Credentialing and Privileges
Our firm provides regular counseling to institutional and individual health care clients on a variety of issues related to medical staff credentialing and peer review. Our particular experience includes:
- Preparing, implementing and revising medical staff bylaws, credentialing plans and fair hearing plans to comply with the provisions of the Health Care Quality Improvement Act, to ensure that health care providers secure the peer review immunities available under applicable law and to satisfy the strategic objectives of our clients
- Representing our clients in hearings and negotiations with professional licensing boards, hospital panels and other health care facilities concerning the denial or termination of licensure staff membership and clinical privileges
- Advising hospitals and other health care providers on reporting obligations to various entities, including the National Practitioner Data Bank and state licensing boards
- Counseling health care clients on the wide range of employment and other issues associated with the discharge, suspension or discipline of employees, including the members of a hospital’s medical staff
Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation
The members of our firm’s employee benefits practice group provide high-quality legal counsel on a wide range of employee benefits and executive compensation issues. The firm works with a variety of health care clients, including hospitals, physicians and physician practice groups, pharmaceutical and life sciences companies and continuing care retirement communities, to implement a variety of carefully designed and customized employee benefit plans. We also counsel our clients on the full array of existing plans. An important part of our practice involves advice and drafting in connection with plan revisions necessary to comply with changes in employee benefits law or to meet an employer’s new objectives.
The employee benefits areas in which we regularly counsel health care clients include:
- Qualified retirement plans, such as 401(k) plans, defined benefit and money purchase plans, ESOPs, and stock bonus plans
- Health and welfare benefit plans, such as medical and dental plans, life and disability plans, cafeteria or section 125 plans, and dependent care and employee assistance programs
- Fiduciary responsibility, reporting and disclosure under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), including legal advice on the allocation of fiduciary responsibilities under various plan arrangements, preparation of summary plan descriptions, and preparation for, and response to, ERISA audits conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor
- Benefit claims and ERISA litigation
Our experience also includes a wide variety of executive compensation plans, such as supplemental executive retirement plans (SERPs or “top hat” plans) and stock incentive plans, such as phantom stock and stock option plans. Planning for executives often includes other types of special benefit arrangements, such as split-dollar life insurance and supplemental term insurance programs. We regularly draft the necessary legal documents and provide advice on legal and tax issues associated with all of these compensation arrangements.
Employment and Labor
We have a strong team of lawyers in our firm who are actively involved in providing counseling and legal representation with respect to this wide-ranging and rapidly changing area of the law. An important part of our practice lies in counseling employers on how to best avoid challenges to particular personnel decisions. In many instances, well-timed advice concerning the structure of a particular plan of action can avoid expensive and time-consuming litigation.
In addition, however, we are always prepared to provide vigorous, aggressive representation of our clients’ positions should litigation become necessary. The employment practice group has had substantial experience at all levels of the federal and state judiciary in representing clients involved in employment or labor disputes.
Some of the labor and employment law issues on which we regularly counsel our health care clients are:
- Federal anti-discrimination laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, and the Americans with Disabilities Act
- State laws concerning employment and termination “at-will,” restrictions on wrongful discharge imposed as matter of public policy, the effects of defamation laws on the dissemination of employee information, and prohibitions against the “negligent hiring” or retention of employees
- Wage and hour law issues, including overtime rules, other aspects of the Fair Labor Standards Act and state laws regarding the payment of wages
- Audits conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor and state wage and hour agencies, including responding to such audits
- Personnel policies and employee handbooks, including preparing and implementing such policies and handbooks
- Employment noncompetition and non-solicitation issues, including drafting and analyzing restrictions on the employment of physicians and other health care providers
- Drug and alcohol abuse policies, including preparing and implementing such policies
- Employee representation elections, collective bargaining negotiations, and other activities regulated by the National Labor Relations Act, including counseling management regarding such issues
Hospital/Medical Staff Relationships
With our strong background on both sides of the physician/hospital relationship, we provide our clients with innovative and efficient solutions in structuring hospital/medical staff relationships. Our work in this area includes:
- The negotiation and execution of physician practice acquisitions and integrations, including compliance with self-referral and anti-kickback laws, the structuring of post-sale employment arrangements (such as noncompetition agreements and other restrictive covenants) and planning to avoid adverse tax effects (such as the loss of an institutional client’s tax-exempt status)
- The negotiation and execution of joint ventures between health care providers, including the formation of MSOs, PHOs, IPAs, and strategic planning for accountable care organizations (ACOs), the negotiation of joint purchasing arrangements and joint marketing arrangements, and accomplishing the joint ownership and operation of health care facilities and services
- Physician contracting and recruitment, including the negotiation of employment agreements and relocation agreements to comply with federal Stark rules and other applicable laws