The Justice Department has issued a ruling as to who may be prosecuted for violations of HIPAA. The criminal penalties apply to all covered entities but not necessarily their employees who steal personal health files. The rules only apply to covered entities and therefore only those can be prosecuted. This is binding on the executive branch but not judges. Top
The Illinois Democrats have finally caved to the interests of its citizens and passed a med mal reform bill that the Governor has signed. The bill limits noneconomic damages to $500,000 against physicians and $1 million against hospitals. The law also allows more oversight of med mal insurance rates. The Democratic leaders knew if the bill didn't pass they would lose their downstate seats and the majority position in the Senate. This is not the first bill that has passed but since it is tied to other reforms the Supreme Court may be more loathe to overturn it.
The Connecticut Senate has also passed a med mal bill and sent it to the Assembly. This bill reduces interest rates on judgments, allow apologies and oversee the rate increases. There would be no limitation on noneconomic damages. The Assembly also passed the bill and it is now at the Governor's office. This is a wasted bill.
In yet another wasted effort the New Hampshire legislature passed a med mal reform bill that did nothing except create a mandatory pretrial review panel. The Governor has stated he will sign the bill. These two bills show what happens in Democratic states without significant Republican or physician input as in Illinois.
Arizona has passed a law that limits expert witnesses to board certified specialists in the same field as the defendant if the defendant is board certified. The law will be challenged in the courts as Arizona law states the courts will determine who may testify. A second part of the new law allows apologies without these being admitted into court. Top
CMS has issued their plans for the National Practitioner
Number (NPI). Between May 23, 2005 and January 2, 2006 will accept any claim
except that which only has the NPI. After January 6, 2006 and up to
October 1, 2006 will accept NPI if accompanied by an existing claim
number. Following October 1, 2006 to May 23, 2007 any and all numbers may
be used. Following May 23, 2007 only NPI will be accepted. In other
words, start getting your NPI applications filled out and sent in. You may
get the number at (sorry about not making this clickable) http://www.cms.hhs.gov/medlearn/npi
Texas has passed a law that requires physicians to disclose to their patients and to the state any ownership interests they have in specialty hospitals. This was a rebuke to the Texas Hospital Association.
Last year New Jersey passed the first tax on elective plastic surgical procedures. Other states have begun the filing of bills to also have these procedures taxed. The laws do not apply to those plastic surgical procedures after disfiguring disease, accidents or birth defects. Is having a crooked nose or small breasts a birth defect? Last year Americans spent over $8 Billion on cosmetic surgery. The me generation is taking hold. New Jersey is beginning to see their patients go to the same plastic surgeons for the same procedures in surroundings states. The new law was supposed to generate $24 million but has only generated $7 million. Top
California has begun the loosening of the seismic upgrades required of hospitals. The Senate passed a bill to give the hospitals an additional 12 years to comply with the regs. The retrofitting or new building has become significantly more expensive and hospitals are already spending money for the nursing regs and uninsured patients. The bill passed 27-3 to the chagrin of the unions and the nurses. Top
DISCLAIMER: Although this article is updated periodically, it reflects the author's point of view at the time of publication. Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice. Readers should consult with their own legal counsel before acting on any of the information presented.