VMS COVID-19 Practice Support Resources
The VMS is consistently updating our COVID-19 Resource page on our website with the latest information to help our members during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please click here to find events and resources, including:
- Tuesday calls w. VDH - Join VDH Commissioner Mark Levine every Tuesday at 12:15 to ask questions and share information. Click here for more
- Financial Assistance - go to our COVID-19 Resource page for the latest in federal, state and local financial support and join us for the last of webinar of the VMS COVID-19 Webinar Series: Financial Relief for Medical Practices on April 29th at 7pm
- Liability protections and licensing flexibility during the COVID emergency
- Telehealth Resources - find coding guidance for all payers, telehealth events and funding opportunities.
- Peer support – every Thursday at 8pm, VMS sponsors a Lumunos "Physician Huddle" to provide our members with an open forum with their peers. Click here for ZOOM I.D.
Please let VMS know how we can further support you at this time.
Updates on Insurance Coverage for COVID Care
The Senate and House Health Care Committees today held a joint hearing to take testimony from the Department of Financial Regulation (DFR) and insurance carriers on recent changes to insurance coverage during the COVID pandemic. A new DFR rule requires Vermont insurers to waive or limit all cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing, diagnosis, treatment and prevention until the Governor's State of Emergency is lifted. The Chairs of the Committees also asked DFR to explore what opportunities exist to waive cost-sharing for maintenance drugs for chronic conditions during the emergency. Insurers testified that even before the DFR rule they were waiving cost-sharing for COVID related testing and treatment. BCBSVT testified that most self-funded plans across the state are also complying with the Rule. BCBSVT is also in the process of developing an advanced payment process for healthcare providers to help with cashflow until visits and procedures increase this fall. BCBSVT testified that some policy changes will likely remain in place after the emergency, such as payment for "store and forward" telehealth services. Other changes like telephone triage and telephone-only coverage are more likely to be temporary and will be reexamined after the crisis phase passes.
Congress Passes Additional Funding for Small Businesses and Hospitals
April 23rd, Congress approved another federal funding relief package called the "Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act" or "COVID-3.5." This package includes additional funding for the Small Business Administration (SBA) programs created by the CARES Act including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, which were quickly depleted when released two weeks ago. This legislation also includes an additional $75 billion in relief grant funding for hospitals and health care providers, as well as $25 billion for the creation of additional testing capabilities, lab capacity and improved public health surveillance. This funding allows for up to $1 billion to be used to cover testing for uninsured COVID patients. For the AMA Summary. Click here for more information and for a link to the attestation portal.
Guidelines to Reopen Medical Procedures/Visits
As Vermont eyes reopening sectors of the economy, the Vermont Department of Health is working with the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, in conjunction with other professional associations, to develop guidelines for reopening medical procedures and visits beyond the urgent procedures currently allowed. VMS has been providing feedback on the guidelines and will continue to inform our members as they are developed. A number of national organizations have also put out guidelines, including the CDC and joint guidance by the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), American College of Surgeons (ACS), American Hospital Association (AHA) and Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN).