Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of March 29

MHA Covid-19 update

MHA COVID-19 UpdateThe MHA continues to keep members apprised of pandemic-related developments affecting hospitals through email updates and the MHA Coronavirus webpage. Important updates are outlined below.

COVID-19 Cases Continue to Surge in Michigan

New cases of the coronavirus and related hospitalizations have recently ranked Michigan as having the most severe surge of viral spread in the nation. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer urged vaccination providers March 29 to inoculate anyone they can accommodate, regardless of age or health status, to mitigate the spread and ensure no doses are wasted. State officials continue to encourage vaccinators to prioritize doses among all recipients to ensure that medically frail or otherwise more vulnerable individuals are protected.

As the MHA reported in a March 24 news release, hospitalization rates are increasing rapidly for younger age groups that are less likely to have been vaccinated, while the vaccine appears to be preventing hospitalizations at or near 100%. MHA Chief Medical Officer Gary Roth, DO, discussed the need for Michigan residents to improve preventive measures and get vaccinated during an interview on CNN’s New Day program March 30. Additional media coverage of the increasing hospitalizations is outlined in a related article.

The governor announced March 31 that Michigan’s state allocation of vaccines will exceed 620,000 during the week of April 5. That figure does not include vaccines that will be sent to Michigan retail pharmacies and federally qualified health centers directly from the federal government.

Vaccinating Michiganders became even more important when a Bay County resident tested positive March 31 for the COVID-19 variant that originated in Brazil (P.1). The Bay County Health Department is taking all appropriate measures to identify the source of the infection, which is known to be more transmissible than the original virus. Hospitals are encouraged to continue communicating with their patients and communities about variants present in Michigan to urge continued mask wearing, distancing, hand washing and vaccination.

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccines, contact Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA.

Medicare Claims Held as Congress Considers Extending Sequestration Moratorium

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently instructed Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) to hold all Medicare fee-for-service claims for dates of service on or after April 1, 2021, for a short period in anticipation of possible congressional action to extend the moratorium on the 2% sequestration cut to all Medicare payments. Absent congressional action, the moratorium was to expire April 1, reinstating the cuts.

The U.S. Senate recently passed a bill that, among other provisions, would eliminate the 2% cut to all Medicare payments until the end of 2021. The U.S. House is expected to take up the Senate-passed bill when it returns to session the week of April 13.

If necessary, the MACs will automatically reprocess any claims paid with the reduction applied. Elimination of the sequester cuts was included in the CARES Act and was effective from May 1 through Dec. 31, 2020; it was subsequently extended through March 31, 2021.

The MHA, along with the American Hospital Association and others, continues to advocate for payment policies that support COVID-19 relief and recovery. Those wishing to urge their representative to support an additional extension of the moratorium on the 2% sequestration cuts can obtain their lawmaker’s contact information at the MHA Legislative Action Center by entering their ZIP code into the “Find Officials” field. Members with questions should contact Vickie Kunz at the MHA.

New Resources on Therapeutic Options Available on MDHHS Website

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Service (MDHHS) has posted new resources on the variety of therapeutics available to treat COVID-19. The information includes the types of therapies available, how to prescribe and administer them, how to order them and more. The website also allows individuals who want to receive antibody treatment to locate treatment near them. The MDHHS encourages all providers to actively seek out COVID-19-positive individuals to whom they can provide therapeutic treatments.

Clinic Preparation for Vaccination Webinar Materials Posted

The MDHHS has made available the recording and materials from its March 26 webinar for those who wish to vaccinate patients in physician office/clinic settings. Materials include a checklist that outlines all steps the clinic must have in place to receive, administer, bill for, store, prepare and document COVID-19 vaccines. The MDHHS provides materials from this and other relevant webinars on its COVID-19 Vaccine Webinars page in the provider education section of the website. Health systems that plan to redistribute vaccine to new sites or enroll new sites in the COVID-19 vaccination program are encouraged to share these materials with those offices to assist in preparation.

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).