On November 14, 2011, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held a hearing called "Medical Devices: Protecting Patients and Promoting Innovation." The hearing focused on the continued viability of a medical device clearance process that clears for market medical devices that are "substantially equivalent" devices to previously cleared devices (also known as the "510(k) process," in reference to the statutory provision governing this process). Class III medical devices not cleared through this process must undergo the more rigorous and time-consuming Premarket Approval process. Among the issues considered were whether the 510(k) process sufficiently evaluated the safety of devices when clinical data is not necessarily always considered or part of the submission; whether high-risk medical devices should always be considered for the 510(k) process; the user fees for medical device applications; strengthening post-approval monitoring requirements; and the resources and needs for the FDA and the Center of Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) in reviewing, clearing and approving medical devices.… Continue Reading
Last week, in my capacity as president of the American Health Lawyers Association, I attended the first National Summit on Health Care Fraud, a joint undertaking by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Justice. The conference brought together private sector leaders, law enforcement personnel, and health care experts as part of the Obama Administration's coordinated effort to fight health care fraud. This was the first national gathering on health care fraud between law enforcement and the private and public sectors.… Continue Reading
On Friday, October 30, 2009, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ("HHS") published an interim final rule and request for comments that implements certain HIPAA enforcement changes made pursuant to the HITECH Act. Consistent with the provisions of the HITECH Act, the new rule amends the HIPAA enforcement regulations applicable to violations of each of HIPAA's Administrative Simplification Rules (i.e., Privacy Rule, Security Rule, Transactions and Code Sets Rules, Standard Unique Identifier for Employers (EIN Rule), and the Standard Unique identifier for Health Care Providers (NPI Rule)) by instituting the below categories of violations and tiered penalty scheme to HIPAA violations that occur on or after February 18, 2009.… Continue Reading
After just passing her eighth week as FDA Commissioner, Dr. Margaret Hamburg announced on August 6, 2009, six new enforcement procedures to a group of industry representatives, attorneys, consumers, and others attending a speech sponsored by the Food and Drug Law Institute in Washington, D.C.
"The FDA must be vigilant, the FDA must be strategic, the FDA must be quick, and the FDA must be visible," according to Commissioner Hamburg. She stated that vigilance means regular inspections and follow-up to ensure problems are resolved; identifying and resolving problems early; a "greater emphasis on significant risk and violations;" rapidly responding to egregious violations or violations that jeopardize public health; and using "meaningful penalties to send a strong message" to discourage future offenses. The Commissioner also said that the agency must be visible publicize its enforcement actions (and the rationale for those actions) widely and effectively. Commissioner Hamburg described six new policy changes to meet these goals.… Continue Reading
In a time of economic crisis, when hospitals, like most other businesses, are struggling to operate within a constrained budget, Memorial Hermann Healthcare System ("Memorial Hermann") agreed Jan. 26, 2009 to pay $700,000 to settle claims of the Texas Attorney General alleging that Memorial Hermann orchestrated an agreement among health plans not to do business with a new competitor, Town and County Hospital ("Town and Country"). According to the complaint, Memorial Hermann, which owns and operates acute care hospitals furnishing inpatient care, is the largest hospital system in the Houston area. Town and County, a physician-owned hospital, opened in November 2005. Before opening, Town and County approached insurers to enter into contracts to be included in those insurers' hospital networks. Memorial Hermann allegedly took steps to discourage insurers from entering into contracts with Town and Country, including sending notification of an intent to terminate its contract with one insurer as to all Memorial Hermann facilities, and subsequently renegotiating a contract with the insurer for substantially higher rates.… Continue Reading