Member Alert May 5: Healthcare Phase II Begins Wednesday

The second phase of the reopening of healthcare services begins tomorrow, May 6. Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack, M.D. has outlined guidance for those facilities resuming operations.

On May 6, the following services may resume with requirements:

(Please note this list is representative, not comprehensive. Outpatient/ambulatory procedures/surgeries in general are permitted as long as they follow the Healthy at Work guidelines).

  • Outpatient gastrointestinal procedures
  • Radiology procedures (invasive and noninvasive)
  • Diagnostic non-urgent cardiac procedures
  • Outpatient orthopedic procedures
  • Outpatient ENT procedures
  • Outpatient dental procedures

These services must follow the 10 rules required for Healthy at Work:

  • Telework when possible
  • Phased return to work
  • Onsite temperature/health checks
  • Universal masks and PPE
  • Close common areas (waiting rooms, break rooms, cafeterias, etc.)
  • Social distancing
  • Limit face-to-face meetings
  • Sanitizer/hand wash stations
  • Special accommodations
  • Testing plan

Dr. Stack also encouraged facilities to utilize the Battelle CCDS (Critical Care Decontamination System) in Louisville to assist with the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). 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.

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

Reminder: 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.

KMA President Brent Wright, M.D. Appears on KET’s “CORONAVIRUS: A Kentucky Update”

On Friday, KMA President Brent Wright, M.D. appeared on the KET program “CORONAVIRUS: A Kentucky Update” regarding the reopening of healthcare services across the Commonwealth and how physicians are preparing to begin seeing patients in-person again.

The full episode is available here, and the clip of Dr. Wright’s portion is available here.