(April 17 – 23, 2020)
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance and Resources
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Government agencies continue their efforts to provide COVID-19 guidance and resources to health care providers:

  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) continues to host multiple COVID-19 related calls and podcasts. Recently posted items include calls with nurses, dialysis facilities, nursing homes, home health, and hospice agencies, as well as the recurring “Lessons from the Front Lines” and CMS “Office Hours.”  Transcripts and audio of these events can be found here.

  • CMS released guidelines regarding the gradual “re-opening” of the nation’s health care system and the provision of non-emergent, non-COVID-19 in-person patient care in areas of the country with low or relatively low and stable incidence of COVID-19 cases. These guidelines recommend that health care providers considering re-starting or increasing their non-COVID-19 in-person patient care services should coordinate with their local and state public health officials, as well as review the availability of their workforce and supplies (including personal protective equipment), facility readiness, and testing capacity.  More information can be found here.

  • CMS and the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response have launched an online COVID-19 Healthcare Workforce Virtual Toolkit. This toolkit was created to help health care decision makers determine the best ways to manage their workforces based on their communities’ unique needs.  The toolkit includes information on funding flexibilities, liability protections, workforce training, and up-to-date best practices.  More information can be found here.

  • In order to support informed licensing, credentialing, privileging, and hiring decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Health Resources and Services Administration has temporarily waived user fees for National Practitioner Data Bank (“NPDB”) queries. This fee waiver includes one-time and continuous queries, but not self-queries.  This waiver is effective immediately and has retroactive effect from March 1, 2020 through May 31, 2020.  The NPDB will issue query credits to reimburse those entities that have conducted eligible queries between March 1, 2020 and the fee waiver’s implementation.  More information can be found here.

  • The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights announced that it will exercise its enforcement discretion not to impose penalties against covered health care providers for certain violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act in connection with the good faith provision of telehealth services during the COVID-19 public health emergency. This enforcement discretion became effective March 17, 2020 and will continue until the declared public health emergency either expires or no longer exists, whichever occurs first.

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) has authorized the first diagnostic COVID-19 test that can be completed by individuals within their homes. Test takers use the provided self-collection kit to self-swab a sample from their nose.  The individual then mails that nasal specimen to a designated laboratory for testing.  A doctor’s order will be needed to get this home test.

  • The Federal Communications Commission announced the launch of the COVID-19 Telehealth Program.  This program is providing $200 million to eligible health care providers who want to provide “connected care services” to their patients in response to COVID-19.  The program will fully fund the telecommunications and information services, as well as the connected devices, needed by the health care providers.  This funding opportunity will continue until the program’s funds are depleted or the COVID-19 pandemic has ended.  Applications are now being accepted.