Monthly Archives: June 2012

Tips for Successful Collections of HOA Dues

One of the “many” functions of a Board of Directors for a homeowners association is to make sure each homeowner pays their dues. In a good economy, collecting homeowner dues can be difficult, and in today’s economy, collecting dues can be downright challenging.

We are often asked about what can be done to minimize the rise in delinquent homeowner dues. In the context of an historic decline in the economy, collecting associations’ dues can present challenges. However, having an effective collection plan in place can help associations deal with those challenges. A plan can be the difference between success and failure.  Listed below are some tips for successful collection of homeowner’s dues.

1. Have a Plan

The Board should have written guidelines for collection practices and the homeowners should be aware of the policy.

2. Quick Action is a Must

The Board should take prompt action against delinquent homeowners.  The longer the board delays taking action, the harder it is to collect delinquent dues.

3. Be Flexible

In today’s economy, many homeowners may be struggling financially. In some cases, if a homeowner is cooperative, the Board may wish to work out a payment plan for the repayment of outstanding dues. However, if a homeowner is not cooperative, legal action may be required.

4. Present the Board’s Position

It must be clear to homeowners that the Board is required to act for the benefit of the association as a whole, which includes the collection of homeowner dues.

The Board has the option to file a lien, file a lawsuit or both in order to collect outstanding homeowner dues.

5. Review all Legal Options

The Board should be very familiar with homeowner covenants and restrictions before the Board takes action to collect delinquent homeowners dues.

6. Be Understanding

It is important to know that the Board has the right to make certain decisions regarding homeowners that are facing hardships. The Board should understand the difference between an owner who is facing financial difficulty and the homeowner who simply refuses to pay their homeowner association dues.

7. Seek Legal Counsel

If the Board has questions regarding collections, covenants or other areas that effect the association, the Board should seek advice from an attorney who understands homeowner associations.

HIPAA – Delayed Rule

In late March, the federal government announced it would delay enforcement of HIPAA 5010 transactions to June 30, 2012. It is the second three-month delay on enforcement made by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Office of E-Health Standards and Services (OESS). While progress is being made, there are still some issues to work out. According to OESS: 

-The Medicare Fee-for-Service (FFS) program is currently reporting successful receipt and processing of over 70 percent of all Part A claims and over 90 percent of all Part B claims in the Version 5010 format.

-Commercial plans are reporting similar numbers.

-State Medicaid agencies are showing progress as well, and some have made a full transition to Version 5010.

“At the same time, OESS is aware that there are still a number of outstanding issues and challenges impeding full implementation,” an OESS statement continued. “OESS believes that these remaining issues warrant an extension of enforcement discretion to ensure that all entities can complete the transition. OESS expects the transition statistics will reach 98 percent industry wide by the end of the enforcement discretion period.”

OESS urged those covered by the rule to collaborate more closely on appropriate strategies to resolve remaining problems. The statement said the agency would step up its existing outreach to include more technical assistance for covered entities. OESS urged those covered by the rule to collaborate more closely on appropriate strategies to resolve remaining problems. The statement said the agency would step up its existing outreach to include more technical assistance for covered entities. OESS is also partnering with several industry groups as well as Medicare FFS and Medicaid to expand technical assistance opportunities and eliminate remaining barriers.

FDA Warns Dentists on Sale of Certain Dental X-Ray Device

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is cautioning dentists about purchasing or using handheld dental X-ray units manufactured outside of the U.S. that do not bear the proper FDA labeling. The FDA statement says the agency is “concerned that these devices may not be safe or effective and could expose the user and the patient to unnecessary and potentially harmful X-rays. The units, sold online by manufacturers outside the United States and directly shipped to U.S. customers, have not been reviewed by the FDA and do not meet FDA radiation safety requirements.”

 To date, no adverse events have been reported through use of these units, according to the FDA.

All FDA-approved handheld X-ray units bear a permanent certification label/tag, a warning label, and an identification label / tag on the unit. To ensure that a device has been cleared by the FDA, users are advised to:

• Verify the presence of required labels on the device,
• Ask vendors whether the device has been reviewed and cleared by the FDA,
• Access the FDA Medical Device Approvals and Clearances database to verify that the X-ray unit has been cleared by the FDA, and
• Contact a regulatory agency if they become aware of an unsafe device or one that does not meet FDA requirements.

Top 10 Most Frequently Reported Poison Dangers for Dogs in 2011

Below is the “Top 10″ List”  of potential poisons that were found in and around homes and yards of pet owners. The veterinarians at Pet Poison Helpline have compiled a “Top Ten List” most commonly reported during 2011.

1. Foods – specifically chocolate, xylitol, and grapes/raisins

2. Insecticides- including sprays, bait stations, and spot on flea/tick treatments

3. Mouse and rat poison – rodenticides

4. NSAIDS human drugs – such as ibuprofen, naproxen

5. Household cleaners – sprays, detergents, polishes

6. Antidepressant human drugs – such as Prozac, Paxil, Celexa and Effexor

7. Fertilizers – including bone meal, blood meal and iron-based products

8. Acetaminophen human drugs – such as Tylenol and cough/cold medications

9. Amphetamine human drugs – ADD/ADHD medications like Adderall and Concerta.

10. Veterinary pain relievers – specifically COX-2 inhibitors like Rimadyl, Dermaxx and Previcox.

Key Elements of a Harassment-Free Workplace Policy

In order to avoid potential legal liability, the owner of a dental practice should establish workplace policies in order to properly handle allegations of harassment.  A practice owner should have a zero tolerance policy regarding harassment of any kind.  The harassment of any individual because of race, color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, marital or parental status, disability or other status protected under state and federal law should be strictly prohibited.  The owner of a dental practice has a legal responsibility to address complaints of harassment or discrimination, both in the workplace and between staff members, and also by outside parties doing business with your practice.  Below, are a number of policy measures that practice owners should put in place to protect their practice from liability.

  • Strictly forbid sexual harassment of any individual.  Any unwelcome verbal or written comments of a sexual nature, physical conduct, unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature should be considered sexual harassment and should subject the offender to appropriate disciplinary action when:
    • Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a condition of an individual’s employment;
    • Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a factor in any decision affecting the individual’s employment, including performance reviews, compensation, scheduling, etc.; or
    • Such conduct interferes with an individual’s employment or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive employment environment.
  • Strictly forbid other forms of harassment.  Any unwelcome verbal or written comments or physical conduct of a hostile or offensive nature based on a person’s race, color, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, age, marital or parental status, disability, or other federally protected status should subject the offender to appropriate disciplinary action.
  • Designate a staff member to receive harassment complaints.  This staff member should conduct a prompt and thorough investigation of any harassment complaint.  All complaints should be treated as confidential, to the extent consistent with the corrective action and investigation.
  • Implement appropriate disciplinary action.  Any individual found to have engaged in any form of harassment or discrimination should be disciplined appropriately, up to and including termination.  If an investigation shows that an employee was the victim of harassment by a third party employed by a company with which the practice owner conducts business, management should take appropriate action in dealing with the management of the accused offender.
  • Adequately inform your staff of the policy.  Each employee of the dental practice should receive a copy of the practice’s policy regarding sexual harassment.

With the proper guidelines in place, a practice owner should create a harassment-free workplace.

For questions or comments regarding this article please call (770) 554-1400.