Health Law Section Executive Council Accepting Nominations for Student Representatives

The TBA Health Law Executive Council is accepting nominations for law school students who are interested in the practice of health law and becoming involved with the section. Students will join the executive council in its monthly meetings, assist in development of programming and section newsletters, among other initiatives. One law school student representative will be selected from each Grand Division, with spots currently open for east and middle Tennessee. Please submit any nominations to TBA Health Law Section Coordinator Jarod Word.

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Ballad Health Filed More Than 6,700 Lawsuits Regarding Medical Debt Last Year

Tennessee-based hospital conglomerate Ballad Health filed more than 6,700 lawsuits against patients last year highlighting concerns over skyrocketing medical debt, The New York Times reports. The company, which oversees more than 20 hospitals in Virginia and Tennessee, has filed over 44,000 lawsuits since 2009, with the number of suits typically increasing on an annual basis. Executive Vice President for System Innovation and Chief Population Health Officer Anthony Keck said the company is only pursuing patients who have the means to pay but choose not to; however, detractors contend healthcare companies are targeting people who appear they can pay, but cannot afford the higher deductibles stipulated by insurance companies.

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HHS Issues Notice of Nonenforcement of Provisions Regarding Grant Regulations

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a notice regarding nonenforcement of certain regulatory provisions in The Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements because of concerns over the Obama Administration's implementation of the Regulatory Flexibility Act regarding grant appropriations. HHS is taking steps to address the issue by publishing a proposed rule to reissue the HHS grants regulation with revisions. The agency contends its proposed rule would better align with federal statutes by eliminating regulatory burden, including a burden on the free exercise of religion.

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Tennesseans Express Disapproval of TennCare Block Grant Proposal

A TennCare spokesperson said the agency received nearly 1,800 public comments regarding its Medicaid block grant proposal, only 9 of which were supportive, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. The comments came from emails and five public hearings on Gov. Bill Lee's plan to convert nearly $8 billion in federal dollars, more than half of its funding, into a modified block grant that would effectively give the state more control as to how the money is spent. Opinions in support of the plan came from 7 individuals and two organizations — BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee and a Florida-based conservative lobby group. 

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Federal Judge Strikes Down HHS 'Conscience Rule'

A federal judge last week struck down the Trump administration’s “conscience rule” that would have allowed healthcare professionals to refuse participation in medical procedures that do not align with their religious or moral beliefs, The Washington Post reports. U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer declared the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' Rule unconstitutional, saying it is “shot through with glaring legal defects,” and vacated it entirely. You can read Engelmayer’s opinion using this link.

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TBA Welcomes Health Law Section Officers for 2019-20 Bar Year

With the conclusion of the 31st Annual Health Law Forum, the TBA Health Law Section welcomes its slate of officers for the 2019-20 bar year. We would like to recognize and thank the section’s leadership for their hard work and efforts to encourage and educate section members regarding issues in the practice area through formulation, administration and implementation of programs, forums, and other activities.

2019-20 Health Law Section Leadership:
Section Chair: J.D. Thomas — Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis LLP (Middle Tennessee)
Section Vice-Chair: Amanda Busby — Anderson Busby PLLC (East Tennessee)
Immediate Past Chair: Monica Wharton — Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare (West Tennessee)
Eastern Delegates
Christie Burbank — Rainey Kizer Reviere & Bell
Ian Hennessey — London & Amburn PC
Mark Cunningham — Chambliss Bahner & Stophel, P.C.
Tim Beslisle — Ballad Health
Middle Delegates
Bill Young — Harris, Shelton
David Steed — Cornelius & Collins LLP
Ellen Bowden McIntyre — Assistant U.S. Attorney’s Office
Gabe Roberts — Healthcare Finance & Administration
Jesse Neil — Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis LLP
Julia Morris — Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Mark Ison — Sherrard Roe Voigt & Harbison
Scott Richardson — LifePoint Health
Travis Lloyd — Bradley Arrant Boult & Cummings
Western Delegates
Amy Campbell — Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law
Denise Burke — Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis LLP
Robyn Diaz — St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Walt Schuler — The University of Tennessee Health Science Center
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TennCare Seeks Public Comments on Block Grant Proposal

The Tennessee Division of TennCare is seeking feedback on Amendment 42, regarding its Block Grant Proposal, prior to its submission to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Members of the public are invited to offer comments regarding Amendment 42 until Oct. 18, 2019. You can view more information, including the proposal using this link. Comments can be submitted by email or by mail to:

Gabe Roberts, Director
Division of TennCare
310 Great Circle Road
Nashville, TN 37243

Individuals who prefer to make their comments in person may attend one of the following public hearings:

East Tennessee
When: Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2:30 p.m., EDT
Where: Burlington Branch of the Knox County Library, Community Meeting Room, 4614 Asheville Highway, Knoxville
West Tennessee
When: Thursday, Oct. 3, 2:30 p.m., CDT
Where: Jackson-Madison County Library, Program Center, 433 East Lafayette Street, Jackson
Additional Public Hearings
TennCare is in the process of scheduling two additional hearings on Amendment 42, to take place in Chattanooga and in Memphis. Details of these hearings will be announced when finalized.
Individuals with disabilities or individuals with limited English proficiency who wish to participate in one of the hearings and who may require language or communication assistance to do so should contact Talley Olson of TennCare’s Office of Civil Rights Compliance by phone at 855-857-1673, or by email prior to the date of the hearing.
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Deputy Commissioner of TennCare Roberts to Speak at TBA Health Law Forum

As Tennessee deals with the rising medical needs of its rural citizens and seeks to realize its Medicaid block grant proposal, there are many developments on the horizon for TennCare. TBA Health Law Section member and Deputy Commissioner of TennCare Gabe Roberts will address some of these plans on Oct. 17 at the 31st Annual TBA Health Law Forum. Roberts’ address — along with presentations by Johns Hopkins health policy expert and New York Times bestselling author Marty Makary and health care policy advisor to the White House Larry Van Horn — will make this year’s forum the must-see, must-do event in health law. You can learn more and see the rest of the program’s stellar line-up using this link.
When: Oct. 17-18; registration begins at 7 a.m., CDT on Oct. 17
Where: Embassy Suites Cool Springs, 820 Crescent Centre Drive, Franklin
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Does Tennessee's Block Grant Proposal Jibe With Medicaid Statute?

Lawyers across the country have begun to weigh in on Tennessee’s block grant Medicaid proposal, including one University of Michigan (UM) law professor who questions the legality of such a measure, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. UM professor Nicholas Bagley, who teaches and writes about administrative law, regulatory theory and health law, in a recent health policy blog post contends that Tennessee’s plan to issue a waiver as specified in section 1115 of the Medicaid statute would not apply to section 1903, which he maintains is “pointedly omitted from the list of statutory provisions that HHS is empowered to waive.” Bagley went on to say, "you can't use Medicaid waivers to change Medicaid's financing structure. And that's exactly what Tennessee is proposing to do.” Tennessee's current $12.1 billion TennCare program includes $7.5 billion in federal money.

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Tennessee Middle District to Hear Arguments Regarding 48-Hour Waiting Period on Abortions

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee will hear arguments today regarding the 48-hour waiting period for women seeking abortions passed by Tennessee’s General Assembly in 2015, ABC News reports. The controversial law would require women to make separate trips to an abortion clinic, with mandatory in-person counseling prior to the procedure. Plaintiffs argue that the burden of the law is excessive, especially when combined with other state laws that prohibit many private health insurance plans from providing abortion coverage, limits on abortion coverage in public health insurance plans and the ban on the procedure after 16 weeks of pregnancy. Twenty-seven states currently require a waiting period between counseling and an abortion; however, only 14 of these require pre-abortion counseling to take place in person

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