VMS' Mid-Session 2020 Legislative Bulletin
The VMS Policy team has prepared this mid-session 2020 VMS Legislative Bulletin to provide you with the status of 2020 State legislation covering topics including the COVID-19 emergency, health reform, insurance regulation, public health, scope of practice, mental health, and regulating the practice of medicine. Typically, the VMS Legislative Bulletin is published in mid-March, directly after Town Meeting week, but the COVID-19 pandemic changed the entire timeline and trajectory of the 2020 legislative session and therefore our reporting. The Vermont legislature returns from their summer recess on August 25, 2020. Read the VMS mid-session 2020 Legislative Bulletin for the status of important health care issues lawmakers will tackle when they return.
CMS Releases 2021 Physician Fee Schedule Proposed Rule
On August 3, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule that includes updates to payment policies, payment rates, and quality provisions for services furnished under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) effective on or after January 1, 2021. At the same time, the Administration issued an Executive Order on Improving Rural and Telehealth Access. The American Medical Association has begun an in-depth review of the 1355-page rule and the Executive Order and click here for the summary. Notably, adjustments made to evaluation and management coding and payment policies, plus other changes, will produce an 11 percent cut in the fee schedule conversion factor to maintain budget neutrality. AMA staff are also reviewing the 2021 Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System and Ambulatory Surgical Center proposed rule, which was released last week.______________________________________________________________
Medicare Moving Forward with Planned E/M Office Visit Changes for Jan 2021
Major modifications are coming to the coding, documentation, and payment of evaluation and management (E/M) services for office visits as Medicare has signaled its intention to implement finalized guidelines and payment rates as planned on January 1, 2021. Last week’s release of the proposed 2021 Medicare physician payment schedule (see related article) reconfirmed the Jan 1 implementation date announced last November by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
Key elements of the E/M office visit overhaul include:
- Eliminating history and physical exam as elements for code selection. While significant to both visit time and medical decision-making, these elements alone should not determine a visit’s code level.
- Allowing physicians to choose whether their documentation is based on medical decision-making (MDM) or total time. This builds on the movement to better recognize the work involved in non-face-to-face services like care coordination.
- Modifying MDM criteria to move away from simply adding up tasks to focus on tasks that affect the management of a patient’s condition.
The American Medical Association has developed an extensive online library of easy to use resources, which include the following titles:
Provider Relief Fund Accepting Phase 2 Applications Until August 28, 2020
On July 31, 2020, the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that certain Medicare providers would be given another opportunity to receive additional Provider Relief Fund payments . These are providers who previously missed the June 3, 2020 deadline to apply for additional funding, including many Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and dental providers with low Medicare revenues. In addition, certain providers who experienced a change in ownership, making them previously ineligible for Phase 1 funding, will also be given an opportunity to apply for financial relief.
Starting today, these eligible providers may now submit their application for possible funds by August 28, 2020 at 11:59 EST. Click for the HHS Provider Relief Fund FAQs. Click here to register for an Provider Relief Fund webex to learn more on August 13, 2020 at 3pm EST._______________________________________________________________________
Hazard Pay Grant Program Application Online Portal - Open Now
The Front-Line Employees Hazard Pay Grant Program application portal opened Tuesday August 4th. Employers who are eligible applicants may submit applications for a lump sum grant award to distribute hazard pay to their eligible employees. The link to the application portal is here. As a reminder, funding will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis so employers are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Hazard Pay Program Guidance and Application Instructions, including the required Summary Report of Eligible Employees are located here. If you have questions after reviewing the guidance documents, please use the online question submission form and AHS staff will respond as quickly as possible.
Applications for Provider Stabilization Grant Program Due August 15
The Agency of Human Services (AHS) is currently accepting applications for the Health Care Provider Stabilization Grant Program through August 15, 2020. This Program been made available to the State of Vermont through the Federal Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) and eligible health care and human service providers may use the application to seek grant funding for both COVID-19-related lost revenue and COVID-19-specific incurred expenses. For more information please review the guidance documents available on the Department of Vermont Health Access website, including FAQs and links to informational webinars.
2020 VMS Survey Seeking Feedback on Policy Resolutions for Annual Meeting
members are being sent a survey this Thursday with the proposed 2020 VMS
Policy Resolutions. All members are
encouraged to provide feedback and non-binding comments on the
resolutions between August 13 and September 11,
2020. Each VMS member should receive an email with a unique link to submit
comments via SurveyMonkey. If you do not receive a link, comments can also be
emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please
note: the comments DO NOT REPRESENT A VOTE on the
resolutions and feedback is in comment format only. Members will be
required to share their name on comments. Voting on the policy
resolutions will take place during the live,
virtual VMS Member Business Meeting, Saturday,
November 7th from 8:30 am – 10:30 am. Only those
registered and virtually attending the 2020 VMS annual meeting will be able to
vote on the resolutions. Comments submitted via
the online system will be shared with the VMS Council at the Council Meeting on
September 16, 2020 and may inform amendments or the discussion on the
resolutions. Comments will also be available (with names and email
removed) to the membership. Click for more
information and to register for the virtual 2020 VMS Annual Meeting.