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COVID-19 Briefs for July 13, 2020

State DOH Issues Return to Work Guidance 

As announced in a member alert last week, the state Department of Health (DOH) released guidance on revised protocols for home care and other health care personnel to return to work following COVID-19 exposure or infection.  

The guidance outlines the conditions under which entities may allow staff to return to work after: 1) being confirmed or suspected of COVID-19 exposure or infection; or 2) after traveling to a state with a significant degree of community spread (see DOH’s travel guidance and update below), among other situations. 

It also states that health care personnel who are furloughed due to close contact with a known positive case, or because they do not meet the guidance’s conditions for returning to work, may qualify for paid sick leave benefits. Employers can provide them with a letter confirming this situation, and this letter can be used to demonstrate eligibility for the benefit.     

General questions or comments about this advisory can be sent to icp@health.ny.gov 

Travel Restrictions 

As a follow up to Executive Order No. 205 and prior DOH guidance on June 24 (“Quarantine Restrictions on Travelers Arriving in NY Following Out of State Travel“) and July 3 (Return to Work), DOH also released Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding quarantine restrictions on travelers arriving in New York following out-of-state travel. 

The FAQs are here

CMS Issues New COVID-19 Medicare and Medicaid Billing FAQs   

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has posted revised COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Medicare Fee-for-Service (FFS) Billing.” Included in the FAQs are new questions related to Medicare home health and previous ones for hospice coverage. The new Medicare home health questions relate to services ordered by nurse practitioners, physician assistants and clinical nurse specialists.   

CMS has also posted “COVID-19 FAQs for State Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)” agencies. It covers: notice and fair hearings; benefits; home and community-based services; personal protective equipment (PPE) coverage; technology; coding for laboratory testing of COVID-19; and more.    

Emergency Rules Continued for Coverage of Telehealth Services and COVID-19 Tests   

The state Department of Financial Services (DFS) is continuing two emergency rules (adopted on April 1) related to insurance coverage for telehealth services and COVID-19 tests.  

Both rules are posted in the July 1 New York State RegisterBoth expire on September 8, 2020.  

The first one prohibits health plans from imposing copayments, coinsurance, or annual deductibles for an in-network service otherwise covered under the policy when such service is delivered via telehealth during the state of emergency. Also required is written notification of the amendment to the plans’ in-network health care providers to ensure that the providers do not require any insured to pay a copayment, coinsurance, or annual deductible. 

The second emergency rule similarly prohibits plans from imposing copayments, coinsurance, or annual deductibles for covered in-network laboratory tests to diagnose COVID-19 and for visits to diagnose COVID-19 at the following locations, including through telehealth: an in-network provider’s office, an in-network urgent care center, any other in-network outpatient provider setting able to diagnose COVID-19, or an emergency department of a hospital. 

Copayments, coinsurance, or annual deductibles may be imposed in accordance with the applicable policy or contract for any follow-up care or treatment for COVID-19, including an inpatient hospital admission, as otherwise permitted by law.    

EEOC Delays Reporting Until March 2021  

The U.S. Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission (EOC) has delayed the 2019 EEO-1 Component 1 Data Collection to March 2021. It also expects to collect the 2020 data at that time, as well. 

This compliance survey, mandated by federal statute and regulations, requires company employment data to be categorized by race/ethnicity, gender and job category.  

The announcement was in the May 8, 2020 Federal Register. 

A new data collection timeline and specific deadline will be announced on the EEOC home page at www.eeoc.gov and in a notification letter to eligible EEO-1 filers.   

More information on the delay is here. information on the EEO-1 Report is at here 

Updated OSHA FAQs on Workplace Protections, Requirements  

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has updated its Frequently Asked Questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

They cover: general information; cleaning and disinfection; cloth face coverings; employer requirements; health care; personal protective equipment (PPE); retaliation; return to work; testing; training; worker protection concerns; and more 

Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Plus Donates PPE  

Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield (EBCBS) Health Plus has donated PPE to home care providers in New York City. The PPE includes disposable masks, gloves and KN95 masks that were distributed by HCA member PPE hosting and distribution sites — Americare and Selfhelp Community Services — on July 7.  

HCA greatly appreciates this donation and the commitment of EBCBS to assisting home care providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Marianne Grady, Director of the Government Business Division, Managed Long Term Care at EBCBS is an HCA Board Member. Her organization has procured over one million pieces of PPE for Licensed Home Care Services Agencies and Certified Home Health Agencies.  

This donation is even more significant in light of a final PPE delivery by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH) last week. As reported on June 26, HCA and home care providers are urging NYC DOHMH to continue supplying PPE for home care under our existing coordination effort. HCA has also asked the state Department of Health and members of the state Legislature to engage in this appeal for PPE.

OIG’s Updated Work Plan Eyes Telehealth        

The federal Office of Inspector General (OIG) has posted an updated work plan that eyes the use of Medicare telehealth. 

It notes the COVID-19 emergency telehealth expansions that the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is exploring for possible extension. 

To examine telehealth service use in Medicare during the COVID-19 pandemic, OIG says it will make two concurrent reviews based on Medicare Parts B and C data. The first review will examine the extent to which telehealth services are being used by Medicare beneficiaries, how the use of these services compares to the use of the same services delivered face-to-face, and the different types of providers and beneficiaries using telehealth services. The second review will identify program integrity risks “to ensure their appropriate use and reimbursement during the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

ACHC Resources 

The Accreditation Commission for Health Care is offering a wealth of resources, including a pre-home visit screening flow chart and guidance on preparing for an infection control survey in home care and hospice. 

Download them for free at https://tinyurl.com/y937rpyo.