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Definition of “healthcare provider” narrowed in revised FFCRA regulations

Sep 14, 2020

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced Friday Friday that it had revised the Families First Response Act (FFCRA) in response to a recent ruling by a federal court in New York.    The new regulations are effective September 16 and represent a significant change for healthcare entities who previously (and correctly) used “blanket” denials of FFCRA requests for all of their employees.

The DOL has significantly narrowed the definition of “healthcare provider” to include only employees who meet the definition of that term under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) regulations or "who are employed to provide diagnostic services, preventative services, treatment services or other services that are integrated with and necessary to the provision of patient care which, if not provided, would adversely impact patient care."  The revised regulations note: “It is not enough that an employee works for an entity that provides health care services;” rather, the employee must be capable of providing diagnostic, preventive or treatment services or integrated services that, “if not provided, would adversely impact patient care.”

Under the FMLA regulation adopted by the DOL, “healthcare provider” includes “physicians and others who make medical diagnoses,” such as dentists, psychologists, optometrists, chiropractors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, clinical social workers, and Christian Science practitioners.  Although not an exhaustive list, the DOL provided examples of three other types of employees who may qualify as healthcare providers under the revised definition. The first includes nurses, nurse assistants, and medical technicians. The second includes employees providing services under the supervision, order, or direction of, or providing direct assistance to, specifically identified healthcare providers, such as doctors and nurses. The third includes employees who provide services “integrated with and necessary to” the provision of patient care, such as laboratory and radiology technicians.

The DOL also offers examples of healthcare field employees who should not ordinarily be exempted from FFCRA coverage: IT professionals, building maintenance staff, HR personnel, cooks and food service workers, records managers, consultants, and billers. Although these individuals render services related to patient care, the DOL takes the position that they are not integrated and necessary to patient care.

To read the DOL’s news release regarding the revisions, go here.

To view the revised regulations in full, go here. 

Access additional FFCRA insights from Waller here. 

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