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In June 2016, AmSurg Corp. and Envision Healthcare Holdings, Inc. (Envision) announced they have signed a definitive merger agreement pursuant to which the companies will combine in an all-stock transaction. Upon completion of the merger, which is expected to be tax-free to the shareholders of both organizations, the combined company will be named Envision Healthcare Corporation and co-headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee and Greenwood Village, Colorado. The company's common stock is expected to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol: EVHC. Bass, Berry & Sims served as lead counsel on the transaction, led by Jim Jenkins. Read more.

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Inside the FCA blogInside the FCA blog features ongoing updates related to the False Claims Act (FCA), including insight on the latest legal decisions, regulatory developments and FCA settlements. The blog provides timely updates for corporate boards, directors, compliance managers, general counsel and other parties interested in the organizational impact and legal developments stemming from issues potentially giving rise to FCA liability.

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Appeals Court Issues Helpful TCPA Ruling for Healthcare Providers

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February 26, 2016

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recently held that patients who provided their cell phone numbers to a hospital during the admissions process had given "prior express consent" to receive automated phone calls for collections purposes, as required under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act ("TCPA"). The decision in Baisden v. Credit Adjustments, Inc. affirmed the judgment of the district court, which had entered summary judgment for the debt collector hired to make the phone calls.

The dispute arose after two patients received medical care from a hospital in Ohio. Upon admission to the hospital, the patients signed a "Patient Consent and Authorization" form. The form authorized the hospital to release their health information to companies who provide billing services for physicians or other providers involved in their medical care. During the patients' hospital stays, they received care from an anesthesiology group operating within the hospital. When the patients failed to pay for the anesthesiology services, the anesthesiology group transferred the patients' accounts to a debt collector, Credit Adjustments, to collect the unpaid balances. Credit Adjustments used an automated telephone dialing system and prerecorded messages to contact the patients on their cell phones. The patients claimed that Credit Adjustments' phone calls violated the TCPA because the patients never provided their "prior express consent."

In affirming the district court's judgment, the Sixth Circuit held that the patients gave express consent to receive phone calls by providing their cell phone numbers to the hospital, even though the patients had not provided their cell phone numbers directly to the anesthesiology group or to Credit Adjustments. The court found that by virtue of signing the consent form, the patients expressly authorized the hospital to release their health information, which included their cell phone numbers, for billing purposes.

The Sixth Circuit's decision in Baisden follows the Eleventh Circuit's similar recognition that a plaintiff's provision of his phone number, coupled with an agreement to be contacted, qualifies as "prior express consent" under the TCPA. By recognizing that "prior express consent" may be granted in such a way, Baisden provides helpful clarity for healthcare providers, their affiliates, and vendors who face potential TCPA liability.


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