Member Alert May 1: KDPH Announces Arrival of Battelle CCDS

The Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH) has announced the arrival of a Battelle CCDS (Critical Care Decontamination System) in Louisville to assist with the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) in light of the COVID-19 pandemic across the state.

The Battelle CCDS will provide healthcare facilities a process to decontaminate N95 or N95-equivalent respirators for reuse up to 20 times without degrading the respirator’s performance. The system can decontaminate up to 80,000 N95 respirators a day. Deployment includes a complete system, logistic planning, and an onsite Battelle CCDS team to operate the system.

For more information, and to register, please visit the website: Battelle CCDS

Healthcare facilities will be provided with a procedure to collect used masks, properly bag masks, and track masks in process. This process is available to hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, physician offices, dental offices, and others. Additionally, physicians may use this for healthcare facilities in an operational unit, even if across state lines.

Battelle CCDS, through a federally awarded contract, will provide N95 respirator decontamination at no charge to healthcare providers. KDPH has asked that physicians and facilities maximize our use of this opportunity in Kentucky and enroll facilities immediately to begin using this service the week of May 4, 2020.

A letter regarding this opportunity from Commissioner Steven Stack, M.D. is available here, and a slide with more information is available here.

CMS Increases Payments for Medicare Audio-Only Telephone Visits

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced yesterday that they will be increasing payments for audio-only telephone visits between Medicare beneficiaries and their physicians to match payments for similar office and outpatient visits. This would increase payments for these services from a range of about $14-$41 to about $46-$110, and the payments are retroactive to March 1, 2020.

The American Medical Association (AMA) sent a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CMS Administrator Seema Verma on April 29 which included the following requests:

  1. Increase Medicare payment rates for telephone-based evaluation and management (E/M) codes (99441-99443) to bring payments for these codes equal to Medicare’s established in person visit codes (99212-99214) that will ensure that patients without advanced video-sharing capabilities are able to get care virtually, while helping to sustain physician practices.
  2. Immediately provide guidance to Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) to ensure that recent CMS guidance and rules are followed appropriately to enable the payment of telephone E/M claims.
  3. Provide Members of Congress with a briefing on CMS efforts to address this issue by May 8, 2020.

The AMA letter is available here.