On July 9, 2020, Gov. Andy Beshear announced $36,200,000 in assistance for Kentucky’s local public health departments from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. These funds will allow the health departments to continue providing essential, front-line public health services in the battle against COVID-19.
On July 10, 2020, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) issued guidance to health care facilities clarifying that the lab result is the source document for billing start/stop dates. Billing starts when the positive test result is received and continues until the COVID-19 resident is released from isolation (i.e., considered recovered) based on negative lab results. EXAMPLE: Test results are available on a Friday night, but not pulled until Saturday morning, so Friday would be billable if COVID-level care was provided through that day.
Recent surges in COVID-19 cases are straining health care providers’ already low supply of personal protective equipment (PPE). Despite efforts to increase production and distribution of PPE since the COVID-19 public health emergency began, as well as efforts such as decontaminating N95 masks to extend the useful life of PPE, shortages of disinfectant wipes, N95 masks, medical gowns, and other PPE are occurring as hospitals and nursing homes encounter the current increasing wave of infections. More information is available here.
On July 14, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service extended the deadline for hospitals to conduct a community health needs assessment (CHNA). Healthcare organizations that claim non-profit status are required to complete a CHNA every three years, but the COVID-19 emergency has significantly interfered with hospitals’ ability to timely and accurately perform the assessment. The original due date of July 15, 2020 has been extended until December 31, 2020.
On July 10, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that approximately $3 billion of Provider Relief Funds will go to hospitals serving vulnerable populations on thin margins. Many of these hospitals may have missed out on earlier fund distributions due to their low Medicare patient populations. An additional $1 billion will go to specialty rural hospitals, urban hospitals with rural Medicare designations, and hospitals in small metropolitan areas.
On Friday, July 17, 2020, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb issued Executive Order 20-36 announcing that the state would stay in Stage 4.5 of the “Back-On-Track Indiana” reopening plan. Stage 5 had been scheduled to begin on July 4, 2020 but was replaced by Stage 4.5, which began on July 3, 2020, due to modest evidence of a resurgence of COVID-19 across the United States including some hot spots in Indiana. Stage 4.5 had been set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on July 17th.
However, as noted in the July 17th Order, Indiana’s percentage of positive cases compared to the number of tests performed had increased in recent days and there are signs of further increases in coronavirus spreading and evidence of resurgence in many areas of the United States. Based on these factors, the Order states that additional monitoring is warranted before a significant lessening of further restrictions occurs in Indiana. The Executive Order lays out additional detailed requirements for gatherings and events.
For Governor Holcomb’s roadmap to safely reopen Indiana, dubbed “Back-On-Track Indiana,” go to https://backontrack.in.gov/ . To keep up with all developments in Indiana and the efforts of Governor Holcomb to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Indiana, go to https://www.coronavirus.in.gov/.
On Wednesday, July 15, 2020, Attorney General Daniel Cameron filed a motion in the Boone County Kentucky Circuit Court seeking to invalidate all executive orders issued to date by Governor Andy Beshear directed at containing the spread of COVID-19, a highly contagious disease that prompted the declaration of a national public health emergency as well as a state of emergency in Kentucky. In his July 16th update on COVID-19, Governor Beshear said that Cameron’s actions would void:
- Healthy at Work requirements;
- expanded workers’ compensation eligibility for workers – including first responders, active military and grocery store employees – who are ordered to quarantine as a result of exposure; and
- a measure that waives copays, deductibles, cost-sharing and diagnostic testing fees for private insurance.
Cameron’s motion also would have voided all COVID-19 orders and directives applicable to healthcare providers that had been issued from the Governor and the Secretary for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. On Friday morning, July 17th, the Courier-Journal was reporting that the Boone County judge indicated late Thursday evening that he would side with Cameron. However, by Friday afternoon, as reported by the Courier-Journal, “The Kentucky Supreme Court has temporarily halted a Boone County judge’s ruling blocking all of Gov. Andy Beshear’s past and future public health orders responding to the COVID-19 emergency.”
For Governor Beshear’s roadmap to safely reopen Kentucky, dubbed “Healthy at Work”, go to https://govstatus.egov.com/ky-healthy-at-work. To keep up with developments in Kentucky and the efforts of Governor Beshear to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Kentucky, go to www.kycovid19.ky.gov.