News

House OKs $33.3 Billion Spending Plan

The Tennessee House has approved $33.3 billion for the state's annual budget after rejecting Democrat attempts to add an authorization for Republican Gov. Bill Haslam to strike a deal with the federal government over Medicaid expansion. Passing a balanced budget is one of the few constitutional requirements for Tennessee lawmakers, Memphis Daily News reports.

read more »

Health Law Key to Polsinelli Nashville Move

A Nashville office is mandatory for building a national health care practice, Polsinelli Chairman Russ Welsh tells the Nashville Business Journal in an interview about the Kansas City-based firm's entry into the Tennessee legal market. Nashville legal leaders say the move also speaks to the economic growth and heightened profile of the city. The Kansas City-Based firm is among the nation's 100 largest law firms by revenue and has been listed by American Lawyer as the fastest growing. “It is a continued sign of our market’s growth, opportunity and increased national prominence,” Waller Chairman Matt Burnstein says.

read more »

Legislature Approves Use of Cannabidiol Oil

Both chambers of the legislature last evening approved a bill allowing Tennesseans to possess cannabidiol oil with less than nine-tenths of one percent of tetrahydrocannabinol when a family member has been diagnosed by a doctor with intractable seizures, the Commercial Appeal reports in its legislative roundup. Families with children who suffer from chronic seizures have been lobbying lawmakers for the legislation.

read more »

TALS Seeks Presenters for Equal Justice Conference

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) is seeking presenters to speak at this year’s Equal Justice University set for Sept. 2-4 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Murfreesboro. The conference, cosponsored by the TBA, is the annual gathering for Tennessee’s Access to Justice community. Speakers are sought to provide substantive law courses, ethics and professionalism training, and technology and communications skills. Send proposals by May 15 to TALS’ Policy & Training Director Anne Fox.

read more »

National Law Firm Opens Nashville Office

Polsinelli PC, a Kansas City-based law firm that is among the 100 largest in the country, has opened a Nashville office, the Nashville Business Journal reported today. The firm has hired two Nashville healthcare attorneys -- Bobby Guy and Robert Dempsey, both previously with Frost Brown Todd – to run the office. It hopes to grow in other industry areas over time. Polsinelli operates 21 offices throughout the country with more than 740 attorneys. It already has a regional office in Chattanooga.

read more »

TJC Accepting ‘Mother of the Year’ Nominations

The Tennessee Justice Center (TJC) is accepting nominations for its annual “Mother of the Year” celebration, the Tennessean reports. Any mother, foster mother or grandmother who has shown extraordinary love and courage in advocating not just for her own children, but for all children in need, may be nominated. Children may nominate a caregiver by submitting a picture depicting why that person is a healthcare hero. Nominations must be received by April 25.

read more »

GOP Medical Marijuana Bill Delayed

A Republican-backed effort to legalize marijuana for limited medicinal purposes in Tennessee has been delayed until 2016. Senate Health and Welfare Committee chairman Rusty Crowe said there wasn't enough time to fully discuss the pros and cons of the bill and that he would create a summer study commission to look at it. The Tennessean has more.

read more »

NBJ Honors Health Care Professionals

The Nashville Business Journal recently announced its 2015 class of Health Care Heroes. Attorneys among the group were regognized in the “Health Care Professional Services” category. They are: Anna Grizzle, a partner at Bass, Berry & Sims; Ken Marlow, partner and healthcare department chair at Waller; and Rhonda Sides, principal for healthcare services, forensic/valuation and litigation support services at Crosslin & Associates. The honorees will be recognized at an awards luncheon May 20 at the Omni Nashville Hotel.

read more »

Insure Tennessee Fails Again

The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee voted 2-6-1 today against a resolution to allow Gov. Bill Haslam to implement "Insure Tennessee" -- his plan to provide low-income Tennesseans with federally subsidized healthcare. Although the House version of the plan is still alive, the likelihood of Insure Tennessee becoming law this year is very low, the Tennessean reports. The bill considered today differed significantly from the version defeated during a special session earlier this year. The new plan required that Haslam wait to implement the program until after the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the legality of subsidies and federal officials grant approval for Tennessee to end the program at any time.

read more »

Healthcare Liability, Workers' Comp Bills See Action

The Senate sponsor of legislation to establish an administrative system for addressing healthcare liability and errors announced today that the bill (SB507 by Sen. Jack Johnson and HB546 by Rep. Glen Casada) will not receive any further consideration this year, but will be the subject of an ad hoc committee study this summer. Also today, the Senate version of a bill to create a system for allowing employers to create a private workers' compensation plan bypassing the state system (SB721 by Sen. Mark Green and HB 997 by Rep. Jeremy Durham), cleared its first hurdle in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee by a 6-0-2 vote, with one member absent.

read more »

Senators Hold 'Twitter Debate'

Lawyer legislators Sen. Lee Harris, D-Memphis, and Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, held a "Twitter Debate" today, covering Insure Tennessee, school vouchers, guns and racial profiling. Phil Williams from NewsChannel5 summarizes the conversation through the series of tweets.

read more »

Insure Tennessee Resolution Passes Senate Committee

The Senate Health and Welfare Committee passed Insure Tennessee legislation Wednesday evening by a 6-2-1 vote. Senate Joint Resolution 93, which would authorize Gov. Bill Haslam to proceed with plans to use federal dollars to help working people buy into employer-sponsored health plans and expand Medicaid eligibility to poor Tennesseans, now goes to the Commerce and Labor Committee. The Tennessean has more.

read more »

Bid to Revive Medicaid Expansion Moving in Senate

A resolution that would grant Gov. Bill Haslam the power to strike a deal with the federal government on Medicaid expansion was recommended today by the Senate Health and Welfare Subcommittee on TennCare. A special session called by the Governor in February ended with the defeat of his Insure Tennessee proposal in a 7-member Senate committee. The advancing resolution SJR 93 — sponsored by Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville — would revive that effort. The Associated Press has more

read more »

Bill Would Overhaul Medical Malpractice Law

A bill creating a mandatory administrative medical malpractice liability system that would impact healthcare liability, including hospitals and nursing homes, is slated to be heard in committees in both houses of the General Assembly this week. If passed, the system would be similar to the workers' compensation system. SB507/HB546 is sponsored by Rep Glen Casada, R-Thompson Station, and co-sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Brentwood, and Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville. The TBA opposes this legislation because of its deep professional commitment to courts as the principal dispute resolution mechanism. Weigh in using TBAImpact.

read more »

Memphis Law Hosts Health Policy Symposium

The University of Memphis School of Law and the Institute for Health Law & Policy will hold a symposium Friday on “Building Blocks for a Healthier Community.” The event will feature remarks from Sharon Z. Roerty with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; lawyer Marice Ashe, founder of ChangeLab Solutions; and Elizabeth Tobin-Taylor, an attorney and assistant professor of health services, policy and practice at Brown University School of Public Health. The event is free and open to the public.

read more »

Legal Aid Offers Free Brochure on Navigating Tax Penalty Exemptions

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands has published a new legal self-help brochure to guide Tennesseans through new health care tax penalty exemptions. The brochure is free and accessible through Legal Aid Society’s website. View the press release for more information.

read more »

$5 Billion Recovered in Health Care Fraud in 2014

Bass Berry and Sims breaks down the numbers on health care fraud in its annual report, the Nashville Business Journal reports. The federal government in recent years has stepped up enforcement of the False Claims Act, its primary tool for curbing fraud against the government, resulting in $5 billion being recovered by the government in 2014. Of that amount, $2.3 billion involved claims against federal health care programs. View the full report.

read more »

Reminder: Healthcare Liability Reporting Requirements

Attorneys reporting health care liability claimants are required to provide specified information related to fee arrangements and TennCare payments to the Department of Commerce and Insurance. Per the Tennessee Health Care Liability Reporting Act, the department must submit an annual report summarizing information submitted by health care providers, facilities and attorneys by March 1. Reporting requirements and instructions can be found on the department’s website. View the notice here

read more »

Circuit Court: State Cap on Damages Unconstitutional

Hamilton County Circuit Court Judge W. Neil Thomas ruled today that the state of Tennessee does not have a constitutional right to limit noneconomic damages in personal injury lawsuits. A 2011 state law supported by Gov. Bill Haslam, most Republicans and the business community capped “pain and suffering” damages at $750,000. Thomas’ ruling kicks off “another chapter in the complicated and long-running fight over tort reform,” the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.

read more »

Learn More About Medical-Legal Partnerships

Learn more about medical-legal partnerships at a live CLE program scheduled for March 30 in Nashville or by watching a one-hour archived webcast on the topic. Both programs are sponsored by TBA’s Access to Justice Committee and are being offered at no charge to Tennessee lawyers. The live program runs from noon to 4 p.m. and offers 3.5 hours of general credit. The video course offers one hour of general credit and can be taken at any time. The January issue of the Tennessee Bar Journal also explored how these partnerships work.

read more »

Supreme Court Appears Divided on ACA Subsidies Case

The Supreme Court was sharply divided today in the latest challenge to President Barack Obama's health insurance overhaul, this time over the tax subsidies that make insurance affordable for millions of Americans. The justices are trying to determine whether the law makes people in all 50 states eligible for federal tax subsidies to cut the cost of insurance premiums, or if it limits tax credits to people who live in states that created their own health insurance marketplaces. According to the Associated Press, the same liberal-conservative divide that characterized earlier cases was evident in the nearly 90 minutes of back-and-forth questioning. A decision is expected by late June.

read more »

Court to Hold Arguments in Jackson, Review 4 New Cases

The Tennessee Supreme Court will hear two health care liability disputes among four cases scheduled for oral arguments March 4 in Jackson. The court also granted review to four new cases this week. Criminal issues include indictments and relief from execution for the intellectually disabled. Civil issues include the Health Care Liability Act and marital dissolution agreements. The Raybin-Perky Hotlist reviews the four cases and offers a prediction as to how each may be decided.

read more »

Nashville Firm Plays Role in $100M Tobacco Settlement

A federal judge yesterday morning put a 90-day hold on all of the so-called Engle Progeny tobacco pending lawsuits in the Florida federal courts after being notified of a settlement agreement. Attorneys from the Nashville office of Lieff Cabraser have won several high-profile verdicts against cigarette manufacturers in recent months, including a $41 million verdict in October, the largest victory in the Engle cases. The Nashville Scene has more.

read more »

Shelby PD Recognized with Innovation Award

The Shelby County Public Defender’s Office is one of eight organizations to receive an Innovations in Justice Award from the U.S. Department of Justice, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and the Center for Court Innovation. The award recognizes programs that approach criminal justice challenges in new and effective ways, according to the Memphis Business Journal. The public defender’s office was selected for its Jericho Project, which helps those with mental illness and substance disorders that are “cycling through the criminal justice system.”

read more »

UT Law Plans Health Care Law Symposium

The University of Tennessee College of Law will present a one-day symposium on health care law and policy issues on March 6. Sponsored by the school’s Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution and the Tennessee Journal of Law and Policy, the event will feature addresses and panel discussions by legal, policy and health care leaders. Attendance is free and open to the public but online registration is required. Contact Micki Fox, (865) 974-8601 with questions.

read more »