News from the Health Law Gurus™ is a weekly summary of notable health law news from around the country with helpful links to related content.

Former Chief Exec of HMO Company Sentenced to Three Years—The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced on Monday that Todd S. Farha, former Chief Executive Officer of Wellcare, was sentenced to three year years in prison for fraudulently submitting inflated expenditure information on Wellcare’s annual reports to the Florida Medicaid program in connection with claims for behavioral health care services.  Wellcare, which operates health maintenance organizations (“HMOs”), cooperated with the criminal investigation. Previously, Wellcare had to pay $40 million in restitution, was required to forfeit an additional $40 million to the U.S. government, and paid $137.5 million in civil fines and penalties in a qui tam action in connection with the scheme. To read the DOJ press release, click here.

Proposed Rule Would Give Docs More Time to Implement Electronic Health Records—On Tuesday, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) published a proposed rule that would allow certain health care providers “more flexibility in how they use certified electronic health record (EHR) technology (CEHRT) to meet meaningful use,” according to a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) press release. As part of the proposed rule, Meaningful Use Stage 2 would be extended through 2016, with Stage 3 not beginning until 2017. Meaningful Use refers to a set of criteria by which health care providers’ use of EHR technology is measured to evaluate whether such providers are entitled to incentive payments from the government. Read the CMS press release here.

Burwell Approved by Senate Panel for HHS Secretary—On Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee approved of the Obama Administration’s nominee for Secretary of HHS, Sylvia Mathews Burwell. The 21-3 approval vote clears the way for Burwell’s nomination to proceed before the full Senate, which is not likely to happen until after Memorial Day. Burwell, currently the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, has garnered bipartisan support for her nomination and is likely to be confirmed by the full Senate. Read a Reuters article on the Burwell’s hearing before the Senate Finance Committee here.


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