Crypto Currency: Bitcoin Transactions Per Se Affect Interstate Commerce, Ninth Circuit Rules >
April 22, 2020
On April 17, 2020, in United States v. Costanzo, the Ninth Circuit upheld the conviction of a defendant under the “sting” money laundering provision, ruling that the defendant's bitcoin sales to undercover agents had the requisite effect on interstate commerce as the sales used internet-enabled and cellular network connected devices.
Pennsylvania Amends its Unemployment Law in Response to COVID-19 >
April 21, 2020
On March 27, 2020, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed into law House Bill 68, which amended Pennsylvania's Unemployment Compensation Law. The Bill was effective immediately. While the Bill largely focuses on the Commonwealth's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, one provision of the amendment requires Pennsylvania employers to notify their employees at the time of separation that unemployment compensation may be available, whether or not the employer is liable for the payment of contributions to Pennsylvania's unemployment compensation fund.
U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia Calls on Hospitals and Providers to Help Fight COVID-19-Related Fraud >
April 17, 2020
In a letter released Thursday, April 16, 2020, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania called on area hospitals, health systems, and other providers to join the government's fight against coronavirus-related fraud. Hospitals, providers, and other health care institutions are on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic and know first-hand the challenges in obtaining critical supplies. They also are in a unique position to identify COVID-19-related fraud, such as offers to sell non-existent or fake equipment and price gouging of supplies.
Property Management and Safety-Related Services in PA During the COVID-19 Response >
April 14, 2020
In response to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States, federal, state and local governments have taken actions to limit the spread of the disease by issuing orders and guidance requiring closure of wide-ranging categories of business and industry. But are maintenance and security staff allowed to continue providing services for those closed businesses? What are the limitations and requirements for permitted maintenance and safety-related services for closed businesses and those allowed to remain open? Overall, these orders do allow critical and safety-related property maintenance and security services, but safeguards are required to protect employees and the public from COVID-19 exposure while performing such services. Therefore, property owners and managers should remain cognizant of their property maintenance and safety responsibilities, while also adhering to guidelines to prevent spread of COVID-19 to employees and others.
Employment Taxes During the COVID-19 Pandemic >
April 9, 2020
Two pieces of legislation and some IRS pronouncements have made radical changes in the normal employment tax regimen. First, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act created a series of tax credits tied to new family leave and sick leave requirements imposed on employers with fewer than 500 employees. Second, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act also includes employment tax provisions. Third, the IRS has published guidance under the FFCRA and CARES, altering the normal rules for employment taxes.
COVID-19 Telehealth: What Providers Need to Know >
April 6, 2020
Through the CARES Act and a series of Section 1135 Blanket Waivers and policy statements, the federal government has authorized expansive use of telehealth during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, creating an opportunity for the use of telehealth/telemedicine in providing healthcare services on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act allocates $200 million to help the healthcare industry develop greater telehealth capabilities, and directs HHS to both expand reimbursement under the Medicare program and take steps to relax regulatory barriers that have inhibited telehealth expansion. But, to take full advantage, providers need to stay on top of a number of issues that will enable them to provide services that are both legally compliant and reimbursable under federal, state, and/or commercial insurance programs.
Online Fitness in the COVID-19 Era: How to "C.U.R.E." Online Waivers and Protect Your Business from Liability >
April 6, 2020
The impact of COVID-19 thus far has been far-reaching - not just in its public health impact, but also how it has changed daily life for us all. One example is the shift from traditional face-to-face, in-person gym, yoga, and Pilates classes, to participation in these types of classes via online streaming and video conferencing applications such as Zoom, Skype, WebEx, and others. However, while many gyms, yoga, and Pilates studios have been able to adapt their business' strategies and engage in an online forum to generate income during the shutdown, the changes to their waivers of liability and waiver process have not kept pace.
DOL Issues Much Anticipated Regs and IRS Issues Guidance on Families First Coronavirus Response Act >
April 3, 2020
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act became effective on Wednesday, April 1, 2020. While the U.S. Department of Labor has been publishing informal guidance and FAQs on the Act since its enactment, on April 1, 2020, the DOL issued temporary regulations to this new Act. Notably, these regulations are effective immediately and largely mirror the DOL's informal guidance and FAQs that we have been reporting on. Even though these regulations are temporary, unless they are superseded, they carry the weight of formal regulations.
Conducting Environmental Compliance Activities During the COVID-19 Crisis >
April 1, 2020
As the COVID-19 crisis continues, the ways in which businesses engage in everyday activities is evolving at a pace more rapid than most of us have ever seen in our lives, and hopefully will ever see again. Among these changes is the way businesses address environmental compliance obligations. Two of the more important questions regarding environmental compliance are: (1) Can a business continue environmental investigation and remediation field work?; (2) Can a business cease or reduce its performance of operational compliance obligations?
Caution Urged with the PA WC Bureau's New EDI Recommendations for COVID-19 Claims >
March 31, 2020
On March 24, 2020, the Bureau of Workers' Compensation published suggested guidance to workers' compensation stakeholders, and more specifically to workers' compensation insurance carriers and third-party administrators, as to how COVID-19 claims should be documented with the Bureau through the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) platform.
Workers' Compensation Injuries, Employees Working from Home, and the COVID-19 Shutdown >
March 31, 2020
With more employees being able to perform their job tasks remotely from their homes, employers and workers' compensation insurance carriers will be facing questions of whether an injury an employee sustains while working remotely at home is compensable under the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act.
Reminder for Claims Handlers During COVID-19 Pandemic: Compliance with PA Regulations to Timely Respond to Insureds is Critical >
March 30, 2020
While many claims adjusters are accustomed to working from home, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are likely facing an increased volume of claims while simultaneously having to deal with less physical assistance from the home office. The following primer on the timeliness requirements of the Pennsylvania Unfair Insurance Practices Act (UIPA) and its related regulations - the Unfair Claim Settlement Practices Regulations (UCSPR) - is offered as helpful guidance during this difficult time.