E-Blasts

Guidance for Healthcare Professionals Exposed to COVID-19

Guidance for Healthcare Professionals Exposed to COVID-19 – June 1, 2020

On May 29, 2020, the CDC updated its Interim U.S. Guidance for Risk Assessment and Work Restrictions for Healthcare Personnel with Potential Exposure to COVID-19.  To prevent the spread of COVID-19, CDC recommends occupational health programs have a low threshold for evaluating symptoms and testing healthcare personnel and a conservative approach to monitoring and applying work restrictions. Click the link above for more information on the CDC guidance for health care professionals and COVID-19 exposure and prevention.

Governor Abbott Details Phase II of Opening Texas May 18, 2020

Today, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order GA-23, which outlines Phase II of the expanded opening of Texas in response to the COVID-19 disaster. For information on which businesses can reopen and when, click the link above.

OIG Answers COVID-19 Questions Related to OIG’s Administrative Enforcement Authorities – May 16, 2020

The OIG published FAQs–Application of OIG’s Administrative Enforcement Authorities to Arrangements Directly Connected to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, last updated on May 14, 2020, that it will continue to update as it responds to additional questions. To protect patients, OIG is ensuring that health care providers have needed regulatory flexibility to adequately respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. OIG is accepting inquiries from the health care community regarding the application of OIG’s administrative enforcement authorities, including the Anti-Kickback Statute and Civil Monetary Penalty provision prohibiting inducements to beneficiaries. Click the clink above for more information from the FAQ.

CMS Issues Additional Waivers As America Reopens: Part 2 – May 11, 2020

CMS issued additional regulatory waivers and updated several existing waivers in an effort to further ensure a phased, safe and gradual reopening of the United States by providing flexibilities for states and localities to ramp up diagnostic testing and access to medical care. Click the link above for a summery of the additional and updated waivers.

Texas Medical Board Updates COVID-19 Minimum Standards of Safe Practice FAQ – May 6, 2020

The TMB updated a previously issued FAQ guidance related to the TMB emergency rule adopted in response to Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-19, which sets required minimum standards for safe practice related to COVID-19 and requires posting notice of those minimum standards.  All physicians providing patient care or engaging in an in-person patient encounter must implement the COVID-19 standards of safe practice. Click the link above for more information on this rule.

Texas Medical Board Issues Guidance Related to Emergency Rule Adopted in Response to Governor Abbott’s Executive Order GA-19 – May 2, 2020

The Texas Medical Board issued guidance related to the TMB emergency rule adopted in response to Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-19, which sets required minimum standards for safe practice related to COVID-19 and requires posting notice of those minimum standards. The emergency rule went into effect May 1, 2020 at 12:00 a.m. All physicians providing patient care or engaging in an in-person patient encounter must implement the COVID-19 standards of safe practice. Click the link above for more information on this rule.

Texas Medical Board Adopts Emergency Rule in Response to Governor Abbott’s Executive Order GA-19 – April 30, 2020

Today, the TMB adopted an emergency rule in response to Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-19, which sets required minimum standards for safe practice related to COVID-19 and requires posting notice of those minimum standards.  The emergency rule goes into effect May 1, 2020 at 12:00 a.m.  All physicians providing patient care or engaging in an in-person patient encounter must implement the COVID-19 standards of safe practice. Click the link above for more information on this rule.

CMS Issues Additional Waivers as America Reopens – April 30, 2020

Today, CMS announced additional regulatory waivers and rule changes in an effort to ensure a phased, safe and gradual reopening of the US by providing flexibilities for states and localities to ramp up diagnostic testing and access to medical care. Many of CMS’ changes will apply immediately, without requiring providers and states to apply, and will remain in effect for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency.  The following are some key takeaways:

Balance Billing Patients under the Terms and Conditions of the CARE Act’s Provider Relief Fund – April 28, 2020

Do you provide care to patients on an out-of-network basis?  Did you accept funds from the HHS as part of the CARE Act’s Provider Relief Fund?  Are you confused on whether or not you are able to charge patients their out-of-network deductible and/or co-insurance amounts without violating HHS’s Terms and Conditions even if the care was not directly related to COVID-19? Click the link above for more information on balance billing and the CARE Act’s Provider Relief Fund.

Governor Abbott Announces Stay at Home Orders will Expire and a Phased Approach to Reopening the Texas Economy will Be Implemented – April 28, 2020

On April 27, 2020, Texas Governor Greg Abbott held a press conference confirming that he will allow the stay-at-home orders requiring the closure of non-essential businesses during the COVID-19 emergency to expire on April 30, 2020, and detailing a three-phase plan that will allow some Texas businesses to re-open beginning this Friday, May, 1, 2020. Click the link above for details of the Open Texas Plan.

CMS Immediately Suspends Advanced Payment Program and Revaluates Accelerated Payment Program April 27, 2020

As of April 26, 2020, the CMS will not be accepting any additional applications for the Advance Payment Program, and will be reevaluating all pending and new applications for payments under its Accelerated Payment Program to take into consideration historical direct payments made available through the Provider Relief Fund. Click the link above for more information on the Accelerated and Advanced Payment Programs.

Elective Procedures – Amended Guidance from the Texas Health & Human Services Commission – April 27, 2020

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission amended its Health Care Facility Licensing Guidance Letter on April 23, 2020 with new health care facility certification submission requirements. Click the link above for information on the new rules.

CMS Will Accept COVID-19 Clinical Trial Data for the Quality Payment Program – April 24, 2020

To encourage clinicians who participate in the Quality Payment Program to contribute to scientific research and evidence to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, CMS recently announced that clinicians may earn credit in the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System for participation in a COVID-19 clinical trial and reporting clinical information by attesting to a new “COVID-19 Clinical Trials improvement activity”. Click the link above for some key takeaways from CMS’ guidance.

HHS Announces Additional Information about Provider Relief Fund Allocations and Extends Deadline to Apply for Allocation from Fund – April 24, 2020

The CARES Act provides $100 billion in relief funds to hospitals and other healthcare providers on the front lines of the COVID-19 response. Click the link above for more information about how the general and targeted allocations from the CARES Act fund will be made and how to participate.

CMS Explanatory Guidance for Stark Law Blanket Waivers – April 22, 2020

On March 30, 2020, HHS issued blanket waivers of the Stark Law in response to the COVID-19 emergency.  In response to requests for guidance related to the blanket waivers, CMS issued Explanatory Guidance on April 21, 2020 to address the scope and application of the blanket waivers to certain financial relationships. Click the link above for some key takeaways from the Explanatory Guidance.

Freestanding Emergency Departments Participation in Medicare and Medicaid during the COVID-19 Emergency – April 22, 2020

On April 21, 2020, CMS issued a memorandum, allowing licensed independent freestanding emergency departments to temporarily participate in Medicare and Medicaid. Click the link above for more information on the three ways independent freestanding emergency departments may participate in Medicare and Medicaid.

CMS Recommendations in Response to President Trump’s Opening Up America Again Guidelines – April 21, 2020

CMS issued new recommendations, which update CMS’ previous guidance pertaining to non-essential surgeries and medical procedures, in response to President Trump’s Opening Up America Again Guidelines announced on April 16, 2020.  Click the link above for more information on elective surgeries, telehealth, PPE and more.

TMB’s Emergency Rule in Response to Governor Abbott’s Executive Order on Elective Procedures – April 21, 2020

The TMB adopted an emergency rule to enforce Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-15, which replaces Executive Order GA-09 regarding elective surgeries and procedures. Click the link above for more information on the TMB’s emergency rule and its implications.

Elective Surgeries – Further Guidance from the Texas Health & Human Services Commission – April 17, 2020

Texas Health and Human Services Commission issued a Guidance Letter regarding the resumption of certain surgeries and procedures in response to Governor Abbott’s Executive Order GA-15. Click the link above for more information on what procedures and surgeries are exempted from the previously issued ban.

Texas Congress Members Urge CMS to Reimburse Texas Freestanding Emergency Centers – April 17, 2020

On April 13, 2020, members of the United States congressional delegation from Texas, including Senator Ted Cruz, co-signed a Letter to Seema Verma, the Administrator of CMS, to urge CMS to utilize its 1135 waiver authority to provide reimbursement to Texas freestanding emergency centers that treat Medicare and Medicaid patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click the link above for more information on their letter.

Governor Abbott Holds Press Conference on Reopening the Economy and Loosening Restrictions on Elective Surgeries and Procedures – April 17, 2020

On April 17, 2020, Governor Abbott held a press conference outlining several Executive Orders aimed at safely reopening businesses and state parks, and loosening restrictions on elective surgeries and procedures enacted in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Click the link above for the key points from the press conference.

CMS’ April 14, 2020 “Office Hours” Discussed the Promotion of Telehealth in Medicare – April 16, 2020

On April 14, 2020, CMS hosted another “Office Hour” to allow hospitals, health systems and providers the opportunity to ask CMS officials questions pertaining to CMS’ temporary actions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click the link above for some highlights from CMS’ April 14, 2020 “Office Hour”.

Provider Relief Fund Payment Distributions: Here’s What You Need to Know – April 16, 2020

The recently enacted CARES Act provides $100 billion in relief funds to support expenses or lost revenue attributable to COVID-19 and to ensure uninsured Americans receive testing and treatment for COVID-19. On April 10, 2020, HHS began automatically distributing $30 billion to eligible healthcare providers via direct deposit. Click the link above for more information on how the payments may be used, terms and conditions attached to the payments, etc.

Texas State Senators’ Letter to Governor Abbott Supporting Resumption of Non-Emergent Surgical Care – April 16, 2020

On April 15, 2020, all Texas State Senators co-signed a Letter to Texas Governor Greg Abbott to address the need to incrementally reopen Texas hospitals for non-emergency surgical care. Click the link above for information on the Senators’ requests.

CMS Guidance Ensures Americans with Private Health Insurance Receive COVID-19 Services at No Cost – April 16, 2020

CMS, along with the Departments of Labor and the Treasury, issued guidance on the coverage requirements for private health insurers during the pandemic. The guidance, which focuses on the CARES Act and the FFCRA, also encourages the use of telehealth and other remote care services as being vital to combat the COVID-19 public health emergency. Click the link above for some key takeaways for health care providers and facilities and their patients.

CMS’ “Special Open Door Forum” Discussed Hospitals Without Walls – April 13, 2020

On April 9, 2020, the CMS hosted its second call to allow hospitals, health systems, and providers the opportunity to ask CMS agency officials questions pertaining to the waivers and regulatory flexibilities issued by CMS in response to COVID-19. Click the link above for more information regarding the new temporary rules for hospitals, ASCs, and freestanding ERs.

Chronic Pain Prescriptions and Other Updated TMB Guidance – April 14, 2020

Texas Governor Greg Abbott extended the TMB waiver for chronic pain patients and the TMB updated their FAQs regarding telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click the link above for more information regarding these updates.

Highlights from CMS’ “Office Hour” Regarding Telehealth, Hospitals Without Walls and Putting Patients over Paperwork – April 9, 2020

On April 7, 2020, the CMS hosted its first open conference call in a series of “Office Hours” to allow hospitals, health systems, and providers the opportunity to ask CMS agency officials questions pertaining to temporary actions taken by CMS in response to COVID-19. Click on the above link for highlights from the first “Office Hour” addressing telehealth in Medicare, hospitals without walls, putting patients over paperwork and expanding the health care workforce. 

ASCs Enrolling as Hospitals During the COVID-19 Pandemic – April 8, 2020

CMS Provided additional guidance for Ambulatory Surgical Centers Enrolling as hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click the link above for more information on how to enroll as a hospital during the current health care emergency.

Physician Supervision during the COVID-19 Emergency – April 8, 2020

Texas Governor Greg Abbott temporarily waived certain regulations to allow more flexibility between physicians and the PAs and APRNs they supervise for the duration of the Governor’s disaster declaration. Click the link above for more information on the waivers.

Updated OIG Guidance and Anti-Kickback Considerations in Response to COVID-19 – April 8, 2020

Click the link above for updated information regarding the OIG’s enforcement of the Anti-Kickback Statute during the current pandemic.

Financial Relief Available For Certain Businesses during the COVID-19 Pandemic – April 7, 2020

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (the “SBA”) have recently provided for certain businesses to receive financial assistance in response to COVID-19. Click the link above for a general overview of the processes for receiving such financial relief. 

Estate Planning During the COVID-19 Pandemic – April 7, 2020

With the rapid spread of COVID-19 throughout the United States and the uncertainty it has created, many are wondering whether their estate plans are complete and up-to-date. The link above provides some helpful estate planning tips that can be acted upon during this unprecedented time.

Stark Law Blanket Waivers Issued in Response to COVID-19 – April 3, 2020

CMS released a series of Section 1135 waivers eliminating certain requirements of the physician self-referral law (the “Stark Law”) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These blanket waivers are intended to ensure sufficient health care items and services are available to meet the needs of individuals enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP.  Click the link above for more information on the types of arrangements that are now allowed to proceed despite their Stark Law implications.

Temporary Relaxation of CMS Administrative Rules Related to Provider Operations – April 1, 2020

In an effort to allow healthcare providers to focus on patient care during the COVID-19 emergency, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services further relaxed regulations and administrative burdens by providing for additional 1135 waivers and temporarily amending regulations during the pandemic. The link above provides more information regarding certain of the March 30, 2020 published waivers.

Regulatory Changes for Texas Hospitals in Response to COVID-19 – March 31, 2020

Per the Health Facility Licensing Guidance Letter issued by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Texas general and special hospitals are now permitted to use certain off-site locations to treat and/or house patients under the hospital’s existing license during the curing health care emergency. Click the link above for more information on applicable off-site locations and the process for obtaining approval.

CMS Announces Relief for Medicare Providers and Suppliers Facing Challenges During the COVID-19 Pandemic – March 31, 2020

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) expanded its accelerated and advance payment program to a broader group of Medicare Part A providers and Part B suppliers following the recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act. The link above provides information regarding the accelerated or advance payments for Medicare providers and suppliers during the COVID-19 emergency. 

Reporting Requirements & Operational Changes for Texas ASCs during COVID-19 – March 30, 2020

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission released a “Health Facility Licensing Guidance Letter” for Ambulatory Surgical Centers (“ASCs”) related to the emergency rules adopted for ASC services and reporting requirements in response to COVID-19. Click the link above for more information regarding the new ASC rules and allowances.

Paid Leave and COVID-19 Testing Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act – March 30, 2020

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act [H.R. 6201] (the “Act”) addresses important COVID-19 responses, including unemployment benefits, paid family medical leave, emergency paid sick leave, employer tax credits and COVID-19 testing. Click the link above for information related to paid leave, access COVID-19 testing and personal respiratory devices as provided under the Act.

Updated Texas Medical Board Guidance on Elective Surgeries and Procedures – March 29, 2020

The TMB updated its FAQs regarding non-urgent, elective surgeries and procedures originally issued following Governor Abbott’s Executive Order GA-09. The updated FAQs includes additional guidance to address any confusion resulting from Executive Order GA-09. Click the link above for further clarification on permitted surgeries and procedures.

New rules allow Texas physicians to provide services (telehealth and in-person services, in some cases) in other states – March 28, 2020

As a result of the COVID-19 healthcare emergency, many states have lifted or otherwise amended their restrictions on out-of-state physicians practicing medicine within their state. Click the link above for a list with each state, their current regulations, and its impact on Texas physicians.

A Guide to Telehealth Expansion – March 28, 2020

On March 13, 2020, President Trump announced an emergency declaration, allowing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) to expand Medicare’s telehealth benefits under the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act. 

Force Majeure Clauses in Contracts and COVID-19 – March 28, 2020

Many obligations under existing contracts may no longer be achievable or are now near impossible to perform as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. While failure to perform would ordinarily likely amount to a breach of contract, force majeure clauses may excuse obligations and provide relief to breaching parties. The link above includes some key points about invoking a force majeure clause in response to COVID-19.

HIPAA Disclosures to First Responders and Public Health Authorities during COVID-19 Emergency – March 27, 2020

The U.S Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights issued guidance for covered entities regarding disclosing protected health information to law enforcement, paramedics, other first responders, and public health authorities during the COVID-19 health emergency. Click the link above for more information on permitted disclosures during the current pandemic.

Elective Surgeries and Procedures during the COVID-19 Pandemic – March 25, 2020

On March 22, 2020, Governor Abbott signed Executive Order GA-09, which directs facilities and licensed healthcare professionals to postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately, medically necessary unless certain exceptions are met.


The material contained on this and any attached or referenced pages has been written, edited or compiled by Weaver Johnston & Nelson, PLLC for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be legal advice nor is it intended to create and receipt does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Legal advice of any nature should be sought from legal counsel.