Legal Options of Debt Relief

Debt relief is anything that can help someone cope better with a bad financial situation. As a bankruptcy attorney in Nashville, Tennessee, Ron Nevin has helped many people find relief from excessive debt. Here, Nevin explains the term -debt relief- and talks about some legal options available to help individuals who are struggling to meet their financial obligations.

With the economy still on shaky ground and unemployment in some states at all-time highs, many people are finding themselves faced with sky-high debt and piles of bills. When it comes to debt relief, it can come in several forms. Most commonly, however, the term -debt relief- refers to either a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Chapter 7 bankruptcy is what many people call a -straight- bankruptcy. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, most of your debts are discharged. For individuals who are struggling with late credit card payments, medical bills or impending foreclosure, this means relief from threatening phone calls, harassing letters and the fear of losing their home. While a Chapter 7 bankruptcy may not leave you completely without debt (you are still responsible for domestic support obligations, taxes and student loans), it does end the stress and anxiety that accompanies seemingly insurmountable debt.

Point of Care Test Cups Held to be a Prohibited Benefit to Physicians Who Could Not Otherwise Bill

When a physician cannot bill for test results, and a company offers to give that physician those test results for free, a Florida Federal Court has ruled that the company is offering the physician prohibited remuneration. On May 5, 2015 the Middle District of Florida granted partial summary judgment on the latest motion in a contentious litigation between Ameritox Ltd. and Millennium Laboratories, Inc. Ameritox and Millennium are competitors and clinical laboratories that screen urine specimens for the presence of drugs. Millennium provided free point of care testing cups to physicians, who use the cups for initial testing and then return the cups back to Millennium for confirmation tests. Physicians do not bill patients or insurance companies for the point of care tests. Ameritox claimed that the provision of free point of care testing cups to physicians violates the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute and Stark law. Neither law allows a private citizen to make a claim against another private citizen for its violation (i.e., a government entity would have to assert a cause of action for violation of these laws against a private company). Ameritox argued, however, that Millennium’s alleged violations of the laws provided a basis for Ameritox’s unfair competition claims. The Stark Law prohibits physicians from referring their Medicare and Medicaid patients to business entities with which they have financial relationships. The term financial relationship includes compensation arrangements involving remuneration between the physician and the entity. The Stark law does provide exceptions from the definition of remuneration. However, the Court determined that, in the event that a free device provides an additional benefit to a physician, the device is considered prohibited remuneration. The Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits health care providers from knowingly and willingly offering to pay any remuneration to induce a physician to refer a patient for services covered by Medicare or Medicaid. It defines remuneration as including -transfers of items or services for free or for other than fair market value-. The Court held that the provision of free point of care testing cups to physicians constitutes remuneration (under both the Stark Law and the Anti-Kickback Statute) when those physicians could not otherwise bill for testing of the same specimen. The Court reasoned that provision of free point of care testing cups provides a valuable benefit to physicians in the form of free preliminary test results that the physicians could not have otherwise obtained. The Court left open for the jury to decide the provision of free point of care testing cups to physicians constitutes remuneration when physicians could bill for the testing done with the cup and agreed not to. As an academic aside, apart from this lawsuit and applicable Federal law, it is important to note that Florida law contains an anti-kickback statute that is specific to clinical laboratories. The law is broad and does not contain the safe harbor exceptions incorporated into the Patient Brokering Act. Clinical laboratories operating in Florida are well-served to become educated about this law.

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Definition And Use Of Tort Law

Simply put torts are civil laws that recognize personal wrongs which answer to a charge of law as grounds for accountability or lawsuit. These are wrongs that have resulted in personal injury or harm and are grounds for seeking a claim of compensation by the injured party. Some torts are civil crimes which are punishable by imprisonment but the main reason of tort law is to provide a way to be compensated or get relief for damages inflected and to discourage any one else from committing the same harmful violations. The person who was injured may sue for an injunction to halt the damaging conduct or for monetary compensation for damages encountered.

There are several types of damages an injured party may make claim and receive compensation from, such as : loss of wage capacity, pain and suffering, undue mental duress, and reasonable medical expenses. Claims can include both present and future expected losses. Included amongst the most common of torts are: trespass, assault, battery, negligence, product liability, and intentional infliction of emotional distress (harassment).

Torts also fall into three general categories:

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