For some reason, wearing or refusing to wear masks has become a point of personal expression and a topic charged with much emotion. We hear stories every day about confrontations with consumers in the retail industry. But what about when a patient refuses to wear a mask?
In many states and counties, face coverings are still mandated in public. Failure to wear a mask can result in civil or criminal fines or penalties. In a medical practice, even where not required by local authorities, masks may be required. In fact, some of the state Boards of Medicine have adopted minimum standards for safe practice. Those standards frequently include the requirement for both provider and patient to wear masks during all health care encounters. Where the regulations or Board of Medicine standards require all individuals to wear face coverings, a health care provider is well within his/her right to enforce those regulations within the office where health care services are being provided and to discharge a patient who refuses to comply. However, caution must be exercised when discharging a patient from a medical practice.
In general, the state Boards of Medicine do not require physicians to treat patients who are physically and mentally capable of wearing face coverings but refuse to do so. But there are circumstances where a physician may have a duty to provide care and, in such instances, exceptions to the general rule may apply.
Various ethics opinions published by the American Medical Association address a physician’s duty in some of these situations, including by way of example:
COVID-19 has accelerated the already growing area of healthcare temporary staffing. Many large healthcare companies face so many uncertainties today, especially from a revenue perspective, that they are increasingly turning to temporary staffing to provide flexibility from an employment perspective. While this is good news for the healthcare temporary staffing industry, it does highlight the growing list of legal issues that staffing agencies currently and/or shortly will face.
Every commercial real estate transaction has an ideal timeframe to begin the process. Most healthcare professionals understand that opening a new office or relocating an office doesn’t happen overnight, but the majority of professionals are not aware of the ideal timeframes for each type of transaction. Different types of problems arise when starting a transaction too early or too late, and both need to be avoided.
If you start the process too early, it creates a scenario where you spend your valuable time looking at properties and evaluating options, working with lenders and other members of your team, only to find out the landlords or sellers won’t negotiate with you yet. Many landlords and sellers won’t take their spaces off the market for extended periods of time while waiting for the tenant or buyer to be ready to transact, because there is too much time before the transaction will actually take place.
Or if they do negotiate, they won’t be willing to offer you even close to their best terms since they are going to lose income on holding a space vacant for an extended period of time. On the other hand, if they will put forth reasonable terms, it is predicated upon you moving forward immediately, which can leave you stuck paying for a space you can’t occupy for a period of time or paying unnecessary rent on your former space if you leave early.
Thinking about joining an integrated or group practice? The average employment contract exceeds twenty pages, not including exhibits. While some parts might seem simple and non-legalistic, many simply do not contemplate important terms that have serious impacts on Acupuncturists daily lives. An employment contract is the most significant financial decision of an Acupuncturists lifetime. The same can be said for each subsequent contract, which means that understanding, and negotiating, your contract is the most valuable investment you can make prior to entering into a contract.
To understand what’s in your employment contract, simply read it over a few times. To understand not only how those terms affect you, but also what isn’t in your contract, hire an experienced health care lawyer. While it’s important to understand what is in your employment contract, it’s equally as important to know what is missing from the contract and what to ask in regards to what is included. The below list considers terms that are important both during and after employment.
The following are nine items you should consider including in or asking about your contract:
Reviewing a lease prior signing will save you extreme headache and cost in the long run. Landlords tend to act as if they have all of the power in negotiations and will make their own rules along the way. Lease negotiations are complex and involve significant business and legal considerations.
Here are guidelines to ensuring that your lease is reasonable and fair:
As an Acupuncturist in a private, solo-practice or group practice, proper start-up is key. Understanding how to set up your business properly with the State and IRS, developing a business plan, and understanding all requirements will help eliminate obstacles that will slow your growth.
When working with new acupuncture businesses, consider the following:
1. Corporate Structure
a. A company is considered a legal entity and recognized by both the IRS and the State. Depending on the number of owners and type of business, different options exist regarding entity type. Specifically, most healthcare professionals choose a limited liability company, corporation or a professional association. Once you choose the appropriate type of entity, you’ll want to meet with your CPA to discuss taxation of the entity and how that affects the owners personally.
2. Obtaining an EIN/TID
a. Before you can open a business bank account, or even do business in your city, you will need to obtain an Employer Identification Number or Tax ID for your business. Properly applying will save you time down the road with IRS tax issues.
Conventional wisdom tells us that spending less money is the most effective approach to saving money. After all, a penny saved is a penny earned and the more you save, the more you have left over. That logic is hard to argue with, but it is not always fool proof. Saving money for your practice the wrong way can lead to diminished patient care, outdated equipment, the wrong location for your practice and additional negative results.
There are several critical factors often overlooked when a healthcare practice’s primary focus is paying the lowest rent vs. achieving the best combination of overall terms. Let’s look at three factors where paying higher rent could actually increase your profitability.
#1: The Cost to Build
Healthcare buildouts often cost two-to-three times more than a typical commercial real estate space. This is attributed to many factors that are unique to healthcare, including:
More durable finishes
Millwork and cabinetry
Plumbing and sinks in exam rooms, sterilization centers and laboratories
Increased electrical and HVAC requirements (heating, ventilation and air conditioning)
In the beginning of June, 2020, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) revised its Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs Guidance Document. The Document is designed to assist prosecutors in making informed decisions as to whether, and to what extent, the company’s compliance program is effectivefor purposes of determining, when a compliance violation has occurred, the appropriate form of any resolution or prosecution and monetary penalty. It also guides a prosecutor as to the company’s compliance obligations contained in any criminal resolution. The Document has been revised on three occasions since 2017, telegraphing the DOJ’s intent to prosecute those businesses without compliance plans, or without effective compliance plans, more harshly than those taking steps to identify and remedy risks.
A healthcare business’ failure to have in place a compliance program designed to detect and respond to potential fraud and security risks places it at a serious risk of civil and criminal liability. When a compliance issue is investigated, charged and resolved, DOJ prosecutors are instructed to consider whether the business has invested in and improved its corporate compliance program and internal controls systems. They must also determine whether those improvements have been tested to demonstrate that they would prevent or detect similar misconduct in the future. According to the DOJ, there are three fundamental questions that a prosecutor should ask when determining whether a business’ compliance plan is sound:
There are numerous COVID-19 grants available from the United States Government, spanning the addiction treatment industry to assisted living, hospitals and providers. There’s money for workplace modernization and for telehealth funding. But how does one keep it all straight and avoid missing out? Join Florida Healthcare Law Firm Attorney Steven Boyne for this informative webinar designed to share an overview and strategy for determining how best your healthcare business can be supported during this unprecedented public health emergency.
Out of network physician owned specialty hospitals are unique in that there are less stringent legal requirements on the facility, but patient care obligations remain the same. This means that patient care must be prioritized over profits and all actions taken by the hospital and any physician investor must showcase that order of priority.
Given the amount of scrutiny placed in physician owned specialty hospitals in the past two decades, these facilities are well served to identify and implement a process to remedy compliance concerns. Even when a facility does not submit claims to any Federal health insurance provider and is out of network with all commercial insurance companies, it is still required to follow the laws of the state where it is located.
The best plan for surviving scrutiny in such situations is to have a plan. Proactively seek out applicable laws and regulations, and determine how your hospital will abide by them. Compliance can be tailored to fit your facility.
Overutilization and Self-Referrals
A physician who shares ownership in a hospital may have a financial incentive to refer patients for services if he or she receives a percentage of the revenue generated. Laws including the Federal Stark Law and Anti-Kickback Statute were promulgated to combat unnecessary referrals. A 2003 study by the Department of Health and Human Services concluded that physician-investor referrals to hospitals in which they have an investment interest are similar to those physicians without investment interests. Nevertheless, the fear of overutilization and unnecessary self referral remains at the forefront of the regulators’ minds at both the State and Federal level.
Health law is the federal, state, and local law, rules, regulations and other jurisprudence among providers, payers and vendors to the healthcare industry and its patient and delivery of health care services; all with an emphasis on operations, regulatory and transactional legal issues.