Posts

Coronavirus Update for May 22, 2020

Coronavirus update for Friday, May 22 as of 3:30 p.m.

Department of Health and Human Services

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

  • In the past week CMS issued seven section 1135 waivers to give states greater flexibility to serve their Medicaid beneficiaries during the COVID-19 public health emergency.  It issued three such waivers to Rhode Island, two to Texas, and one each to North Dakota and Virginia.

CMS Weekly Stakeholder Calls

COVID-19: Lessons from the Front Lines Calls — May 29

Friday, May 29 from 12:30 to 2 pm ET

These weekly calls are a joint effort between CMS Administrator Seema Verma, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn, MD, and the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Physicians and other clinicians share their experiences, ideas, strategies, and insights related to their COVID-19 responses.  There is an opportunity to ask questions.

  • Conference lines are limited; CMS encourages interested parties to join via audio webcast
  • Or call 877-251-0301; Access Code: 6350189

COVID-19: Home Health and Hospice Call — May 26

3 to 3:30 pm ET

These calls provide targeted updates on the agency’s latest COVID-19 guidance.  Leaders in the field also share best practices.  There is an opportunity to ask questions if time allows.

To Participate:

  • Conference lines are limited; CMS encourages interested parties to join via audio webcast
  • Or call 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 4666966

COVID-19: Office Hours Call — May 26

Tuesdays from 5 to 6 pm ET

Hospitals, health systems, and providers: Ask CMS questions about its temporary actions that enable providers to increase hospital capacity, expand the health care workforce, and promote telehealth.

To Participate:

  • Conference lines are limited; CMS encourages interested parties to join via audio webcast
  • Or call 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 8977438

Target Audience: Hospitals, health systems, and providers.

COVID-19: Nursing Home Call — May 27

Wednesdays from 4:30 to 5 pm ET

These calls provide targeted updates on the agency’s latest COVID-19 guidance.  Leaders in the field also share best practices.  There is an opportunity to ask questions if time allows.

To Participate:

  • Conference lines are limited; CMS encourages interested parties to join via audio webcast
  • Or, call 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 1243649

Target Audience: Nursing home providers.

COVID-19: Dialysis Organization Call — May 27

Wednesdays from 5:30 to 6 pm ET

These calls provide targeted updates on the agency’s latest COVID-19 guidance.  Leaders in the field also share best practices.  There is an opportunity to ask questions if time allows.

To Participate:

  • Conference lines are limited; CMS encourages interested parties to join via audio webcast
  • Or call 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 6152699

Target Audience: Dialysis organizations.

COVID-19: Nurses Call — May 28

Thursdays from 3 to 3:30 pm ET

These calls provide targeted updates on the agency’s latest COVID-19 guidance.  Leaders in the field also share best practices.  There is an opportunity to ask questions if time allows.

To Participate:

  • Conference lines are limited; CMS encourages interested parties to join via audio webcast
  • Or call 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 2988422

Target Audience: Nurses.

Prior Authorization Process and Requirements for Certain Outpatient Hospital Department Services Special Open Door Forum — May 28

Thursday, May 28 from 1:30 to 3 pm ET

CMS invites hospitals, physicians, practitioners, and other Medicare stakeholders to discuss the prior authorization of certain outpatient hospital department services from the following categories: blepharoplasty, botulinum toxin injections, panniculectomy, rhinoplasty, and vein ablation.

For More Information:

Participation Instructions:

  • Participant Dial-In Number: 888-455-1397
  • Conference ID #: 9375124

COVID-19: Lessons from the Front Lines Calls — May 29

Friday, May 29 from 12:30 to 2 pm ET

These weekly calls are a joint effort between CMS Administrator Seema Verma, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn, MD, and the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Physicians and other clinicians share their experiences, ideas, strategies, and insights related to their COVID-19 responses.  There is an opportunity to ask questions.

  • Conference lines are limited; CMS encourages interested parties to join via audio webcast
  • Or call 877-251-0301; Access Code: 6350189

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Food and Drug Administration

Congressional Research Service

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 May 21, 2020

Coronavirus update for Thursday, May 21 as of 3:30 p.m.

NASH Advocacy

Department of Health and Human Services

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Food and Drug Administration

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 May 20, 2020

Coronavirus update for May 20, 2020 as of 2:30 p.m.

Department of Health and Human Services

  • HHS has updated its FAQ for the distribution of CARES Act money through the Provider Relief Fund on four occasions in the past two weeks, including new updates dated yesterday.  Updates from yesterday include instructions on attestation and questions about change in ownership.  Go here to see the changes, which are identified within the document.
  • HHS announced that its Health Resources and Services Administration provided $225 million to rural health clinics for COVID-19 testing and shared a state-by-state breakdown of the funding.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Food and Drug Administration

Congressional Research Service

Department of Labor

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 May 19, 2020

Coronavirus update for May 19, 2020 as of 2:30 p.m.

Department of Health and Human Services

  • HHS has updated its FAQ for the distribution of CARES Act money through the Provider Relief Fund on three occasions in the past two weeks. Go here to see the changes, which are identified within the document.
  • HHS is providing $11 billion in new funding to support COVID-19 testing to states, territories, and tribes. States must submit to HHS their projected month-to-month testing plans and capabilities for the rest of calendar year 2020.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Food and Drug Administration

National Institutes of Health

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 May 8, 2020

Coronavirus update for Friday, May 8 as of 2:30 p.m.

Department of Health and Human Services

  • HHS has updated its general distribution FAQ for the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund.  The updated FAQ includes items that are identified as new.  Among other things, it clarifies that HHS will not generally seek to recoup payments as long as providers’ lost revenue and increased expenses are greater than any payments in question.  The FAQ also instructs hospitals on what they should do if they believe they received a mistaken payment or an overpayment.
  • HHS’s Office of the Inspector General has updated its FAQ on how it will apply its administrative enforcement authority to arrangements directly connected to the COVID-19 emergency.  The new guidance specifically outlines conditions under which a clinical lab could offer remuneration to a retail pharmacy for costs incurred running test sites during the COVID-19 emergency.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

CMS and Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities

Today CMS sent to subscribers the latest edition of its publication MLN Matters (not yet available online) in which it announced flexibilities for inpatient rehabilitation facilities during the COVID-19 crisis.  The following is that notice, presented verbatim.

CMS is exercising regulatory flexibilities for Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities (IRFs) during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) to waive the 60 percent rule.

We are also waiving IRF coverage and classification requirements if all of these criteria are satisfied:

  • Patient is admitted to a freestanding IRF to alleviate acute care hospital bed capacity issues
  • IRF is located in an area that is in Phase 1 or has not entered Phase 1; see Guidelines for Opening Up America Again

Add the following letters at the end of your unique hospital patient identification number (the number that identifies the patient’s medical record in the IRF) to identify patients eligible for each waiver:

  • D- 60 percent rule
  • DS- Coverage and classification requirements
  • DDS- Both 60 percent rule and coverage and classification requirements

For More Information:

Also from the latest MLN Matters and also presented verbatim:

COVID-19: IRF Interdisciplinary Team Meetings During the Pandemic

CMS expects Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities (IRFs) to hold in-person weekly interdisciplinary team meetings to discuss Medicare Part A fee-for-service patients. During the public health emergency, it may be safest to conduct meetings electronically. We will accept all appropriate forms of social distancing precautions.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

National Institutes of Health

Food and Drug Administration

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 May 7, 2020

Coronavirus update for Thursday, May 7 as of 2:30 p.m.

Department of Health and Human Services Provider Relief Fund

Department of Health and Human Services

  • HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response’s Technical Resources Assistance Center and Information Exchange will hold a webinar titled “COVID-19:  Healthcare System Operations Strategies and Experiences” next Monday, May 11 at 2:00 p.m. (eastern) to help health systems incorporate experiences and lessons learned from hospitals in New York, Louisiana, and Arizona that have been hit especially hard by COVID-19.  Find information about the webinar here.

Health Resources and Services Administration

  • HRSA has awarded nearly $583 million to 1385 HRSA-funded health centers in all 50 states.  The primary purpose of this funding is to expand COVID-19 testing.  See HRSA’s announcement here and an interactive map showing award recipients here.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

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 May 4, 2020

Coronavirus update for Monday, May 4 as of 2:30 p.m.

Department of Health and Human Services

  • Last Friday HHS began processing $22 billion in payments from the CARES Act’s provider relief fund to hospitals with large numbers of COVID-19 admissions through April 10 and to rural providers in support of the national response to COVID-19.  See HHS’s announcement of the distribution of this money, including a breakdown by state of grant recipients.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

CMS 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.  Conference lines are limited so CMS encourages interested parties to join via audio webcast.  Call recordings and transcripts are posted on the CMS podcast page at https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Outreach/OpenDoorForums/PodcastAndTranscripts

CMS COVID-19 Office Hours Call

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 work force, and promote greater use of telehealth in Medicare.  This week’s first of two Office Hours Calls will be held on Tuesday, May 5 at 5:00 p.m. (eastern).  The toll-free dial-in number is 833-614-0820 and the access passcode is 3996146.  Interested parties also can join the audio webcast here.

This week’s second Office Hours Call will be held on Thursday, May 7 at 5:00 p.m. (eastern).  The toll-free dial-in number is 833-614-0820 and the access passcode is 1181167.  Interested parties also can join the audio webcast here.

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.  This week’s Lessons From the Front Lines call will be held on Friday, May 8 at 12:30 p.m. (eastern).  The toll-free dial-in number is 877-251-0301 and the access code is 9146779.  Interested parties also can join the meeting via audio webcast here.

Home Health and Hospice

This week’s home health and hospice call will be held on Tuesday, May 5 at 3:00 p.m. (eastern).  The toll-free dial-in number is 833-614-0820 and the access passcode is 7844154.  Interested parties also can join the meeting via audio webcast here.

Nursing Homes

This week’s nursing homes call will be held on Wednesday, May 6 at 4:30 p.m. (eastern).  The toll-free dial-in number is 833-614-0820 and the access passcode is  8899983.  Interested parties also can join the meeting via audio webcast here.

Dialysis Organizations

This week’s call for dialysis organizations will be held on Wednesday, May 6 at 5:30 p.m. (eastern).  The toll-free dial-in number is 833-614-0820 and the access passcode is 8278522.  Interested parties also can join the meeting via audio webcast here.

Nurses

This week’s call for nurses will be held on Thursday, May 7 at 3:00 p.m. (eastern).  The toll-free dial-in number is 833-614-0820 and the access passcode is 5486361.  Interested parties also can join the meeting via audio webcast here.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Food and Drug Administration

Department of Labor

  • The Department of Labor has issued additional guidance about 100 percent federal reimbursement of certain state short-term compensation payments and other changes in short-term compensation programs.  The guidance seeks to address “…how states can take advantage of this program as they look to re-open their businesses.”  For further information see the department’s news release and its official unemployment insurance program letter.

National Institutes of Health

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 May 1, 2020

Coronavirus update for Friday, May 1 as of 4:00 p.m.

Follow-Up to Thursday’s Interim Final Rule Release

On Thursday CMS released a second interim final rule with comment period announcing a new round of regulatory waivers and rule changes to provide additional flexibility to the health care system as the COVID-19 crisis continues and the country begins to reopen.

These changes included some of the telehealth flexibilities providers have asked for in recent weeks, such as hospital reimbursement for the originating site when telehealth services for Medicare patients are furnished by a physician or practitioner who ordinarily practices in a hospital outpatient department to a patient who is located at home or other applicable temporary expansion location that has been made provider-based to the hospital; an expanded list of telehealth codes that may be offered with audio-only technology; and an expanded list of professionals who may bill for telehealth visits.  CMS has also increased reimbursement for three of the audio-only evaluation and management telehealth services described with codes 99441-99443.

Teaching hospitals are permitted to expand their number of beds without affecting indirect medical education (IME) bed ratios; to count the time of residents sent to other hospitals; and to permit teaching physicians to remotely review services provided by residents immediately after a patient visit.

The interim final rule implements sweeping changes for many provider types.  CMS has updated its provider-specific fact sheets to include this new information.  Please let us know if you have any questions that are not answered in the fact sheets.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

  • The White House announced that CMS will be distributing $12 billion of CARES Act provider relief to 395 hospitals that have cared for 70 percent of the diagnosed COVID-19 cases.  The majority of the funds will go to providers in New York, New Jersey, and Illinois.  $2 billion of this money will go toward a Medicare DSH adjustment for those hospitals.  We are still awaiting additional details.
  • CMS has announced the creation of an independent commission to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the nursing home response to the COVID-19 emergency. See CMS’s news release and a fact sheet.
  • CMS has updated it EMTALA FAQ for hospitals to address COVID-19-related issues. 

Department of Health and Human Services

Food and Drug Administration

Department of Labor

Federal Communications Commission

Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission

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

NASH Asks Administration to Modify Approach to Emergency Hospital Funding

The manner in which the federal government is distributing COVID-19-related CARES Act funding is unfair to private safety-net hospitals, the National Alliance of Safety-Net Hospitals has written in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma.

The formula CMS used for its second round of funding from the $100 billion designated by the CARES Act for health care providers poses a distinct disadvantage to private safety-net hospitals, NASH wrote, because

With its emphasis on net patient revenue, this formula is damaging to safety-net hospitals that care for especially high proportions of Medicaid and low-income Medicare patients. As a result, hospitals that care for significant numbers of Medicaid and low-income patients are getting smaller grants, no grants at all, and in some cases a warning that they will be expected to return some of the money they have already received.

To address this problem, NASH asked administration officials to

…address these concerns by using the troubling outcome of this second tranche of payments to develop a consistent, appropriate funding formula that focuses more on hospitals than on other health care providers; that is fairer to safety-net hospitals than the second tranche formula; and that makes a concerted effort specifically to direct additional resources to safety-net hospitals. We also ask you to act immediately to ensure round one and round two grant recipients that there have been no “overpayments” of CARES Act funds and that the administration will not be asking them to repay some of the grants they have already received because the formula was changed.

See NASH’s letter here.

Coronavirus Update for April 27, 2020

Coronavirus update for Monday, April 27 as of 3:30 p.m.

Department of Health and Human Services

  • Last Friday HHS deposited its second tranche of CARES Act funding in hospitals’ bank accounts.  We have contacted HHS to inquire about the specifics of the funding formula, whether there are additional future attestation requirements, the timing for the next round of payments, and more.

In the meantime, providers that received Provider Relief Payments in either round of funding should visit the CARES Act General Distribution Portal, where you will be able to provide data that HHS may use to calculate payment distributions from the Provider Relief Fund.  (Other useful resources:  the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund web page and an FAQ on the General Distribution Portal.  Also, please note: the General Distribution Portal is not the same as the Attestation Portal.)

Specifically, the portal is collecting the following four pieces of information:

  1. a provider’s “Gross Receipts or Sales” or “Program Service Revenue” as submitted on its federal income tax return;
  2. the provider’s estimated revenue losses in March 2020 and April 2020 due to COVID;
  3. a copy of the provider’s most recently filed federal income tax return; and
  4. a listing of the tax identification numbers any of the provider’s subsidiary organizations that have received relief funds but that DO NOT file separate tax returns.

In addition, providers can submit separate applications for CARES Act funding for any additional entities that received Provider Relief Fund payments and that also filed a separate tax return for 2017, 2018, or 2019.  See the provider relief fund page and FAQ for further details.

Health care providers who have conducted COVID-19 testing or provided treatment for uninsured COVID-19 individuals on or after February 4, 2020 can request claims reimbursement through the program electronically and will be reimbursed generally at Medicare rates, subject to available funding. Steps will involve: enrolling as a provider participant, checking patient eligibility, submitting patient information, submitting claims, and receiving payment via direct deposit.

To participate, providers must attest to the following at registration:

  • You have checked for health care coverage eligibility and confirmed that the patient is uninsured. You have verified that the patient does not have coverage such as individual, employer-sponsored, Medicare or Medicaid coverage, and no other payer will reimburse you for COVID-19 testing and/or care for that patient
  • You will accept defined program reimbursement as payment in full.
  • You agree not to balance bill the patient.
  • You agree to program terms and conditions and may be subject to post-reimbursement audit review.

The new web page also includes information about covered services, claims submission, and claims reimbursement.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

  • CMS has announced that it is re-evaluating the amounts it will have available for Part A providers with new and pending applications under its Accelerated Payment Program and is suspending its Advance Payment Program for Medicare Part B suppliers effective immediately.  Now that Congress has appropriated $175 billion for the grant-style “Provider Relief Fund,” CMS is shifting away from the cash advance approach of the Advance and Accelerated Payment Programs.  Part B suppliers will no longer be able to apply for the Advance Payment Program and CMS will be re-evaluating the amounts available for Part A providers with new and pending applications under the Accelerated Payment Program.  Previously, Part A and Part B providers were able to request an advance on Medicare fee-for-service payments up to a maximum value of six months’ worth of payments.  See CMS’s news release explaining its shift in approach and an updated fact sheet on the Accelerated and Advance Payment Programs.
  • CMS has updated its FAQ on Medicare fee-for-service billing.  In particular, the updated FAQ provided more specific information about use of the condition code “DR” and the modifier “CR” for claims for which Medicare payment is conditioned on the premise of a formal waiver.
  • CMS has informed state governments that it will hold constant the inspection domain of the Nursing Home Compare site due to the prioritization and suspension of certain surveys during the COVID-19 emergency to ensure that the rating system provides fair information for consumers.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Food and Drug Administration

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Federal Funding Opportunities for Hospitals

  • The National Alliance of Safety-Net Hospitals 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.)