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COVID-19 Update: March 27, 2020

The following is a summary of the major COVID-19-related developments in Pennsylvania as of 4:30 p.m. on March 27.

Pennsylvania Updates

Governor Wolf

  • Today Governor Wolf expanded his ‘Stay at Home’ order to include nine more counties to mitigate the spread of the virus:  Berks, Butler, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Luzerne, Pike, Wayne, Westmoreland, and York counties.  The governor’s amended order, the secretary of health’s amended order, and the stay at home guidance are available online.  The order takes effect for these nine counties tonight at 8:00 p.m. and will continue for all of the affected counties until April 6.
  • Today Governor Wolf approved and signed several bills into law to provide emergency relief to schools (SB 751), unemployment compensation rules (HB 68), delaying the primary election (SB 422), and the $50 million in immediate funding for health care supplies via HB 1232.  We do not yet know how this funding will be distributed but are monitoring it closely.  According to the enabling legislation and a press release Governor Wolf issued yesterday, “The $50 million in funding will be deposited into a restricted account under the governor’s jurisdiction and funds will be used if there are insufficient funds available from the disaster proclamation ‘to buy medical equipment and supplies for health care entities to meet urgent patient and staff needs to address surge demand. Health care entities include hospitals, nursing facilities and emergency medical services’.”

Department of Human Services

  • The Department of Human Services (DHS) has published a reminder that Governor Wolf has signed an executive order prohibiting elective medical and surgical procedures for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Pennsylvania has been granted a section 1135 Medicaid waiver by the federal government. Key elements of the waiver address:
    • Temporarily suspending Medicaid fee-for-service prior authorization requirements.
    • Extending pre-existing authorizations for which a beneficiary has previously received prior authorization through the end of the public health emergency.
    • Suspending Pre-Admission Screening and Annual Resident Review (PASRR) Level I and Level II Assessments for 30 days.
    • State Fair Hearing Requests and Appeal Timelines.
    • Provider Enrollment.
    • Provision of Services in Alternative Settings.

These waivers will remain in effect until the current health crisis ends.  See the letter from CMS to the state that explains all of these aspects of the waiver in greater detail.

Department of Health

  • During her daily briefing today, Secretary Levine reported that the number of new COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania yesterday declined slightly from the day before, although she dismissed this decline as “not statistically significant.”  There are now COVID-19 cases in 50 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.  While the number of hospitalizations, ICU cases, and patients put on ventilators remain low, she said those numbers remain in line with trends elsewhere in the country and her department’s own projections.
  • The department has revised its guidance prohibiting the provision of dental treatment except for urgent and emergency services.

Department of State

The Department of State requested, and Governor Wolf granted, an extension for 90 days of certain license renewal deadlines that fall between April 30, 2020, and June 30, 2020.  Affected boards include the State Board of Medicine, State Board of Nursing, and State Board of Examiners of Nursing Home Administrators.  Any associated regulations that establish these dates are temporarily suspended.  While the department will provide guidance encouraging licensees to renew on time, if possible, this waiver ensures that if they miss the deadline their licenses will remain valid and they will have an additional 90 days to renew them.

Federal Updates

Congress

The House of Representatives passed the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act passed by the Senate late Wednesday.  It now goes to the president for his signature and he has indicated he will sign it.

President Trump

President Trump sent a letter to governors thanking them for their efforts in fighting the COVID-19 emergency, outlining upcoming federal efforts, and expressing hope for the future.

Department of Health and Human Services

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Food and Drug Administration

Resources to Consult

Pennsylvania Department of Human Services

Main COVID-19 Page

COVID-19 Provider Resources

Press Releases

Pennsylvania Department of Health

Main COVID-19 Page

Pennsylvania Emergency Preparedness Guide

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Main COVID-19 Page

FAQ

 

 

Filed in Coronavirus, COVID-19, Pennsylvania Department of Health and COVID-19, Pennsylvania Department of Health coronavirus, Pennsylvania Medicaid, Pennsylvania Medicaid coronavirus, Pennsylvania Medicaid COVID-19.

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2012 Safety-Net Association of Pennsylvania