View the full briefing here.
Below are the latest health-related news, media announcements, resources, and updates for our CTC-RI practice and community members during the COVID-19 crisis. The below will continue to be provided to you in an anticipated weekly briefing.
We encourage you to refer to specific health plan policies for further details on billing policies and guidance using the links provided at the bottom of this briefing.
Latest Health-Related News and Media Announcements
- 04/30/2020 - The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced new Crisis Standards of Care Guidelines for acute care hospitals, which are intended to ensure an equitable and just allocation of patient-care resources, should a scarcity arise. These Guidelines, which could be implemented during any public health emergency, are not currently in effect. RI hospitals are currently below capacity and are not experiencing any shortages that would trigger the implementation of these Guidelines. These Guidelines would only be implemented when all other surge strategies are exhausted and no other regional resources are available, and at the direction of RIDOH.
- 04/29/2020 - Governor Raimondo announced that Rhode Island has received $1.25B in pandemic stimulus dollars to date, including funds from the Coronavirus Relief Fund, which will be allocated to nursing/home care, DCYF and DD homes, hospitals, low-wage frontline healthcare workers, public safety personnel, and municipalities. The Governor's team will be launching an online spending transparency portal to account for how all of the federal dollars will be spent.
- 04/28/2020 - A new public-private partnership with Survey Monkey was announced in Rhode Island to help flatten the curve by augmenting the state's contact-tracing system by managing an opt-in symptom tracking and symptom monitoring service via text messages. This information and correspondence with patients will be batched and sent to RIDOH for data analysis and better modeling of the spread of the virus.
- 04/27/2020 - Governor Raimondo signed an executive order, in effect through May 27, to remove burdensome regulations and excessive red tape to provide healthcare services to patients. OHIC provided details of the executive order to health care providers, entities, and insurers. The Governor's executive included:
- Medications: Insurers cannot make changes to what drugs are covered unless the changes benefit patients.
- Provider Referrals: Insurers are required to relax the referral process to allow for more time and leniency. No referrals are necessary for telehealth.
- Prior Authorization: In-patient hospital and rehabilitation, long-term care and telemedicine in-network services cannot be suspended because an individual doesn't have prior authorization. In addition, no prior authorization is needed for testing or treatment of COVID-19.
- Behavioral Healthcare: No referrals or other benefit review approvals are required for a patient to access needed mental and behavioral health care.
National and State Guidance for Health Care Providers
- CMS Stakeholder Engagement Briefings - CMS is hosting recurring stakeholder engagement conference call sessions to share information related to the agency's response to COVID-19. These sessions are open to members of the healthcare community and are intended to provide updates, share best practices among peers, and offer attendees an opportunity to ask questions of CMS and other subject matter experts. Call recordings and transcripts are posted on the CMS podcast page.
- CDC Guidance COVID-19 Information for Healthcare Professionals - Click here for information related to evaluation and testing, preparedness tools, guidance for facilities, and more.
- CMS MediCOVID-19 Waivers & Flexibilities - Learn how CMS is easing the burden and helping providers care for Americans by offering new waivers and flexibilities. For Medicaid in Rhode Island, EOHHS has submitted requests to CMS to make necessary, temporary changes to the Medicaid program outlined here.
- SAMHSA Guidance and Resources - Tools and resources related to substance abuse and mental health services during the COVID-19 crisis.
Financial Stability and Relief Information for Providers
- CARES Act Provider Relief Fund - Access information and Q&A directly related to the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund which provides relief funds to hospitals and other healthcare providers on the front lines of the COVID-19 response. The CARES Act creates opportunities for small businesses and non-profits to apply for certain loans and tax credits that will help relieve the financial burden of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more for summaries of the new provisions.
- Additional Funds for Payroll Protection Program Available - Congress has passed an additional stimulus package which includes $310 billion in new funding for the Payroll Protection Program, with a significant allocation to small and regional banks in hopes of getting more money to small businesses. This new round of funding opened on April 27. If you competed an application at your bank for the first round of funding but didn't get funding, please check with your bank because you should be first in line for the additional funding. If your application wasn't complete last time, or you did not apply for the first round of funding, we recommend that you complete or submit your application as soon as possible. The Payroll Protection Program funding is available in the amount of 2.5 times your average monthly payroll and is forgivable if the funds are used for payroll, rent, and utilities over the eight-week period following receipt of the loan.
- OHIC Affordability Standards Regulatory Flexibilities to Address Provider Financial and Operational Stability - Read more about OHIC's temporary suspension of certain health insurer regulatory requirements specifically to address provider financial and operational challenges resulting from reduced utilization of services and increased resource demands as a prudent measure to support delivery system capacity.
PPE Supplies for Healthcare Workers
- RIDOH Guidance on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - The Dept. of Health has provided information on conserving PPE, as well testing and reporting.
- RI COVID-19 Masks - Reusable equipment (fabric masks with reusable filters, face shields, reusable N95-like masks) are available here to health care workers who otherwise will be without effective personal protective equipment. CDC has shared guidance on use of face masks here.
Telehealth and Health Plan Policy and Information
- Telehealth Tools for Providers - As providers adapt to the current COVID-19 crisis, more tools are being used by our CTC-RI community of care teams. Some providers have shared they have been using the doxy.me platform, which is a free and secure telemedicine solution option. As more platforms and services become available, we will share additional information here.
- Telemedicine Insurer Grid - RIPCPC is focusing on support physician members and the patients, and has shared a Telemedicine Insurer Grid.
- Rhode Island Insurer Provider Policy Updates - Insurers are maintaining updated information for providers, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of RI, Neighborhood Health Plan of RI, Tufts Health Plan, and UnitedHealthcare.
- Telehealth Coverage Policies in the time of COVID-19 - The Center for Connected Health Policy has shared information on what is covered by various public and private payers with the information that has been released. A MHARI Behavioral Health Telehealth Fact Sheet is available here.
- 24-Hour Telehealth Opioid Support - RI launched a Buprenorphine Hotline for people with moderate to severe opioid use disorder, offering 24-hour telehealth service access for patients who are seeking initiation of buprenorphine treatment.
- Simple Telehealth Technology How-To Guides for Seniors - University of RI has put together some simple how-to guides for seniors on how to use telehealth technology like FaceTime and creating a Gmail account.
- Re-imagining the Role of the Medical Assistant within Telehealth and COVID Response - This 3-part webinar series (May 5, 12, 19 at 3pm) will provide an analysis of how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the practice of patient-centered, team-based care with regards to the provider/MA dyad, hosted by the Weitzman Institute and the National Institute for Medical Assistant Advancement.
Testing and Equity Information for Providers
- At-Home Testing By Primary Care Providers - Primary care providers have reached out to RIDOH wanting to conduct home visits to perform testing on their symptomatic patients, and RIDOH has confirmed PCPs can do this. If a practice would like to request less than 20 swabs per week, contact Leslie of East Side Clinical Laboratory (ESCL) at 401-455-8417. If there is a need for more than 20 swabs per week, email Carol.Stone@health.ri.gov. Providers will need to pick up the kits, transport media, and send samples for processing to a commercial lab.
- Addressing Transportation Barriers to Testing - Options are now available to reducing transportation barriers to getting tested. Providence Community Health Centers patients can get tested at the walk-up testing site at the Bailey Elementary School in Providence. Care New England has opened a walk-through and drive-up testing site at the former Memorial Hospital. MTM can transport Medicaid and ETP (Elderly Transportation Program: individuals 60 years of age and older) individuals to COVID-19 testing sites. MTM will confirm individuals are eligible for transport, have an authorization for testing and have no other transportation options prior to scheduling a trip.
- Uninsured Patients Can Receive Free COVID-19 Testing - Several options are available. Patients should call their provider (if they have one) to get an order for a COVID-19 test at one of the drive-up testing sites at CCRI in Warwick or at RIC in Providence, go online to be pre-screened for CVS rapid testing and get an appointment, or make an appointment to get tested at Clínica Esperanza/Hope Clinic in Providence.
- Additional New Testing Sites in RI - An additional testing site is now open through the Comprehensive Community Action Program's Cranston Health Center at 1090 Cranston Street. More information on this site, as well as additional testing locations, can be found here. RIQI reminds providers that results from CVS Health & Minute Clinic COVID-19 testing are available in the CurrentCare Viewer for patients enrolled.
- Resources for Undocumented Immigrants - RIDOH has shared information on places providing access to healthcare regardless of immigration status.
Additional Practice Resources
- Brown University COVID-19 CME Credit Webinars - Brown is offering a COVID-19 Virtual Seminar Series, with upcoming webinars like Surge Planning for a Pandemic (April 27, 4pm), Fostering Resilience During Stress and Trauma (May 1, 3:30pm).
- Housing for Frontline Healthcare Workers - The State has partnered with Brown University to make 700+ single-occupancy short-term dorms available for frontline healthcare and public safety workers for free who are worried about returning to their homes and putting their families at risk. RI Havens is also sharing local establishments offering discounted lodging rates to frontline workers and others who may need a place to stay during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Support for Patients with Diabetes - People with diabetes using Novo Nordisk Inc. insulin who have lost health insurance coverage because of a change in job status due to COVID-19 may now be eligible for enrollment in the company's Diabetes Patient Assistance Program and receive insulin free of charge for 90 days. Criteria can be found on NovoCare.com or by calling 1-844-NOVO4ME (1-844-668-6463).
- Phone Advice Guidelines for Patients with Possible COVID-19 - This CDC phone script can be used in conjunction with CDC's Decision Algorithm and Messages.
- Peer Support Line for Physicians - There is now a national grassroots initiative for physicians navigating the pandemic.
- Free Daily Community Mindfulness Sessions Available Live Online or By Telephone - Brown School of Public Health has expanded their community mindfulness offerings to once a day. All sessions are live-online, free, and open to the public. All programs are through Zoom video conferencing, which includes the option of joining from your phone. Click here for the daily schedule and topic details.
- Food and Medication Delivery for Quarantined Rhode Islanders - RI Delivers will help those living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19 safely remain home by providing delivery support for those without other help.
- CBT for Frontline Medical Professionals - Frontline health care professionals are particularly vulnerable to negative mental health effects as they strive to balance the duty of caring for patients with concerns about their own well-being and that of their family and friends. Here is information on CBT support.
- RIBGH COVID-19 Response Webinar: Practical Guidance for Employers - Rhode Island Business Group on Health hosted an April 19 webinar for employers featuring Dr. Ray Fabius, a recognized expert in pandemic planning and response. RIBGH has shared its handout from the presentation.
- On-Demand ACHE Presentation: Leadership Lessons from the Field to Care for Yourself and Your Colleagues During Times of Prolonged Stress - A webinar is now available by the American College of Health Care Executives focused on caring for health team members during stressful time periods, recently shared with practice teams by Nelly Burdette, PsyD. Watch here.