COVID-19 Update: AMA Seeking More Emergency Funds, Hospital Overflow Sites, Fraud Alerts, & New Office of Small Business Relief
AMA Submits Letter Seeking Additional Financial Help
While the federal government has approved the CARES Act which offers a loan forgiveness program and accelerated Medicare payments to assist physicians and medical offices experiencing cash flow trouble due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many providers say these options may not apply to them or offer financial help soon enough.
Part of the federal package sets aside $100 million for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to use at it determines appropriate. The American Medical Association (AMA) on Tuesday sent a letter to HHS Secretary, Alex Azar, with a recommendation for how to use those discretionary funds.
“We urge HHS to provide one month of revenue to each physician (MD or DO), nurse practitioner, and physician assistant enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid to account for financial losses and non-reimbursable expenses,” the letter reads.
“HHS should use an individual’s average monthly payment amount from October-December 2019, which has been provided to the Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs), as the basis for determining pre-pandemic monthly revenue.”
We will let you know how HHS responds.
Hospital Overflow Sites
Ohio leaders, preparing for the potential of a widespread COVID-19 outbreak that could overwhelm hospital capacity, have developed a plan to expand healthcare services at alternative sites in addition to the traditional medical care facilities.
The following sites have been selected based on considerations such as distance to an existing hospital, conditions safe for patients and health care professionals, and space to meet the region’s expected needs.
- Seagate Convention Center, Lucas County
- Case Western University’s Health Education Campus, Cuyahoga County
- Dayton Convention Center, Montgomery County
- Covelli Convention Center, Mahoning County
- Duke Energy Convention Center, Hamilton County
- Greater Columbus Convention Center, Franklin County
These facilities would be used for the mildly ill, while the sickest patients will be housed in traditional hospitals.
Pandemic Spans Fraud Alert from HHS
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has issued the following fraud notice:
It has come to OCR’s attention that an individual posing as an OCR Investigator has contacted HIPAA covered entities in an attempt to obtain protected health information (PHI). The individual identifies themselves on the telephone as an OCR investigator, but does not provide an OCR complaint transaction number or any other verifiable information relating to an OCR investigation.
HIPAA covered entities and business associates should alert their workforce members, and can take action to verify that someone is an actual OCR investigator by asking for the investigator’s email address, which will end in @hhs.gov, and asking for a confirming email from the OCR investigator’s hhs.gov email address.
If organizations have additional questions or concerns, send an email to: OCRMail@hhs.gov.
Suspected incidents of individuals posing as federal law enforcement should be reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI issued a public service announcement about COVID-19 fraud schemes.
Office of Small Business Relief
A new office has been developed within the Ohio Development Services Agency to better coordinate Ohio's efforts to identify and provide support for Ohio’s nearly 950,000 small businesses.
- Serve as the state’s designated agency for administrating federal recovery funds awarded to Ohio for small business support and recovery;
- Work with federal, state, and local partners to evaluate and determine possible regulatory reforms that encourage employment and job creation; and
- Coordinate efforts with Ohio’s Small Business Development Centers and Minority Business Assistance Centers.
To share your COVID-19 experience or ask a question, contact OOS Director Reginald Fields.
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