COVID-19 Update

March 23, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA) will hold a call Wed., March 25 from 1-2 p.m. (CT) on strategies healthcare facilities can use to optimize personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies such as eye protection, isolation gowns, facemasks, and N95 respirators. For more information on the call, including ways to join in, click here.

Current CDC figures show a total of 33,404 confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. in 54 states and U.S. territories, with 400 deaths. New York State leads the nation with more than 15,000 cases.

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) posted FAQs regarding questions raised about the administration of the 340B program in light of the COVID-19 public health emergency. The FAQs address the 340B patient definition, telehealth services, new 340B registrations for child-sites and contract pharmacies, the group purchasing organization prohibition for disproportionate share hospitals, and 340B audits. Regarding 340B audits, HRSA is planning to conduct 340B Program audits remotely. IHA is working with the American Hospital Association and Illinois’ Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) to pursue delays of 340B audits.

On March 22, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released frequently asked questions on Medicare provider enrollment relief during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act, CMS added a number of flexibilities to Medicare provider enrollment, including the establishment of a toll-free hotline with each of the Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) to allow physicians and non-physician practitioners to initiate temporary Medicare billing privileges. The toll-free hotline number for National Government Services is 888-802-3898 (8 a.m.-4 p.m. CT). The toll-free hotline number for Wisconsin Physician Services is 844-209-2567 (7 a.m.-4 p.m. CT).

Also on March 22, CMS issued two new notices:

On March 23, CMS released two telehealth toolkits with information for general practitioners and end-stage renal disease (ESRD) providers. The toolkits are meant for providers that are implementing telehealth services as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Information includes 1135 waiver information, general telehealth policy guidance, an implementation guide, state statute guidance, basics on telehealth setup, technical assistance, vendor selection, and patient and community resources. The general practitioner toolkit can be found here, and the ESRD provider toolkit can be found here.

The latest WHO situation report shows more than 292,000 COVID-19 cases globally, with over 12,700 deaths. The European Region now leads the world in cases and deaths, with more than 151,000 confirmed cases with over 7,400 deaths, surpassing the Western Pacific Region over the weekend. The Western Pacific Region has nearly 95,000 confirmed cases and more than 3,400 deaths.