Please Provide Feedback: Do You Support a Statewide Mask Mandate?
This VMS Council will be meeting this Wednesday evening to discuss whether to adopt a policy urging the State to mandate that all Vermonters wear masks or facial coverings while in public settings in order to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Currently, 28 states across the country have statewide mask mandates, including every New England state except for New Hampshire and Vermont. Please provide your feedback to email@example.com on this member-proposed policy:
RESOLVED, that the Vermont Medical Society strongly urges the State of Vermont to adopt a policy mandating all individuals who can medically tolerate the wearing of a face mask do so in public settings (e.g., public transportation, grocery stores, pharmacies or other retail stores, schools and employment settings).
We are also joining the Vermont Department of Health in their #MasksOnVT campaign. We invite you to provide us with a picture with your mask on, along with the reasons you wear a mask. We will feature you in the Rounds newsletter and on social media when you share your picture and reasons with firstname.lastname@example.org.
Health Care Provider Stabilization Grant Program Currently Accepting Applications
Governor Phil Scott, the Agency of Human Services (AHS) and the Department of Vermont Health Access (DVHA) launched the Vermont’s Health Care Provider Stabilization Grant Program last Friday, July 17th, 2020 and will be accepting online applications until August 15th, 2020. Vermont-based health care and human service provider organizations are eligible to receive stabilization grants through this Program. Program details, including the application and Frequently Asked Questions, can be located here.
AHS and DVHA are hosting a webinar series this week on the Program.
- Monday, July 20th from 6-7PM, General Overview of the Program (recording will be available)
- Tuesday, July 21st from 6-7PM, Completing the Revenue Expenses (focus on providers that bill insurance for revenue)
- Wednesday, July 22nd from 6-7PM, Completing the Revenue Expenses (focus on providers that mainly take out of pocket, grants, and other non-insurance revenue)
- Thursday, July 23rd from 6-7PM, Claiming COVID19-related Expenses
Dept. of Financial Regulation Issues COVID Testing Coverage Bulletin
July 21st, 2020 the Department of Financial Regulation (DFR) issued Insurance Bulletin 214 to clarify when COVID-19 testing must be covered without cost-sharing under Emergency Rule H-2020-03-E. The bulletin states that clinical decisions regarding testing should be made by the patient's health care provider and may include testing of individuals with symptoms compatible with COVID-19, as well as asymptomatic individuals. All claims for FDA-authorized SARS-CoV-2 testing with the following procedure codes will process without cost-sharing:
COVID-19 tests: U0001, U0002, U0003, U0004, 87635
Antibody tests: 86318, 86328, 86769
Specimen collection: G2023, G2024
In addition, office and hospital charges associated with the encounter and date of service will process without member cost-sharing when one of the following diagnosis codes is the primary diagnosis on the claim:
Z03.818: Encounter for observation for suspected exposure to other biological agents ruled out (possible exposure to COVID-19);
Z11.59: Encounter for screening for other viral diseases (asymptomatic);
DFR also issued Insurance Bulletin 215 on July 21, 2020, authorizing the resumption of provider audits on August 3, 2020 to comply with CMS guidance.
AMA 2020 Overdose Report Shows Spike in Deaths from Illicit Opioids
The AMA has released the AMA Opioid Task Force 2020 drug overdose report this week, which shows a dramatic increase in fatalities involving illicit opioids and indicates a sharp decrease in the use of prescription opioids. The AMA has also updated itsissue brief on increases in opioid-related mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as select 2020 research, including a new public policy statement from our colleagues at the American Society of Addiction Medicine regarding treatment of opioid use disorder in correctional settings.
UVMMC COVID-19 Study Seeks Primary Care Respondents
Dr. Jessica Clifton and Dr. Benjamin Littenberg with the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont invite you to participate in a research study to help them better understand how Primary Care Professionals are being impacted by the current COVID-19 crisis. This study is for physicians, behavioral health providers, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, administrators, medical assistants, nurses, and other office staff. To begin the 5-minute survey or for more information, visit: https://redcap.med.uvm.edu/surveys/?s=KHHMP89E48
CARES Act Provider Relief Fund Extended to August 3, 2020
HHS has extended the deadline for eligible Medicaid and CHIP physicians and organizations to submit information and apply for funding from the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund from July 20 until August 3, 2020. HHS is distributing approximately $15 billion to eligible physicians who have not previously received a payment from the Provider Relief Fund. The payment amount will be at least 2 percent of reported gross revenue from patient care, and the final amount will be determined based on submitted data, including the number of Medicaid patients served. HHS has created a fact sheet explaining the application process and answering frequently asked questions.
The American Medical Association (AMA) has made HHS aware of an issue where physicians who primarily care for patients with Medicaid and CHIP coverage received a small amount of money from the automatic Medicare allotment in April because they only treat one or two patients with ESRD. They are ineligible to apply for this round of funding even if they rejected and returned the money. HHS has indicated they are working on a policy to address this issue. The Vermont Department of Vermont Health Access (Vermont Medicaid) is also hearing that there has been very low utilization of the Provider Relief Fund. If you have further feedback about the process of applying or other barriers to accessing the program, please share that with email@example.com.