Combating the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of March 30
Posted on April 04, 2020
The number of confirmed cases of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan continues to grow rapidly, but the MHA and Michigan hospitals are coordinating with local, state and federal governmental agencies and others on several fronts.
During the week of March 30, the MHA and its members participated in calls with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and other key partners. MHA members received daily updates on those efforts, and other updates and resources are available on the MHA COVID-19 webpage.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed two supplemental funding bills March 30 that included hospital funding. Although the governor vetoed funding for some state programs, hospital/healthcare priorities – including an Medicaid outpatient reimbursement rate increase and $50 million in COVID-19 relief funding – were funded. The MHA continues to work with state officials to ensure these funds are distributed to hospitals quickly.
The American Hospital Association (AHA) urged the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to immediately begin distributing the approximately relief funding for healthcare providers in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act using a Medicare Administrative Contractor application and payment process. The MHA supports the AHA’s recommendations and continues to work to ensure that all member hospitals are able to access the CARES Act funding.
Because President Donald Trump declared Michigan a disaster area March 27, additional federal funding will be available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Nonprofit medical facilities and hospitals will be eligible to apply for FEMA’s Public Assistance grant funding. However, hospitals are not able to start the application process until the state completes its application. The MHA will inform members as soon as they are able to proceed and will advise of the steps needed to do so.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced March 28 that it is expanding its accelerated and advance payment program for hospitals and other Medicare providers as they fight the COVID-19 pandemic. This program is intended to provide emergency funding to providers, including primary care physicians and hospitals, to address cash flow issues when there is a disruption in claims submission or processing. Healthcare providers can request these payments from their Medicare Administrative Contractor immediately. Instructions on how to make this request can be found on page 2 of the CMS Fact Sheet. Members with questions should contact Jason Jorkasky at the MHA.
Capacity to treat patients with COVID-19 is being addressed in several ways. To assist hospitals in getting additional beds online quickly, the Bureau of Community and Health Systems and the Bureau of Fire Services are jointly issuing a “standing” temporary license for all hospitals that plan to expand bed capacity or modify bed designations in existing licensed hospital space in response to COVID-19. Some restrictions apply to the waiver. All related forms can be found on the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website. Members with questions may contact Paige Fults at the MHA.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued guidance intended to serve as a resource for hospitals, local public health agencies, local government, regional healthcare coalitions and other stakeholders interested in relief healthcare facilities and alternate care sites. Individuals and agencies involved in alternative care site planning or operations are requested to align their efforts with the information in this guidance document, including the four ACS Tiers. Additional information was emailed to members April 1, and the MHA will keep members apprised as the state finalizes plans and preparation for this facility.
In addition, the state launched an online registry for individuals who are willing to volunteer in a medical, healthcare or other role in Michigan during the COVID-19 pandemic. For medical workers, the registry requests information related to type of profession, what level of acuity/settings they have experience in, what types of equipment they can work with, where they’re willing to travel, a brief health history and more.
The MHA has also worked with state and federal partners to temporarily reduce regulatory burdens on hospitals as they respond to a growing number of COVID-19 patients.
The governor issued Executive Order 2020-30, which temporarily relaxes a number of provisions of the public health code relating to scope of practice. The MHA supports this order, as it will allow more health professionals to practice to the top of their licenses and provide additional staffing support throughout health systems. This is one of numerous Executive Orders issued during this state of emergency.
Federal regulatory relief has also been provided. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a significant number of temporary new rules and regulatory waivers to give healthcare providers more flexibility to respond COVID-19. These temporary changes will apply immediately to providers across the nation for the duration of the emergency declaration. This allows hospitals and health systems to deliver services at other locations to make room for COVID-19 patients needing acute care in their main facility. More information is available online.
Data from hospitals is a critical competent in coordinating with state and federal partners to get resources to the front lines where they are needed most. The state of Michigan recently expanded its EMResource data collection and issued a formal order for hospitals to report this data. Members may direct questions to Jim Lee at the MHA.
Updated information will continue to be published in Monday Report and members will receive emailed communication as often as necessary to ensure they are equipped to respond to cases of COVID-19 in their facilities and communities.
The MHA also continues to work with state and federal partners toward increased testing capacity. As testing materials continue to be in short supply nationwide, the Food and Drug Administration issued recommendations for COVID-19 testing. The new recommendations provide guidance for collecting nasal swab samples, in addition to the nasopharyngeal swab that providers have been collecting thus far.
Additional information about all of these topics is available to members on the MHA Community Site and the MHA COVID-19 webpage. Questions on COVID-19 and infectious disease response strategies may be directed to the MDHHS Community Health Emergency Coordination Center (CHECC). Members with MHA-specific questions should contact the following MHA staff members:
Advocacy and regulatory issues: Laura Appel
Safety and quality: Brittany Bogan
Communications and media: Ruthanne Sudderth
Emergency preparedness: Rob Wood
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