Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of June 8

MHA Covid-19 update

COVID-19 UpdateThe MHA continues to keep members apprised of developments during the COVID-19 pandemic through regular email updates and the MHA Coronavirus webpage. Important updates on how the pandemic is affecting Michigan hospitals are outlined below.

Data Due June 15 to Potentially Qualify for Further COVID-19 Funding from HHS

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has requested information from hospitals to determine the distribution of $10 billion to hospitals that have been particularly burdened with COVID-19 cases. Each healthcare facility with a Medicare Tax Identification Number is asked to submit the number of COVID-19-positive inpatients admitted from Jan. 1 through June 10.

Submission of this data by 9 p.m. ET June 15 is required to be eligible to receive the funding, but it is not a guarantee of eligibility. The HHS has posted a frequently asked questions document about funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act; information on this round of funding begins on page 26. The data must be submitted through the HHS’s TeleTracking system. More information on setting up an account and entering data is available on TeleTracking’s help webpage or by calling TeleTracking Technical Support at (877) 570-6903. Members with questions about federal funding may contact Laura Appel at the MHA.

Policy Updated on Decontaminating N95 Masks

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reissued emergency use authorizations related to respirator decontamination, noting that some respirators should not be decontaminated for reuse. The agency will no longer recommend decontamination for the reuse of respirators manufactured in China or those that have exhalation valves. Decontamination will be authorized only on non-cellulose-compatible N95 respirators. Healthcare personnel should use the decontamination process only when new, FDA-cleared N95 respirators, NIOSH-approved N95 respirators or other FDA-authorized respirators are unavailable.

State Issues Guidance on Testing Frequency and Available Capacity

To ensure available COVID-19 testing resources are being effectively used in high-risk populations and/or settings across the state, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Resources (MDHHS) issued recommendations June 10 on the ideal frequency of COVID-19 testing. The guidance assumes a scenario where sufficient testing supplies and capacity are available. To help meet the level of testing envisioned in these recommendations, the MDHHS has also published information regarding test sites that provide services at no cost to the patient and laboratories with available testing supplies and capacity to allow for new providers and congregate care facilities to send specimens. The June 10 recommendations and additional information on testing priorities and frequency by population is available in the June 10 update emailed to members.

Resources and Guidance Available for Lab Supplies and Reporting Results

The FDA’s web-based resource Testing Supply Substitution Strategies contains detailed information to support labs performing authorized COVID-19 tests, including validated supply alternatives for use when there is a supply issue with some components of a test. This PowerPoint presentation, which can be downloaded from the FDA website, does not alter emergency use authorizations that have already been issued nor specific FDA regulatory requirements. It is provided solely to address concerns about the availability of certain critical components of DOVID-19 diagnostic tests.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has provided guidance that specifies additional data that laboratories must report with their COVID-19 test results. The new data should be reported as soon as possible, but no later than Aug. 1. More information is available in the department’s news release.

Workplace Requirements for Outpatient Facilities

Executive Order 2020-114 stipulates accommodations for all workers required to return to the workplace during the pandemic. Section 9 of EO 2020-114 pertains specifically to outpatient healthcare facilities, including clinics and physician offices, and outlines requirements that do not apply to inpatient hospitals.

The requirement for checking patient temperatures for these facilities is different from the evaluation required for employees at inpatient or outpatient facilities. This section of EO 2020-114 does not change the requirements for employee health evaluations prior to entering healthcare facilities when reporting to work. Questions on the requirements should be directed to Amy Barkholz at the MHA.

The Joint Commission Offers Webinar as On-site Surveys Resume

The Joint Commission will host a webinar titled The Joint Commission – Plan for Resuming Surveys from 11 a.m. to noon June 18. Registration is required, and more information is available in the related article.

Blue Cross Cost Sharing Waiver Extended Through End of Year

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) announced it is extending cost sharing (copays, deductibles and coinsurance) waivers for COVID-19 testing and treatment through Dec. 31. These measures originally were set to expire June 30. The announcement says the cost share waivers “apply to members in fully insured commercial PPO and HMO plans, as well as individuals in fully insured Medicare Advantage plans. BCBSM will work with employer group customers that are self-insured to make decisions regarding their own benefits.” Members with questions on COVID-19 payer issues may contact Jason Jorkasky at the MHA.

“Don’t Delay Care” Campaign Update

The MHA “Hospitals are Safe – Don’t Delay Care” campaign began on social media and statewide television in mid-May and will end during the week of June 15. The campaign has focused on video views, building awareness for those who may be making decisions about seeking medical care during COVID-19. As of June 12, the video had been viewed on Facebook more than 577,000 times. Although the campaign is ending, the association will continue to share this message through its normal social media content. For more information on this or other public relations campaigns, contact Ruthanne Sudderth 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). Members with MHA-specific questions should contact the following MHA staff members: