News

LAET, Hospital Form Children's Health Law Partnership

Legal Aid of East Tennessee and the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital have partnered to create the Children’s Health Law Partnership (CHLP), the first program of its kind in the Knoxville area. The new program places a civil legal aid attorney on the care team with the doctors, nurses and social workers at the hospital. The attorney works to address non-medical issues that impact positive medical outcomes. The Children’s Health Law Partnership is funded through a 2017 grant from Trinity Health Foundation of East Tennessee. For more information on this program, contact the Knoxville office of Legal Aid at (865) 637-0484.
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Don't Forget: Winter CLE Blast Tomorrow!

Need CLE hours fast? We can help! The annual Winter CLE Blast is less than a day away. With this program, you can complete up to 11 hours of Dual CLE credit on your own time. Our registration desk will be open from 7 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. on Feb. 21, providing you the flexibility to create your own schedule and take as many or as few hours as you need. Payment will be determined at checkout depending on the number of hours you attend. 

Highlights

  • Flexible to your schedule
  • Up to 11 Hours of CLE
  • Ethics Credits
  • Compliance CLE
  • Live Credit Hours

When: Feb. 21, registration begins at 7 a.m., CST

Where: Tennessee Bar Center, 221 4th Ave N., Nashville, TN 37219

 

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Johnson City Men Plead Guilty to Federal Conspiracy, Mail Fraud

Two Johnson City men have pleaded guilty to running a million dollar scam centered around the Mountain Empire Surgery Center, the Times News reports. Donald Kevin Collins and Charles Turner were charged in August with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and 15 counts of mail fraud for the scam, in which they created a fake company and tricked the surgical center into paying them nearly $1.4 million over six years. Turner is scheduled for sentencing on Feb. 7, while Collins has a change of plea hearing set for Jan. 18.
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Nashville Healthcare Company Finalizes $31 Million DOJ Settlement

Executives with Nashville-based Envision Healthcare have signed a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice to resolve a government investigation into allegations that it potentially worked to unnecessarily boost admissions at hospitals in several states. The Nashville Post reports that the alleged impropriety occurred between the company’s EmCare division and hospitals managed by Health Management Associates. The company will pay $31.3 million to resolve the claims and avoid further litigation.
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Comptroller: Paperwork Making TennCare Harder Than Necessary for Vulnerable Enrollees

Investigators from the Tennessee Comptroller’s office said that an overly complicated, 98-page renewal form is making it difficult for low-income enrollees to maintain their health coverage, WPLN reports. The investigation was requested by House Speaker Beth Harwell, and revealed that TennCare routinely requests information from enrollees that the agency already knows, and that enrollees sometimes don’t even receive their forms. Michele Johnson from the Tennessee Justice Center said that the forms are so dense and complicated that doctors and lawyers regularly call their offices for help.
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Marine Veteran Sues VA Medical Center, Tennessee Congressman

A Washington County Marine veteran is suing U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Johnson City, and 17 employees of the Mountain Home VA Medical Center over a forced opioid tapering policy that limits veterans’ access to pain medication, the Johnson City Press reports. Robert D. Rose Jr., whose injuries were sustained in training exercises, claims he has been denied adequate access to health care since the opioid tapering policy began in 2012. Rose said in his lawsuit that he, alongside 90 percent of veterans receiving care at the center, have been denied opioid medications since October 2016.

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Court Clarifies Law on Proof of Medical Expenses in Personal Injury Cases

In Jean Dedmon v. Debbie Steelman et al., the Tennessee Supreme Court declined to change a state law that outlines what evidence can be used to prove medical expenses in cases involving personal injury. The court held that Tennessee law continues to allow plaintiffs to use full, undiscounted medical bills to prove their medical expenses instead of the discounted amounts paid by insurance companies. Justice Holly Kirby authored the unanimous opinion in the case that was originally filed in Crockett County.
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Opioid Commission Comes Out for Drug Courts

A system of nationwide drug courts would help place substance abusers into treatment rather than sending them into the prison system, a new report from the President’s Opioid Commission reported yesterday. That sweeping change was one of the boldest of the 56 recommendations made by the panel, headed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, LocalMemphis.com reports from CNN. "It's an ambitious recommendation but one that we think would … get help to people who need it in order to slow down recidivism, and … lower the federal prison population."

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Memphis VA Hospital Fires 2 Top Officials Amid Investigations

In the wake of multiple congressional investigations into the facility, the Memphis VA Medical Center has fired two top officials, The Commercial Appeal reports. New Director David Dunning fired the hospital’s director of anesthesiology and head of surgery for “failure to lead and act.” The investigations are looking into allegations of botched surgeries and biopsies, delays in urgent care and rising threats to patient safety. The facility is currently ranked at the bottom of the VA’s own internal rankings.
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Knoxville Lawyer Named Federal Administrative Law Judge

Knoxville attorney Benjamin Burton has been selected to serve as an administrative law judge with the Social Security Administration. He will serve at the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review in St. Louis. Burton worked for the Social Security Administration prior to entering private practice and is one of only 61 Board Certified Social Security Trial Specialists nationwide.
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Global & Tennessee Specific Trade & Investment Perspectives & Policies for 2018 & Beyond

 
The International Law Section of the Tennessee Bar Association is sponsoring a free seminar “Global & Tennessee Specific Trade & Investment Perspectives & Policies for 2018 & Beyond” to be held on Thursday, Nov. 2 from 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at Nashville School of Law, Appellate Courtroom, 4013 Armory Oaks Drive, Nashville, Tenn. 
 
The speakers on the panel include:
  • Terry Olsen, Chair of the TBA International Law Section, as Moderator
  • Clay Banks, Regional Director of Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development
  • James Forde, Prosperity and Economics Officer of British Consulate General, Atlanta
  • Ms. Joanne Chu, Director of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (New York)
  • Mr. Michael Kwan, Deputy Director of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (New York)
The seminar will provide an overview of the global & U.S. trade & investment landscape as it concerns Tennessee for 2018 & beyond, and both policy & legal views of the ever-changing global standard of Tennessee in the international investment environment.
 
Attendees will also have the opportunity to have direct interactive discussions with the speakers at the end of the seminar.
 
The panel discussion will last from 6pm thru 7pm, and then followed with a FAQ session for attendees, along with a light reception of beverage & desserts. 
 
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Shelby County Man Wins $140 Million Lawsuit Against Testosterone Drug Maker

Jeffrey Konrad of Collierville has been awarded more than $140 million in a lawsuit against the makers of AndroGel, a testosterone drug he claims gave him a heart attack, The Commercial Appeal reports. Konrad’s attorneys argued in federal court that drug maker AbbVie Inc., misrepresented the risks associated with the drug. Konrad had been prescribed AndroGel by his doctor for conditions attributed to low testosterone levels.
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Tennessee Justice Center to Host 2 TennCare Trainings Next Week

Next week the Tennessee Justice Center (TJC) in Nashville will host two trainings aimed at explaining the legal ins-and-outs of TennCare and the Affordable Care Act. The first, on Oct. 16, will be held from noon to 4 p.m., and the second from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Oct. 17. Both will take place at St. Thomas Hospital, 4220 Hardin Pike, or via live webinar. Registration is available on the TJC website.
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East Tennessee Prosecutors Sue Big Pharma Over Opioids

The top prosecutors for five judicial districts encompassing 15 East Tennessee counties are joining their counterparts in three Upper East Tennessee districts in trying to use the legal system to hold the makers of opiate-based prescription drugs financially responsible for the state’s opioid addiction problem. The News Sentinel reports that prosecutors Charme Allen, Dave Clark, Jared Effler, Russell Johnson and Stephen Crump are suing opioid drugmakers Purdue Pharma, Mallinckrodt and Endo Pharmaceuticals.

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Reminder: Lunch Business Meeting for TBA Health Law Section Members

Thursday, October 5 at 11:45 a.m. CDT

Reminder: Please make plans to join the TBA Health Law Section at their Annual Lunch Business Meeting and Election of Officers, to be held in conjunction with this year's 29th Annual Health Law Forum. The TBA Health Law Section Lunch Business Meeting will be held on Thursday, Oct. 5 at 11:45 a.m. CDT in the Embassy Suites Franklin. More information about the hotel can be found here.
 
Please note that you do not have to be registered for the Health Law Forum to attend the Section's lunch business meeting, but lunch will only be provided for TBA Health Law Section Members who respond that they will attend this luncheon.
 
RSVP to Jarod Word, TBA Sections and Committees Coordinator, if you would like to attend this lunch business meeting. Deadline for response is Monday, Oct. 2, 12 p.m. CDT.
 
When: Oct. 5, 11:45 a.m., CDT
 
Where: Embassy Suites Franklin, Atrium Room, 2820 Crescent Centre Drive, Franklin, Tennessee, 37067
 
We hope to see you there!
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Tennessee Democrats Call for Special Legislative Session

The Tennessee House Democratic Caucus today called for a special session to expand Medicaid, the Nashville Port reports. Gov. Bill Haslam, however, said that while he’s “frustrated that nothing has happened” in regards to healthcare, he doesn’t believe a special session would garner any results.
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Lunch Business Meeting for TBA Health Law Section Members

Thursday, Oct. 5, 11:45 a.m. Central Daylight Time

Please make plans to join the TBA Health Law Section at their Annual Lunch Business Meeting and Election of Officers, to be held in conjunction with this year's 29th Annual Health Law Forum. The TBA Health Law Section Lunch Business Meeting will be held on Thursday, Oct. 5 at 11:45 a.m. Central Daylight Time in the Embassy Suites Franklin. More information about the hotel can be found here.
 
Please note that you do not have to be registered for the Health Law Forum to attend the Section's lunch business meeting, but lunch will only be provided for TBA Health Law Section Members who respond that they will attend this luncheon.
 
Please respond to Jarod Word, sections and committees coordinator if you would like to attend this lunch business meeting.
 

When: Oct. 5, 11:45 a.m., Central Daylight Time

Where: Embassy Suites Franklin, Atrium Room, 2820 Crescent Centre Drive, Franklin, Tennessee, 37067

 

We hope to see you there!


 

Please contact Jarod Wordsections and committees coordinator with any Legal Practice Tips or Section Connect ideas you feel will benefit other section members.

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ABA Writes Letter in Opposition to Health Reform Bill

The American Bar Association sent a letter today to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee expressing opposition to the Graham-Cassidy health reform bill, which would partially repeal the Affordable Care Act, the ABA Journal reports. The ABA specifically focuses on Medicaid, which serves “our nation’s most vulnerable populations.” It cites the impact the bill would have on seniors, as well as children with disabilities. 
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17th Annual Health Law Primer & 29th Annual Health Law Forum, October 4 - 6

The 17th Annual Health Law Primer, a TBA CLE offering four general credits, will be Oct. 4 at the Embassy Suites in Franklin. Designed for newer health law practitioners, this program provides a general health law overview and discussion of hot topics by experienced healthcare leaders. Sessions provide practical tips to identify and avoid the pitfalls of real life situations in the heavily regulated health care industry. This year’s program will address:
  • Overview of Fraud and Abuse Laws
  • Key Healthcare Issues in Transactions 
  • The Basics of HIPAA
  • Employment and Medical Staff Issues   
Now in its 17th year, this half-day introductory program will be held in conjunction with the 29th Annual Health Law Forum on October 5 and 6.
 
For your convenience, all materials will be made available online. Learn more and register here.
 

 
The 29th Annual Health Law Forum, a TBA CLE offering fifteen general credits, will be held Oct. 5 and 6 at the Embassy Suites in Franklin. Recognized as one of the premier health law programs in the country, this annual forum addresses key issues impacting our practice area. Sessions will provide insight from health law providers, practitioners, and regulators. A bonus feature this year will offer 2 alternative hours of online CLE. This will facilitate flexible planning for those who travel or have a scheduling conflict during one of the sessions. This year’s topics will focus on:
  • Updates on fraud and abuse developments
  • The status of health care reform
  • Challenges for rural providers
  • Legislative updates
  • Physician compensation
  • Fraud enforcement
  • Health care transactions
  • HIPAA updates
  • Ethics and much more
For your convenience, all materials will be made available online throughout this forum. Learn more and register here.
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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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