Children's Hospitals and Pediatric Providers

COVID-19 is not the sole focus of the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) these days. On May 15th, the Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) announced that it added to its Work Plan a “Review of Institutions of Higher Education Grantees Receiving National Institutes of Health Awards” to address areas of potential risk at institutions of higher education (“IHE”).
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On May 12, 2020 the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued additional 1135 blanket waivers which are applicable to a wide variety of health care providers. These COVID-19 Emergency Declaration Blanket Waivers for Health Care Providers are retroactively effective from March 1, 2020 through the end of the public health emergency (PHE). The waivers in this issuance do not require a request be sent or a notification be made to any of the CMS regional offices.  Each waiver must be consistent with the state’s emergency preparedness or pandemic plan.

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Due to expanded COVID-19 diagnostic testing availability, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (MDHSS) is encouraging providers to test both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals, if the clinician’s medical judgment determines it is necessary. At the same time, MDHSS also posted words of caution regarding the use of serological testing, which is not considered diagnostic for COVID-19 but rather detects antibodies which could reveal exposure to SARS-CoV- 2 (the virus which causes COVID-19) or a different  infection, including other strains of coronavirus, altogether. The recent MDHSS COVID-19 Serological Testing Quick Facts (Quick Facts) cautions that:
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The CARES Act (P.L. 116-136) was passed to provide emergency assistance for individuals, families, and business achieved through two divisions. “Division A” focuses on supporting workers and families as well as the United States healthcare system and economy as a whole through tailored programs. Provisions under Division A provide targeted relief efforts such as the Paycheck Protection Program, Student Loan Relief, Health Coverage for COVID-19 testing, Liability Immunity for Health Care volunteers, Recovery Rebates for Individuals, among many other assistance provisions.
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The California Attorney General recently published an opinion  (No. 15-301) clarifying when a report under California Business and Professions Code section 805 must be filed.  Section 805 requires hospitals and other entities to file a report with the relevant state healing arts agency “within 15 days after the effective date” of certain adverse actions taken

On April 23, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) released a new COVID-19 toolkit. While the toolkit is directed to the states, it should serve the American telehealth community as a focal point for the organization and alignment of the infinite number of state and federal regulations relevant to telehealth. So, it serves as a great organizing tool for provider’s own operational use but also as an architecture for providers to catalogue the changes they would like to suggest to the states in order to improve access to telehealth.
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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will soon make targeted distributions of the next tranche of the Provider Relief Fund to hospitals and other facilities that have been particularly affected by caring for those with the coronavirus. By 11:59 p.m. ET, hospitals will need to complete the HHS information request on ICU beds, COVID-19 positive patients, etc. Specifically, to be eligible to receive a portion of the $10 billion of the next $70 billion in funding from the CARES Act, providers need to submit the information via a CMS portal. This is not a guarantee of payment—rather, CMS is using this information to decide how to allocate the remaining funds.
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On April 13, 2020 the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) began accepting applications for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program (“Telehealth Program”), money which is part of the recent Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“Cares Act”).  The Telehealth Program will provide $200 million in funding to assist eligible health care providers deliver telehealth services to patients in their homes or other mobile locations to combat novel Coronavirus 2019 (“COVID-19”).  The funding is available for eligible health care providers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by compensating providers for their telecommunication services, information services, and devices necessary for them to provide critical telehealth services.
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Updated Thursday, April 2, 2020

CMS 1135 waivers allow the U.S. Dep’t of Health and Human Services Secretary to temporarily waive or modify certain Medicare, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Policy (CHIP), and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements to ensure that sufficient health care items and services are available to meet needs during a declared public health emergency.  Individual health care providers and associations may trigger additional waivers through feedback and requests to the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response or CMS Regional Offices.
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Updated Thursday, April 2, 2020

CMS 1135 waivers allow the U.S. Dep’t of Health and Human Services Secretary to temporarily waive or modify certain Medicare, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Policy (CHIP), and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements to ensure that sufficient health care items and services are available to meet needs during a declared public health emergency.  Individual health care providers and associations may trigger additional waivers through feedback and requests to the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response or CMS Regional Offices.
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