The Rundown by inforMD | Week of 3.09.2020

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The Interoperability and Patient Access Rule Passes

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) passed the 21st Century Cures Act, a new rule to support “interoperability and support the access, exchange, and use of electronic health information.” HHS also defined provisions for the “voluntary IT certification of health IT for use by pediatric health providers to support the health care of children.” The 21st Century rule also outlines provisions for “health IT needs of health care providers committed to preventing inappropriate access to prescription opioids and providing safe, appropriate treatment.”

>>Read More: 21st Century Cures Act: Interoperability, Information Blocking, and the ONC Health IT Certification Program

Medicare Telehealth Benefits Help Patients Amid COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Outbreak

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a fact sheet with “additional guidance for healthcare providers and patients about the telehealth benefits in the agency’s Medicare program.” The agency encourages patients to use the system, citing that there is an “urgency to expand the use of virtual care to keep the beneficiaries with mild symptoms in their homes while increasing access to their provider’s office,” and that providers can use telehealth to “take precautions for someone they are concerned may have the COVID-19 virus or flu before they step in the office or hospital putting others at risk.”

>>Read More: Telehealth Benefits in Medicare are a Lifeline for Patients During Coronavirus Outbreak

Study Shows Current State of Social Determinants of Health

A study of more than 200 healthcare experts pinpoint the specific areas where the healthcare system is addressing social determinants of health. In the survey, “38.28 percent” of respondents indicated “the hospital and related healthcare systems” were “in the best position to address social determinants of health.” More than 50 percent of respondents stated that their organizations “screen for social determinants of health,” their programs are “self-funded through decremental budgets,” and that their programs primarily address “socio-economic status.”

>>Read More: The Social Determinants of Health: Their Role in Promoting Health and Equity

CMS to Waive or Reduce Enrollment Fees for COVID-19 Outbreak

CMS released a memo advising Medicare Advantage Organizations to “to waive or reduce enrollee cost-sharing for beneficiaries enrolled in their Medicare Advantage plans impacted by the outbreak” of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus. CMS also stated Medicare Advantage Organizations “may also provide enrollees access to Medicare Part B services via telehealth in any geographic area and from a variety of places, including beneficiaries’ homes.” CMS further outlined new provisions for Medicare Part D, announcing that sponsors may “‘relax refill-too-soon’ edits,” “reimburse enrollees for prescriptions obtained from out-of-network pharmacies,” use “home or mail delivery” to send prescriptions, and “waive prior authorization requirements” to “ensure pharmacy access during a disaster or state of emergency resulting from COVID-19.”

>>Read More: Information Related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 – COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Releases Safety Measures for Healthcare Providers

The CDC released “interim guidance is intended to assist with the assessment of risk, monitoring, and work restriction decisions for healthcare providers with potential exposure to COVID-19.” The guidance defines “high-risk” and “low-risk exposure,” and outlines how long healthcare providers should “undergo active monitoring” for “any fever or shortness of breath.” The CDC has also added language “advising healthcare providers to update their occupational health program if they have travel or community-associated exposures.”

>>Read More: Interim U.S. Guidance for Risk Assessment and Public Health Management of Healthcare Personnel with Potential Exposure in a Healthcare Setting to Patients with Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

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