The following is the latest information from Pennsylvania’s state government as of 3:30 p.m. on Friday, June 26.
The Wolf Administration
Governor Wolf and Secretary of Health Levine signed amended green phase orders for 12 counties to move to the green phase of reopening at 12:01 a.m. this morning, June 26. The counties are Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Erie, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, and Susquehanna. Learn more from the Wolf administration’s news release on this change and see the governor’s amended order authorizing the change and the Secretary of Health’s amended executive order to the same effect.
Department of Human Services
As a result of increased federal matching funds from the COVID-19 response, DHS anticipates ending the fiscal year with excess state share funds from the collection of the quality care assessment and it is statutorily required to return all but $10 million of those funds to the participating hospitals by either reducing the assessment rate used in the following year or proportionately refunding the hospitals. To reconcile these excess funds, DHS has published a notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin explaining that it will assess hospitals in FY 2020-2021 at 3.05 percent of net inpatient revenue and 1.59 percent of net outpatient revenue instead of the planned rates of 3.23 percent and 1.73 percent, respectively.
Department of Human Services/Office of Long-Term Living
On April 30, DHS’s Office of Long-Term Living published the document “Temporary Changes to the Community HealthChoices 1915 (c) Waiver-Revised,” which provided flexibilities for service coordinators and providers as they worked with participants who may have been facing disruption in services due to COVID-19. This week, OLTL published “Transition Plan to Phase Out Temporary Changes to the Community HealthChoices 1915(c) Waiver,” which addresses the phasing out of the earlier temporary changes when program participants can be safely served and providers and service coordinators are taking proper precautions. The latter document includes a spreadsheet describing how DHS intends to phase out Community HealthChoices waiver provisions based on a county’s red, yellow, green, or resurgence phase of the reopening plan. This guidance is intended to be implemented at the county level.
OLTL has posted notices about CARES Act funding for various types of programs and providers that it regulates. Individual notices have been posted for:
- home and community-based services providers;
- Community HealthChoices managed care organizations and Living Independence for the Elderly (LIFE) organizations;
- nursing facility providers; and
- licensed personal care home and licensed assisted living residences.
The notices identify the types of providers eligible for funding and address what, if anything, eligible providers need to do to receive payments and how and when these payments will be made.
Department of Health
The Department of Health and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) are partnering with CVS Health to offer COVID-19 testing services to skilled nursing facilities statewide, free of charge. Learn more in this Department of Health news release.
Department of Health – by the numbers
- The last two days have seen the highest new case count in the past two weeks while new deaths remain slightly lower than for much of the past two weeks.
- Nearly 6400 health care workers have contracted COVID-19.
- 661 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 and 126 of them are on ventilators; both are the lowest totals this month.
- The state has seen 27 confirmed cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). Another 17 possible cases are currently being investigated.
- 632 Pennsylvanians have tested positive on COVID-19 serology tests.
Department of Health and Human Services
HHS updated its CARES Act Provider Relief Fund FAQ. The latest changes are marked “6/22/2020.” Most refer to the planned Provider Relief Fund distribution of $15 billion to Medicaid and CHIP providers.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
- CMS has posted an FAQ on implementation of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
- CMS has issued guidance to hospitals on visits to patients who are COVID-19 negative.
- CMS has clarified previous guidance that Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) will not calculate the average length of stay for long-term-care hospitals (LTCHs) for purposes of applying the LTCH 25-day length-of-stay requirement for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.
- CMS has updated its emergency declarations blanket waivers for health care providers. See CMS’s emergency blanket waiver document here, its announcement about its changes here, and its memo to state Medicaid officials and nursing home stakeholders here.
- CMS has published a fact sheet for qualifying clinicians and groups to apply for exceptions to meeting merit-based incentive payment system (MIPS) program requirements based on circumstances out of their control, such as the COVID-19 emergency. See CMS’s quality payment program web page for further information.
- CMS has revised its billing instructions under its skilled nursing facility benefit period waiver.
- CMS has issued an FAQ on nursing home visitation.
- CMS issued a proposed rule that calls for routine updates to the home health payment rates for calendar year (CY) 2021. It also includes a proposal to make permanent the regulatory changes related to telecommunications technologies in providing care under the Medicare home health benefit beyond the expiration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. See CMS’s announcement and the proposed rule itself.
- In the past week CMS issued two section 1135 waiversto give states greater flexibility to serve their Medicaid beneficiaries during the COVID-19 public health emergency. It issued waivers to Montana and New York.
Food and Drug Administration
- The FDA has issued emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for seven new commercial diagnostic tests for COVID-19. Find them here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
- The FDA has issued an EUA for a new commercial serology tests for COVID-19. Find it here.
- The FDA has updated its list of EUAs for ventilators and ventilator accessories.
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
The CDC has updated and expanded its list of who is at increased risk for getting severely ill from COVID-19.
Department of Labor
The Labor Department has posted an online tool to help workers determine whether they are eligible for paid sick leave due to COVID-19.
Government Accountability Office
The GAO has issued a new report, COVID-19: Opportunities to Improve Federal Response and Recovery Efforts, that describes the federal response to the pandemic, reaches conclusions about that response, and offers recommendations for improving the government response to such crises.
Resources to Consult
Pennsylvania Department of Human Services
Pennsylvania Department of Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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