COVID-19 RURAL DIGEST
MARCH 19, 2020
The emergence of COVID-19 has caused an almost unprecedented amount of change in the framework surrounding rural care. The CORH team is dedicated to providing regular updates on this evolving situation to healthcare leaders across the country.
As the pandemic unfolds, we foresee sending out updates twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays with new developments.
As of 3/19/2020, the CDC’s Number of Confirmed Cases of COVID-19: 7,038
HRSA expects to expedite funding to hospitals from the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act; expect awarding before the end of March
Congress passes bill providing free testing for COVID-19 patients; presidential approval expected
CMS Beginning to grant 1135 Medicaid Waivers; Florida first state; more expected
- Streamlines provider enrollment processes.
- Allows care to be provided in alternative settings in unlicensed facilities if a licensed facility is evacuated.
- Waives prior authorization requirements.
- Suspends some nursing home screening requirements to provide necessary administrative relief.
- Extends deadlines for appeals and state fair hearing requests.
- Read more: https://www.healthleadersmedia.com/innovation/cms-grants-florida-1135-waiver-coronavirus-response
Trump Administration extends telehealth payments
- Physicians, nurse practitioners, clinical psychologists and licensed clinical social workers can offer telehealth to patients from any healthcare facility effective 03/06/2020.
- Few restrictions remain in place most notably the practice must have had a prior relationship with the patient for telehealth services to be funded.
- Read more: https://www.healthcareittoday.com/2020/03/17/expansion-of-medicare-coverage-and-payment-for-telehealth-visits/
HIPAA Penalties Suspended for telehealth
- Providers can use any non-public facing remote communication product that is available to communicate with patients during the COVID-19 emergency.
- Providers may use popular applications that allow for video chats, including Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts video, or Skype.
- Read more: https://www.healthcareittoday.com/2020/03/17/hipaa-penalties-suspended-for-telehealth-during-covid-19-national-emergency/
Steps for Preparing your Clinics for COVID-19 CDC Infographic
- Have an employee screening patients outside enclosed waiting room.
- Isolate symptomatic patients from asymptomatic patients.
- Regularly disinfect trafficked areas and wear proper PPE around symptomatic patients.
- Read more: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/Clinic.pdf
Rural areas can expect to be heavily impacted by COVID-19
- Rural demographics are thought to be heavily susceptible to COVID-19. Extra precautions should be taken with elderly, diabetic, smoker, and patients with high blood pressure.
- Rural hospitals are also advised to issue statements among their communities to promote social distancing. A great deal of misinformation exists among certain groups; utilizing community-engaged care providers to spread proper public health messages can overcome that trend.
CMS unveils new rules to combat spread in nursing homes
- Restricting all visitors, effective immediately, with exceptions for compassionate care, such as end-of-life situations.
- Restricting all volunteers and nonessential health care personnel and other personnel
- Cancelling all group activities and communal dining.
- Implementing active screening of residents and health care personnel for fever and respiratory symptoms
- Read more: https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/cms-announces-new-measures-protect-nursing-home-residents-covid-19