2019-Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources
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Get the Facts!

One of the most frequent comments we are hearing from our clients about the coronavirus situation is their constant struggle to combat misinformation about the virus stirred up by the TV news and social media.  This is distracting them from dealing with real challenges such as supply chain disruption, staff shortages, and patient care issues.

To help, here are some links to online resources with objective information and helpful tips about the practical problems you all are facing.  As always, it is our privilege to represent hospitals, health systems, and their clinical and administrative leaders.  You are the true heroes who, like every time in the past, get us all through this current public health situation.

NEW!

Official Senate Section-by-Section Summary of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

Governmental Agencies Continue their Efforts to Respond to COVID-19 National Emergency:

As this public health emergency develops, governmental agencies continue their efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. These efforts include the following guidance, waivers, and statements released this week:

  • The Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) released a COVID-19 fraud alert to warn the public about several health care fraud scams related to COVID-19. According to the OIG, scammers are targeting Medicare beneficiaries and offering them illegitimate COVID-19 services in exchange for personal information. For more information, click here.
  • OIG has updated its public-facing Work Plan. Recently added items include Highlights of OIG’s Emergency Preparedness Work, COVID-19 Hospital Responses, and an assessment of HHS Agencies’ Adherence to Health, Safety, and Operational Protocols During Repatriation and Quarantine Efforts for the COVID-19 Outbreak. To view the Work Plan, click here or here.
  • The Office for Civil Rights at HHS released guidance detailing circumstances in which covered entities may disclose protected health information about an individual who has been infected or exposed to COVID-19 to first responders and other public health authorities while maintaining compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”). For more information on HIPAA and COVID-19, click here or here.
  • HHS awarded $100 million to health centers across the country in response to COVID-19. Facilities may use the award to address screening and testing needs, acquire medical supplies, and boost telehealth capacity. For a list of award recipients, click here.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) announced a targeted survey process for health care facility inspections in response to COVID-19. This focused survey process will prioritize three types of federal inspections: complaint inspections, targeted infection control inspections, and self-assessments. During this time, standard inspections will not be conducted. For more information, click here.
  • CMS announced that it is granting exceptions and extensions from reporting requirements for providers and facilities participating in Medicare quality reporting programs. CMS will not use data reflecting services provided from January 1, 2020 through June 30, 2020 in calculations for Medicare quality reporting and value-based purchasing programs. For more information on specific exceptions and extensions, click here.
  • CMS has approved Medicaid Section 1135 waivers for 23 states. These waivers are effective as of March 1, 2020 and will remain effective until the termination of the public health emergency. To see whether your state received an 1135 waiver, click here.
  • CMS released Telehealth and Telemedicine Tool Kits for general providers and end stage renal disease providers. Both Tool Kits contain links to sources of information that provide guidance on initiating telemedicine programs, monitoring patients remotely, developing documentation tools, and utilizing virtual services such as FaceTime and Skype during this national emergency.

From March 13 – 19, 2020:

Governmental Agencies Issue Waivers and Guidance in Response to COVID-19 Declaration

Earlier this week, the White House declared a national emergency regarding COVID-19. In response to this declaration, governmental agencies issued the following waivers, guidance, and statements:

  • The Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) issued nationwide blanket waivers under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act, waiving and modifying health care laws, rules and regulations affected by COVID-19. Among other waivers, HHS waived certain conditions of participation, certification requirements, program participation requirements for health care providers, licensure requirements, and sanctions under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act. In connection with HHS’s 1135 waiver, CMS issued blanket waivers of certain laws, rules and regulations for Skilled Nursing Facilities, Critical Access Hospitals, Acute Care Hospitals, and Home Health Agencies. These waivers became effective on March 15, 2020 for services provided on or after March 1, 2020. For more information, click here or here.
  • CMS expanded telehealth coverage for Medicare beneficiaries and will make payments for telehealth visits that are furnished to beneficiaries in their homes. Providers may now offer services via telehealth to beneficiaries regardless of where the patient is located by connecting with their patients through applications that allow for real-time audio and video communication, such as Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, and Skype. In conjunction with CMS’s action, HHS waived sanctions and penalties for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) violations against health care providers who use everyday communication applications to connect with patients. For more information on telehealth coverage, click here or here.
  • HHS issued a limited waiver of sanctions and penalties for certain provisions under HIPAA. The waiver became effective on March 15, 2020. The official bulletin detailing this action may be found here.
  • The Office of Inspector General issued a policy statement notifying physicians and other practitioners that they will not be sanctioned or penalized for reducing or waiving cost-sharing obligations that Federal health care program beneficiaries may owe for telehealth services. For the full report, click here.
  • The Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) will now permit DEA-registered practitioners to issue prescriptions for controlled substances to patients for whom they have not conducted an in-person medical examination, as required under the Controlled Substance Act, so long as the practitioners meet certain conditions. This exception will continue for as long as the HHS Secretary’s designation of a public health emergency remains in effect. To access DEA guidance regarding this exception, click here.
  • CMS released guidance to providers to limit all non-essential adult elective surgery and medical and surgical procedures, including dental procedures. The recommendation may be implemented immediately in an effort to manage vital health care resources. More information regarding this guidance may be found here.

Transcript of COVID-19 Calls

CMS Fact Sheets on Corona Virus Coverage

CMS recently published fact sheets on new HCPCS codes for coronavirus tests and clarified coverage for coronavirus hospitalizations.

https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/cms-develops-additional-code-coronavirus-lab-tests

World-o-meters:

REAL TIME information about the virus and its spread throughout the world. Contains facts that you may want to share with your employees and community.

https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

Centers for Disease Control:

The official website which is chock-full of good information and regular alerts and updates you need to know.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html

American Hospital Association:

Plenty of resources that you will find useful.

https://www.aha.org/2020-01-22-updates-and-resources-novel-coronavirus-2019-cov

Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center:

This website is aimed at informing the public and briefing policymakers on how to guide a response, improve care, and save lives.

https://coronavirus.jhu.edu

HortySpringer will keep you apprised of any breaking legal developments about the virus.  In the meantime, keep up the good work and thanks for all you do!