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The “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” or “CARES Act” included significant economic stimulus provisions but also included many provisions that impact our health care system. The health care provisions can be placed in three categories:

  1. The first includes changes in public health systems including the Food and Drug Administration, Ready Reserve Corps and National Health Service Corps.
  2. The second category includes the reenactment of several existing public health programs that had been pending approval, such as the Healthy Start program.
  3. The third category includes substantive changes to existing health care regulations that impact the operations of practitioners and facilities.

The Act includes significant revisions impacting the confidentiality and disclosure of records relating to substance abuse treatment. Prior to the enactment of the Act, re-disclosure of records of substance abuse treatment records, by individuals or entities having received them via patient consent was prohibited. This required a new patient consent to transmit such records to another treating practitioner or facility. The CARES Act provisions now allow the records to be shared for the purposes of treatment, payment or health care operations, as permitted by the HIPAA regulations, provided the patient’s consent does not prohibit re-disclosure. The CARES Act also allows the disclosure of de-identified records consistent with HIPAA regulations. The Act prohibits the use of such records in criminal, civil and administrative proceedings and prohibits discrimination in employment based upon substance abuse treatment.

In addition, the Act contains a significant change relating to home health services. Currently, only physicians can authorize home health services for patients under government payment plans, such as Medicare. The Act will permit advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and physician assistants (Pas) to authorize such services. However the Act requires that the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to set an effective date within six months of the Act becoming law (March 27, 2020).

If you have any questions, please contact Gunster attorney Bruce Lamb.

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This publication is for general information only. It is not legal advice, and legal counsel should be contacted before any action is taken that might be influenced by this publication.

About Gunster

Gunster, Florida’s law firm for business, provides full-service legal counsel to leading organizations and individuals from its 12 offices statewide. Established in 1925, the firm has expanded, diversified and evolved, but always with a singular focus: Florida and its clients’ stake in it. A magnet for business-savvy attorneys who embrace collaboration for the greatest advantage of clients, Gunster’s growth has not been at the expense of personalized service but because of it. The firm serves clients from its offices in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Palm Beach, Stuart, Tallahassee, Tampa, The Florida Keys, Vero Beach, and its headquarters in West Palm Beach. With nearly 200 attorneys and 200 committed support staff, Gunster is ranked among the National Law Journal’s list of the 500 largest law firms and has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Diverse Law Firms by Law360. More information about its practice areas, offices and insider’s view newsletters is available at www.gunster.com.

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