For those Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program (“CHIP”) and dental providers who missed out on the $20 billion second tranche from the general Provider Relief Fund, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) recently announced that it would reopen the application process. Do not assume you will not receive funds. The Provider Relief Fund has been a valuable source of funding for many providers during COVID-19 so apply when it reopens.
Federal Executive Orders on Drug Pricing
On July 24, 2020, President Donald Trump signed four Executive Orders aimed at lowering prescription drug prices. The first order, Executive Order on Access to Affordable Life-Saving Medications, directs federally qualified health centers ("FQHCs") to pass along discounts on insulin and epinephrine received from drug companies to certain low-income Americans.
New Jersey Executive Directive No. 20-016 Modifies Testing Protocols for Ambulatory Surgery Centers Resuming Elective Surgery and Invasive Diagnostic Procedures
The New Jersey Department of Health has further modified its previous guidance on the resumption of elective surgeries and invasive procedures in Ambulatory Surgery Centers (“ASCs”). Under the modified guidance, patients still have to undergo COVID‑19 testing and receive results within six days before the scheduled surgery.
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.
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.
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?
New Jersey and the Federal Government continue to revise statutes and regulations to address COVID-19. Our updates continue to focus on these revisions. For example, New Jersey is currently considering a law that delays, for nine months, the assessment that Ambulatory Surgery Centers must pay by June 15. Any Center, however, should not wait until June 15 to determine if the law passes. Call the Department of Health and ask for an extension to pay the assessment.