Updated CDC COVID-19 Guidance
The CDC has updated its guidance regarding masking and physical distancing for fully vaccinated individuals. Once fully vaccinated, people can resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing, unless those restrictions are still required under state or local laws. Additionally, fully vaccinated people no longer need to quarantine or obtain a COVID-19 test following a known exposure if they are not symptomatic. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second dose in a 2-dose series or two weeks after receiving a single-dose vaccine. See the complete CDC guidance for more information on the updated recommendations.
Potential Extension on Provider Relief Fund Deadline
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra announced that the agency is considering extending the June 30 deadline for providers to spend the relief funds they have received, according to a report from Fierce Healthcare. This announcement follows advocacy efforts from the American Hospital Association and several legislators, urging HHS to implement an extension. Regarding the remaining $33 billion in the fund, Secretary Becerra did not indicate an anticipated timeline for disbursement, but he clarified the agency's focus in directing the funds to the providers who need it the most, particularly safety-net providers. He emphasized the agency's focus is on accountability and transparency.
HHS Office for Civil Rights Enforcement Against Discrimination
The HHS Office for Civil Rights announced it will interpret and enforce Section 1557 and Title IX's prohibitions on discrimination based on sex to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity, to maintain consistency with a recent Supreme Court decision. The agency noted the importance of ensuring patients do not face discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity because fear of discrimination can lead patients to forgo care, with serious negative consequences for their health.
Protecting Vaccine Access for People with Disabilities and Older Adults
The HHS Office for Civil Rights has published new resources to assist states and vaccination providers to improve access for people with disabilities and older adults, emphasizing that the laws prohibiting disability discrimination remain in effect within the context of COVID-19. The agency released a guidance document as well as a fact sheet with concrete examples and specific steps for compliance. Some of the tips focus on improving communication as well as ease of scheduling vaccine appointments and modifying social distancing practices for immunocompromised individuals.
For more information on these "Helpful Hints" topics, please contact Renee Rayne in the firm's Nashville office.
Labor & Employment Update for our Health Care Clients
Matthew Scully and Gabriell Jeffreys in Burr & Forman's Labor & Employment group have released two key Labor & Employment Updates that our Health Care clients and contacts need to know.
Birmingham Medical News: Three HIPAA "Increases" Potentially On The Horizon
On December 10, 2020, the Office for Civil Rights ("OCR") at the United States Department of Health and Human Services ("HHS") announced proposed changes to the regulations implementing the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 ("HIPAA"). The proposed changes, which are set out in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking ("NPRM"), are a part of the broader initiative to promote value-based care, enable better coordination among health care providers, and facilitate patient autonomy and engagement. This article discusses some of the proposed changes and recent updates contained in the NPRM.
Reprinted with permission from the Birmingham Medical News
Brooke Watson Authors Article on Secure Employee Offboarding for Business Alabama
Burr & Forman attorney Brooke Watson provided insight on best practices for employers to minimize risks when offboarding an employee in an article published by Business Alabama on April 16, 2021.
America's Immigration System: President Biden's First 100 Days
Last month, President Joe Biden ("President Biden") wrapped up his first 100 days as President of the United States – focusing on a myriad of issues from the Coronavirus pandemic ("COVID-19") to America's immigration system. Inasmuch as immigration affairs remained at the forefront under the previous administration, America's immigration system continues to be a pressing topic for the Biden administration. President Biden has taken various actions and positions on key immigration issues, many of which could significantly impact businesses that regularly employ foreign nationals.