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COVID-19 Update: Federal Relief Funds Disbursed, Telemedicine Coding, & MIPS Reporting Exemptions


Federal Relief Funds Being Disbursed

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Friday began distributing $30 billion in emergency relief funds directly to help physicians negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds, which began arriving over this past weekend, are not a loan and do not have to be repaid.

These funds are separate from the Medicare advanced, accelerated payments and the Paycheck Protection Program, which are financial relief programs in the form of loans. All hospitals, medical facilities or physician offices that billed Medicare in 2019 are eligible for the funding.

How are payment distributions determined?
  • Provider payments are based on their share of total Medicare FFS reimbursements in 2019. Total FFS payments were about $484 billion in 2019.

  • A provider can estimate their approximate payment by multiplying the 2019 Medicare FFS (not including Medicare Advantage) payments they received by 6.19% ($30 billion divided by $484 billion). 

    • Providers can obtain their 2019 Medicare FFS billings from their organization's revenue practice management system.

  • Example: A practice billed Medicare FFS $1 million under a single TIN in 2019. This is how much they would receive using the equation:

    • $1,000,000 x 6.19% = $61,900


Coding for Telemedicine Services

There seems to be a lot of confusion on how to bill for telemedicine services.

> Read this article for current information on proper coding and review any additional information published by CMS and other health plans for the most up-to-date information. The article will cover the different types of telemedicine services covered by Medicare.

  • Telehealth

  • Telephone calls

  • E-Visits - On-line services


Exemptions Announced for 2019 MIPS Reporting

If you are not able to meet the 2019 MIPS threshold (30-point score) to avoid a penalty or have not yet submitted any 2019 MIPS reporting, your practice is eligible for a 2019 MIPS Extreme and Uncontrollable Circumstances Exception due to COVID-19. If you have not submitted any data to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, you will receive an automatic exception. If you have submitted but did not achieve the threshold for passage, you will need to apply for the exemption.

The deadline for applying to CMS is April 30 at 8 p.m. ET.

> Find eligibility, FAQs, and apply here

To share your COVID-19 experience or ask a question, contact OOS Director Reginald Fields. Also check the OOS website for news updates posted.


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