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Welcome to The Health Law Blog2019-11-12T16:53:24-05:00

Question: Is Exposure to COVID-19 For Healthcare Workers, Causing Illness, Disability, or Death, Considered an Employment-Related Injury Under Workers’ Comp?

Attorney Amanda I. ForbesBy Amanda I. Forbes, J.D. and George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

In answering the question posed in the title of this blog, first, it should be noted that the World Health Organization (WHO) classifies COVID-19 as an “occupational disease.”  (Reference:  World Health Organization, “Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak: Rights, Roles and Responsibilities Of Health Workers. . . .”)

Click here to view the classification by the WHO on our website.

Most state workers’ compensation laws cover the worker for occupational diseases if the worker acquires it during the course and scope of their employment.  For example, Section 440.151(2), Florida Statutes, states:

Whenever used in this section the term “occupational disease” shall be construed to mean only a disease which is due to causes and conditions which are characteristic of and peculiar to a particular trade, occupation, process, or employment, and to exclude all ordinary diseases of life to which the general public is exposed, unless the incidence of the disease is substantially higher in the particular trade, occupation, process, or employment than for the general public. “Occupational disease” means only a disease for which there are epidemiological studies showing that exposure to the specific substance involved, at the levels to which the employee was exposed, may cause the precise disease sustained by the employee.

Section 440.151(2), Florida Statutes, (emphasis added).  Many other states have similar requirements to those of Florida.

Healthcare workers are at the front line of any outbreak response and as such are exposed to hazards that put them at an increased risk of infection with the COVID-19 virus.  Therefore, as COVID-19 meets the criteria as an “occupational disease.”

Moreover, Section 440.151(1)(a), Florida Statutes, states:

Where the employer and employee are subject to the provisions of the Workers’ Compensation Law, the disablement or death of an employee resulting from an occupational disease as hereinafter defined shall be treated as the happening of an injury by accident, notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, and the employee or, in case of death, the employee’s dependents shall be entitled to compensation as provided by this chapter, except as hereinafter otherwise provided; and the practice and procedure prescribed by this chapter shall apply to all proceedings under this section, except as hereinafter otherwise provided.  Provided, however, that in no case shall an employer be liable for compensation under the provisions of this section unless such disease has resulted from the nature of the employment in which the employee was engaged under such employer, was actually contracted while so engaged, and the nature of the employment was the major contributing cause of the disease. Major contributing cause must be shown by medical evidence only, as demonstrated by physical examination findings and diagnostic testing. “Nature of the employment” means that in the occupation in which the employee was so engaged there is attached a particular hazard of such disease that distinguishes it from the usual run of occupations, or the incidence of such disease is substantially higher in the occupation in which the employee was so engaged than in the usual run of occupations. In claims for death under s. 440.16, death must occur within 350 weeks after last exposure. Both causation and sufficient exposure to a specific harmful substance shown to be present in the workplace to support causation shall be proven by clear and convincing evidence.

Section 440.151(1)(a), Florida Statutes.

It is important to note that COVID 19 or any other communicable disease (TB, H1N1, etc.):  The employee has to test positive for the disease/contagion and it must be determined with a reasonable amount of certainty that their exposure to the virus occurred in the workplace and was not community-acquired.

In addition,  per Section 440.151(1)(c), Florida Statutes states:

Where an occupational disease is aggravated by any other disease or infirmity, not itself compensable, or where disability or death from any other cause, not itself compensable, is aggravated, prolonged, accelerated or in anywise contributed to by an occupational disease, the compensation shall be payable only if the occupational disease is the major contributing cause of the injury. Any compensation shall be reduced and limited to such proportion only of the compensation that would be payable if the occupational disease were the sole cause of the disability or death as such occupational disease, as a causative factor, bears to all the causes of such disability or death, such reduction in compensation to be effected by reducing the number of weekly or monthly payments or the amounts of such payments, as under the circumstances of the particular case may be for the best interest of the claimant or claimants. Major contributing cause must be demonstrated by medical evidence based on physical examination findings and diagnostic testing.

Section 440.151(1)(c), Florida Statutes, (emphasis added).

With regard to emergency medical technicians (EMTs) or paramedics Section 440.09(3), Florida Statutes, states:

If an emergency medical technician or paramedic is appointed or employed full time by a municipality, the state, or any political subdivision, is certified under chapter 401.23, in an emergency situation in this state, any such activities would be considered to be within the course of his or her employment and an emergency medical technician or paramedic and covered by the employer’s jurisdiction or area of responsibility, such activities are considered to be within the course of employment. The provisions of this subsection do not apply if the emergency medical technician or paramedic is performing activities for which he or she is paid by another employer of contractor.

Section 440.09(3), Florida Statutes (emphasis added).

Workers Compensation Benefits for Healthcare Professionals.

As of March 26, 2020, Florida has not issued any order or legislation explicitly stating that healthcare professionals exposed to COVID-19 will be entitled to Workers Compensation benefits.

By way of example, In the City of Phila. v. Workers’ Comp. Appeal Bd. (Sites), 889 A.2d 129 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2005), a claimant was successful in proving that his hepatitis C was caused by his exposure to blood that occurred while working as a firefighter and emergency medical technician  (EMT).  Similar to COVID-19, hepatitis C was also classified as a compensable “occupational disease.”  Therefore, it is likely that a healthcare professional’s exposure to COVID-19 would result in viable workers’ compensation claim.

Federal workers’ compensation laws are similar to those quoted above. Therefore, federal health care providers and those working in federal facilities will also most probably be entitled to federal employment compensation (FECA) benefits under similar situations.

We want to emphasize that this is merely our preliminary opinion based on limited analysis and research.  It is provided for informational purposes only. It does not constitute the provision of legal advice.  Each state has different workers’ compensation laws and different case law, as does the federal government. Each individual set of circumstances may be different. Contact your local workers’ compensation plaintiff’s (claimant’s) attorney for advice and representation in your individual case.

For more information and more examples of employment compensation benefit cases for health care professionals, click here.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Health Care Professionals and Providers.

At the Health Law Firm, we provide legal services for all health care providers and professionals.  This includes physicians, nurses, dentists, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors, Durable Medical Equipment suppliers, medical students and interns, hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, pain management clinics, nursing homes, and any other healthcare provider. It also includes medical students, resident physicians, and fellows, as well as medical student professors and clinical staff. We represent facilities, individuals, groups, and institutions in contracts, sales, mergers, and acquisitions. The lawyers of The Health Law Firm are experienced in complex litigation and both formal and informal administrative hearings. We also represent physicians accused of wrongdoing, in patient complaints, and in Department of Health investigations.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.ThehealthLawFirm.com.

About the Authors:  Amanda I. Forbes, practices health law with The Health Law Firm in its Altamonte Springs, Florida, office.  George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law;  he is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave. Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2020 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

National Nurse Attorneys Association Releases COVID-19 Paper in Support of Front Line Nurses and Health Workers

George Indest HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On April 2, 2020, The American Association of Nurse Attorneys (TAANA) released a position paper providing an analysis of several key legal issues now facing nurses, physicians and other healthcare professionals dealing with the novel coronavirus pandemic throughout the U.S. The paper addresses many key challenges faced by healthcare professionals on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), inadequate COVID-19 testing, and professional license/employment issues.

Main Issues and Recommendations.

Given the alarming number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., TAANA encourages federal, state and local governments and administrative professional licensing agencies to adopt universal protocols to address several key issues.

Specifically, TAANA recommended:

• the federal government to fully utilize the Defense Production Act to ensure the manufacture and supply of adequate PPE and other medical supplies;

• the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) maintain strict COVID-19 PPE regulations and guidelines that are science-based and data-driven, not supply-driven;

• state professional licensing boards to release position statements which offer guidance and support to healthcare professionals regarding practice and ethical issues during this unprecedented time;

• federal, state, and local government to grant front line healthcare professionals with immediate access to COVID-19 testing;

• lack of COVID-19 testing and rapid results for healthcare professionals and their families is unacceptable; and

• the lack of clear policy may result in the illegal termination or discipline of a healthcare professional or unresolved ethical dilemmas based on inconsistent rules, regulations, standards of practice and circumstances.

TAANA further encourages nurses and other healthcare professionals to partner with their professional associations in educating the workforce regarding their legal and ethical rights and responsibilities in the healthcare workplace.

A copy of the full TAANA Position Paper can be read on our website.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Nurses.

The Health Law Firm’s attorneys routinely represent nurses in Board of Nursing investigations and complaints, DORA investigations and complaints, and Department of Health (DOH) investigations and complaints. We appear before the Board of Nursing in licensing matters and in many other legal matters. We represent nurses across the U.S., not just in Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 or (970) 416-7456 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Diaz Baez, Charlotte. “National Nurse Attorney Association Releases COVID-19 Position Paper.” Georgia Nurses Association (GNA). (April 2, 2020). Web.
“The American Association of Nurse Attorneys: TAANA’s Position Paper on Covid-19; Advocating for NURSES and other Healthcare Professionals licensed throughout the United States of America.” Washington Center for Nursing. (April 2, 2020). Web.

Williams, Hannah. “TAANA’s Position Paper on Covid-19; Advocating for NURSES and other Healthcare Professionals licensed throughout the United States of America.” TAANA. (April 2, 2020). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

Keywords: nurse legal representation, Board of Nursing informal hearing attorney, Board of Nursing formal hearing attorney, Department of Health (DOH) investigation of nurses, representation for deposition of nurses, nurse administrative complaint defense, appeal of board of nursing final order, nurse license application legal representation, nurse emergency suspension order appeals representation, nurse certification defense lawyer, legal representation of Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners (ARNPs), Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) attorney representation, Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) legal representation, nurse attorney Florida Colorado Louisiana Virginia, representation for Louisiana and Florida Department of Health (DOH) complaint investigations, nurses insurance defense attorney, NSO lawyer, Florida NSO defense attorney lawyer, Colorado NSO defense attorney lawyer, legal representation for NSO matters in Colorado, legal representation for NSO matters in Florida, representation for professional liability insurance cases, Louisiana NSO defense attorney lawyer, legal representation for NSO matters in Louisiana, NSO deposition defense coverage, Virginia NSO defense attorney lawyer, legal representation for NSO matters in Virginia, legal representation for NSO matters in Virginia, legal representation for nursing credentials committee, Virginia NSO deposition defense coverage Louisiana and Florida Department of Health (DOH) defense lawyer, Colorado Division of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) defense attorney, representation for Florida Colorado Division of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) complaint investigations, Colorado Division of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) defense lawyer, Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys, administrative complaint defense attorney, administrative hearing defense lawyer

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2020 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Prosecutors Push to Keep Florida TeleMedicine Suspect in Jail for $424 Million Fraud Scheme

Attorney George F. Indest IIIBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On March 19, 2020, federal prosecutors in New Jersey federal court pushed to keep a suspect involved in a $424 million telemedicine scheme in jail.  Authorities called him an “unrepentant conman” who carried out one of the largest health care fraud schemes in U.S. history and is likely to flee the country if released.

Telehealth Fraud & Illegal Kickbacks.

The defendant, who owns telehealth companies, has been locked up for nearly 11 months since he was charged last year with running an international fraud and kickback scam. He allegedly paid doctors to order unnecessary orthotic braces for Medicare beneficiaries and solicited bribes and kickbacks from brace suppliers in exchange for patient referrals.

Prosecutors say he went to great lengths to hide his scheme, including lying to obtain legal opinion letters bolstering his claim that he ran legitimate companies that profited from patient subscription fees. In reality, he was concealing the fact that most of those payments were kickbacks from brace suppliers.

A Possible Flight Risk?

In an opposition brief, prosecutors said that there aren’t any suitable bail conditions for the suspect, given his risk of flight and the danger he poses to the community. According to the government, he has a long history of deception and scheming involving foreign businesses, residences, and assets, including a $1 million yacht. Additionally, he claimed to control several foreign bank accounts and once told a cooperating witness that if the government started investigating him, he would flee to Venezuela.

The defendant argued that he’s not a flight risk because he has no criminal history and has close ties to his South Florida community.

Florida’s Involved in a Major Fraud Case, Shocker!

Another scenario that seems to be right out of a Carl Hiaasen or Tim Dorsey novel.  Why does Florida continue to attract and protect the assets fo fraudsters, conmen, and deadbeats?  Does it go back to our history of being the wintering ground for carnies and traveling circuses?

In 2019, the defendant was charged along with 23 other individuals in a crackdown on telehealth fraud schemes in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina Texas, Florida, and California, involving over $1.2 billion in losses.

Given his close community ties and its reputation, it comes as no surprise that getting doctors to sign off on fraudulent prescriptions was a part allegedly played by telehealth company owners in Florida. Click here to view the indictment.

For years, Florida has been the home to health care fraudsters and ranked number one in terms of fraud cases. So, it’s not shocking that three Florida telehealth executives were also charged in what appears to be the biggest case in the takedown.
Click here to learn more about this case.

Therefore, to prevent flight and protect the public, prosecutors requested that the Court deny the
defendant’s motion to revoke the detention order and keep him detained. Click here to read the opposition brief.

To read about a similar telehealth case in Florida, click here to read my prior blog.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Health Care Professionals and Providers.

At the Health Law Firm, we provide legal services for all health care providers and professionals. This includes physicians, nurses, dentists, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors, Durable Medical Equipment suppliers, medical students and interns, hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, pain management clinics, nursing homes, and any other health care provider. We represent facilities, individuals, groups, and institutions in contracts, sales, mergers, and acquisitions.

The services we provide include reviewing and negotiating contracts, business transactions, professional license defense, representation in investigations, credential defense, representation in peer review and clinical privileges hearings, Medicare and Medicaid audits, commercial litigation, and administrative hearings. To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 or (970) 416-7456 or visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Bishop, Stweart. “Feds Push To Keep Telehealth Fraud Suspect Locked Up.” Law360. (March 19, 2020). Web.

Godoy, Jody. “Execs, MDs Charged In $1.2B Medicare Fraud Scheme.” Law360. (April 9, 2019). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave. Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Registered agent for telehealth provider, telehealth provider investigation defense lawyer attorney, telemedicine representation, Florida telemedicine defense lawyer, telehealth expansion, representation for telehealth investigations, representation for telemedicine investigations, Florida Department of Health (DOH) representation, DOH defense lawyer, representation for DOH investigations, representation for Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) investigations, AHCA defense lawyer, AHCA investigation attorney, health care defense attorney, health care compliance defense lawyer, Florida health care attorney, representation for health care professionals, defense lawyer for health care providers, doctor lawyer, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, Medicare audit defense attorney, Medicare inspection defense lawyer, Medicare subpoena defense lawyer, Medicare search warrant defense attorney, legal representation on Medicare fraud investigation, legal representation for Medicare fraud inspection, Medicare overpayment demand defense attorney, Department of Justice Health and Human Services subpoena defense attorney, legal representation for Department of Justice (DOJ) Health and Human Services subpoena, RAC audit defense attorney, ZPIC audit defense lawyer, Medicare fraud defense attorney, health care subpoena defense attorney

The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999, and is also a registered service mark.
Copyright © 2020 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved

The American Association of Nurse Attorneys (TAANA) Releases COVID-19 Paper in Support of Front Line Health Workers

George Indest HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On April 2, 2020, The American Association of Nurse Attorneys (TAANA) released a position paper providing an analysis of several key legal issues now facing nurses, physicians and other healthcare professionals dealing with the novel coronavirus pandemic throughout the U.S. The paper addresses many key challenges faced by healthcare professionals on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), inadequate COVID-19 testing, and professional license/employment issues.

Main Issues and Recommendations.

Given the alarming number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., TAANA encourages federal, state, and local governments and administrative professional licensing agencies to adopt universal protocols to address several key issues.

Specifically, TAANA recommended:

• the federal government to fully utilize the Defense Production Act to ensure the manufacture and supply of adequate PPE and other medical supplies;

• the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) maintain strict COVID-19 PPE regulations and guidelines that are science-based and data-driven, not supply-driven;

• state professional licensing boards to release position statements which offer guidance and support to healthcare professionals regarding practice and ethical issues during this unprecedented time;

• federal, state, and local government to grant front line healthcare professionals with immediate access to COVID-19 testing;

• lack of COVID-19 testing and rapid results for healthcare professionals and their families is unacceptable; and

• the lack of clear policy may result in the illegal termination or discipline of a healthcare professional or unresolved ethical dilemmas based on inconsistent rules, regulations, standards of practice, and circumstances.

TAANA further encourages nurses and other healthcare professionals to partner with their professional associations in educating the workforce regarding their legal and ethical rights and responsibilities in the healthcare workplace.

A copy of the full TAANA Position Paper can be read on our website.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Nurses.

The Health Law Firm’s attorneys routinely represent nurses in Board of Nursing investigations and complaints, DORA investigations and complaints, and Department of Health (DOH) investigations and complaints. We appear before the Board of Nursing in licensing matters and in many other legal matters. We represent nurses across the U.S., not just in Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 or (970) 416-7456 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Diaz Baez, Charlotte. “National Nurse Attorney Association Releases COVID-19 Position Paper.” Georgia Nurses Association (GNA). (April 2, 2020). Web.
“The American Association of Nurse Attorneys: TAANA’s Position Paper on Covid-19; Advocating for NURSES and other Healthcare Professionals licensed throughout the United States of America.” Washington Center for Nursing. (April 2, 2020). Web.

Williams, Hannah. “TAANA’s Position Paper on Covid-19; Advocating for NURSES and other Healthcare Professionals licensed throughout the United States of America.” TAANA. (April 2, 2020). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

Keywords: nurse legal representation, Board of Nursing informal hearing attorney, Board of Nursing formal hearing attorney, Department of Health (DOH) investigation of nurses, representation for deposition of nurses, nurse administrative complaint defense, appeal of board of nursing final order, nurse license application legal representation, nurse emergency suspension order appeals representation, nurse certification defense lawyer, legal representation of Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners (ARNPs), Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) attorney representation, Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) legal representation, nurse attorney Florida Colorado Louisiana Virginia, representation for Louisiana and Florida Department of Health (DOH) complaint investigations, nurses insurance defense attorney, NSO lawyer, Florida NSO defense attorney lawyer, Colorado NSO defense attorney lawyer, legal representation for NSO matters in Colorado, legal representation for NSO matters in Florida, representation for professional liability insurance cases, Louisiana NSO defense attorney lawyer, legal representation for NSO matters in Louisiana, NSO deposition defense coverage, Virginia NSO defense attorney lawyer, legal representation for NSO matters in Virginia, legal representation for NSO matters in Virginia, legal representation for nursing credentials committee, Virginia NSO deposition defense coverage Louisiana and Florida Department of Health (DOH) defense lawyer, Colorado Division of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) defense attorney, representation for Florida Colorado Division of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) complaint investigations, Colorado Division of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) defense lawyer, Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys, administrative complaint defense attorney, administrative hearing defense lawyer

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2020 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Pediatric Group in Florida Claims EHR Program Not Compliant in Suit

George Indest HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On March 16, 2020, a pediatrics group in Altamonte Springs, Florida, filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against a health care technology company called Greenway Health LLC (Greenway). Altamonte Pediatric Associates PA (Altamonte Pediatrics) says Greenway sold it an electronic health records (EHR) program that did not comply with federal standards and cost them a bundle in federal incentive payments.

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

EHR Compliance.

According to the complaint, Greenway’s Intergy electronic health records software failed to comply with the federal government’s Meaningful Use program that sets nationwide standards for EHR. The errors allegedly cost the pediatrics group at least $68,000 in missed incentive payments from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Altamonte Pediatrics says that in the contract Greenway guaranteed that any systems would “remain compliant with federal regulations,” according to the complaint. Additionally, it claims that Greenway waited more than four months to respond to their communications about the $68,000 in lost incentive payments. When Altamonte Pediatrics they finally did get a response, Greenway allegedly only offered to pay less than half that amount.

Additional Troubles for Greenway.

The lawsuit with Altamonte Pediatrics is not the first time that Greenway has faced legal troubles for its EHR program. In 2019, it paid $57.25 million to resolve a False Claims Act suit alleging that they caused users to submit false claims to the government by misrepresenting the capabilities of its EHR product “Prime Suite.” The government also alleged that Greenway violated the Anti-Kickback Statute by paying money and incentives to its client providers to recommend Prime Suite to prospective new customers. You can read the United States Department of Justice’s press release on this case here for more information.

The DOJ said Greenway got a bogus certification by concealing aspects of its program that were not compliant and set it up so its clients could provide inaccurate data.

The Altamonte Pediatrics group claims the same thing happened to it after Medicaid denied $68,000 in incentive payments for eight of its doctors and nurses due to Intergy’s errors. After it’s FCA settlement in 2019, Greenway assured Altamonte Pediatrics and other customers that it would fix flaws in its EHR programs, according to the suit.

The pediatrics group is asking for actual damages, punitive damages, restitution, and attorney fees and expenses. Click here to read the class action complaint filed by Altamonte Pediatrics.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys.

The Health Law Firm routinely represents physicians and medical groups on EHR issues. It also represents pharmacists, pharmacies, physicians, nurses and other health providers in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections, and audits involving the DEA, Department of Health (DOH) and other law enforcement agencies. Its attorneys include those who are board-certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Bolado, Carolina. “Doctors Say Greenway E-Records Software Not Up To Snuff.” Law360. (March 16, 2020). Web.

Simpson, Dave. “Health Records Co. To Pay $57.2M Over FCA Allegations.” Law360. (February 6, 2019). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Electronic Health Records (EHRs) litigation, legal representation for EHR matters, EHR legal representation, electronic medical records litigation, legal representation for EMRs, EHR defense litigation lawyer, representation for complex healthcare litigation, legal representation in complex medical litigation, healthcare facility legal representation, legal representation for healthcare investigations, DOJ defense lawyer, representation for DOJ investigations, healthcare fraud defense lawyer, representation for health care fraud, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, Anti-Kickback Statute defense attorney, AKS lawyer, representation for AKS matters, AKS defense attorney, False Claims Act defense lawyer, FCA representation, representation for FCA investigations, FCA attorney, DOH defense lawyer, representation for DOH investigations, representation for DOH matters, DOH investigation defense attorney, representation for health care professionals, health law defense attorney

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2020 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Government Deems Marijuana Dispensaries ‘Essential’ During COVID-19 Shutdowns

By Carole C. Schriefer, J.D.
On March 17, 2020, amid Coronavirus shutdowns, multiple cities and state health departments have declared medical marijuana dispensaries essential to health care. Many cities are closing or considering closing business and retail operations to stop the spread of the virus. Other “essential” businesses that will remain open include pharmacies, grocery stores, and financial institutions.
As of this date (3/23/2020), Florida still has not joined the ones declaring them to be essential.


“Marijuana is Essential Medicine for Many.”

After residents were told to stay home, a number of cities, including Colorado, revised their position in other states and deemed cannabis “an essential medicine,” allowing stores to stay open. Read Colorado’s Essential Business Order and Public Health guidance.

San Fransico’s Mayor London Breed announced adjustments to the city’s public health order clarifying that dispensaries and marijuana deliveries are critical. “In terms of the cannabis dispensaries, the Department of Public Health [in California] today clarified that since cannabis has medical uses, dispensaries will be allowed to operate as essential businesses, just as pharmacies are allowed to do,” she added.

According to the New York State Department of Health, “In the event nonessential businesses are forced to shut down due to COVID-19, registered organizations in the medical marijuana program will be considered essential and allowed to remain open because they are considered medical providers.” Read the guidance issued by the state of New York.

Following right along, Illinois’ Department of Financial and Professional Regulation issued new, temporary guidelines, relaxing where medical marijuana sales can take place in order to “help reduce contact between individuals.” The state will allow medical dispensaries to sell cannabis “on the dispensary’s property or on a public walkway or curb adjacent to the dispensary.”  Read the temporary guidance issued by Illinois.

In addition, other states, such as Michigan, Massachusetts, and Washington have issued bulletins relaxing regulations regarding delivery and in-store transactions in order to limit contact between patients and vendors.

What Will Florida Do?

The question is, will Florida and other states continue to follow suit if necessary? On March 16, 2020, Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis enacted Emergency Order 20-002 to temporarily allow qualified physicians to use telemedicine. However, so far, there has not been any guidance issued specifically on medical marijuana dispensaries. View Florida’s Emergency Order 20-002.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical and Recreational Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists, and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly help to complete and submit the applications for renewals, registration, permitting, and/or licensing, complying with Florida law. We also represent health facilities, health clinics, and pharmacies facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Booker, Brakkton. “Amid Coronavirus, San Francisco, New York, Deem Marijuana Businesses ‘Essential’.” NPR. (March 17, 2020). Web.

Reisman, Sam. “Medical Pot Deemed ‘Essential’ Amid COVID-19 Shutdowns.” Law360. (March 17, 2020). Web.

Smith, Jeff. “Medical cannabis businesses increasingly deemed ‘essential’ during coronavirus pandemic.” Med Biz Daily. (March 18, 2020). Web.

About the Author: Carole C. Schriefer is an attorney and former registered nurse. She practices with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its regional office is in the Northern Colorado, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 155 East Boardwalk Drive, Fort Collins, Colorado 80525. Phone: (970) 416-7456. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area.

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Florida Prosecutors Want Telehealth Suspect to Remain in Jail For $424 Million Fraud Scheme

Attorney George F. Indest IIIBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On March 19, 2020, federal prosecutors in New Jersey federal court pushed to keep a suspect involved in a $424 million telemedicine scheme in jail.  Authorities called him an “unrepentant conman” who carried out one of the largest health care fraud schemes in U.S. history and is likely to flee the country if released.

Telehealth Fraud & Illegal Kickback Scheme.

The defendant, who owns telehealth companies, has been locked up for nearly 11 months since he was charged last year with running an international fraud and kickback scam. He allegedly paid doctors to order unnecessary orthotic braces for Medicare beneficiaries and solicited bribes and kickbacks from brace suppliers in exchange for patient referrals.

Prosecutors say he went to great lengths to hide his scheme, including lying to obtain legal opinion letters bolstering his claim that he ran legitimate companies that profited from patient subscription fees. In reality, he was concealing the fact that most of those payments were kickbacks from brace suppliers.

Is He a Flight Risk?

In an opposition brief, prosecutors said that there aren’t any suitable bail conditions for the suspect, given his risk of flight and the danger he poses to the community. According to the government, he has a long history of deception and scheming involving foreign businesses, residences, and assets, including a $1 million yacht. Additionally, he claimed to control several foreign bank accounts and once told a cooperating witness that if the government started investigating him, he would flee to Venezuela.

The defendant argued that he’s not a flight risk because he has no criminal history and has close ties to his South Florida community.

Florida’s Involved in a Major Fraud Case, Shocker!

Another scenario that seems to be right out of a Carl Hiaasen or Tim Dorsey novel.  Why does Florida continue to attract and protect the assets fo fraudsters, conmen, and deadbeats?  Does it go back to our history of being the wintering ground for carnies and traveling circuses?

In 2019, the defendant was charged along with 23 other individuals in a crackdown on telehealth fraud schemes in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina Texas, Florida, and California, involving over $1.2 billion in losses.

Given his close community ties and its reputation, it comes as no surprise that getting doctors to sign off on fraudulent prescriptions was a part allegedly played by telehealth company owners in Florida. Click here to view the indictment.

For years, Florida has been the home to health care fraudsters and ranked number one in terms of fraud cases. So, it’s not shocking that three Florida telehealth executives were also charged in what appears to be the biggest case in the takedown.
Click here to learn more about this case.

Therefore, to prevent flight and protect the public, prosecutors requested that the Court deny the
defendant’s motion to revoke the detention order and keep him detained. Click here to read the opposition brief.

To read about a similar telehealth case in Florida, click here to read my prior blog.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Health Care Professionals and Providers.

At the Health Law Firm, we provide legal services for all health care providers and professionals. This includes physicians, nurses, dentists, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors, Durable Medical Equipment suppliers, medical students and interns, hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, pain management clinics, nursing homes, and any other health care provider. We represent facilities, individuals, groups, and institutions in contracts, sales, mergers, and acquisitions.

The services we provide include reviewing and negotiating contracts, business transactions, professional license defense, representation in investigations, credential defense, representation in peer review and clinical privileges hearings, Medicare and Medicaid audits, commercial litigation, and administrative hearings. To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 or (970) 416-7456 or visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Bishop, Stweart. “Feds Push To Keep Telehealth Fraud Suspect Locked Up.” Law360. (March 19, 2020). Web.

Godoy, Jody. “Execs, MDs Charged In $1.2B Medicare Fraud Scheme.” Law360. (April 9, 2019). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave. Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

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The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999, and is also a registered service mark.
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