Rhode Island DHS Must Provide Translation, Other Services For Limited English, Other Language Impaired Persons

January 24, 2011

Rhode Island Department of Human Services (RIDHS) must change its policies and procedures to improve language access services for clients with limited English proficiency (LEP) under a resolution agreement (Resolution Agreement) with the Department of Health & Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) available for review here. The Resolution Agreement highlights the need for health care providers and others receiving financial assistance or participating in other OCR-regulated programs to provide adequate translation and other mechanisms to provide effective access to services for limited English speaker, hearing impaired, and other language limited populations in light of recent OCR enforcement actions under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and other federal discrimination laws.

Under Federal Law, all programs operated by other agencies that receive Federal financial assistance from HHS, are prohibited by Title VI and its implementing regulation from administering their programs in ways that have the effect of delaying or denying services to persons on the basis of their race, color, or national origin. 

RIDHS Settlement With OCR

The Resolution Agreement announced by OCR on January 24, 2011 resolves a complaint filed with OCR by the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (RI ACLU). In the complaint, RI ACLU alleged that RIDHS’ termination of four Southeast Asian staff interpreters denied meaningful access to programs for eligible LEP clients.  While the investigation for the complaint concluded that RIDHS was not in violation of Title VI, OCR reported that its simultaneous review of RIDHS’ compliance with existing agreements revealed RIDHS had not adequately implemented improved access to its programs and services for people with LEP.

Under the Resolution Agreement, RIHDS commits to provide people with LEP — those who have a limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand English —improved access to RIDHS programs and services, including access to Medicaid and other social service programs. RIDHS also has agreed to make meaningful efforts to create a robust training program for current and new employees that will educate staff on a provider’s duties under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

RIDHS also agreed to improve its policies and procedures for assessing language and translation needs; improve its methods for overseeing the provision of language access services, including complaints; ensure a more comprehensive approach to providing timely language assistance services; conduct outreach to notify LEP clients of the availability of free language assistance; ensure that use of family or friends as interpreters is allowed only where specifically requested by the client and after being informed that  RIDHS will provide free language assistance services at no cost; to translate vital program documents; and to establish mandatory staff training on their obligations under Title VI.

Health Care Providers Should Act to Manage Risks as Obama Administration Makes Enhanced Investigation and Enforcement of Federal Discrimination Laws a Priority

The latest to be announced in a series of other similar enforcement actions, the Resolution Agreement reminds health care providers that that OCR requires them to ensure the adequacy of translation services for language and hearing impaired populations and to provide other accommodations reasonably necessary to enable disabled, language impaired or other special populations protected by federal Civil Rights laws to effectively access services.

Under the Obama Administration, OCR and other federal agencies are showing a heightened willingness to investigate and act to enforce disabilities, national origin and other charges of federal discrimination violations by health care providers and others.  Review Obama Administration Civil Rights Enforcement Agenda here. While OCR took a series of enforcement actions under the predecessor Bush Administration, this announced renewed emphasis on federal discrimination law enforcement coupled by the series of actions taken by OCR and other federal agencies since January, 2009 reflects that OCR and other agencies are acting on the direction of President Obama to make prevention and redress of disabilities and other discrimination in employment, public services, public accommodations and telecommunications a priority.  Read About Other Recent OCR Federal Discrimination Enforcement Activities Here. See also, e.g., recent discrimination policies and enforcement activities by the Department of Justice, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Health care providers and others regulated by these federal discrimination laws should consider auditing the adequacy of existing practices, reaffirming their commitment to compliance to workforce members and constituents, retraining workforce and taking other appropriate steps to help prevent illegal discrimination within their organization and to position their organization to respond and defend against potential discrimination investigations or charges.

For Help With Compliance, Investigations Or Other Needs

If you need assistance reviewing or responding to these or other health care related risk management, compliance, enforcement or management concerns, the author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, may be able to help. 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. Ms. Stamer has extensive experience advising and assisting health care providers and other health industry clients to establish and administer compliance and risk management policies and to respond to DEA and other health care industry investigation, enforcement and other compliance, public policy, regulatory, staffing, and other operations and risk management concerns. A popular lecturer and widely published author on health industry concerns, Ms. Stamer continuously advises, trains and defends health industry clients about compliance and internal controls, workforce and medical staff performance, quality, governance, reimbursement, and other risk management and operational matters.  Ms. Stamer also publishes and speaks extensively on health and managed care industry regulatory, staffing and human resources, compensation and benefits, technology, public policy, reimbursement and other operations and risk management concerns including her highly popular programs on “Sex Drugs & Rock ‘N Role:  Managing Personal Misconduct in Health Care,” “Managing Physician Performance” and others.  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.  You can get more information about her health industry experience here. If you need assistance with these or other compliance concerns, wish to inquire about arranging for compliance audit or training, or need legal representation on other matters please contact Ms. Stamer at (469) 767-8872 or via 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 including:

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 here. For important information concerning this communication click here. 

THE FOLLOWING DISCLAIMER IS INCLUDED TO COMPLY WITH AND IN RESPONSE TO U.S. TREASURY DEPARTMENT CIRCULAR 230 REGULATIONS.  ANY STATEMENTS CONTAINED HEREIN ARE NOT INTENDED OR WRITTEN BY THE WRITER TO BE USED, AND NOTHING CONTAINED HEREIN CAN BE USED BY YOU OR ANY OTHER PERSON, FOR THE PURPOSE OF (1) AVOIDING PENALTIES THAT MAY BE IMPOSED UNDER FEDERAL TAX LAW, OR (2) PROMOTING, MARKETING OR RECOMMENDING TO ANOTHER PARTY ANY TAX-RELATED TRANSACTION OR MATTER ADDRESSED HEREIN.

©2011 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, P.C.  Non-exclusive license to republish granted to Solutions Law Press.  All other rights reserved.


Texas Doctor, Pharmacy Suspension Reminder of Pain Management Prescribing Risks

January 18, 2011

On January 14, 2011, a disciplinary panel of the Texas Medical Board (TMB) temporarily suspended the medical license of Julia Renee Ward, M.D. of Houston, after determining that Dr. Ward’s continuation in the practice of medicine presents a continuing threat to the public welfare.   Physicians, pharmacists and others involved in pain treatment should  resist the temptation to allow the allegations of extreme misconduct by Ward, others to blind them to the need for special precautions when prescribing or administering pain management or other controlled substance treatments.

rd Pain Management Suspension

According to a January 18, 2011 TMB Press Release, TMB issued the Order of Temporary Suspension (Without Notice of Hearing) based on Dr. Ward’s operation of a pain management clinic, Tejas Urgent Care Clinic, without the certification required by law; failure to practice medicine in an acceptable, professional manner; inappropriate prescribing of controlled substances; and unprofessional or dishonorable conduct. The suspension took immediate effect.  Previously, the medical board denied certification of Tejas Clinic in Houston, based on the clinic’s partial ownership by a non-physician.

According to the Press Release, TMB and Texas State Board of Pharmacy investigators staked out the clinic and observed several vehicles, some with out-of-state license plates, dropping off and picking up small groups of patients throughout the day.   TMB says investigators observed four men who appeared to be patrolling the parking lot, directing patients to Tejas Clinic and H&W Pharmacy.  Investigators reported the dropped-off patients would enter the clinic, exit about 20 minutes later, and then go to the pharmacy next door, H&W Pharmacy, to fill their prescriptions. Most of the prescriptions written by Dr. Ward were for hydrocodone, and a large number of prescriptions were for Xanax and Soma as well. The three drugs are a well-known combination commonly abused and diverted for sale to addicts.

According to the TMB Press Release, H&W Pharmacy’s license has since been suspended by the Texas State Board of Pharmacy, as has the license of H&W pharmacist Victor Egbulefu.

The Temporary Suspension Hearing Without Notice took place under the Board’s authority, granted by the Medical Practice Act, to suspend or restrict a physician’s license without notice when it determines the physician’s continuation in practice would constitute a continuing threat to the public welfare. Under TMB procedures, Ward has the opportunity to have a Temporary Suspension Hearing With Notice at least 10 days after notice of the suspension.

Physician Precautions Recommended For Pain Management Activities

Physicians and other health care providers should not allow the egregiousness of allegations underlying suspensions like those alleged committed by Ward to blind them to the importance of exercising special care when engaging in pain management activities.  While medical practitioners, medical boards, the Drug Enforcement Agency, accreditation agencies and others increasingly recognize the appropriateness and need for legitimate pain management, physicians, pharmacies and others prescribing and delivering pain management must conduct these activities in a defensible manner.  Physicians prescribing pain management remain accountable for demonstrating and documenting the therapeutic appropriateness of prescribed management including appropriate procedures to monitor and redress potential concerns about patient medication abuse or addition.  See Texas Medical Board Rules §§ 170.1-170.3.  As many pain management medications both are controlled substances, physicians prescribing these medications often must comply with special prescribing, documentation and other requirements under DEA, state medical board and other rules and ethical standards.  See, e.g, DEA Cautions Practitioners Must Restrict Delegation of Controlled Substance Prescribing 

Missteps by providers in the prescription, documentation, or administration of pain management or other controlled substance prescriptions and treatment are frequently the basis of medical board and other disciplinary actions and civil, criminal and administrative enforcement actions by the Justice Department, DEA, Department of Health & Human Services and others. See e.g., Quality, Recordkeeping & Unprofessional Conduct Lead Reasons For Medical Board Discipline of Physicians; Texas Pain Management Physician and Psychiatrist Arrested on Federal Health Care Fraud Inditement; Pain and The Law.  

To defend against these and other exposures, physicians and practices, pharmacies and pharmacists, and the hospitals and other organizations involved in the operation or management of physicians or pharmacists prescribing or dispensing pain management treatments should implement written delegation policies and other procedures to facilitate their ability to withstand DEA, medical board and other scrutiny and defend against a claim of improper conduct.   As part of these efforts, prescribing practitioners should consider include:

  • Carefully and fully document the therapeutic need and appropriateness of the prescribed treatment including the medical justification, patient counseling, adherence to DEA and other standards and procedures, and monitoring for effectiveness, patient compliance and potential patient abuse.
  • Strictly complying with DEA requirements when prescribing controlled substances;
  • Ensure appropriate and well-documented physician assessment of patient pain and pain management treatment;
  • Abstain from or restrict delegation of pain management assessments or prescription of controlled substance except in strict and clearly documented compliance with DEA rules and all otherwise applicable regulations and care standards;
  • Adopting and following written policies and procedures governing the prescription and handling of pain management and other controlled substances including the scope of allowable delegation of communication functions;
  • Requiring physicians, pharmacists and others participating in pain management or other controlled substance ordering or treatment to participate in specific, documented training and enter into signed written agreements acknowledging knowledge of and agreement to comply with pain management, controlled substance and other relevant policies and requirements;
  • Monitoring of prescribing and other dealings with controlled substances for potential noncompliance;
  • Careful documentation of all activities involved with the prescription and handling of controlled substances or their prescriptions;
  • Carefully restricting the individuals that with or without authorization could participate in the prescription or handling of controlled substance;
  • Requiring drug and alcohol testing of physicians and other staff with involvement in the prescription or handling of controlled substance or who otherwise might be in a position to access the materials used in this process;
  • Conducting appropriate training of DEA-authorized practitioners and their support staff regarding the appropriate procedures for handling and prescribing controlled substances;
  • Conducting periodic background checks of physicians, pharmacists, staff and others who might participate in the prescription of or otherwise be in a position to access controlled substances or the tools for their access or prescription pursuant to written authorizations designed to comply with applicable Federal Trade Commission credit check and other relevant laws;
  • Avoiding relationships and dealings involving prescribers, pharmacies, investors or others with questionable backgrounds or involving relationships that might create heightened exposures or appearances of impropriety; and
  • Investigating and promptly redressing any known or suspected violation of DEA mandated or other policies regarding the prescription or handling of controlled substances.

For Help With Compliance, Investigations Or Other Needs

IIf you need assistance reviewing or responding to these or other health care related risk management, compliance, enforcement or management concerns, the author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, may be able to help. 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. Ms. Stamer has extensive experience advising and assisting health care providers and other health industry clients to establish and administer compliance and risk management policies and to respond to DEA and other health care industry investigation, enforcement and other compliance, public policy, regulatory, staffing, and other operations and risk management concerns. A popular lecturer and widely published author on health industry concerns, Ms. Stamer continuously advises health industry clients about compliance and internal controls, workforce and medical staff performance, quality, governance, reimbursement, and other risk management and operational matters. Ms. Stamer also publishes and speaks extensively on health and managed care industry regulatory, staffing and human resources, compensation and benefits, technology, public policy, reimbursement and other operations and risk management concerns including her highly popular programs on “Sex Drugs & Rock ‘N Role:  Managing Personal Misconduct in Health Care,” “Managing Physician Performance” and others. 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.  You can get more information about her health industry experience here. If you need assistance with these or other compliance concerns, wish to inquire about arranging for compliance audit or training, or need legal representation on other matters please contact Ms. Stamer at (469) 767-8872 or via 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 including:

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 here. For important information concerning this communication click here. 

THE FOLLOWING DISCLAIMER IS INCLUDED TO COMPLY WITH AND IN RESPONSE TO U.S. TREASURY DEPARTMENT CIRCULAR 230 REGULATIONS.  ANY STATEMENTS CONTAINED HEREIN ARE NOT INTENDED OR WRITTEN BY THE WRITER TO BE USED, AND NOTHING CONTAINED HEREIN CAN BE USED BY YOU OR ANY OTHER PERSON, FOR THE PURPOSE OF (1) AVOIDING PENALTIES THAT MAY BE IMPOSED UNDER FEDERAL TAX LAW, OR (2) PROMOTING, MARKETING OR RECOMMENDING TO ANOTHER PARTY ANY TAX-RELATED TRANSACTION OR MATTER ADDRESSED HEREIN.

 

©2011 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, P.C.  Non-exclusive license to republish granted to Solutions Law Press.  All other rights reserved.


Supreme Court Ruling Medical Resident Stipend Are Wages Highlights Advisability of Compliance Review

January 12, 2011

Stipends paid to medical residents to provide on patient care and other medical services for 40 or more hours per week as part of an accredited graduate medical education program are wages paid to employees for Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) payroll taxes purposes and do not qualify as exempt from FICA tax or withholding as student stipends according to January 11, 201 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Mayo Foundation v. U.S.   Joining a growing series of rulings enforcing changing treatment of doctors and other healthcare workers, the decision is the latest reminder to health care providers and others of the need to critically review and update as necessary their organizations existing worker and wage characterization in light of evolving interpretations and the growing success of regulators and private plaintiffs in challenging these classifications.

In Mayo Foundation, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the plea of Mayo Foundation For Medical Education And Research (Mayo) that it overrule an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Regulation that provides that medical students or others providing full-time services as part of their course of instruction do not qualify as “students” for purposes of the “student” exemption of Code § 3121(b)(10) regardless of whether “the services performed . . . may have an educational, instructional, or training aspect.” See Treas. Reg. §31.3121(b)(10)–2(d)(3)(iii).   Mayo Foundation, the Supreme Court ruled against Mayo Foundation.  It ruled the IRS’ regulation construing Code § 3121(b)(1) as inapplicable to medical students or other workers providing full-time services as part of a residency or other educational program should stand as Congress has not directly spoken to foreclose that interpretation and because the Treasury Department’s rule is a reasonable construction of what Congress has said. 

Beyond its specific holding, the Mayo Foundation decision also serves as another reminder that health industry and other employers should not take the defensibility of their worker classification and associated income and payroll tax, employee benefit, employment and other practices for granted. 

Recent developments send a clear message that health industry and other employers must remain constantly diligent about confirming and documenting the defensibility of their worker classifications and other associated practices in light of evolving rules and standards, enforcement, the growing frequency and success of regulators and private plaintiff challenges, and changing workforce practices of workers generally, and health care employers specifically.  See e.g. Review of Worker Classification Needed As Classification Scrutiny Rises;Minimum Wage, Overtime Risks Highlighted By Labor Department Strike Force Targeting Residential Care & Group Homes; Review & Strengthen Defensibility of Existing Worker Classification Practices In Light of Rising Congressional & Regulatory Scrutiny; 250 New Investigators, Renewed DOL Enforcement Emphasis Signal Rising Wage & Hour Risks For EmployersQuest Diagnostics, Inc. To Pay $688,000 In Overtime Backpay.

The IRS, Department of Labor and other federal and state regulators are stepping up scrutiny of and enforcement of worker classifications and claims of exemption from applicable employment, tax and other requirements.  In light of these and other developments, health industry and other employers should take reasonable steps to guard against these and other growing risks of worker misclassification and associated non-compliance.  Health industry practices have been specifically targeted as part of many of these regulatory initiatives.

To minimize their potential exposure, health industry and other employers should consult with qualified legal counsel for advice within the scope of attorney-client privilege concerning the need to audit or otherwise act to strengthen the defensibility of their existing worker classification, employee benefit, fringe benefit, employment, wage and hour, and other workforce policies to mitigate exposures to potential IRS, Labor Department or other risks of worker misclassification or the handling of associated payroll, employment or other responsibilities.

For Help With Investigations, Policy Updates Or Other Needs

If you need assistance in conducting a risk assessment of or responding to IRS, Labor Department or other legal challenges to your health care organization’s existing workforce classification or other health care related risk management or compliance concerns, please contact the author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer.

Vice President of the North Texas Health Care Compliance Professionals Association, Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Section, the former Board Compliance Chair of the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas, and Board Certified In Labor & Employment Law, Ms. Stamer has more than 23 years experience advising health industry clients about these and other matters. Ms. Stamer has extensive experience advising and assisting health care providers and other health industry clients to establish and administer compliance and risk management policies and to respond to health care industry investigation, enforcement and other compliance, public policy, regulatory, staffing, and other operations and risk management concerns. A popular lecturer and widely published author on health industry concerns, Ms. Stamer continuously advises health industry clients about compliance and internal controls, workforce and medical staff performance, quality, governance, reimbursement, and other risk management and operational matters. Ms. Stamer also publishes and speaks extensively on 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.  You can get more information about her health industry experience here. If you need assistance with these or other compliance concerns, wish to inquire about arranging for compliance audit or training, or need legal representation on other matters please contact Ms. Stamer at (469) 767-8872 or via 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 including:

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 here. For important information concerning this communication click here. 

THE FOLLOWING DISCLAIMER IS INCLUDED TO COMPLY WITH AND IN RESPONSE TO U.S. TREASURY DEPARTMENT CIRCULAR 230 REGULATIONS.  ANY STATEMENTS CONTAINED HEREIN ARE NOT INTENDED OR WRITTEN BY THE WRITER TO BE USED, AND NOTHING CONTAINED HEREIN CAN BE USED BY YOU OR ANY OTHER PERSON, FOR THE PURPOSE OF (1) AVOIDING PENALTIES THAT MAY BE IMPOSED UNDER FEDERAL TAX LAW, OR (2) PROMOTING, MARKETING OR RECOMMENDING TO ANOTHER PARTY ANY TAX-RELATED TRANSACTION OR MATTER ADDRESSED HEREIN.

 

©2011 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, P.C.  Non-exclusive license to republish granted to Solutions Law Press.  All other rights reserved.


CMS Physician Compare Tool Gives Patients New Info On Physicians & Other Providers

January 4, 2011

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is giving patients and their families new resources to learn about physicians and certain other health care providers.  On December 30, 2010, CMS added a new “Physician Compare” feature to the CMS Healthcare Provider Directory.  While the information provided currently is relatively limited, CMS plans to expand the data to help Medicare and non-Medicare patients and their families find and assess the quality of providers.   While these and other similar resources can provide valuable information for patients and their families, like all provider directories, patients and their families should be cautioned to properly understand the benefits and limitations of the resource.  Accordingly, physicians and other providers covered by the new tool should be aware of the tool and prepare to respond to questions and concerns that it may prompt.  Physicians and other providers also should monitor proposed future expansions of this resource and provide input about the proposed content, format and presentation of such information.

Required by the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (“Affordable Care Act”), the Physician Compare tool located here has information about Doctors of Medicine, Osteopathy, Optometry, Podiatric Medicine, and Chiropractic and certain other types of health care professionals participating in the Medicare Program, who routinely care for Medicare beneficiaries.

According to CMS, the Physician Compare Web Site is designed to be consumer friendly and help all patients—whether on Medicare or not—locate health professionals in their communities. The information on the site includes contact and address information for offices, the professional’s medical specialty, where the professional completed his or her degree as well as residency or other clinical training, whether the professional speaks a foreign language, and the professional’s gender.  The tool can also help Medicare beneficiaries find out which physicians that see Medicare patients.

In addition to information about the physician’s practice, Physician Compare also shows consumers whether the practice reported certain data to CMS through the Physician Quality Reporting System, formerly known as the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI). Currently, the PQRI reporting system is a voluntary reporting program that rewards physicians and other eligible healthcare professionals for reporting data on quality measures related to services furnished to Medicare beneficiaries.  These quality measures are based on the best available medical evidence and designed to help professionals improve care for patients. In 2009, over 200,000 professionals reported data to CMS through the Physician Quality Reporting System.

According to CMS, it plans a second phase of the Web site which will indicate whether professionals chose to participate in a voluntary effort with the Agency to encourage doctors to prescribe medicines electronically, rather than through traditional paper-based prescription methods later in 2011.

In future years, the Physician Compare Web site will be expanded with information about the quality of care Medicare beneficiaries receive from physicians and the other healthcare professionals profiled on the site.  The expansion will include information on quality of care and patient experience that can help consumers learn more about the care provided by Medicare-participating physicians.  CMS is required by the Affordable Care Act to develop a plan to implement this expansion by 2013.

The new Physician Compare resource supplements a broad range of resources that patients and their families can use to gather information about an existing or proposed health care provider.  Like all directories, however, patients and their families should keep in mind that no single resource or directory provides complete information about any one provider or should be used as a sole basis for selecting or assessing the quality or credentials of any health care provider.

Help patients and their families to constructively use these and other tools by managing your reputation and sharing information with patients and their families about how to properly use and understand the information provided.  You also can share your input about how patients and their families should use these and other similar resources and other insights to help other patients and their families better prepare to manage and assist in their own health care and health benefit management by participating in Project COPE: Coalition for Patient Empowerment here

For More Information Or Assistance

If you need assistance reviewing or responding to the DEA prescribing guidance contained in the Statement or addressing other health care related risk management or compliance concerns, the author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, may be able to help. 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. Ms. Stamer has extensive experience advising and assisting health care providers and other health industry clients to establish and administer compliance and risk management policies and to respond to DEA and other health care industry investigation, enforcement and other compliance, public policy, regulatory, staffing, and other operations and risk management concerns. A popular lecturer and widely published author on health industry concerns, Ms. Stamer continuously advises health industry clients about compliance and internal controls, workforce and medical staff performance, quality, governance, reimbursement, and other risk management and operational matters. Ms. Stamer also publishes and speaks extensively on 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.  You can get more information about her health industry experience here. If you need assistance with these or other compliance concerns, wish to inquire about arranging for compliance audit or training, or need legal representation on other matters please contact Ms. Stamer at (469) 767-8872 or via e-mail here.

Other Recent Developments

If you found this information of interest, you also may be interested in reviewing some of the following recent Solutions Law Press publications authored by Ms. Stamer including:

For More Information

We hope that this information is useful to you. If you need assistance evaluating or responding to the Health Care Reform Law or health care compliance, risk management, transactional, operational, reimbursement, or public policy concerns, please contact the author of this update, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, at (469) 767-8872 or via e-mail here.

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.

©2011 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer.  Limited right to republish granted to Solutions Law Press.  All other rights reserved.


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