COVID-19 UPDATE: CMS Issues Recommendations to Re-Open Health Care Systems to Follow up Previous Guidance on Non-Essential Surgical Procedures

On Sunday, April 19th, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued new recommendations specifically for communities that are in Phase 1 of the Guidelines for President Trump’s Opening Up America Again and that have low incidence or relatively low and stable incidence of COVID-19 cases. The recommendations are an update to earlier guidance provided by CMS on limiting non-essential surgeries and medical procedures. The new CMS guidelines recommend a gradual transition and encourage health care providers to coordinate with local and state public health officials and to also review the availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other supplies, workforce availability, facility readiness, and testing capacity when making the decision to re-start or increase in-person care.

The new CMS recommendations can be found here: https://www.cms.gov/files/document/covid-flexibility-reopen-essential-non-covid-services.pdf

Written By: Clay Countryman

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Covid -19 ASC Update: CMS Issues Guidance For Ambulatory Surgery Centers Enrolling As Hospitals During The Covid-19 Pandemic

On Monday, April 6, 2020, CMS issued guidance regarding Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs) that choose to temporarily enroll with Medicare as a hospital during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. (www.cms.gov/). CMS previously announced on March 30, 2020 several temporary new rules and CMS waivers adopted under 1135 emergency waiver authority that allow ASCs to either contract with hospitals to provide services to hospital patients in ASC facilities or to enroll and bill as hospitals and provide inpatient and outpatient hospital services during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE). Continue reading

Clinical Research – Government and Industry Team to Provide Hope in the Crisis

Necessity is the mother of invention, and it’s hard to remember a time when humanity has been more motivated to resolve a crisis. Times like this, though, generally bring out the best in all of us – the best in government, the best in industry, and the best in individuals. The COVID-19 research and development response by all partners is helping provide hope during these difficult times. A few of these promising developments are as follows:

Convalescent Plasma Research – researchers and health care providers looking to COVID-19 survivors’ blood plasma for a possible therapy in the fight against the virus. The FDA is allowing emergency Investigational New Drug applications for serious or life-threatening COVID-19 infections. The FDA recently published guidance to researchers on COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma. Continue reading

HIPAA – COVID-19 Update

HIPAA – Waiver of security and privacy rules relating to telehealth – OCR has announced that it will not penalize health care providers that serve patients through everyday communications technologies during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency. This applies to widely available communications apps, such as FaceTime or Skype, when used in good faith for any telehealth treatment or diagnostic purpose, regardless of whether the telehealth service is directly related to COVID-19. The waiver covers security issues, BAA requirements with the video communication vendors, and other noncompliance issues that relate “to the good faith provision of telehealth services during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency.” Continue reading

Managed Care: LA Department of Insurance Emergency Rule 37

The Louisiana Department of Insurance (LDI) issued Emergency Rule 37, a package of regulations to address COVID-19 issues. The regulation applies to all HMOs, MCOs, PPOs, TPAs, PBMs and all other entities licensed by the LDI. It provides for the following:

For geographic accessibility requirements, the LDI waives plan’s obligations to comply with those requirements except for:

  1. Emergency services
  2. Services related to the testing or treatment of COVID-19, and
  3. Services that have not been ordered postponed by Healthcare Facility Notice #2020-COVID19-ALL-006 on March 18, 2020, and
  4. Services ancillary to any of the above.

Continue reading