COVID-19 Update

March 13, 2020

This afternoon, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on the coronavirus crisis. The President says this will free up $50 billion in additional funding and allow the Department of Health and Human Services to waive certain regulations and laws to more quickly deliver testing and care for coronavirus patients.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today released frequently asked questions (FAQs) on essential health benefits (EHB) coverage in response to the coronavirus outbreak. According to a CMS press release, the FAQs released today detail existing federal rules governing health coverage provided through the individual and small group insurance markets that apply to the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19. The FAQs clarify which COVID-related services, including testing, isolation/quarantine, and vaccination, are generally currently covered as EHBs in these markets. The purpose of the FAQs is to provide guidance to Americans enrolled in individual or small group market health plans, including consumers. As questions and issues continue to come to CMS, they will be addressed and added to these FAQs.

Yesterday, CMS posted FAQs on the coronavirus to the website to aid state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) agencies

The National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers (NCTRC) is offering a special Telehealth and COVID-19 webinar March 19 from 1-2 p.m. CT. The webinar will explore telehealth uses and benefits during the COVID-19 outbreak. Register here.

Current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) figures show a total of 1,629 confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. in 46 states and Washington, D.C. Forty-one deaths have been reported.

An early release of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report issued today evaluates the effectiveness of surveillance and containment measures for the first 100 patients with COVID-19 in Singapore. The authors of the study concluded that “Singapore implemented strong surveillance and containment measures, which appear to have slowed the growth of the outbreak. These measures might be useful for detection and containment of COVID-19 in other countries that are experiencing the start of local COVID-19 outbreaks. Singapore is a small island city-state, and nations with other characteristics might need to adapt and augment Singapore’s approaches to achieve the same level of effectiveness.”
The latest WHO situation report notes more than 125,000 global cases of COVID-19, with more than 44,000 outside China. The global death toll is more than 4,600.