The Next Passenger on the Health Train: Physician Assistants

fl legBy: Jackie Bain

The scope of Physician Assistants’ practice is a dynamic and hotly debated area of law which shares many similarities with the nurse supervision issues we covered in a recent article (available here). House Bill 1275 would have also allowed for an expansion in the PA field and was included on the “Health Train” compilation of bills introduced during the Florida legislature’s recent session. As we know nothing on the Train passed before the session ended and though it may gain forward momentum next time, here’ how the laws stand today:  Continue reading

Physicians & Nurses in for a Long Ride on the Health Train

npsBy: Jackie Bain

Nearly half of U.S. States have already expanded the scope of nursing practice and several more are analyzing whether it is appropriate.  The debate between physicians and nurses regarding how much autonomy a nurse should be given is a political hotbed that will likely be revisited by the legislature in the near future.  Until that time, the Board of Medicine and the Board of Nursing will quietly continue to enforce the present requirements. Here’s how they stand today:

Under Florida’s current laws, in addition to the practice of professional nursing, an advanced registered nurse practitioner (“ARNP”) may perform acts of medical diagnosis, treatment and prescription. However, for the most part, such acts must be performed under the general supervision of a physician.  The nature of such a supervisory relationship should be identified in a protocol which identifies the medical acts to be performed and the conditions for their performance. Continue reading

Federation’s Model Telemedicine Policy is Well Timed

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Many health policy experts are betting on the expanded role of telemedicine as an essential cost-saving, quality (and access) enhancing tool.  Yet legal and policy issues have dogged the development of useful telemedicine guidelines, making it difficult to know what’s ok and what’s not.  What sort of licensure is required for physicians practicing telemedicine?  When is the physician “practicing medicine” vs. “merely consulting?”  When is a physician patient relationship established?  Is one even necessary?  The newly developed model policy developed by the Federation of State Medical Boards should help guide states in developing specific telemedicine standards.

Continue reading

Medical Marijuana in Florida: One Big Pot Hole

pot hole article

By: Jeff Cohen

“Shoot, ready, aim” might be the right approach in many situations—like in war or when your kid runs into the street.  But the approach never makes much sense in the context of law making.  The best law making involves careful analysis, ensuring public protection and basically doing the best for the most (people).  The issue of medical marijuana seems, however, to be driven by self interest and seems lacking in balanced and serious concern for the public.  Reader caution:  this article isn’t intended to subliminally advertise this law firm.  It’s just venting, plain and simple.

On August 29, 2013, the Federal Department of Justice issued a memorandum stating it will continue to rely on state and local authorities to address marijuana activity through enforcement of state narcotics laws.  Nevertheless, in light of new state laws allowing for possession of a small amounts of marijuana and regulating production, processing and sale of marijuana, the Department designated eight criteria to guide state law enforcement.  States must (1) prevent the distribution of marijuana to minors; (2) prevent revenue from the sale of marijuana from flowing to criminal enterprises; (3) prevent the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal to states where it is illegal; (4) prevent marijuana activity from being used as a cover for the trafficking of other illegal drugs; (5) prevent violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana; (6) prevent drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use; (7) prevent the growth of marijuana on public lands; and (8) prevent marijuana possession or use on federal property.  In the event that the Federal Government determines that States are not adhering to such criteria, the Federal Government reserves its right to challenge State laws.  The Feds didn’t say how any of that was to be done.  They simply said the states should do that.  But Florida has apparently been looking the other way. Continue reading

Physicians in the Middle of the Marijuana Battle

medical marijHow physicians became the gatekeepers between cannabis and the public and how physicians should approach cannabis as a form of treatment

By: Jacqueline Bain

The Federal Government lists marijuana as a “Schedule I” controlled substance, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use.  21 USC § 812(b)(1).  Because there is no current accepted medical use, Federal law prohibits physician from issuing prescriptions for marijuana.  21 CFR § 1306.04(a).  However, the Federal Government has traditionally deferred to the States to prosecute small-scale marijuana violations.  This lack of Federal enforcement has encouraged the States to enact less stringent controls on the marijuana industry. Continue reading

Why Clinical Integration is Essential for the Future of Independent Physicians

med networkBy: Ben Humphrey, MD, CPE, MGO Healthcare Consulting – Guest Contributor

We’re past the tipping point and are proceeding headlong into new market-driven accountability for quality, cost and value.  As these large-scale changes progress, physicians who want to thrive and be positioned for long-term success will have to embrace new ideas and approaches in their practices.

A few years ago physicians in Ohio created their own physician-owned company to assist themselves with success in the changing world of healthcare.  Via their company, The Medical Group of Ohio (MGO), they created a clinically integrated physician network comprised of nearly 2,100 physicians.  The vast majority of these physicians are in small independent practices.  Being clinically integrated means the physicians are working together, using proven physician-created protocols and measures, to demonstrably improve patient care, decrease cost, and deliver value. Continue reading

Physician Joint Ventured Pharmacies Require Guidance

Final-ACO-RulesFlorida physicians are being approached to become owners of pharmacies to which they may refer, often compounding pharmacies, but may be unaware of the regulatory issues involved.  Physicians need to be aware of the core laws that apply, which include the Florida Patient Self Referral Act (FPSRA), the Florida Anti Kickback Statute, the Patient Brokering Act and the Federal Investment Interest Safe Harbor. Continue reading