Coronavirus Update for Wednesday, August 19

The following is the latest COVID-19 information from the federal government as of 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 19.

Provider Relief Fund

  • HHS has updated its Provider Relief Fund FAQ with five new questions that address the application process for the new children’s hospital and safety-net providers targeted distribution. The questions can be found on pages 30, 31, 41, and 42 of the FAQ; new questions and answers are dated 8/17/2020 and 8/18/2020.

Department of Health and Human Services

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

  • CMS announced that for inpatient acute-care hospital admissions on or after September 1, 2020 to receive the temporary 20 percent increase in the MS-DRG weighting factor required under the CARES Act, patient medical records must show a recent positive COVID-19 test, whether performed by the hospital or another entity. CMS has been identifying eligible claims by the presence of certain ICD-10 diagnosis codes but cited Medicare program integrity concerns in adding this new requirement. If upon medical record review the hospital cannot show a recent COVID-19 positive test, the additional payment will be recouped by Medicare.

CMS COVID-19 Stakeholder Calls

CMS hosts recurring stakeholder engagement sessions to share information related to its response to COVID-19.  These sessions are open to members of the health care community and are intended to provide updates, share best practices among peers, and offer attendees an opportunity to ask questions of CMS and other subject matter experts.

Home Health and Hospice Call

Tuesday, August 25th at 3:00 – 3:30 PM Eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial-In: 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 6782346

Audio Webcast Link:  go here.

CMS COVID-19 Office Hours Call

Tuesday, August 25 at 5:00 – 6:00 PM eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial In: 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 8579003

Audio Webcast link:  go here.

Nursing Homes Call

Wednesday, August 26 at 4:30 – 5:00 PM eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial-In: 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 5718509

Audio Webcast Link:  go here.

Dialysis Organizations Call

Wednesday, August 26 at 5:30 – 6:00 PM Eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial-In: 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 1834329

Audio Webcast Link:  go here.

Nurses Call

Thursday, August 27 at 3:00 – 3:30 PM Eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial-In: 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 1556623

Audio Webcast Link:  go here.

Lessons from the Front Lines: COVID-19

Friday, August 21st at 12:30 – 2:00 PM Eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial-In: 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 5956858

Audio Webcast Link:  go here.

Conference lines are limited, so CMS encourages interested parties to join via audio webcast.  To listen to the audio files and read the transcripts for these and past COVID-19 Stakeholder calls, visit CMS’s Podcast and Transcripts page.

Food and Drug Administration

  • The FDA has issued emergency use authorization (EUA) to the Yale School of Public Health for its SalivaDirect COVID-19 diagnostic test, which uses a new method of processing saliva samples when testing for COVID-19 infection.
  • The FDA is providing two new flowcharts and supporting information on respirators:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • The CDC has updated its staffing resources and guidance in state, local, tribal, and territorial health departments to intensify the coordinated response to COVID-19.

To receive this daily update directly, sign up for our mailing list at info@safetynetalliance.org.

Coronavirus Update for Friday, August 14

The following is the latest COVID-19 information from the federal government as of 2:30 p.m. on Friday, August 14.

NASH Advocacy

  • NASH wrote to HHS Secretary Azar and CMS Administrator Verma asking them to target a distribution of Provider Relief Fund money to private safety-net hospitals and others like them based on two factors:  hospitals’ eligibility for the section 340B prescription drug discount program or those with a DSH patient percentage high enough to meet the threshold for 340B eligibility for disproportionate share hospitals and that did not receive funding from any other targeted safety-net distribution.  See NASH’s letter here.

Provider Relief Fund

  • HHS announced that it will distribute $1.4 billion in CARES Act Provider Relief Fund grants to nearly 80 free-standing children’s hospitals.  Qualifying children’s hospitals must be either an exempt hospital under CMS’s Medicare inpatient prospective payment system or be a HRSA-defined Children’s Hospital Graduate Medical Education facility.  Eligible hospitals will receive 2.5 percent of their net revenue from patient care.  Qualifying free-standing children’s hospitals will begin receiving grants next week.  Learn more from this HHS news release.

Department of Health and Human Services

  • HHS is giving $6.5 million to two commercial diagnostic laboratories to expand capacity to conduct up to four million additional COVID-19 tests a month.  That capacity increase should be seen in early October.  Learn more from this HHS news release.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

  • The CMS online publication MLN Matters features the article “Quarterly Update for Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule and Laboratory Services Subject to Reasonable Charge Payment” for clinical diagnostic laboratories that seek reimbursement for services provided to Medicare patients.  The article includes policy updates on payments for COVID-19 specimen collection, ordering requirements for tests, coverage for serology tests, payments for tests processed with high-throughput technologies, and more as well as fees and new billing codes.  Find it here.  The American Medical Association also has published a special report on new COVID-19 CPT coding.  Find it here.

Food and Drug Administration

  • The FDA has established a new web page with information about importing certain medical devices during the COVID-19 pandemic.  It describes procedures for importing devices that have been issued emergency use authorizations and for devices for which an enforcement discretion policy has been published in guidance.
  • The FDA recently cleared for marketing in the United States a surgical gown (K200977) and three polymer patient examination gloves (K201530, K201531, K193666).  These gloves and gowns are intended to be worn for medical purposes to provide a barrier against potentially infectious materials and other contaminants, including for use during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The FDA has issued emergency use authorization for commercial equipment that provides continuous renal replacement therapy to treat low weight and low blood volume patients or patients who have acute renal failure, fluid overload, or both as a result of COVID-19 and who cannot tolerate a larger extracorporeal circuit volume in an acute-care environment.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Federal Funding Opportunities for Hospitals

  • NASH has prepared a document that collects and presents in one place the various new federal funding opportunities for hospitals resulting from legislation addressing the COVID-19 public health emergency.  Find that document here.

To receive this daily update directly, sign up for our mailing list at info@safetynetalliance.org.)

Health Care Workers Inadequately Protected by March COVID Law

Many health care workers sickened by COVID-19 are not receiving the paid sick leave anticipated by a federal law passed in March, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General.

Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, new protections were to be established to ensure that health care workers and others had access to additional paid sick leave for COVID-19-related illnesses.  According to the OIG, however, the Labor Department’s stated exemptions to the March law are overly broad, leaving as many as nine million health care workers without the paid sick leave protections Congress envisioned when it passed the law in March.

The OIG attributed the problem in part to the overly broad interpretation of the March law and in part to inadequate on-site enforcement of requirements by the department’s Wage and Hours Division as the division did more of its work remotely in response to the pandemic.

To address these shortcomings, the OIG recommended changes in the enabling regulations and a revised approach to enforcement.  The Labor Department has agreed with these recommendations.

Learn more about the problems with the law’s implementation, the OIG’s findings, and the Labor Department’s expected response in the Labor Department OIG’s report “COVID-19: WHD Needs to Closely Monitor the Pandemic Impact on its Operations.”

 

Coronavirus Update for Tuesday, August 11

The following is the latest COVID-19 information from the federal government as of 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 11.

Provider Relief Fund

  • Eligible providers may now apply for Provider Relief Fund phase 2 general distributions. These are providers that are being given another opportunity to receive Provider Relief Fund payments after missing the June 3, 2020 deadline to apply for funding equal to two percent of their total patient care revenue from the $20 billion portion of the $50 billion phase 1 general distribution; this group also includes Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), dental providers with low Medicare revenues, and hospitals that received payments in the phase 1 distribution but returned them.  In addition, providers that experienced a change in ownership, making them ineligible for phase 1 funding, also may apply.
    • Providers can go here to learn more about this phase 2 distribution and eligibility.
    • Providers can submit the required financial data on the Provider Relief Fund application and attestation portal. The deadline for submitting data is August 28.
    • Providers can go here to register for a webinar on this distribution to be held on Thursday, August 13 at 3:00 (eastern).
  • HHS has shared information about its next CARES Act-authorized nursing home Provider Relief Fund distribution. This $5 billion distribution will include approximately $2.5 billion to support increased testing, staffing, and personal protective equipment needs and to establish COVID-19 isolation facilities, with the balance to be linked to nursing home performance.  HHS expects to make the first $2.5 billion distribution in mid-August and the performance-based distributions throughout the fall.  Learn more from this HHS news release.
  • HHS has updated its Provider Relief Fund FAQ with 16 new questions, 15 of which address eligibility for phase 2 general distributions from the Provider Relief Fund and how to apply for those distributions. These questions can be found on pages 22, 23, 24, 29, and 31 of the FAQ; these and other new questions are all dated 8/10/2020.  Another question about eligibility, dated 8/7/2020, can be found on page 2.

Department of Health and Human Services

  • HHS has posted the July through December COVID-19 testing plans of all states, territories, and localities. Find those testing plans here.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

  • CMS announced a new Community Health Access and Rural Transformation Model (CHART) that will seek to improve the quality, accessibility, and value of care in rural areas. The agency intends to invest up to $75 million in seed money to enable up to 15 rural communities to participate in the program, which will involve tools such as an accountable care organization (AC) transformational track, the extension of COVID-19-inspired telemedicine waivers after the pandemic is over, a reduction of the minimum required supervision level for hospital outpatient therapeutic services, and an increase in wage indexes for low-wage hospitals, including many rural hospitals.  Learn more here.
  • CMS has updated its “COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Medicare Fee-for-Service (FFS) Billing” document with a new question about the broader impact of its waiving of certain Medicare and Medicaid utilization review requirements. See page 22, question 23 for further details.

CMS COVID-19 Stakeholder Calls

CMS hosts recurring stakeholder engagement sessions to share information related to its response to COVID-19.  These sessions are open to members of the health care community and are intended to provide updates, share best practices among peers, and offer attendees an opportunity to ask questions of CMS and other subject matter experts.

Lessons from the Front Lines: COVID-19

Friday, August 21 at 12:30 – 2:00 PM eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial-In: 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 5956858

Audio Webcast Link:  go here.

CMS COVID-19 Office Hours Call

Tuesday, August 25 at 5:00 – 6:00 PM eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial In: 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 8579003

Audio Webcast link:  go here.

Home Health and Hospice Call

Tuesday, August 25 at 3:00 – 3:30 PM eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial-In: 833-614-0820 Access Passcode: 6782346
Audio Webcast Link:  go here.

Nursing Homes Call

Wednesday, August 12 at 4:30 – 5:00 PM eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial-In: 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 7857618

Audio Webcast Link:  go here.

Wednesday, August 26 at 4:30 – 5:00 PM eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial-In: 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 5718509
Audio Webcast Link:  go here.

Dialysis Organizations Call

Wednesday, August 12 at 5:30 – 6:00 PM Eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial-In: 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 1027088

Audio Webcast Link:  go here.

Wednesday, August 26 at 5:30 – 6:00 PM Eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial-In: 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 1834329
Audio Webcast Link:  go here.

Nurses Call

Thursday, August 13 at 3:00 – 3:30 PM Eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial-In: 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 7844289

Audio Webcast Link: go here.

Thursday, August 27 at 3:00 – 3:30 PM Eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial-In: 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 1556623
Audio Webcast Link:  go here.

Conference lines are limited, so CMS encourages interested parties to join via audio webcast.  To listen to the audio files and read the transcripts for these and past COVID-19 Stakeholder calls, visit CMS’s Podcast and Transcripts page.

Federal Funding Opportunities for Hospitals

  • NASH has prepared a document that collects and presents in one place the various new federal funding opportunities for hospitals resulting from legislation addressing the COVID-19 public health emergency.  Find that document here.

To receive this daily update directly, sign up for our mailing list at info@safetynetalliance.org.)

 

Coronavirus Update for Friday, August 7

The following is the latest COVID-19 information from the federal government as of 2:30 p.m. on Friday, August 7.

White House:  Executive Order

The White House issued an executive order directing the Department of Health and Human Services to extend permanently some of the Medicare telehealth waivers initiated during the COVID-19 public health emergency; to simplify Medicare billing codes and propose a payment model to improve health care in rural areas; and to encourage the Department of Agriculture and Federal Communications Commission to invest in technology that enhances access to telehealth services.

The administration’s plans for following through on this executive order are described in an HHS news release that summarizes the policy changes the administration seeks and a CMS news release that addresses several proposed regulations that would facilitate achieving these objectives.

Department of Health and Human Services

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Food and Drug Administration

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Federal Funding Opportunities for Hospitals

  • NASH has prepared a document that collects and presents in one place the various new federal funding opportunities for hospitals resulting from legislation addressing the COVID-19 public health emergency.  Find that document here.

To receive this daily update directly, sign up for our mailing list at info@safetynetalliance.org.)

Coronavirus Update for Monday, August 3

The following is the latest information from the federal government as of 2:30 p.m. on Monday, August 3.

Department of Health and Human Services

  • HHS has issued a news alert titled “HHS Extends Application Deadline for Medicaid Providers and Plans to Reopen Portal to Certain Medicare Providers.” This means some providers will have new opportunities to pursue grants from the CARES Act’s Provider Relief Fund.  The major subjects of this news release are:
    • HHS is extending the deadline for applying for the phase 2 general distribution to Medicaid, Medicaid managed care, CHIP, and dental providers to August 28. The web portal for applying is here.
    • Starting the week of August 10, HHS will permit Medicare providers that missed the first opportunity to apply for funding from the $20 billion portion of the $50 billion phase 1 Medicare general distribution. Applications for this funding, which can amount to up to two percent of annual patient revenue, are now due August 28.
    • Some providers that have undergone a change in ownership did not receive the automatic payments for the pool of $30 billion from the $50 billion phase 1 Medicare general distribution. Starting August 10, those providers may submit documentation for consideration of a Provider Relief Fund payment.  These applications, too, are due August 28.

For more information, find HHS’s CARES Act Provider Relief Fund page here and its CARES Act Provider Relief Fund FAQ here.  (Please note that the FAQ is updated frequently.)

  • HHS has updated its Provider Relief Fund FAQ with additions and modifications on the following subjects:
    • Sharing targeted distribution money received on behalf of subsidiaries (p. 2).
    • Time limits for expending Provider Relief Fund payments (p. 6).
    • Whether Provider Relief Fund payments are subject to Single Audit (two questions, one on pp. 10-11 and another on p.11).
    • Extensions for submitting data for audits (p. 11).
    • Identifying providers on lists to receive payments from the Medicaid, CHIP, and dental providers distribution (p. 30).
    • Information about dental providers and the Medicaid, CHIP, and dental providers distribution (p. 30).
    • Eligibility of providers for payments from the Medicaid, CHIP, and dental providers distribution if they have received aid from certain other COVID-19-related payment programs (two questions on p. 31).
    • Use of the applicant portal (three questions: on p. 37, pp. 37-38, p. 38).
    • Application issues for home and community-based services providers (two questions on  p. 38).
    • Applications from fiscal management services organizations for the Medicaid, CHIP, and dental providers distribution (two questions on p. 38).
    • Issues involving tax identification numbers (TINs) (two questions, one on pp. 38-39 and the other on p. 39).

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

CMS COVID-19 Stakeholder Calls

CMS hosts recurring stakeholder engagement sessions to share information related to the agency’s response to COVID-19.  These sessions are open to members of the health care community and are intended to provide updates, share best practices among peers, and offer attendees an opportunity to ask questions of CMS and other subject matter experts.

Lessons from the Front Lines

Lessons from the Front Lines calls are a joint effort between CMS Administrator Seema Verma, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, MD, and the White House Coronavirus Task Force.  Physicians and other clinicians are invited to share their experience, ideas, strategies, and insights with one another related to their COVID-19 response.  There is an opportunity to ask questions of presenters.

Friday, August 7 at 12:30 – 2:00 PM Eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial-In: 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 4695240

Audio Webcast Link:  go here.

CMS COVID-19 Office Hours Calls

Office Hour Calls provide an opportunity for hospitals, health systems, and providers to ask questions of agency officials regarding CMS’s temporary actions that empower local hospitals and health care systems to increase hospital capacity, expand the health care workforce, and promote the use of telehealth in Medicare.

Tuesday, August 4 at 5:00 – 6:00 PM Eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial In: 833-614-0820, Access Passcode: 3296947

Audio Webcast link:  go here

Tuesday, August 11 at 5:00 – 6:00 PM Eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial In: 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 3498643

Audio Webcast link:  go here.

Home Health and Hospice

Tuesday, August 11 at 3:00 – 3:30 PM Eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial-In:  833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 5097566

Audio Webcast Link:  go here.

Nursing Homes

Wednesday, August 12 4:30 – 5:00 PM Eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial-In:  833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 7857618

Audio Webcast Link:  go here.

Dialysis Organizations

Wednesday, August 12 at 5:30 – 6:00 PM Eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial-In:  833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 1027088

Audio Webcast Link:  go here.

Nurses

Thursday, August 13 at 3:00 – 3:30 PM Eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial-In:  833-614-0820; Access Passcode:  7844289

Audio Webcast Link:  go here.

Food and Drug Administration

  • The FDA updated its FAQ on the emergency use authorization for the use of remdesivir for treating COVID-19 patients and notes changes in the remdesivir fact sheet for health care providers and a changes in a separate fact sheet for patients and caregivers.
  • On Tuesday, August 4 at noon (eastern), the FDA will host a webinar on its regulation of face masks and surgical masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Interested parties can go here for call-in information for the webinar and for access to transcripts of past webinars and the presentations offered during those events.  The FDA will hold a similar webinar on August 18, also at 12:15.
  • The FDA will host a virtual town hall on August 5 at 12:15 (eastern) for clinical laboratories and commercial manufacturers that are developing or have developed diagnostic tests for COVID-19. The purpose of this town hall is to help answer technical questions about the development and validation of tests for COVID-19.  Go here for call-in information for the town hall and for access to transcripts of past town halls and the presentations offered during those events.  The FDA will hold similar town halls on August 12, 19, and 26, also at 12:15.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Federal Funding Opportunities for Hospitals

  • NASH has prepared a document that collects and presents in one place the various new federal funding opportunities for hospitals resulting from legislation addressing the COVID-19 public health emergency.  Find that document here.

To receive this daily update directly, sign up for our mailing list at info@safetynetalliance.org.)

Coronavirus Update for Thursday, July 30

The following is the latest information from the federal government as of 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 30.

Department of Health and Human Services

  • HHS’s Office of the Inspector General has updated its FAQs on its administrative authorities on arrangements directly connected to the COVID-19 emergency with new guidance for providers.
  • HHS has issued a report documenting trends in the use of telehealth by Medicare beneficiaries during the COVID-19 emergency. Find HHS’s announcement about the report and its summary here and go here to see the report itself.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

  • CMS has announced that it is introducing new procedure codes to enable Medicare and other insurers to identify the use of remdesivir and convalescent plasma for treating hospital inpatients with COVID-19. These new codes go into effect on August 1.
  • CMS has updated its FAQ for providers on Medicare fee-for-service billing The changes address:
    • Use of the cost-sharing modifier for pre-surgery exams that include COVID-19 testing (pp. 10-11).
    • Billing for COVID-19 testing provided in an outpatient department prior to an inpatient admission (pp. 21-22).
    • Billing for diabetes self-management training services delivered via telehealth (two questions, one on p. 74 and one on pp. 74-75).
    • Billing for telehealth services furnished by a provider located outside the U.S. (p. 75).
    • Billing involving episodes of care for patients participating in a Medicare Shared Savings Program (five questions: 96-97, 97, 97-98, and two on p. 98).
    • Billing when serving patients with the assistance of drugs or supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile or other government source (pp. 111-112).
    • Billing for telehealth services (five questions: 126-127, 127, 127-128, 128, and 128-129).
    • Billing for therapy provided via telehealth (pp. 131-132).
  • CMS and the CDC announced that payment is available to physicians and health care providers to counsel patients at the time of COVID-19 testing about the importance of self-isolation after they are tested and prior to the onset of symptoms. CMS will use existing evaluation and management (E/M) payment codes to reimburse providers who are eligible to bill CMS for counseling services no matter where a test is administered, including doctor’s offices, urgent care clinics, hospitals, and community drive-through or pharmacy testing sites.
  • See the CMS news release announcing the new policy and a new CMS counseling checklist.
  • CMS has added certain COVID-19 diagnostic tests to its lists of tests that do not need to be ordered by authorized practitioners during the current public health emergency and for which Medicare will pay. Read about this addition here and find a list of other tests similarly authorized here.
  • CMS has updated its “COVID-19 Emergency Declaration Blanket Waivers for Health Care Providers” with two changes:
  • it extended the deadline for hospitals to submit their occupational mix surveys with supporting documentation to their MACs to no later than September 3 (it had previously been extended from July 1 to August 3) (see page 14) and
  • it terminated its previous waiver of the requirement that long-term-care facilities submit staffing data through the payroll-based journal system (see page 15).

National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine

  • The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine’s standing committee on emerging infectious diseases and 21st century health threats has outlined considerations for clinical staffing needs during the implementation of crisis standards of care. It has produced a consultation document on this subject and will host webinars to brief stakeholders on Friday, July 31; Tuesday, August 4; and Wednesday, August 5.  Find the document here and go here to register for one of the webinars.

Food and Drug Administration

  • The FDA has posted a new template for commercial developers to help them develop and submit emergency use authorization (EUA) requests for COVID-19 diagnostic tests that can be performed entirely at home or in other settings besides a lab, such as offices or schools, and that could be available without a prescription. See the FDA’s announcement here.
  • The FDA has updated its guidance for laboratories performing COVID-19 diagnostic testing.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Federal Funding Opportunities for Hospitals

  • NASH has prepared a document that collects and presents in one place the various new federal funding opportunities for hospitals resulting from legislation addressing the COVID-19 public health emergency.  Find that document here.

To receive this daily update directly, sign up for our mailing list at info@safetynetalliance.org.)

Coronavirus Update for Tuesday, July 28

The following is the latest information from the federal government as of 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 28.

Senate “HEALS” Act

Yesterday, Senate Republicans introduced the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools Act (“HEALS”), their proposed COVID-19/stimulus bill.  Health care highlights include:

  • Increasing the time providers will have before CMS begins recoupment of loans made through the Accelerated and Advance Payment Program and an extension of the time before providers will need to pay interest on those loans.
  • $25 billion to be added to the CARES Act’s Provider Relief Fund.
  • Extension of the current Medicare telehealth waivers through 2021 or until the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • Liability protection for health care facilities and providers.
  • A freeze on 2021 Medicare Part B premiums and deductibles at 2020 levels.
  • Additional funding for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, the NIH, CDC, FQHCs, rural health centers, and vaccines, therapies, and diagnostic tools.

NASH sent a more detailed memo about the proposal to its members earlier today.

Department of Health and Human Services

  • HHS has updated its CARES Act Provider Relief Fund FAQ with two modifications on pages 15 that address sharing Provider Relief Fund general distributions with related entities and another on page 30 about the Medicaid-only distribution. All are marked “Modified 7/23/2020.”

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

  • CMS has updated its FAQ on Medicare fee-for-service billing with new information about the use of the CS modifier when coding for certain Medicare-covered telehealth services and/or evaluation/management (E/M) visits. See pages 68 and 69 for details.
  • An MLN Matters special edition article about fee-for-service waivers effective during the public health emergency has been modified to clarify how coinsurance and deductible waivers apply to lab tests regardless of the HCPCS codes used to report those tests.
  • CMS issued a new MLN Matters publication detailing how inpatient care settings operating under a CLIA waiver can be paid for antigen tests authorized by the FDA as of July 2. Modifier QW must be added to HCPCS code 87426 (which describes this testing) and providers should request that MACs reprocess any claims previously denied for failing to append the QW modifier.  MACs will not retract payment for claims already paid.
  • CMS has created a “Home Health COVID-19 PHE Tip Sheet” to help home health providers understand the status of the Home Health Quality Reporting Program (QRP) during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The tip sheet includes guidance addressing home health quality data submission requirements starting July 1, 2020, now that the temporary Home Health QRP exemptions from the COVID-19 public health emergency have ended.
  • CMS has created an “LTCH COVID-19 PHE Tip Sheet” designed to help long-term-care hospitals (LTCHs) understand the status of the LTCH Quality Reporting Program (QRP) during the COVID-19 public health emergency. It includes guidance addressing LTCH quality data submission requirements starting July 1, 2020, now that the temporary LTCH QRP exemptions from the COVID-19 PHE have ended.

CMS COVID-19 Stakeholder Calls

CMS hosts recurring stakeholder engagement sessions to share information related to the agency’s response to COVID-19.  These sessions are open to members of the health care community and are intended to provide updates, share best practices among peers, and offer attendees an opportunity to ask questions of CMS and other subject matter experts.

Lessons from the Front Lines

Lessons from the Front Lines calls are a joint effort between CMS Administrator Seema Verma, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, MD, and the White House Coronavirus Task Force.  Physicians and other clinicians are invited to share their experience, ideas, strategies, and insights with one another related to their COVID-19 response.  There is an opportunity to ask questions of presenters.

Friday, August 7 at 12:30 – 2:00 PM Eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial-In: 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 4695240

Audio Webcast Link:  go here.

CMS COVID-19 Office Hours Calls

Office Hour Calls provide an opportunity for hospitals, health systems, and providers to ask questions of agency officials regarding CMS’s temporary actions that empower local hospitals and health care systems to increase hospital capacity, expand the health care workforce, and promote the use of telehealth in Medicare.

Tuesday, August 4 at 5:00 – 6:00 PM Eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial In: 833-614-0820, Access Passcode: 3296947

Audio Webcast link:  go here

Tuesday, August 11 at 5:00 – 6:00 PM Eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial In: 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 3498643

Audio Webcast link:  go here.

Home Health and Hospice

Tuesday, August 11 at 3:00 – 3:30 PM Eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial-In:  833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 5097566

Audio Webcast Link:  go here.

Nursing Homes

Wednesday, August 12 4:30 – 5:00 PM Eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial-In:  833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 7857618

Audio Webcast Link:  go here

Dialysis Organizations

Wednesday, August 12 at 5:30 – 6:00 PM Eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial-In:  833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 1027088

Audio Webcast Link:  go here.

Nurses

Thursday, August 13 at 3:00 – 3:30 PM Eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial-In:  833-614-0820; Access Passcode:  7844289

Audio Webcast Link:  go here.

The Federal Reserve

Food and Drug Administration

  • The FDA has issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for a commercial device to be used by health care providers as an extra layer of barrier protection to prevent exposure to pathogenic biological airborne particulates by providing isolation of hospitalized patients with suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 at the time of definitive airway management, when performing airway-related medical procedures, or during transport of such patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The FDA has issued an EUA for a device for use in decontaminating compatible N95 respirators for single-user reuse by health care personnel.
  • The FDA has reissued an EUA for a commercial COVID-19 diagnostic test to include two new indications for use: testing for people who do not have COVID-19 symptoms or who have no reason to suspect COVID-19 infection, and to allow pooled sample testing.  The reissuance includes authorization for the commercial laboratory to test pooled samples containing up to five individual swab specimens collected under observation.  See the FDA’s announcement here.
  • The FDA has updated its Testing Supply Substitution Strategies slide show to include validated supply alternatives that labs can use to continue performing testing when there is a supply issue with some components of a molecular test.
  • The FDA has issued EUAs for three commercial diagnostic tests for COVID-19. Find them here, here, and here.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Federal Funding Opportunities for Hospitals

  • NASH has prepared a document that collects and presents in one place the various new federal funding opportunities for hospitals resulting from legislation addressing the COVID-19 public health emergency.  Find that document here.

To receive this daily update directly, sign up for our mailing list at info@safetynetalliance.org.)

Coronavirus Update for Thursday, July 23

The following is the latest information from the federal government as of 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 23.

Department of Health and Human Services/CARES Act Provider Relief Fund

  • HHS has posted information about the financial reporting that will be required of providers that received funding through the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. Those terms and conditions require providers to submit data documenting their use of the funds and compliance with the terms and conditions.  The HHS post lays out some of the parameters of the reporting and notes HHS will release instructions for Provider Relief Fund reporting by August 17.
  • HHS has updated its CARES Act Provider Relief Fund FAQ with 23 additions and modifications.  Among other matters, they:
    • clarify that parent organizations of Provider Relief Fund recipients of targeted distribution payments cannot share those payments among their subsidiary entities;
    • clarify that these payments count toward the $750,000 threshold for determining whether an entity received sufficient federal assistance to be subject to a “Single Audit” (Medicare and Medicaid payments for patient care services do not generally contribute to this threshold), and provide information about a six-month delay in the deadline for submitting the related audit report; and
    • incorporate additional information on the distribution of grants to Medicaid providers, dentists, and providers in high-impact areas, and more.

These and the other changes are all marked “Added 7/22/2020” or “Modified 7/22/2020.”  Providers should review them carefully.

  • HHS will hold a webinar to describe the application process for the $15 billion in CARES Act Provider Relief Fund grants it intends to distribute to eligible Medicaid, CHIP, and dental providers on Monday, July 27 at 3:00 (eastern). Interested parties can register and join the webinar here.
  • HHS announced that it will distribute $5 billion of CARES Act Provider Relief Fund money to Medicare-certified long-term-care facilities to build nursing home skills and enhance nursing homes’ response to COVID-19, including enhanced infection control. Go here for CMS’s news release announcing the funding.
  • As part of the same announcement, HHS said it will require all nursing homes in states with a five percent positivity rate or greater to test all nursing home staff for COVID-19 every week.

Congress

  • Congress hopes to pass COVID-19/economic stimulus legislation before it adjourns for the summer after the first week of August. The White House and Senate Republicans are working on an opening proposal that they would then negotiate with Senate Democrats.  While they are still working on that proposal, the major health care components on which they reportedly are focusing (as of Thursday afternoon) are:
  • $25 billion for the Provider Relief Fund (in addition to the money allocated to that fund by the CARES Act).
  • An extension until January 1, 2021 for hospitals to begin repaying the Medicare revenue they were advanced through the CARES Act’s Accelerated and Advance Payments Program and an extension of four months of the period during which those advance payments can be repaid without interest.
  • The extension of Medicare reimbursement for telemedicine services through 2021.
  • $25 billion for COVID-19 testing.
  • Increased flexibility for how states can use money directed to them by the CARES Act.

This proposal is still incomplete and, if and when it is finalized by the White House and Senate Republicans, will then become the subject of negotiations with Senate Democrats.  The legislation also will have to be negotiated with the House, which last month passed its own HEROES Act addressing many of the policy areas the Senate legislation is expected to pursue.

Public Health Emergency Declaration

  • The federal government’s declaration of a COVID-19 public health emergency expires this Friday, July 24. Like many other provider groups across the country, NASH has urged the administration to renew this declaration.  The declaration is so important because it led directly to the many regulatory flexibilities, especially through Medicare, that have enabled hospitals and health care providers to respond so effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic.  If the declaration expires, so do those flexibilities.  Providers everywhere now await a decision from the White House.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Food and Drug Administration

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • The CDC has posted updated guidance on the isolation of COVID-19 patients to incorporate recent evidence to inform the duration of isolation and precautions recommended to prevent transmission of COVID-19 while limiting unnecessarily prolonged isolation and what it calls “unnecessary use of laboratory testing resources.”

Federal Funding Opportunities for Hospitals

  • NASH has prepared a document that collects and presents in one place the various new federal funding opportunities for hospitals resulting from legislation addressing the COVID-19 public health emergency.  Find that document here.

To receive this daily update directly, sign up for our mailing list at info@safetynetalliance.org.)

Coronavirus Update for Tuesday, July 21

The following is the latest information from the federal government as of 2:45 p.m. on Tuesday, July 21.

Public Health Emergency Declaration

The federal government’s declaration of a COVID-19 public health emergency expires this Friday, July 24.  Like many other provider groups across the country, NASH has urged the administration to renew this declaration.  The declaration is so important because it led directly to the many regulatory flexibilities, especially through Medicare, that have enabled hospitals and health care providers to respond so effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic.  If the declaration expires, so do those flexibilities.  Providers everywhere now await a decision from the White House.

Department of Health and Human Services

  • As announced last week, HHS has begun making its second distribution of CARES Act Provider Relief Fund grants to hospitals in COVID-19 high-impact areas (“hotspots”) – that is, hospitals that have cared for especially high numbers of COVID-19 patients. According to the agency’s news release,

The second round of funding…was based on a formula for hospitals with over 161 COVID-19 admissions between January 1 and June 10, 2020, or one admission per day, or that experienced a disproportionate intensity of COVID admissions (exceeding the average ratio of COVID admissions/bed).  Hospitals will be paid $50,000 per eligible admission.

HHS has distributed approximately $8.5 billion to such hotspot hospitals so far; a list of recipient hospitals can be found through a link in this HHS news release.  At the same time, HHS has acknowledged that the list is incomplete and is still reviewing COVID-19 admissions data from other hospitals with the intention of distributing another $1.5 billion to additional hotspot hospitals that have not yet received any funding through this latest distribution.

  • In June HHS announced the opening of an application period and plans to distribute approximately $15 billion to eligible providers that participate in state Medicaid and CHIP programs that had not yet received a payment in the $50 billion Provider Relief Fund general distribution. Since that announcement HHS has hosted a number of webinars for providers and provider organizations to answer questions and help those eligible through the application process.  HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration has created a fact sheet explaining the application process.  To ensure that eligible Medicaid and CHIP providers, including dentists, have the opportunity to apply for a funding distribution, HHS has extended the application deadline to August 3, 2020.  This, too, is described in the HHS news release.
  • HHS has updated its Provider Relief Fund FAQ. Additions include seven changes marked “7/17/2020” and one change dated “7/20/2020.”  One of the changes addresses new providers in the general distribution of Provider Relief Funds; six address the distribution of Provider Relief Funds to Medicaid and CHIP-only providers; and one notes a change in the deadline for potential participants in a Provider Relief Fund distribution to dentists.   Providers should review these changes carefully.
  • HHS’s Office of Civil Rights has issued guidance reminding recipients of federal financial assistance that they must comply with applicable federal civil rights laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in HHS-funded programs during the COVID-19 emergency. The HHS bulletin focuses on recipients’ compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI).  Go here to see a news release describing HHS’s actions and here to see the bulletin “Civil Rights Protections Prohibiting Race, Color and National Origin Discrimination During COVID‐19.”

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

  • CMS has updated its document “COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Medicare Fee-for-Service (FFS) Billing” to incorporate changes in cost report filing deadlines announced two weeks ago (see pages 94 and 95) and to address the question of whether skilled nursing facilities or hospitals can accept local, state, or federal resources to help with the COVID-19 emergency and still bill Medicare (see page 133).
  • CMS has updated the MLN Matters article “Medicare Fee-for-Service (FFS) Response to the Public Health Emergency on the Coronavirus (COVID-19)” with updated CDC guidelines for nursing home residents and patients and an update on applying the skilled nursing facility benefit period waiver.

CMS COVID-19 Stakeholder Calls

CMS hosts recurring stakeholder engagement sessions to share information related to the agency’s response to COVID-19.  These sessions are open to members of the health care community and are intended to provide updates, share best practices among peers, and offer attendees an opportunity to ask questions of CMS and other subject matter experts.

CMS COVID-19 Office Hours Calls

Tuesday, July 28th at 5:00 – 6:00 PM Eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial In:  833-614-0820; Access Passcode:1492795

Audio Webcast link:  go here.

Lessons from the Front Lines:  COVID-19

Friday, August 7th at 12:30 – 2:00 PM Eastern

Dial-in number, access code, and web link all to be announced later.

Nursing Homes Call

Wednesday, July 22nd at 4:30 – 5:00 PM Eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial-In:  833-614-0820; Access Passcode:  1143564

Audio Webcast Link:  go here.

Dialysis Organizations Call

Wednesday, July 22nd at 5:30 – 6:00 PM Eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial-In:  833-614-0820; Access Passcode:  7692208

Audio Webcast Link: go here.

Nurses Call

Thursday, July 23rd at 3:00 – 3:30 PM Eastern

Toll Free Attendee Dial-In:  833-614-0820; Access Passcode:  7971869

Audio Webcast Link: go here.

Conference lines are limited so CMS encourages interested parties to join via audio.  To listen to the audio files and read the transcripts for the COVID-19 Stakeholder calls, visit CMS’s Podcast and Transcripts page.

National Institutes of Health

Federal Reserve System

Department of Labor

  • The Department of Labor has published guidance for workers and employers on how the protections and requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act affect the workplace as workplaces reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic. These materials include a Fact Sheet for Employees, a Fact Sheet for Employers, and an FAQ about paid sick and expanded family and medical leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.  It  also has produced two guidance posters, one for federal workers and one for all other employees, that fulfill notice requirements for employers obligated to inform employees of their Families First Coronavirus Response Act rights; an FAQ about posting requirements; and simple Quick Benefits Tips to determine how much paid leave the Families First Coronavirus Response Act permits workers to take.

Food and Drug Administration

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Federal Funding Opportunities for Hospitals

  • NASH has prepared a document that collects and presents in one place the various new federal funding opportunities for hospitals resulting from legislation addressing the COVID-19 public health emergency.  Find that document here.

To receive this daily update directly, sign up for our mailing list at info@safetynetalliance.org.)