HIPAA and Advanced Directives: Did you know that HIPAA may make it more difficult for the Agent that you have appointed under a Durable General Power of Attorney or an Advance Directive (also known as a Medical Power of Attorney) to obtain information regarding your health care? If your documents were prepared a number of years ago, they should be amended specifically to authorize the release of your health care information to your Agent, notwithstanding any contrary provisions of HIPAA.
Patients Requesting Medical Records: Did you know that it would be prudent for all Maryland adults to request their medical records from their health care providers approximately 4 years after receiving care, and prudent for all Maryland young adults to request copies of their medical records prior to their attaining the age of 21? Patients should arguably be making these requests, because Medicare allows doctors to destroy medical records after 5 years, and because Maryland allows health care providers to destroy the medical records of adult patients after 5 years and minor patients either after 5 years, or upon the minor attaining the age of 21, whichever is longer. In fact, the spotlight HIPAA has focused on medical records might cause patients eventually to make such requests on a routine basis.
Medical Malpractice Reform: Did you know that the medical malpractice reform bill, that was recently enacted over the Governor's veto in Maryland, contains several lesser known provisions, including a requirement that medical malpractice insurers offer policies in Maryland with deductibles of $25,000, $50,000 and $100,000? Under such policies, the affected doctor would be liable for the deductible, before the insurance company had to pay for settlements or damages above the deductible. Theoretically, the premiums for policies with deductibles would be lower than the premiums for policies providing first dollar coverage. (Curiously, the new law does not state whether these deductibles are per claim or per year deductibles.)
Physician Directory Fee Banned: Did you know that a court recently held that directories may not charge Illinois physicians, either a flat fee or a percentage fee, to be included in a list of providers? Vine Street Clinic v. HealthLink involved an arrangement whereby a company charged physicians to include them in a directory that was sold to members of health plans. The Illinois court held that this arrangement constituted an illegal payment for referrals, as well as illegal fee-splitting. Moreover, the court held that the fee would be illegal, whether it was a flat fee or a percentage of the total amount billed by each listed physician to members of particular health plans.