COVID-19 Update: March 17, 2020

Safety-Net Association of Pennsylvania logoThe following is a summary of the major COVID-19-related developments in Pennsylvania today.


The Office of Medical Assistance Programs has issued guidance for providers on the use of telemedicine  services for Medicaid patients – those covered both by managed care plans and on a fee-for-service basis. Learn more from the newly posted telemedicine guidelines and a separate memo to the HealthChoices managed care plans from the state.

In addition, CMS issued a waiver for certain restrictions on the provision of telemedicine services under the Medicare program.  The details of the wavier are described in a Fact Sheet and FAQ.

New Guidance From the State

Today the state published a number of COVID-19-related resources:

Letter from Department of Health Secretary

Attached to this memo, please find a letter and its attachment issued by the PA Department of Health providing additional hospital guidance on implementing your emergency preparedness plans.

PA Insurance Department Public Notice

You can find a preview copy of a pending public notice from the insurance department related to COVID-19 at this link.

PA General Assembly Update

Both the House and Senate are currently in recess with a 12-hour call of their respective chairs.  Neither chamber is expected to be in Harrisburg through the remainder of this week and we will likely receive an update on next week’s session schedule over the weekend.

The House passed temporary rules during session yesterday to allow its members to work and vote remotely should the need arise in the coming weeks/months.  This temporary rule still requires majority and minority leadership to be at the Capitol for bill movement and to tally votes.  The same is required of Committee Chairs should they call voting meetings during this time away from Harrisburg.

Daily State Briefing

  • Department of Health Secretary Levine reported that the state is now receiving more COVID-19 test results from commercial and hospital laboratories, which are now doing most of the testing.  As that number rises, the ability of officials to trace the origin of the disease is expected to decrease.
  • Mass testing sites for Philadelphia and Montgomery County are still being explored.  They would perform drive-through testing and would only be for people showing symptoms.
  • With state liquor stores about to close, state officials are planning to meet later today to discuss possible resources for alcohol-dependent individuals who suffer withdrawal problems.
  • The state will be providing guidance to dentists, who are considered very high risk, later this week.
  • No hospitals are reporting to the state that they are overtaxed by COVID-19 patients at this time.

Secretary Miller’s Briefing

DHS Secretary Teresa Miller is holding an invitation-only briefing later today.  If anything urgent arises we will let you know immediately.  Otherwise, we will report on it tomorrow.

Resources to Consult

 Pennsylvania Department of Human Services

Pennsylvania Department of Health

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Main COVID-19 Page FAQ


Please let us know if you have any questions or need additional information or resources.




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

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2012 Safety-Net Association of Pennsylvania