The Rundown by inforMD: COVID-19 Edition

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CMS Urges Hospitals to Delay Elective Procedures

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recommended that providers “limit non-essential adult elective surgery and medical and surgical procedures, including all dental procedures.” As these procedures use personal protective equipment (PPE), which is essential to slowing the spread of COVID-19, and risk transmission. While “decisions remain the responsibility of local healthcare delivery systems,” the guidelines urge providers to consider “resource conservation.” The guidelines included a criteria to assist decision-making, which included “supply of PPE,” “staffing” and “ventilator availability,” “urgency of the procedure,” and more.

>> Read More: CMS Adult Elective Surgery and Procedures Recommendations

Second Major COVID-19 Relief Package Approved

President Trump has signed a relief package in response to COVID-19. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act will cover the costs of COVID-19 testing, hospitalization, and doctor’s appointments fully and without prior authorization. Furthermore, the bill grants $1 billion to reimburse providers for testing uninsured individuals. The bill also increases the level at which the federal government will match Medicaid funds. Employers with fewer than 500 employees are also now required to offer more comprehensive paid sick leave, including two fully paid weeks and two weeks at two-thirds pay to care for children. Provisions for expanding telehealth and liability protection for personal protective equipment were also included in the legislation.

>> Read More: H.R.6201 – Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Telehealth Expands to Counter COVID-19

In an effort to preserve social distancing measures, CMS rolled back restrictions on telehealth. “It is imperative during this public health emergency that patients avoid travel, when possible, to physicians’ offices, clinics, hospitals, or other health care facilities where they could risk their own or others’ exposure to further illness,” the guidelines read. Under the 1135 wavier, patients can conduct the visit from home instead of an “originating site,” such as a healthcare facility. Furthermore, patients may nwo visit for non-COVID-19 diagnostic and treatment appointments. CMS will reimburse telehealth visits at the same rate as an in-person visit.

>> Read More: Medicare Telemedicine Health Care Provider Fact Sheet

Hackers Attempt to Cyberattack HHS Failed

Hackers targeted the U.S. Health and Human Services Department (HHS) in an attempted cyberattack on March 15. The attackers unsuccessfully increased traffic to HHS to overload servers, Bloomberg reported. “Early on while preparing and responding to COVID-19, HHS put extra protections in place. We are coordinating with federal law enforcement and remain vigilant and focused on ensuring the integrity of our IT infrastructure,” said HHS Spokesperson Caitlin Oakley. She noted that the Department remains “fully operational.”

>> Read More: HHS Fends Off Cyberattack as It Fights Coronavirus

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