As we look ahead to another week of the pandemic emergency, there have been some new developments. As of April 3, there are now over 273,000 U.S. citizens diagnosed with the virus and the U.S. has tested 1.2 million people, 0.3% of the population. The big news this week is that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) has passed—and citizens and managers of organizations are still trying to determine what it means and how to get relief.
To provide resources to support managers at this turbulent time, we have two executive web briefings on the schedule next week:
Tuesday, April 7 – Building Resiliency In The Face Of Adversity: The OPEN MINDS Crisis Management Executive Blueprint with Monica E. Oss, Chief Executive Officer, OPEN MINDS
How do you increase organizational resilience and assure sustainability after the disruption caused by COVID-19? I will go over the 7-point plan build by our team at OPEN MINDS.
- A sustainability/resilience SWOT Team for nimble leadership – creating and leading a crisis management plan
- Short-term cash management – assuring continued operations
- Going “virtual service” – reaching consumers where they are at with telehealth and more
- Going “virtual revenue generation” – assuring consumers and referral sources can find you
- Revenue maximization during times of disruption – building top line to sustain margins
- Aggressive business development strategies – adding to the top line with breakthrough services
- Preparing for post-disruption resilience and sustainability – taking action for the long term
This web briefing is available to everyone – you don’t need to be an Elite-level Circle member to attend. Register here.
Thursday, April 9 – Getting Funding Through The CARES Act: A Guide For Specialty Provider Organizations with Tim Pisula, Executive Vice President, OPEN MINDS
The unprecedented $2 trillion federal coronavirus relief package—known as the CARES Act—has a lot to unpack. Our experts have analyzed the 800+ pages of the legislation (so you don’t have to) to highlight the provisions specialty health and human service providers can take advantage of. Join us to learn how you can leverage the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loans, employee retention credits, telehealth benefits and grant programs, and provisions for Medicare home health services. The webinar is available to all OPEN MINDS Circle Elite members. Register here.
If you can’t attend the live web briefings, just register and we’ll send you the deck and recording later.
We’ve also put together a summary of the new information on the pandemic—federal updates, state-specific changes, new developments in the field, and new resources. We’ll do this every Saturday for the next few weeks—to make sure you have a quick, timely resource to make informed decisions during this trying time.
Action At The Federal Level
On March 27, 2020, the CARES Act was signed into law. The CARES Act provides emergency assistance and health care response for individuals, families, and businesses affected by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.
On March 18, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, House Resolution 6201 was signed into law, with $3.47 billion in funding and new mandates. The bill provides for COVID-19-related paid sick leave, paid family leave tax credits, and free COVID-19 testing during the national public health emergency. The bill also lifts work requirements in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
On March 18, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, House Resolution 6201 was signed into law, with $3.47 billion in funding and new mandates. The provisions go into effect on April 2, 2020. The bill provides for COVID-19-related paid sick leave, paid family leave tax credits, and free COVID-19 testing during the national public health emergency.
On March 27, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced it had approved requests from 34 states for Medicaid waiver requests under Section 1135 to give states tools to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency declared on March 13, 2020. In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the waivers offer relief on Medicaid prior authorization and provider organization enrollment requirements, and extend timelines for fair hearings and appeals.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will receive $425 million through the CARES Act to address mental health and substance use disorder needs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, including $250 million for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics to increase access to mental health care services; $50 million for suicide prevention, to provide increased support for those most in need of intervention; and $100 million in emergency response grants, flexible funding to address mental health and substance use disorders, as well as to provide resources and support to youth and the homeless, throughout the pandemic.
On March 30, 2020, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced his plan for a COVID-19 Telehealth Program to support health care provider organizations responding to the ongoing pandemic. As part of the CARES Act, Congress appropriated $200 million to the FCC to support the use of telehealth services in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
On March 24, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the Health Resources and Services Administration, awarded $100 million to 1,381 health centers across the country with funding provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020.
On March 17, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced expansion of Medicare telehealth coverage that will enable beneficiaries to receive a wider range of health care services from clinical professionals without having to travel to a health care facility. As of March 6, 2020, Medicare will temporarily pay professionals to provide telehealth services for beneficiaries across the country.
State Market Changes
On March 26, 2020, the Minnesota House and Senate held floor sessions to pass another bill that provides resources for the COVID-19 pandemic. The key policy changes and investments made include $29.964 million in emergency child care grants, $6.2 million to support veterans affected by COVID-19, $9 million for food shelf programs, and additional funding sources to support Minnesotans directly affected by the pandemic.
Texas Health and Human Services (HHS) announced SNAP and Medicaid benefit renewals due will automatically be renewed so existing consumers can maintain coverage during the COVID-19 public health crisis. To ensure benefits continue, Texas requested and received federal approval to automatically extend benefits for recipients who were up for renewal.
Effective March 16, 2020, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama is expanding telehealth coverage. The organization continues to monitor the outbreak of COVID-19 in Alabama and expanded telehealth to ease increase access to appropriate medical services for its customers.
Health & Human Service System Updates
A new partnership between Atlas Senior Living and Assurance Scientific Laboratories will enable all Atlas communities to receive coronavirus (COVID-19) test kits. Atlas is expected to be one of the first senior living companies nationwide to offer COVID-19 tests to its residents and started providing test kits to its communities in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
The HealthWell Foundation®, an independent non-profit that provides a financial lifeline for inadequately insured Americans, has opened a new fund to assist individuals who are at risk or have been quarantined due to COVID-19. Through this unique fund, HealthWell will provide up to $250.00 in financial assistance for a 12-month grant period to eligible consumers who have annual household incomes up to 500% of the federal poverty level.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it will commit an additional $5 million to help public health agencies in the greater Seattle region enhance their capacity to detect COVID-19 in King County, Snohomish County, and other surrounding communities. The foundation will work in coordination with Public Health-Seattle & King County, the Washington State Department of Health, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help them enhance their capacity to detect and treat COVID-19 and guide public health efforts to reduce transmission.
Science & Technology Developments
Credible Behavioral Health, with 19 years of behavioral health experience, in partnership with Change Healthcare is providing immediate assistance to behavioral health care agencies now challenged with remote staff, telehealth documentation, and billing complexities.
Cepheid received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for Xpert® Xpress SARS-CoV-2, a rapid molecular diagnostic test for qualitative detection of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The test provides rapid detection of the current pandemic coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 in approximately 45 minutes with less than a minute of hands-on time to prepare a sample.
PingMD, Inc., will make its HIPAA-secure communication and video teleHealth and teleMedicine app, PINGMD, available free for medical professionals and their consumers for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. PINGMD provides secure, compliant audio, video, survey, outcomes, and messaging communications between health care professionals, care teams, and consumers.
Relias, an industry partner to more than 10,000 health care organizations around the world, will partner with PointClickCare to host a free webinar on the impact of COVID-19 on long-term care provider organizations. The webinar is scheduled for April 9, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. EST.
CVS Health is taking additional steps across the company to address the COVID-19 outbreak and protect consumer access to medication. CVS Pharmacy will waive charges for home delivery of prescription medications to offer a more convenient option and reduce the need for consumers coming to the pharmacy for refills or new prescriptions.