During the past week or so, federal agencies have released new information and deadlines related to COVID-19. For example, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) has released a timeline for Provider Relief Fund reporting requirements and extended the deadline for eligible Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (“CHIP”) providers to apply for funding distribution. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) has updated its reimbursement calculation for Wright Medical’s Augment regenerative solutions, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) announced that patients recovering from COVID-19 no longer need a negative test result to come out of isolation.
New Jersey Department of Health Allows Visitations to Long-Term Care Facilities
The Department of Health recently issued an executive directive that permits parents, a family member, legal guardians and support persons of pediatric, developmentally disabled and intellectually disabled residents of long-term care facilities to arrange for by-appointment indoor visits with their loved ones.
CMS Directs Additional Resources to Nursing Homes in COVID‑19 Hotspot Areas
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) announced it is providing additional resources to nursing homes in COVID-19 hotspot areas. CMS plans to deploy Quality Improvement Organizations (“QIOs”) to provide immediate assistance to nursing homes. QIOs are contractors who work with healthcare providers to help improve the quality of healthcare provided to Medicare Beneficiaries.
Recent Adopted Statutes in New Jersey
With the approval of S2273, the School Employees’ Health Benefits Program (“SEHBP”) is required to offer, starting January 1, 2021, only three plans for medical and prescription benefits coverage: (1) New Jersey Educators Health Plan; (2) the SEHBP NJ Direct 10 plan; and (3) SEHBP NJ Direct 15 plan. Starting July 1, 2021, the SEHBP must provide a fourth plan called the Garden State Health Plan, which shall offer the same level of medical and prescription drug benefits provided by the New Jersey Educators Health Plan, except that the benefits under the Garden State Health Plan shall be available only from providers located in the State of New Jersey.
CMS Releases Updated COVID-19 Coverage FAQs
CMS has released updated FAQs regarding COVID-19 coverage issues under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”). Under FFCRA, insurers are required to cover COVID‑19 tests without patient cost-sharing.
Guidance on Contacting Patients For Plasma Donations During COVID-19
The United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”) issued guidance regarding a health care provider’s ability to utilize a patient’s protected health information (“PHI”) to contact patients and encourage them to donate blood or plasma to help other patients suffering from COVID-19.
Price Transparency Rule Upheld
In November 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) published a transparency rule in the Federal Register requiring hospitals to disclose pricing information. The American Hospital Association and many other associations and hospital systems sued HHS arguing that HHS lacked statutory authority to require public disclosure of individually negotiated rates between commercial insurers and hospitals.
HHS Says Health Care Providers Will Not Have to Submit Report on How They Spent COVID-19 Relief Grants by July 10
Many providers have received funds pursuant to the Provider Relief Fund and executed the terms and conditions, which require providers to issue reports to the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”). However, HHS has recently announced in its FAQ, under Reporting Requirements, that recipients do not need to submit a separate quarterly report to HHS or the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, as initially required.
Late Tuesday, the New Jersey Department of Health modified its previous guidance on the resumption of elective surgeries in ambulatory surgery centers. One of the most significant changes was to extend the time for COVID-19 testing. Under the initial guidance that was issued on May 19, 2020, patients had to undergo COVID-19 testing and receive results within four days before the scheduled surgery.
As we have mentioned in several of our past Updates, the federal and New Jersey governments have greatly expanded telemedicine because of COVID-19. Due to the perceived success of that expansion, the question is will the expansion, or parts of it, become permanent?