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WCMS COVID-19 Update: Telemedicine, Volunteer Opportunities, Stimulus Details, Practice Resources, PPE Donations, and More

Our COVID-19 Note

In the face of this pandemic, please lean on WCMS and know that you are not alone. We are committed to serving you and continue to advocate for your professional needs with decision makers around-the-clock. Thank you for all that you do.

Telemedicine News
The federal government and state of Michigan have expanded telehealth services and payments in an effort to curb the effects of COVID-19. On March 30, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) released telehealth service updates and CPT codes for both established and new patients that backdate to March 1. To view the full CMS summary, please click here.
Earlier in March, private insurers communicated billing and coding policy changes, and the most recent CMS changes will likely encourage additional updates. To view information from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Blue Care Network, Health Alliance Plan, Priority Health, Spectrum Health, and UnitedHealthcare, please click here and scroll down to the middle of the page titled "Telehealth Resources."
Though the expansion is in response to COVID-19, many expect that telehealth is here to stay. Make sure you practice is appropriately prepared by accessing this free, 50 minute CME course on the MSMS website here.

Returning to Practice and Volunteer Opportunities
Governor Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) recently launched a COVID-19 volunteer site. The state is asking that medical volunteers, public health volunteers, volunteers to help older adults, and other community volunteers consider signing-up at this link.
In Michigan, Executive Order 2020-13 empowers the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) to ensure an adequate supply of care providers during the emergency by granting the department additional flexibility in its decisions about licensing, registration, and workflow requirements. For questions, please send an email to LARA-COVID-19-Questions@michigan.gov.
Some malpractice groups, including the Doctors Company, are providing coverage activation for returning retired members who volunteer to care for patients during COVID-19.
The AMA has a selection of resources for retired and senior physicians who may be returning to work to combat COVID-19. Guidance topics include:
  • Re-entering practice
  • License considerations
  • Professional liability
  • Nondirect patient care and services, and more.

COVID-19 Stimulus Details and Practice Resources
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act became public law last Friday. Relevant medical selections from the AMA are highlighted below. To view the full bill text, please click here.
  • $100 billion in direct financial support to hospitals, physician practices, and other health care providers under the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund. This support is for the costs of treating COVID-19 patients as well as to ease the financial impact on those who lose revenue due reductions in other services as a result of the pandemic. The exact eligibility criteria and application process are not yet defined, pending implementation.
  • A new loan product within the Small Business Administration for loans of up to $10 million to help cover payroll and overhead costs, with expanded loan-forgiveness criteria. Physician practices with not more than 500 employees may qualify.
  • Suspension of the 2% Medicare sequester in May, to run through December 2020.
  • Limitations on liability for volunteer health care professionals during COVID-19 emergency response.
  • A temporary waiver of the face-to-face visit requirement with home dialysis patients.
  • Authority for the Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary to waive telehealth coverage requirements for new patients during a national emergency. Previous legislation provided flexibility only for established patients seen within the past three years.
  • Enhanced use of telehealth under Medicare for federally qualified health centers.
  • The CARES Act also includes a provision carrying the “health extenders” package through to Nov. 30, 2020. That package was initially set to expire May 22.
The AMA has compiled a checklist for practices managing patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a reminder, Governor Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-17 which temporarily places restrictions on non-essential medical and dental procedures as of March 21 at 5:00 PM.
Various small business guidance and loan assistance is available to practices in the face of COVID-19. To learn more, follow this link to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Michigan Receives PPE, Washtenaw County Donation Sites
On Tuesday, the Whitmer Administration announced that 400 ventilators arrived from the strategic national stockpile. According to the state, Michigan has 1,700 ventilators, but is projecting needing 5,000 to 10,000 more. Automakers, including Ford and General Motors, have additional ventilators in production.
Over the weekend, Michigan received nearly 113,000 N95 masks. The state is expecting an additional 8,000 masks.
In Washtenaw County, PPE donation drives have been set-up at IHA, St. Joseph Mercy, and the University of Michigan. For more information, please follow this link.

COVID-19 Resources and Information
For the latest, information on COVID-19, please find the below links and highlighted resources:
WASHTENAW COUNTY
MICHIGAN
NATION-WIDE
GLOBAL

*Reference to any specific commercial product, process, or service, or the use of any trade, firm or corporation name is for the information and convenience of members, and does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the Washtenaw County Medical Society.

The WCMS Office is closed for unscheduled business through Friday, May 22. Virtual meetings will be scheduled when appropriate. To set up an appointment, or for questions, please contact the Society Office via email or call (734) 668-6241.

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