The following is the latest COVID-19 information from the federal government as 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 8.
Provider Relief Fund
- HHS announced that the Provider Relief Fund will distribute $523 million in second-round performance payments to 9248 nursing homes as rewards for successfully reducing COVID-19-related infections and deaths between September and October. HHS concluded that between September and October, 69 percent of 13,251 eligible nursing homes met the incentive program’s infection control criteria. See HHS’s announcement of the nursing home distribution and a list of how much of this money HHS distributed to nursing homes in individual states.
- HHS has updated its CARES Act Provider Relief Fund FAQ with nine new or modified questions and answers. Find the new items, all labeled “12/4/2020,” on pages 2, 6, 14, 15, 16-17, 25, 34, 47, and 55. Fund recipients should review this new information carefully, and in particular, the question on page 6 about erroneous payments, which reverses previous policy, and questions on audit terms and extensions on pages 14 and 15.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
- CMS has posted information about how providers should code monoclonal antibody treatments and vaccine administration for Medicare beneficiaries and how much Medicare will pay for those activities.
- CMS has sent a letter to the nation’s governors about steps they can take to ensure that their hospitals have sufficient capacity to handle the current surge in COVID-19 cases and their other patients as well. The letter stresses three steps states can take to maximize hospital capacity: ensure that no state-level licensure or scope of practice restrictions would impede health systems from leveraging flexibilities already granted by the federal government; ensure that state Medicaid agencies adapt payment and coverage policies appropriately; and foster coordination within their health care systems to create the partnerships necessary for effective community surge plans. See CMS’s letter to state governors.
- CMS has updated its statement on how it will exercise its enforcement discretion for laboratories that perform COVID-19 molecular and antigen point-of-care tests.
- CMS has posted new nursing home COVID-19 testing FAQs.
CMS COVID-19 Stakeholder Calls
CMS hosts recurring stakeholder engagement sessions to share information about 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 participants an opportunity to ask questions of CMS and other subject matter experts.
COVID-19 Office Hours Call
Tuesday, December 22 at 5:00 (eastern)
Toll Free Dial In: 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 3968359
Audio Webcast link: go here.
Hospitals Without Walls Call
On November 25, CMS announced the expansion of its Hospitals Without Walls program by introducing its Acute Hospital Care At Home program, giving eligible hospitals unprecedented regulatory flexibilities to treat eligible patients in their homes. This program was developed to support models of at-home hospital care that have succeeded in several hospitals and networks. A CMS Hospitals Without Walls stakeholder call will feature two organizations walking through their programs and a question and answer session. Slides/resources will be posted on CMS.gov prior to the call.
Wednesday, December 9 at 4:00-5:00 PM (eastern)
Toll Free Attendee Dial-In: 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 1235939
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 past stakeholder calls, go here.
Department of Health and Human Services
- HHS has released new hospital COVID-19 capacity data at the facility level. Previously released data about hospital capacity that had been released was aggregated at the state level but this new, more granular data release aggregates daily hospital reports into a “week at a time” picture while providing a view of how COVID-19 is affecting hospitals and communities. See HHS’s announcement about the new data and an FAQ about the data and go here for access to the data itself.
Food and Drug Administration
- The FDA has authorized the first diagnostic test for at-home collection of patient samples to detect both COVID-19 and influenza A and B (flu).
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- The CDC has announced ICD-10-CM codes for hospital cases involving COVID-19. The new codes are for encounters for screening for COVID-19; contact with and expected and (suspected) exposure to COVID-19; personal history of COVID-19; multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS); other specified systemic involvement of connective tissue; and pneumonia due to COVID-19. See the CDC’s announcement about the new codes, which take effect on January 1, 2021.
- CMS has updated its general information about COVID-19 for health care workers, its information about therapeutic options for treating patients with COVID-19, and its guidance for the clinical care of patients with COVID-19.
- The CDC has updated its guidance for administering and analyzing COVID-19 antigen tests.
- The CDC has updated its information for health care workers about COVID-19 vaccines.