Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Intersection of HIPAA and Negligence: Pharmacist’s Violation Cost Walgreens $1.44 Million

On November 14, 2014, the Court of Appeals of Indiana affirmed a $1.44 million judgment against Walgreens Company based on a HIPAA violation committed by a Walgreens pharmacist. Walgreen Co. v. Hinchy, 2014 WL 6130795 at *1 (Ind. Ct. App. 2014). In Walgreen Co. v. Hinchy, Walgreens’ pharmacist Audra Withers looked up the prescription information of Walgreens’ customer Abigail Hinchy. Withers then used the prescription information of Hinchy for personal reasons, which allegedly included allowing Withers’ husband to use the private information to pressure Hinchy into not asking Withers’ husband for child support. Upon figuring out how Withers’ husband obtained the private information, Hinchy contacted Walgreens’ regional office to report the matter.

During the investigation, Withers admitted to purposely accessing the information for personal use. Walgreens confirmed to Hinchy that a HIPAA violation had occurred. Id. Per Walgreens, “Withers received a written warning and was required to retake a computer training program regarding HIPAA.” Continue reading

Thinking Outside the Country: Recruiting Foreign Physicians

In recruiting doctors, hospitals must navigate several minefields which include Stark law and the Anti-Kickback Statute. Yet, a rarely considered issue when recruiting physicians is whether immigration laws have been violated. Generally, non-resident aliens who have completed a residency or fellowship training program in the United States must return to their home country for two years before they can work in the United States. Continue reading

CMS Issues Proposed ACO Rule to Address Industry Concerns and Encourage Participation in Alternative Risk-Based ACO Models

On Monday, December 1, 2014, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) issued a Proposed Rule with several proposed changes to the regulations finalized in 2011 for Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) participating in the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP).  According to CMS, the Proposed Rule is intended to reduce administrative burdens and improve program function and transparency for ACOs participating in the MSSP. There are currently 330 ACOs serving almost 5 million Medicare beneficiaries in 47 states. Continue reading