News Roundup August 7th, 2020

Schools are now reopening in parts of the US. Potentially, this adds further complexity for local districts to contain COVID-19 cases in their regions. Congress and the White House have yet to formalize an agreement for a second stimulus package which may only prolong the hardships facing Americans today. If a new comprehensive package were to be reached, the ability to keep US citizens safe and to weather the pandemic would be strengthened. In news relating to home health, last Monday a ruling by the Southern District of New York struck down portions of the FFCRA (the Families First Coronavirus Response Act) that would no longer consider home health based agencies as health care providers. FFCRA was passed by congress to address the needs and to support many American healthcare workers and is set to expire December 31st 2020. 

As described in the National Law Review:

“The FFCRA generally requires employers to offer two (2) weeks of paid sick leave and emergency family and medical leave to employees who are unable to work or telework because of specific qualifying reasons related to the pandemic.”

Home Health Care News reports on the confusion that may arise around the ruling. Since the case is generally concentrated in the vicinity of New York, there is the potential for more wider application in parts of the States as the scope of the ruling is yet to be clarified.

“The ruling, which was made by the Southern District of New York, found that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) was too broad in its original definition of “health care providers” and, therefore, exempted too many workers from FFCRA’s paid leave requirements.

Home-based care providers had lobbied hard for exempt status, citing their essential role keeping people safely at home and out of hospitals.”

Fortunately, there are some bright spots in the news as Forbes recently reported on the future of home health with lawmakers raising the profile of home based health services and touting their benefits to the public. 

The Centers for Medicare and Medical Services work tirelessly behind the scenes to facilitate rapid response for many healthcare providers as the nation continues to grapple with the realities of the pandemic. 

“[CMS] announced a policy that will allow issuers to offer temporary premium reductions for individuals with 2020 coverage in the individual and small group markets. CMS is providing this additional flexibility to help ensure that consumers struggling to pay their premiums can continue to be covered and receive the care they may need during this time.”