Tennessee Nursing Home Chain Ordered to Pay $1.8 Million Regarding Resident's Brain Injury

Chattanooga-based nursing home conglomerate Grace Healthcare Support Services has been ordered to pay the family of a woman who suffered a brain injury in one of its homes after an employee rolled the patient out of a bed, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports. The fall happened in the Grace Healthcare facility in Tucker, Georgia, when only one employee attempted to change the bedsheets of the resident, Christine Mitchell, despite a policy requiring two employees when changing the linens on the facility’s rail-less beds. Mitchell died just one month after the incident. A jury in the case did not find the nursing home responsible for her death; however, it ultimately held the provider responsible for pain and suffering throughout Mitchell's final days and awarded the family $1.8 million. The Grace Healthcare facility in Tucker currently holds one-star ratings in every category on Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare list, which is the lowest designation possible.

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Tennessee Poised to be First State to Request Medicaid Block Grant

Tennessee is on track to be the first state to request its Medicaid funding be provided in a lump sum payment, Politico reports. This comes after the Tennessee House passed legislation — HB1280/SB1428 — that directs the governor, through the commissioner of finance and administration, to request the block grant funding from the centers for Medicare and Medicaid services, with the appropriations indexed for inflation and population growth. The proposal faces an uphill battle, as U.S. Congressional Democrats have vowed opposition to such measures and the Trump administration is still trying to determine if it can legally provide states with this option.

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Congressional Budget Office Releases Report on Single-Payer Health Care System

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) last week released a 30-page study exploring the pros and cons of a national single-payer health care system, The New York Times reports. An anomaly amongst other CBO reports, this analysis did not offer any cost estimates for the transition, omitting any speculation of a price tag other than the nebulous declaration that “government spending on health care would increase substantially.” Congressional Democrats have introduced several bills in an effort to lay the groundwork for such a plan and most Democratic presidential candidates also support a single-payer system. The CBO said that it may provide firm estimates for a proposal if current legislation sees progress in various committees.

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Tennessee Department of Health Seeks Deputy General Counsel

The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH), Office of General Counsel (OGC) is seeking a new deputy general counsel to serve as the manager of the downtown office of OGC and who will be responsible for the supervision of three attorneys and two administrative staff members. The deputy general counsel will report to the general counsel and perform legal services for the TDH Commissioner and other offices and divisions located within TDH, including the Office of the State Medical Examiner, the Office of Vital Records, the Division of Family Health and Wellness, and the Division of Communicable Diseases and Emergency Preparedness. You can learn more about this position and other employment opportunities by visiting TBA Joblink.

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Federal Agencies Break Up $1.2 Billion Medicare Fraud Scheme

Federal officials on Tuesday announced breaking up a $1.2 billion Medicare scheme that preyed on elderly and disabled patients, The New York Times reports. Investigators say the racket that involved the prescription of unnecessary support braces is one of the largest health care frauds in United States history. The defendants — made up of both medical professionals and telemarketers — would allegedly contact Medicare beneficiaries and coerce them into getting free or low-cost back, shoulder, wrist and knee braces that were then paid for by the organization. The defendants are also accused of laundering the money received through shell companies, then using it to buy items such as exotic cars, yachts and luxury real estate.

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Trump Administration Punts on Medicare Policy Changes

The Trump administration is punting on premium spikes for Medicare, seeking to delay policy changes until after his 2020 reelection bid, The Washington Post reports. An up to 19 percent increase is expected with the president’s plans to do away with Medicare rebates paid to firms that manage pharmacy insurance by drug makers. Proponents of health care reform have long derided these rebates as a kickbacks and an incentive to drive up the cost of medications. Pharmacy benefit managers, which will be directly affected by the plans to halt rebates, maintain that they stabilize premiums and argue that nixing them will drive up premiums, which the administration's actuaries confirmed. Long lead times to put the plan into place was cited as the reason for the delay.

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Medical Professionals Stand Behind Nurse Charged With Reckless Homicide

Nurse’s around the country are rallying behind RaDonda Vaught, the former Vanderbilt University Medical Center employee charged with reckless homicide and abuse after she administered the wrong medication to a patient resulting in an elderly woman’s death, NPR reports. Vaught was to give the patient, Charlene Murphy, a dose of an anti-anxiety medication, however, injected her with an anesthetic that shared the first two letters of the intended drug. The American Nurses Association also came to Vaught’s defense saying: "the criminalization of medical errors could have a chilling effect” and expressed concerns that this may hamper future reporting of errors by medical professionals. DA spokesman Stephen Hayslip told NPR "the actions of this office will become more evident as the evidence is presented to the court,” but declined to comment further on the case. Vaught will be back in court for discussion on May 30.

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AHLA Day 2019

The American Health Lawyers Association will hold two upcoming events in Nashville promoting engagement for attorneys involved in the practice. The first, AHLA Day 2019, will be held on April 11, featuring a free reception with food and drink hosted at the City Winery in downtown Nashville. 
Following that on May 1 will be a transactions-based forum highlighting the latest commercial developments, strategies and deal forecasts from experts in the field. This three-day program will cover emerging care models, M&A trends, financing techniques, deal risk management strategies and post-integration lessons; while allowing networking opportunities for professionals of a common focus. Here are the key details for both of these events:
When: Thursday, April 11, 5:30-7:30 p.m., CDT
Where: City Winery, 609 Lafayette Street, Nashville
When: Wednesday, May 1, 1 p.m., CDT - Friday, May 3, 12:45 p.m., CDT
Where: JW Marriott, 201 8th Ave S, Nashville
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TennCare Block Grant Bill Moving Through House

Legislation that would allow Gov. Bill Lee to negotiate with the federal government to obtain a federal block grant to supplement TennCare sailed through the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee this week, the Tennessean reports. The bills — HB1280/SB1428 — sponsored by Rep. Timothy Hill, R-Blountville, and Sen. Paul Bailey, R-Sparta, would make Tennessee the first state to adopt such a measure. As submitted, the law calls for a lump-sum payment from the federal government, with Tennessee given autonomy to decide how to best apply the funds. Lee has signaled his support for the block grant concept despite concerns that he would block the measure out of opposition to Medicaid expansion in the state. The legislation has been referred to the Calendar & Rules Committee for review.
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Register Now: 31st Annual TBA Health Law Forum

Register now for the 31st Annual TBA Health Law Forum and the 19th Annual Health Law Primer to take place this October in Franklin The must-see, must-do event for Tennessee health law attorneys, this forum features timely topics designed to up your game and keep you on top of trends in the area. Presentations in this year’s program will include: cyber threats in health care, surrogate decision making, updates with TennCare, cloud-based vendor agreements, reps and warranties, legislative updates, antitrust concerns and much more. Don’t sleep on this opportunity to learn from seasoned practitioners while networking with top players in the field. Here are the key details:
Health Law Primer (introductory program)
When: Wednesday, Oct. 16
Where: Embassy Suites Hotel, 820 Crescent Centre Drive, Franklin
Health Law Forum
When:  Thursday, Oct. 17 – Friday, Oct. 18
Where: Embassy Suites Hotel, 820 Crescent Centre Drive, Franklin
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