COVID-19 regulatory updates for this week are provided below.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released additional guidance for states and patients to consider for reopening health care facilities and receiving elective in-person health care services. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many physicians, health care systems and patients postponed non-emergency, in-person care. As COVID-19 cases start to decline in states and regions across the United States, CMS is providing recommendations to ensure that non-emergency health care resumes safely and that patients are receiving needed in-person treatment that may have been postponed due to the public health emergency. These recommendations build on the Phase 1 recommendations CMS issued April 19 to safely resume in-person care in areas with low incidence or relatively low and stable incidence of COVID-19 cases.
HHS distributed $15 billion in provider relief funds to state Medicaid and CHIP program participating providers. This funding will supply relief to providers experiencing lost revenues or increased expenses due to COVID-19. Examples of providers, serving Medicaid/CHIP beneficiaries, possibly eligible for this funding include pediatricians, obstetrician-gynecologists, dentists, opioid treatment and behavioral health providers, assisted living facilities and other home and community-based services providers. The payment to each provider will be at least 2 percent of reported gross revenue from patient care based on the number of Medicaid/CHIP or Medicaid Managed Care patients served between Jan. 1, 2018 to May 31, 2020. Only providers who have not yet received payments from the $50 billion Provider Relief Fund general distribution are eligible for this distribution. Providers have until July 20 to apply for the Medicaid and CHIP distribution through the new enhanced Provider Relief Fund Payment Portal. More information about Medicaid Relief Fund Payment Terms and Conditions is available here. HHS will also distribute an additional $10 billion in provider relief funds to safety net hospitals.
Congress passed the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act of 2020 last week and President Trump signed the legislation into law which makes changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The PPP Flexibility Act includes several important changes to the PPP that can help borrowers. It increases the period that borrowers have to spend loan proceeds from eight weeks to 24 weeks while still receiving loan forgiveness. Mandatory payroll spending is reduced from 75% to 60% and allows borrowers to avoid reductions in forgiveness if they restore full-time employment to pre-COVID-19 levels by Dec. 31, 2020. Additionally, borrowers can now obtain full forgiveness without having to fully restore their workforces. If a loan is not forgiven, the time to pay off loans is extended from two years to five years.
It is also worth noting that there was $145 billion in PPP funds available as of the beginning of June. Additionally, while the House-passed HEROES Act expanded the PPP to include 501(c)(6) organizations, legislation carrying this change has yet to pass both the House and Senate, and the AOA continues to advocate for this change.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a fact sheet showing all of the initiatives underway to address the disparate impact of COVID-19 on minorities. These efforts range from increasing access to testing and treatment, to improving the race and ethnicity data and reporting on the pandemic, to ensuring that effective outreach and communication regarding COVID and resources occur in communities of color.
In response to public health and safety concerns about the appropriateness of decontaminating certain respirators, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reissuing certain Emergency Use Authorization (EUAs) to specify which respirators are appropriate for decontamination. Based on the FDA’s increased understanding of the performance and design of these respirators, the FDA has decided that certain respirators should not be decontaminated for reuse by health care personnel. In addition, the FDA is also revising relevant EUAs to no longer authorize decontamination or reuse of respirators that have exhalation valves.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released the latest state-by-state data on personal protective equipment (PPE). As of June 4, FEMA, HHS, and Project Airbridge combined have coordinated the delivery of, or are currently shipping: 93 million N95 respirators, 148.9 million surgical masks, 13.9 million face shields, 37.6 million surgical gowns and over 1 billion gloves. Additionally, as of June 3, FEMA has made 9,262 deliveries of medical supplies to nursing homes in 53 states and territories. The data is also broken down by FEMA region.
CMS has developed a Virtual Toolkit to help health care providers stay informed on COVID-19 materials. Please share these materials, bookmark the webpage, and check often for the most up-to-date information.