In the News

& News Updates.

January 2014

On January 16, 2009, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a final rule mandating that those covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) adopt ICD-10-CM (and ICD-10-PCS) to replace ICD-9-CM. On August 24, 2012, HHS announced that the initial compliance date of October 1, 2013 had been delayed to October 1, 2014. Please note, the transition to ICD-10 code sets used to report medical diagnoses and inpatient procedures does not affect CPT coding for outpatient procedures and physician services.

Please visit the websites below for more information regarding the transition to ICD-10:

Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

December 2013

Beginning December 31, 2013, New York State’s minimum wage will increase in a series of three annual changes as follows:

$8.00 on 12/31/13

$8.75 on 12/31/14

$9.00 on 12/31/15

November 2013

On November 13, 2013 Bill A7061-2013 was signed by Governor Cuomo once again changing the rules of decanting in NYS and granting more liberal authority through a very slight but powerful change of wording – simply deleting “SHALL” and adding “MAY.”  This opens up a whole new realm of possibilities in the Trust & Estate and Elder Law fields.

Prior to the signing of Bill A7061-2013, a trustee with absolute discretion to invade principal could decant if the appointed trust was solely for the benefit of any one or more of the current beneficiaries of the invaded trust but decanting could not be used to create a beneficial interest in an entirely new beneficiary. The successor and remainder beneficiaries of the appointed trust had to be at least one of the successor and remainder beneficiaries of the  invaded trust.  Today, the replacement of the word SHALL with the word MAY changed the rules and provides the ability to use decanting to create a beneficial interest in any entirely new beneficiary “to the exclusion of any one, more than one or all of such successor and remainder beneficiaries.”

October 2013

On October 21, 2013, Governor Cuomo amended the Public Health Law by adding a new section, 2805-w, that requires every general hospital to provide patients placed in observation services with an oral and written notice regarding the fact that they have NOT been admitted to the hospital, but rather placed under observation status.  The written notice requires a signed acknowledgement by the patient or their legal representative which must, at a minimum, include the following information:

Observation status may affect your Medicare, Medicaid and/or Private Insurance Coverage for the current hospital services, including medications and other pharmaceutical supplies, as well as coverage for any subsequent discharge to a skilled nursing facility or home and community based care; and you should contact your insurance plan directly to better understand the implications of being placed in observation status.

Although the amendment takes effect immediately, the provision requiring the notice is slated to take effect on January 19, 2014.

The justification stated for this change is that with CMS requiring hospitals to make a distinction between admitting a patient and placing a patient in observation status and the enforcement of this requirement through auditing, reports show a national increase in the number of patients that are being placed under observation status.  This is believed to be having a large impact on patients.  The sponsors of the underlying bill state that it appears patients believe they have been admitted to a hospital, but are finding out after the fact that they were not admitted, but rather, being “observed.”  The consequences of this difference can in some instances be severe, specifically as it relates to Medicare patients.  For some patients, out-of-pocket costs are significantly higher and eligibility for skilled nursing facility care may be affected.    This bill is intended to ensure that patients are, in fact, notified that they are being placed in observation care and of the differences that this distinct carries with it.