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August 3, 2020

HHS Extends Deadlines For Provider Relief Funds; Telemedicine Parity Extended; More Financial Relief News

An update on financial relief measures for physicians and practices experiencing lost revenues or increased expenses due to COVID-19.

HHS extends deadline, reopens window for Provider Relief Fund

The Department of Health and Human Services has made several important announcements regarding the Provider Relief Fund, the $175 billion pool of federal monies included in the CARES Act intended to help physicians and health care organizations responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initial $50 billion distribution from the Provider Relief Fund was based on a provider's Medicare revenues. Not all providers who treat Medicare patients were able to successfully receive funds, however, so HHS is reopening the window to apply starting the week of Aug. 10. Providers will have until Aug. 28 to complete an application for a payment for up to 2% of their annual Medicare patient revenues.

A subsequent $15 billion distribution was made available from the Provider Relief Fund for providers who treat Medicaid patients and who did not qualify for the Medicare distribution. The deadline to apply for those funds is being extended to Aug. 28, and HHS is developing a simplified application to streamline the process. Resources on the Medicaid distribution can be found here.

Finally, also beginning the week of Aug. 10, HHS will allow providers whose practice changed ownership in the last ear to apply for funds if their initial allocation from the Medicare distribution was made to the prior owner of a practice. And for those practices that have not been eligible for any distributions from the Provider Relief Fund to date (i.e. those that do not provide services to Medicare and Medicaid enrollees) HHS is working to formulate a distribution methodology, with further details forthcoming.

The WSMA wants to help ensure that all of our members receive the Provider Relief Fund monies they are eligible for. More information and resources on the Provider Relief Fund can be found on the HHS website. If you have questions about prior or pending allocations, contact WSMA's policy team at policy@wsma.org.

Reimbursement available from CMS for counseling patients to self-isolate at time of COVID-19 testing

The Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that payment is now available to physicians and health care providers to counsel patients, at the time of COVID-19 testing, about the importance of self-isolation after they are tested and prior to the onset of symptoms. CMS will use existing evaluation and management payment codes to reimburse providers who are eligible to bill CMS for counseling services no matter where a test is administered, including doctor's offices, urgent care clinics, hospitals, and community drive-thru or pharmacy testing sites.

Further information and resources are available in the counseling checklist PDF here.

Telemedicine proclamation, other priority proclamations extended to Sept. 1

Washington's Democrat and Republican leaders in the House and Senate have again approved extending Gov. Jay Inslee's telemedicine payment parity proclamation 20-29, now through Sept. 1. Proclamation 20-29 implements Senate Bill 5385, requiring payment parity for state-regulated plans, ahead of its Jan. 1, 2021 effective date. While we are glad to see the proclamation extended again, the WSMA continues to advocate for the policy to be extended through the end of the year when SB 5385 takes effect. If you'd like to assist in our efforts, please consider writing your local legislators and sharing how critical telemedicine is to providing care during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as requesting that proclamation be extended through Dec. 31, 2020. Click here to send a message to your state lawmakers.

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