Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of Jan. 25

MHA Covid-19 update

MHA COVID-19 UpdateA leadership change in the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services ( MDHHS) took place Jan. 22 when Robert Gordon announced his resignation and Elizabeth Hertel was appointed to replace him as director of the department. The MHA has a longstanding relationship with Hertel, who has served at both the MDHHS and Trinity Health, and issued a statement of support in response to the announcement. Hertel begins her tenure as director as COVID-19 continues to evolve and affect every Michigander’s life. The MHA keeps members apprised of pandemic-related developments affecting hospitals through email updates and the MHA Coronavirus webpage. Important updates are outlined below.

President Biden Releases Vaccine Operational Plans

The Biden administration announced Jan. 26 new details of its plans to increase vaccine supply and distribution to states in the coming weeks and months. The state of Michigan has issued updated operational plans that will coordinate with these federal efforts and resources. These plans will continue to be modified going forward. Highlights of the Biden vaccine plan are:

  • Supply Forecasting: The Biden administration plans to provide states with a three-week planning forecast of vaccine supply, which will allow states to communicate advanced information about allocations to providers and improve their planning capabilities.
  • More Vaccine Overall: The federal government is working to purchase 200 million additional doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccine (100 million of each). The president also increased the national vaccination goal to 1.5 million people per day rather than 1 million.
  • More Vaccine to States: The president stated that starting next week, states would receive approximately 17% more vaccine each week than they have previously.
  • Syringe Supply: Biden is using federal actions to increase production of critical vaccine-related supplies, especially the syringes needed to extract the sixth dose from Pfizer vials.

As the state of Michigan continues to hone its plan to coordinate with federal efforts, the MHA is providing feedback to the MDHHS on ensuring the allocation formulas are fair and equitable for hospitals and health systems of all sizes and geographies. The association advised the state to incorporate data on both inpatient and outpatient measures into its allocation calculations. Additional information will be shared as it becomes available. Members with questions may contact Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA.

State Announces Protect Michigan Commission to Promote, Improve Vaccine Acceptance

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Jan. 25 appointed the bipartisan Protect Michigan Commission, which represents a diverse array of industries, professions, and backgrounds. Housed within the MDHHS, the commission will help raise awareness of the safety and effectiveness of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, educate state residents and help protect their health and safety. The governor has named Spectrum Health President and CEO and MHA Executive Committee Member Tina Freese Decker as a co-chair of the commission, and MHA Senior Vice President of Public Affairs & Communications Ruthanne Sudderth as a commission member.

The Protect Michigan Commission, first announced in December, serves in an advisory capacity to Whitmer and the MDHHS. It is tasked with providing public leadership to elevate and reinforce the importance of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, identifying barriers that may impede Michigan residents’ acceptance of an approved COVID-19 vaccine — including identifying areas or groups that are likely to experience vaccine hesitancy — and develop an outreach action plan designed to overcome these barriers. The commission must complete its work and submit a brief final report to the governor by Dec. 31, and appointees will serve until the group’s dissolution. The MHA will keep members apprised of the commission’s work.

New Reporting Guidelines Issued for Provider Relief Fund Disbursements

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced that it is modifying the reporting timeline and reporting requirements for the Provider Relief Fund (PRF). The modifications delay the reporting deadlines in response to the year-end passage of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.

The HHS indicated that providers that received at least $10,000 in PRF funds may now register for the PRF Reporting Portal. This will allow them to eventually submit information to comply with HHS reporting requirements, though data reporting is not yet required. The registration process is expected to take 20 minutes and must be completed in a single session.

The HHS released new reporting guidance that supersedes previously issued guidance. The new guidance maintains the two general reporting categories — unreimbursed COVID-19 expenses and lost patient revenue — but is more flexible in what is allowed. Under the new guidance, providers may use “the difference between 2020 budgeted and 2020 actual patient care revenue.” Health systems are now also able to transfer funds received from targeted PRF distributions to other hospitals within the system.

The MHA will notify members of any substantive developments in PRF reporting requirements. Members with questions should contact Jason Jorkasky at the MHA.

AHA Partner Offers PPE Donation for Hospitals

Through a partnership between the American Hospital Association (AHA) and the web application HealthEquip, hospitals in need of personal protective equipment (PPE) may receive donations of surgical masks, face shields and other PPE for a small processing fee and shipping costs. Participating hospitals will be matched based on their need and limited available quantities of donated equipment.

Hospitals may sign up to HealthEquip’s DonorExchange to enter PPE requests; the HealthEquip team will match hospitals with the donated PPE and arrange shipment. HealthEquip also offers the ability to purchase specific PPE though its Marketplace. Members with questions about supply chain issues may contact Adam Carlson or Rob Wood at the MHA.

Additional information on the COVID-19 pandemic 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).