News

Enjoy Happy Hour After Health Law CLE in Knoxville

Join the TBA for a special social hour following The Why Health Law CLE event on Thursday in Knoxville. Mingle with colleagues and law students interested in health law while enjoying cocktails and hors d'oeuvres provided by London & Amburn PC. No RSVP is required to attend. The happy hour will get started at 5 p.m. at the same location as the CLE, 607 Market Street, Suite 900. 
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Waller Adds Health Care Executive Director

Waller yesterday announced the hiring a Paula Torch, who will become the firm’s health care department executive director, the Nashville Post reports. She will work with the firm’s attorneys to grow its business in the health care practice area. Torch will take over for Morgan Ribeiro, who was promoted in March to chief business development officer.
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Before Health Law Program, Attend Health Law Primer

For newer health law practitioners, the Annual Health Law Primer program provides a general health law overview and discussion of hot topics by experienced healthcare leaders. Attend this year's program on Oct. 4 in Cool Springs and learn about fraud and abuse laws, key healthcare issues in transactions, the basics of HIPAA and employment and medical staff issues.

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Health Law Social Hour

You are invited to an upcoming CLE and social hour hosted by the Tennessee Bar Association’s Health Law Section. This will be a two-hour CLE focusing on the practice area and basics, followed by the social hour. You can register for the program or just attend the social hour. I hope you can make time for this new program and also take the opportunity to network with health law practitioners at our social hour.

August 24 in Nashville

August 31 in Knoxville

Vanderbilt Reaches Settlement Over Medicare Fraud Allegations

Vanderbilt University Medical Center will pay $6.5 million to settle Medicare fraud allegations, the Tennessean reports. The deal comes after claims from three former VUMC physicians that surgery scheduling practices from 2003 to 2011 violated Medicare billing regulations. A portion of the settlement money will go to state agencies and the whistleblowers, but under the False Claims Act, the majority of the settlement will go to Medicare. 

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D.C. Pastors Sue Coca-Cola Over Health Concerns

Two Washington, D.C.-based pastors have filed suit against Coca-Cola and the American Beverage Association (ABA), claiming soda makers knowingly deceived customers about the health risks of their products, The Washington Post reports. The complaint, which was filed last week, alleges that Coke and the ABA ran an intentional campaign to confuse consumers about the causes of obesity. “We’re losing more people to sweets than to the streets,” said Pastor Delman Coates, one of the complainants.
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Memphis Law Review Calls for Papers on Opioid Epidemic

The University of Memphis Law Review requests manuscripts for its presentation at its March 2018 symposium, "The American Addiction: A Pathways Approach to Addressing the Opioid Epidemic," and for publication in an upcoming edition. Manuscripts should be submitted for consideration to Symposium Editor Rachel Barenie at memphislawarticles@gmail.com no later than Dec. 1. Read more about the subject matter and guidelines here.
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Item of Interest

Below is an article that was published in the the Disability Section Connect. We thought it had information that would be of interest to those of you in this section as well.  

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Disability Rights TN Conducting Survey on Needs and Resources

Disability Rights Tennessee is conducting a survey to gather information from people with disabilities, family members, service providers and professionals to help shape the work of the organization. Attorneys working in the disability rights field are asked to contribute their thoughts. Others are asked to share the survey with friends and colleagues in the disability rights field, so an accurate picture of the needs of those with disabilities can be compiled. The deadline to respond is July 15. For more information contact DRT at (800) 342-1660 or gethelp@disabilityrightstn.org.

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TSC: HIPAA-compliant Authorization Not Required When Pre-Suit Notice Sent to Single Healthcare Provider

The Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled that a prospective plaintiff who provides pre-suit notice of a healthcare liability claim to a single healthcare provider is not required to provide a medical authorization compliant with HIPAA. In the case of Bray v. Khuri, Deborah Bray sent a pre-suit notice to Dr. Radwan R. Khuri advising him of a potential claim for the wrongful death of her husband, and she later filed suit. Khuri moved to dismiss on grounds that the medical authorization in the notice was not in compliance with HIPAA. The trial court and Court of Appeals granted Khuri’s motion, but in a unanimous opinion, the Tennessee Supreme Court reversed the lower court decisions.
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Middle Tennessee U.S. Attorney Secures $2.7 Million False Claims Settlement

The acting U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee reached a settlement with Innovative Therapies and its parent company, Cardinal Health, in a $2.7 million False Claims Act case, the Nashville Post reports. The company was accused by a whistleblower of marketing and billing a product as “durable medical equipment,” even though the product did not meet standards for a durable device. The whistleblower in the case will receive $488,700 under the terms of the False Claims Act.
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Senate Health Care Bill Offers $2 Billion to Fight Opioid Crisis

The U.S. Senate health care bill, revealed today, includes $2 billion to help address the opioid crisis, USA Today reports. The amount would fall short of the $45 billion some Republican senators had sought over 10 years. The funds would go to provide grants to states to support treatment and recovery services for 2018, but does not reference continuing funds beyond.
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Nashville’s Judge Blackburn Profiled for Mental Health Court Work

The Tennessean profiled Judge Melissa Blackburn this week for her work in the mental health court. Blackburn was inspired to take up the work after the death of her daughter, who died from a heart attack shortly after beginning to take anti-depressants. “It’s important because it’s part of who I am, and it’s in my fabric,” Blackburn said. “It’s affected how I make decisions, my thought process. It’s how as a judge I come to who I am.”
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Memphis Lawyer’s Nonprofit Featured in Vogue

Former Shelby County juvenile court judicial magistrate Claudia Haltom’s A Step Ahead Foundation was among several women’s health organizations profiled in Vogue magazine this month. Haltom’s group was hailed as “innovative” for its work helping women in need. The organization even provides free rides to those it serves so they can obtain health services.
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AG Slatery Announces Investigation into Opioid Crisis

After a lawsuit was filed in Sullivan County against drug makers earlier this week, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery announced he is leading a coalition of Attorneys General from across the country in comprehensive investigations into the roots of the opioid epidemic, the Nashville Post reports. The announcement did not name any specific drug makers or targets, but the group will examine the role “parties involved in the manufacture and distribution of opioids may have played in creating or prolonging this problem.”
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Nonprofit Sues Community Health Systems Over Indigent Care

A Washington state-based nonprofit filed suit against Community Health Systems yesterday for failing to provide sufficient indigent care at two CHS hospitals in Eastern Washington, the Nashville Business Journal reports. Empire Health Foundation accused the Franklin-based hospital operator of breach of contract and breach of implied duty of good faith and fair dealing. Washington state law requires hospitals in the state to provide charity care for patients below the federal poverty line.
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Northeast Tennessee Attorneys General File Suit Against Opioid Manufacturers

The district attorneys general of Tennessee’s First, Second and Third Judicial Districts jointly filed a lawsuit today in Sullivan County Circuit Court against prescription opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma and its related companies, Mallinckrodt PLC and Endo Pharmaceuticals. The suit alleges that Purdue and the related companies worked to mislead doctors and the public about the need for, and addictive nature of, opioid drugs. It also claims that schools, hospitals, police departments, taxpayers and other public and private entities will bear the financial burden of Purdue’s campaign for decades to come.
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Tate Honored for Service to Centerstone, Mental Health Initiatives

Deborah Taylor Tate was honored recently for her work on the Centerstone of Tennessee Board, where she has served since 2002. Tate was instrumental in the creation and implementation of a Mental Health Commission culminating in the passage of Title 33, which was a comprehensive mental health law for Tennessee, including a chapter on children and youth. In her 15 years on the board, Tate saw Centerstone grow to become the largest behavioral health community provider in the U.S.

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Shelby County May Sue Pharma Companies for Opioid Crisis

Shelby County attorneys are exploring a suit against big pharmaceutical companies to recover costs from fighting the county’s opioid epidemic, The Commercial Appeal reports. The attorneys could have a recommendation sometime this month. The states of Ohio and Mississippi have already filed similar lawsuits, and Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, recently asked state Attorney General Herbert Slatery to join them
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Haslam Signs Law Punishing Any Healthcare Worker Testing Positive for Drugs

Governor Bill Haslam signed into law a bill that requires any healthcare worker who tests positive for drugs  — or even refuses to take a test — to report to a substance abuse treatment program, WJHL reports. The law allows those who complete treatment to return to work, and those who don’t will face suspension of their licenses. The legislation goes into effect on July 1.
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Make Plans to Attend Annual Health Law CLEs

Recognized as one of the premier health law programs in the country, TBA's annual Health Law Primer, on October 4 and the Health Law Forum, held October 5-6, will address key issues impacting health law attorneys. Register early to avoid missing out on this popular program!

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Harwell Asks State AG to Join Suit Against Drug Companies

Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, has asked Attorney General Herbert Slatery to join a lawsuit filed by the Ohio attorney general against drug companies over the opioid crisis, the Nashville Post reports. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine sued five drug makers Wednesday, accusing them of intentionally misleading patients about the dangers of painkillers. The companies sued were Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and its subsidiary Cephalon, Johnson and Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and Allergan. Mississippi is currently the only other state that has joined the suit. 
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Turn Your Expertise into a Magazine Article

It’s no surprise that some of the best articles in the Tennessee Bar Journal have come from TBA section members. Your membership in this section shows that you have a keen interest in trends, developments and case law in this practice area. Sharing this knowledge with your colleagues is one of the best traits of the profession.

How can you become a Journal author? Think of and refine your topic. It should be of interest to Tennessee lawyers, which is a broad criteria. This could mean you might explain a new state law, explain a complicated area of law, or take a larger issue and connect it to what it means for Tennessee attorneys and the justice system. Find a global issue within your particular experience or knowledge and tell about it and how it affects Tennessee law. Then take a look at the writer’s guidelines at http://www.tba.org/submit-an-article, which will tell you about length, notes and other details. Once it’s in the proper format, send it in! It goes to the editor, Suzanne Craig Robertson, who will then get it to the seven members of the Editorial Board for review.

If you are published, you may apply for CLE credit for your work under Supreme Court Rule 21 Section 4.07(b). For details on claiming the credit, check with the Commission on CLE & Specialization at http://www.cletn.com/.

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Program Will Train Attorneys to Represent TennCare Enrollees

A free program in Chattanooga will train pro bono attorneys to represent TennCare enrollees in enrollment and medical service appeals and contested case hearings. The program, called “Making a Difference for Families in Need,” will be led by Chris Coleman, a staff attorney with the Tennessee Justice Center. It will be held May 18 from noon to 1 p.m. at 832 Georgia Ave #1200, Chattanooga, 37402. Find more information and register here.
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Tennessee AG Files Suit Against Network of Pain Management Clinics

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III has filed a lawsuit against a network of pain management clinics, alleging $7 million in fraudulent TennCare claims. The suit was filed in Williamson County Circuit Court against MMi Pain Clinics, owner Michael Kestner and business partner Dr. Lisabeth Williams, who operate 18 clinics across the state. According to the suit, the defendants regularly subjected patients to unnecessary medical procedures. Read the full complaint here.

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