipation of the effective date of the Red Flag Rule requirements.  Health industry and other businesses expecting to enjoy relief from the Red Flag Rules as a result the Act should review contractual and other obligations to properly understand their continuing legal responsibilities and, where warranted, consider seeking the removal of contract amendments to remove provisions incorporated into contracts solely in anticipation of Red Flag Rules mandates to the extent this limited relief permits.  Since the relief granted under the terms of the statute is quite narrow and limited, however, organizations should review carefully their operations to verify that their operations do not encompass other activities that would cause them to continue to qualify as creditors for purposes of the Red Flag Rules to avoid compliance exposures from over-estimating the scope of relief.

For More Information or Assistance

If you need assistance evaluating or responding the health industry or other privacy and data security concerns or other technology and process, compliance, risk management, transactional, operational, enforcement or public policy concerns, please contact the author of this update, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, at (469) 767-8872, cstamer@solutionslawyer.net.

Vice President of the North Texas Health Care Compliance Professionals Association, Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Section and the former Board Compliance Chair of the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas, Ms. Stamer has more than 23 years experience advising physicians, hospitals and other health industry clients about quality assurance, peer review, licensing and discipline, and other medical staff performance matters.  She continuously advises health industry clients about the use of technology, process and other mechanisms to promote compliance and internal controls, workforce and medical staff performance, quality, governance, reimbursement, and other risk management and operational needs. As part of this experience, she has worked extensively with health care providers, payers, health care technology and consulting and other health industry clients, as well as other businesses, on privacy, data security, trade secret and related matters. A popular lecturer and widely published author on health industry concerns, Ms. Stamer also publishes and speaks extensively on health care staffing and human resources, compensation and benefits, technology, medical staff, public policy, reimbursement, privacy, technology, and other health and managed care industry regulatory, and other operations and risk management concerns for medical societies and staffs, hospitals, the HCCA, American Bar Association, American Health Lawyers Association and many other health industry groups and symposia.  Her highly popular and information packed programs include many highly regarded publications on HIPAA, FACTA, medical confidentiality, state identity theft and privacy and other many other related matters.  Her insights on these and other related matters appear in the Health Care Compliance Association, Atlantic Information Service, Bureau of National Affairs, World At Work, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insurance, the Dallas Morning News, Modern Health Care, Managed Healthcare, Health Leaders, and a many other national and local publications. To review some of her many publications and presentations, or for additional information about Ms. Stamer, her experience, involvements, programs or publications, see here.

For More Information

We hope that this information is useful to you.  You can review other recent health care and internal controls resources and additional information about the health industry and other experience of Ms. Stamer here.  If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources.  If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates and notices about other upcoming Solutions Law Press events, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail- by creating or updating your profile here.

About Solutions Law Press

Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, compensation, data security and privacy, health care, insurance, and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and other key operational concerns. For important information concerning this communication click here.  .

©2010 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer. Limited license to reprint granted to Solutions Law Press.  All other rights reserved.


Quality, Recordkeeping & Unprofessional Conduct Lead Reasons For Medical Board Discipline of Physicians

December 2, 2010

Quality, unprofessional conduct and recordkeeping issues were the most common reason for discipline among the 77 physicians disciplined by the Texas Medical Board (TMB) since August.   The reported actions highlight the need for physicians and the hospitals, practices and other entities dealing with them to take appropriate steps to manage these and other related risks.

Data recently disclosed by the TMB reveals that among the 77 licensed physicians disciplined, the violations included:

  • 11 violations based on quality of care;
  • 10 based on inadequate medical records
  • 9 violations based on unprofessional conduct;
  • 4 based on other states’ action;
  • 1 based on inadequate supervision
  • 1 based on peer review actions;
  • 1 based on criminal convictions; and
  • 10 orders for minor statutory violations.

The disciplinary actions imposed varied based on the nature and circumstances of the offense.  It included 8 voluntary surrenders; 1 suspension; 3 revocations;  18 corrective orders and one cease and desist order.

A review of the TMB statistics and reports about these actions demonstrates the continuing need for physicians and the practices, hospitals, insurers, and others with liability or responsibility for monitoring, reporting or insuring their conduct to provide and administer effective training, quality and performance management and oversight to monitor and promote appropriate physician performance in these and other performance areas that may give rise to discipline or disciplinary reporting obligations.  Additionally, a review of the circumstances of the reported circumstances also highlights the advisability of strengthening stress and substance abuse monitoring, education and intervention processes and procedures to head off or minimize potential licensing board and other risks.

For More Information or Assistance

If you need help evaluating or responding to this development of other health care reimbursement, technology and process, compliance, risk management, transactional, operational, enforcement or public policy concerns, please contact the author of this update, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, at (469) 767-8872,  or via e-mail to cstamer@solutionslawyer.net.

Vice President of the North Texas Health Care Compliance Professionals Association, Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Section and the former Board Compliance Chair of the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas, Ms. Stamer has more than 23 years experience advising physicians, hospitals and other health industry clients about quality assurance, peer review, licensing and discipline, and other medical staff performance matters.  She continuously advises health industry clients about the use of technology, process and other mechanisms to promote compliance and internal controls, workforce and medical staff performance, quality, governance, reimbursement, and other risk management and operational needs. As part of this experience, she has worked extensively with health care providers, payers, health care technology and consulting and other health industry clients to investigate, address and defend physician and other health care workforce conduct, quality, communication and other concerns. A popular lecturer and widely published author on health industry concerns, Ms. Stamer also publishes and speaks extensively on health care staffing and human resources, compensation and benefits, technology, medical staff, public policy, reimbursement, privacy, technology, and other health and managed care industry regulatory, and other operations and risk management concerns for medical societies and staffs, hospitals, the HCCA, American Bar Association, American Health Lawyers Association and many other health industry groups and symposia.  Her highly popular and information packed programs include specific training for physicians and other health industry leaders on “Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘N Role: Personal Misconduct In Health Care,” “Managing Physician Performance,” “Physician Gainsharing,” improving health care communication and collaboration and many other related matters.  Her insights on these and other related matters appear in the Health Care Compliance Association, Atlantic Information Service, Bureau of National Affairs, World At Work, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insurance, the Dallas Morning News, Modern Health Care, Managed Healthcare, Health Leaders, and a many other national and local publications. To review some of her many publications and presentations, or for more information about Ms. Stamer, her experience, involvements, programs or publications, see here.

For More Information

We hope that this information is useful to you.  You can review other recent health care and internal controls resources and additional information about the health industry and other experience of Ms. Stamer here. If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile at here or e-mailing this information here.

About Solutions Law Press

Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, compensation, data security and privacy, health care, insurance, and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and other key operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources available for review here.

©2010 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer.  License to republished granted to Solutions Law Press.  All other rights reserved.


12/15 Deadline For Input on New Joint Commission Heart Failure Certification

December 2, 2010

December 15, 2010 is the deadline to share your comments with the Joint Commission on proposed requirements for Advanced Certification in Heart Failure from health care professionals who care for individuals with heart failure. 
The Joint Commission drives much of how hospitals and a growing number of health care providers are judged and ultimately paid.  Since the cost of meeting these standards ultimately will be passed on in the charges made by health care providers, health plans and employers should evaluate these credentials and provide appropriate comments when the demonstrated benefits of added conditions or paperwork drive up costs unnecessarily, divert resources from more important patient care goals, or promote other inefficiencies.

The Joint Commission is a leading quality accreditation agency, whose reach now extends to almost all health care organizations and providers.  While acknowledging that the Joint Commission has and continues to do much to promote health care quality,  health care providers increasingly complain the Joint Commission requirements increasingly are becoming overkill that unnecessarily adds costs and recordkeeping burden in a way that puts measurement before patient care, but feel pressure to comply.  Supporters say the standards are necessary to maintain and demonstrate quality.

Striking the proper balance between quality and cost is at the heart of much of the current national initiative to control costs, as well as the efforts of almost all health care providers and payers.  To promote proper standards, share comments before the standards are adopted. In the meanwhile, what is your experience about the Joint Commission and the impact of their growing involvement in health care?

The Joint Commission is expanding its Advanced Heart Failure Certification program to encompass the care provided to individuals with heart failure in outpatient settings. The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association (AHA) have established a strategic alliance to recognize programs that demonstrate excellence in the care of individuals with heart failure in both inpatient and outpatient care settings. To receive this certification, an organization must demonstrate compliance with Joint Commission standards, including use of the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines®, and ongoing performance improvement. This new advanced certification is projected to launch in July 2011. 

For More Information or Assistance

For a link to the proposed standards or other information, see  hereIf you need help evaluating or responding to this development of other health care reimbursement, technology and process, compliance, risk management, transactional, operational, enforcement or public policy concerns, please contact the author of this update, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, at (469) 767-8872, cstamer@Solutionslawyer.net.
Vice President of the North Texas Health Care Compliance Professionals Association, Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Section and the former Board Compliance Chair of the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas, Ms. Stamer has more than 23 years experience advising health industry clients about these and other matters.  She continuously advises health industry clients about the use of technology, process and other mechanisms to promote compliance and internal controls, workforce and medical staff performance, quality, governance, reimbursement, and other risk management and operational needs. As part of this experience, she has worked extensively with health care providers, payers, health care technology and consulting and other health industry clients on the design and use of health information systems, technology, privacy and other related. A popular lecturer and widely published author on health industry concerns, Ms. Stamer also publishes and speaks extensively on health care privacy, technology, and other health and managed care industry regulatory, staffing and human resources, compensation and benefits, technology, public policy, reimbursement and other operations and risk management concerns. Her insights on these and other related matters appear in the Health Care Compliance Association, Atlantic Information Service, Bureau of National Affairs, World At Work, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insurance, the Dallas Morning News, Modern Health Care, Managed Healthcare, Health Leaders, and a many other national and local publications. To review some of her many publications and presentations, or for additional information about Ms. Stamer, her experience, involvements, programs or publications, see here.

About Solutions Law Press

Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, compensation, data security and privacy, health care, insurance, and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and other key operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources available for review here.


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