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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.
The Joint Commission at Work
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Joint Commission Releases Tools and Resources for Responding to COVID-19
The Joint Commission published a tools-and-resources webpage for health care organizations responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other resources, this webpage provides information on granting privileges during a disaster, creating capacity for surge patients, and providing services via telehealth. For more information, click here.