We are witnessing major changes that are being brought about after the tumultuous year that was 2020.
To say that 2020 was a tumultuous year when it comes to healthcare would be an understatement. And, while each new year brings its own set of trials and challenges, 2020 was particularly hard on the healthcare industry.
But as with all industries, the healthcare landscape is constantly changing and evolving in order to adapt to the emerging trends, and 2021 is no exception to the rule. From telehealth expansion and fraud and abuse trends to racial equity and innovative partnerships created with an aim to improve resilience during a pandemic, here are top four issues in health law to watch for in 2021 according to healthcare practitioners.
Changes in the fraud and abuse regulatory environment
The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic has impacted American healthcare laws, which led to significant changes in the fraud and abuse regulatory environment. Although the changes that were brought about were temporary, it was still essential for healthcare leaders to navigate these changes. One of the significant changes involved the issuing of blanket waivers of a couple of Stark Law requirements by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
As a result, the waivers gave health systems and hospitals the much-needed flexibility. From tackling compensation and staffing issues to dealing with challenging physician contracting, all these complex processes they were dealing with at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic were made easier. There was also issuing of waivers by CMS that was aimed at providing relief from various regulatory requirements and reimbursement.
Expansion in telehealth as a result of COVID-19 pandemic
Telehealth landscape has also undergone some major changes as a result of COVID-19 pandemic. Serving as a nexus between technology and medical care, telehealth is expanding at a rapid pace. The implementation of telehealth services has made it easier for patients to receive the care they need from healthcare providers in times when physical separation was key to combating the spread of coronavirus.
As a result, state and federal lawmakers are taking steps to improve access to said services during the pandemic as they continue to recognize the potential benefits offered by telehealth. According to a reputable health care law attorney in Florida, telehealth capabilities should be expanded and the insurance reimbursement for telehealth services should be compelled. By adopting the recommendations from the Florida Telehealth Advisory Council, Florida legislators will be making the most forward moving telehealth law in the country.
Innovative partnerships proactively addressing COVID-19 pandemic challenges
Over the past year, the healthcare transactions were put into a rather tumultuous environment and some hospitals experienced near cessation in M&A activities. It wasn’t until the second quarter of 2020 that hospital operations were able to become stable once again and that the deal volume would expand to almost the same level it was before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
To address the challenges posed by the pandemic and influence the M&A activity this year, healthcare organizations are focusing on creating innovative partnerships and embracing forward-looking planning that will increase their chances of strategically achieving growth and success in the long term.
Racial equity as an outcome and a process
According to statements issued by the American Medical Association and leaders in the health system, racial disparities are regarded as one of the major public health problems. The outbreak of the coronavirus has only highlighted these disparities even more.
Thanks to social justice movements, the demand to remediate racial disparities is gaining in importance in 2021. As a result, we can expect increased efforts towards combating racism as well as racial disparities in health care. This includes addressing interpersonal, institutional, and systemic racism, all of which pose barriers for people of color including experiencing lower quality of health care, exclusion from advising and decision-making processes, as well as having generally low rates of health insurance coverage along with reduced access to healthcare overall.
As healthcare professionals continue to confront the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, we are witnessing major changes that are being brought about after the tumultuous year that was 2020. While there is still a long way to go, looking ahead, setting priorities straight, and planning strategically will help the healthcare industry navigate the evolving healthcare landscape in 2021 more effectively.