SAMHSA Awards $2,000,000 to Kentucky CHFS to Treat Mental Health Impacts of COVID-19

April 24, 2020

On April 20, 2020, HHS announced that SAMHSA will begin releasing $110M in emergency funding to the states to strengthen access to treatments for substance use disorders and serious mental illnesses (SMIs) during the COVID19 pandemic. The SAMSHA grants include a grant to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health & Family Services (CHFS) in the amount of $2,000,000, the maximum award to successful applicants. Kentucky’s grant will be used to treat individuals with SMI and substance use disorders, healthcare professionals and their families who require mental health care as a result of COVID19, and individuals impacted by COVID19 who are experiencing mental health disorders less severe than SMI. Details for the Kentucky grant are posted on the SAMHSA website found here. The SAMHSA grant applications were open for only 10 days, from April 1-10, 2020.

CMS Requires Nursing Homes to Provide Data on COVID-19 Deaths

April 24, 2020

On April 19, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it will be developing new requirements for nursing homes to inform residents and their families of confirmed COVID-19 cases in their facilities. Nursing homes will also be required to report COVID-19 cases directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rulemaking hasn’t been published yet, but additional guidance on reporting requirements can be found here.

CMS Announces New COVID-19 Clinical Trial Opportunity to Earn MIPS Credit

April 24, 2020

On April 20, 2020, in response to COVID-19, CMS announced a new high-weighted COVID-19 Clinical Trials improvement activity for eligible clinicians who participate in the Quality Payment Program (QPP) under the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). Eligible clinicians (which includes physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and others who participate in QPP) can receive credit for this improvement activity if they attest that they participate in a COVID-19 clinical trial utilizing a drug or biological product to treat a patient with a COVID-19 infection and report their findings through a clinical data repository or clinical data registry for the duration of their study. To read more about how to participate, read the CMS press release here. To read more about the QPP during the COVID-19 public health emergency, see the Quality Payment Program – COVID-19 Response Fact Sheet which is available here. To view a database of privately and publicly funded clinical studies currently being conducted on the corona virus click here. As we previously reported, CMS extended the MIPS mandatory data submission deadline until April 30, 2020.

Eligible Providers Can Submit Grant Requests Under FCC COVID-19 Telehealth Program

April 24, 2020

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a $200 million COVID-19 Telehealth Program under the CARES Act to help health care providers seeking to provide connected care services to patients at their homes or mobile locations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. On April 13, 2020, the FCC published a Notice that it had opened the application portal for eligible health care providers apply for funding under the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. Eligible healthcare providers are limited to defined categories of nonprofit and public eligible healthcare providers in the 1996 Telecommunications Act. These categories include teaching hospitals, nonprofit hospitals, community health centers, rural health clinics, skilled nursing facilities, community mental health centers, or a consortia of healthcare providers. Eligible providers may be located in either a rural or non-rural area or in a U.S. territory. No deadline has been set for filing an application, and there is no limit on the number of eligible healthcare providers who can apply. For additional information, go the FCC’s COVID-10 Telehealth Program webpage. See also the Program FAQs.

Providers Using Video Telehealth Technology Still at Risk

April 24, 2020

The HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced that it won’t penalize providers for “good faith” telehealth use during the COVID-19 emergency even if that use violates the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Healthcare providers are well-advised to select and use audio-video platforms and applications in a manner that best protects patient data. Providers should research and choose video conferencing platforms that are HIPAA compliant, make use of all available privacy and security features of their chosen platforms, and, if necessary, enter into business associate agreements (BAAs). The use of technology that is not truly HIPAA-compliant and which results in patient privacy violations may expose providers to lawsuits and enforcement action. For additional tips regarding the use of audio-video conferencing for telehealth, click here.

CMS Extends Effective Date of Hospital CoP on Admission, Discharge and Transfer Notifications

April 24, 2020

In a previous version of the Interoperability and Patient Access final rule displayed on the CMS website on March 9, 2020, hospitals would have had to implement the new Medicare Conditions of Participation (CoPs) provisions requiring admission, discharge and transfer (ADT) notifications to post-acute care providers within six months of the final rule’s publication in the Federal Register. The ADT notifications are to be integrated into a hospital’s interoperable certified electronic health record technology. Recognizing that hospitals are on the front lines of the COVID-19 public health emergency, CMS announced on April 22, 2020 that it will extend the effective date of the new ADT notification CoP to twelve months after publication of the final rule in the Federal Register, which is expected to occur on May 1, 2020. Meanwhile, the Kentucky Health Information Exchange (KHIE) now offers ADT and eight other event notifications for KHIE Participants, free of charge. To participate, visit KHIE to find the contact information for the Outreach Coordinator in your area or email KHIE@ky.gov. For additional information about the CoP rule requiring ADT notifications, click here.

CMS Modifies 60-Day Limit For Substitute Billing (Locum Tenens) Arrangements

April 24, 2020

On April 21, 2020, CMS also modified the locum tenens requirements to allow a physician or physical therapist to use the same substitute for the entire time he or she is unavailable to provide services during the COVID-19 emergency plus an additional period of no more than 60 continuous days after the public health emergency expires. On the 61st day after the public health emergency ends (or earlier if desired), the regular physician or physical therapist must use a different substitute or return to work in his or her practice for at least one day in order to reset the 60-day clock. Please see the Blanket Waivers for Health Care Providers for CMS’ additional instructions regarding this modification.

CMS Issues Blanket Waivers ICF/IIDs

April 24, 2020

On April 21, 2020, CMS issued blanket waivers for Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICF/IIDs). The ICF/IID waivers include staffing flexibilities for Direct Support Staff (DSS) and Direct Care Staff (DCS), suspension of community outing requirements and mandatory staffing requirements and modification of certain components of required adult training programs and active treatment. and training modifications in Intermediate Care Facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, See the updated CMS’ Blanket Waivers for Health Care Providers for additional details.

CMS Releases Additional Blanket Waivers for LTCHs

April 24, 2020

On April 21, 2020, CMS released blanket waivers related to care for patients at Long-Term Care Hospitals (LTCHs). These waivers include a waiver of the otherwise required payment adjustment and the application of the site neutral payment rate for admissions made in response to the PHE. These waivers can be found in the updated version of CMS’s Blanket Waivers for Health Care Providers.

RHCs and FQHCs Finally Get Support Through Waivers, Payment and Treatment Modifications

April 24, 2020

CMS made two separate moves to support Rural Health Clinics (RHCs), Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), and their patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. First, on April 17, 2020, by issuing MLN SE20016 which makes changes to billing requirements and payments, including:

  • New payment for telehealth services, including how to bill Medicare
  • Expansion of virtual communication services
  • Revision of home health agency shortage requirement for visiting nursing services
  • Consent for care management and virtual communication services
  • Accelerated/advance payments
    Then, on April 21, 2020, CMS announced the following blanket waivers for RHCs and FQHCs:
  • Waived the requirement that a nurse practitioner, physician assistant or certified nurse midwife be available to furnish patient care services at least 50 percent of the time that the RHC or FQHC operates
  • Modified the requirement that physicians provide medical supervision of nurse practitioners at RHCs and FQHCs, to the extent permitted by state law
  • Removed the Medicare approval otherwise required for RHCs/FQHCs to provide services in more than one permanent location
    Additional details regarding these waivers are included in the RHC/FQHC section of the CMS Blanket Waivers for Health Care Providers Fact Sheet.