Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of Aug. 3

MHA Covid-19 update

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

Presidential Executive Orders Impact Rural Healthcare, Telemedicine, Supply Chain

President Donald Trump recently issued two executive orders (EOs) that are expected to positively impact hospitals and other healthcare providers as they continue to fight COVID-19.

An executive order issued Aug. 3 aims to improve rural healthcare and extend some of the temporary regulatory flexibilities for telehealth. It directs the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to review several temporary COVID-19-related policy changes to determine which of those measures should be continued beyond the public health emergency. In addition, the EO instructs the HHS Secretary to announce a new model to test innovative payment mechanisms to improve the financial stability of rural healthcare providers and to develop a strategy to improve physical communications infrastructure in rural areas to facilitate better healthcare services.

The president also signed Aug. 6 an EO to increase domestic production of medical supplies to avoid future shortages. This order aims to ensure the nation has ample medical supplies, medications and equipment to respond to pandemics and other crises and threats while combating the trafficking of counterfeit versions of these supplies via e-commerce. It also eases restrictions on domestic manufacturers, streamlines regulations and supports continuous and advanced manufacturers. In addition, it sets up measures for the HHS to identify vulnerabilities in the medical supply chain.

The MHA will keep members apprised of developments related to these EOs that will impact Michigan hospitals and health systems.

Michigan Continues Work to Increase PPE Stockpiles

In the most recent call the MHA hosted for hospital supply chain contacts, participants discussed procurement issues related to COVID-19, federal information on personal protective equipment (PPE) logistics, a program to procure Honeywell respirators and the state stockpile. The state shared that it is continuing to work to procure PPE to maintain a supply of 90 days of key PPE items on hand. The MHA will keep members informed of these efforts. Members with questions may contact Rob Wood at the MHA.

Governors Announce Bipartisan Interstate Compact for Antigen Tests

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer joined the governors of Maryland, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Ohio and Virginia Aug. 4 in announcing a major bipartisan interstate compact with the Rockefeller Foundation to expand the use of rapid point-of-care antigen tests to slow the spread of COVID-19 and continue safely reopening their respective states. Together, the states aim to show private manufacturers that there is significant demand to increase the production of tests that deliver results in 15-20 minutes. With the agreement, the states are in discussions with Becton Dickinson and Quidel — the U.S. manufacturers of antigen tests that have already been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration — to purchase 500,000 tests per state, for a total of 3 million tests. This purchasing agreement will provide a unique platform to purchase tests and supplies in a sustainable and cost-effective manner. In addition, the states will coordinate on policies and protocols regarding rapid antigen testing technology. The MHA will keep members apprised as this effort continues.

Cybersecurity Alert Fatigue Webinar Offered Aug. 27

COVID-19 has made many hospitals and health systems especially vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks as a constant flow of new information, vendors and other opportunities for infiltration come into their networks. The MHA and several of its members are active members of the Michigan Healthcare Security Operations Center, which is offering a 45-minute webinar at 11 a.m. Aug. 27 on cybersecurity alert fatigue. Members may register to participate in the webinar shortly before it begins.

In this webinar, the hosts will discuss how alert fatigue incorrectly results in normalizing danger across multiple industries and share lessons to combat it. They will also highlight how lessons from healthcare organizations can be imparted to improve internal cybersecurity teams. This webinar focuses on solutions that can be implemented by any organization – regardless of which tools or platforms are in place. Members with questions about this event or cybersecurity may contact Mike Nowak 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 Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Community Health Emergency Coordination Center (CHECC). Members with MHA-specific questions should contact the following MHA staff members:

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

MHA Covid-19 update

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

State Budget Deficit Deal Contains no Healthcare Cuts

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and legislative leaders announced June 29 they reached an agreement to resolve the fiscal year (FY) 2019-2020 budget deficit. The deal uses a combination of funding from the state Budget Stabilization Fund, federal Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) and cuts to the state budget. No cuts to healthcare were announced in the information provided.

In a joint release, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake), House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) and the governor spelled out approximately $900 million in spending from the federal funds for schools, hazard pay for teachers, replacement funds for colleges and universities, and new funds for local governments. Together with what was appropriated earlier in June, the state will have allocated $3 billion of its existing CRF. The budget also recognizes the benefit of the enhanced federal Medicaid matching funds, which brings $340 million to the state for the current fiscal year.

The budget agreement includes $490 million in savings to state government. This includes state layoffs, furlough days and budget cuts. The MHA does not believe rural hospitals or labor and delivery funding for small and rural hospitals is at risk. The association will continue its efforts to ensure the appropriations for hospital Medicaid funding remain in place and continue into FY 2021. For more information about the FY 2020 budget agreement, contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.

Additional Allocation and Guidance Announced for Remdesivir

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced June 29 an agreement with drug maker Gilead Sciences to allow U.S. hospitals to purchase, through September, up to 500,000 treatment courses of remdesivir, the antiviral drug that has shown encouraging results in treating COVID-19 patients. As with the 120,000 treatment courses donated earlier by the drug maker, the HHS and state health departments will allocate them based on hospitalization data.

Under the agreement, hospitals will pay no more than the wholesale acquisition price for the drug, up to $3,200 per five-day treatment course. To make future allocations of remdesivir, the HHS will be asking hospitals and health systems to submit data every two weeks.

The state of Michigan recently updated guidance for the use of remdesivir, which is available through the June 30 COVID-19 update that was emailed to members. The state is also asking for the completion of a two-part survey during treatment. Part 1 of the survey identifies the patient’s profile and demographics and is due within 24 hours of starting the medication. Part 2 is a patient follow-up survey that captures outcome data. Members with questions may contact Laura Appel at the MHA.

One COVID-19 Data Submission Can Now Fulfill EMResource and NHSN Requirements

The state of Michigan has started the process of uploading COVID-19 data from EMResource into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) COVID-19 Module. This process will allow hospitals to enter data in the EMResource system with no duplicate data entry into the NHSN COVID-19 Module.

To facilitate this, hospitals must enter the NHSN ID associated with each facility in EMResource, ensure the mandatory baseline data elements have been entered, and update within 24 hours any EMResource data elements that correspond to the NHSN COVID-19 Module data elements. The upload process will occur daily for data entered by 5 p.m. Hospitals should log into the NHSN system the following day to verify the data was uploaded correctly. Members with questions on the process should contact Jim Lee at the MHA.

AHA Releases New COVID-19 Financial Impact Report

The American Hospital Association (AHA) released a financial impact report June 30 that estimates at least an additional $120.5 billion in financial losses for the nation’s hospitals from July 2020 through December 2020, due in large part to lower patient volumes. These estimates are in addition to the $202.6 billion in losses the AHA estimated between March 2020 and June 2020 in a report released in May. This brings total losses for the nation’s hospitals and health systems to at least $323.1 billion in 2020. The MHA is regularly collecting data from members on the financial impact the pandemic is having on Michigan hospitals. For more information, contact Jason Jorkasky at the MHA.

Delays in Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Some people who filed unemployment claims due to the COVID-19 pandemic have not received their unemployment benefits or are receiving them sporadically. The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) is experiencing a backlog due to the extraordinary volume of claims received, the surge of fraudulent identity theft claims that recently occurred, and the limitations of work volume that can be completed by the UIA’s adjudication staff. The UIA has announced that it is working to resolve the backlog of claims and has indicated that all claimants who are eligible for benefits will receive them. Members with questions related to unemployment claims may contact Neil MacVicar 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 Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Community Health Emergency Coordination Center (CHECC). Members with MHA-specific questions should contact the following MHA staff members: