COVID-19 Update
March 22, 2020

OPWDD and Provider Association Meeting Summary 
During their March 21 call, OPWDD provided updates on the status of the Appendix K and 1135 Waivers. OPWDD is awaiting approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). Pending CMS approval, OPWDD has committed to implementing several provisions aimed at provider sustainability and service delivery and operational flexibility. The goal is to provide financial support for providers and to enable them to retain day program staff on payroll who can be redeployed to assist in the residences. A full summary of the call can be found here

Latest Executive Orders 
Executive Orders 202.8 and 202.9 are now available. Briefly, they include the following:
  • 100% of nonessential staff at businesses and nonprofits that are not exempted must work remotely.
  • Even exempted entities (like our Chapters) must make every effort to have as many staff to work remotely as possible.
  • Provisions of the vehicle and traffic law relating to expired licenses, registrations have been suspended due to unavailability of DMV offices and personnel.
  • Mortgage forbearance 
  • Flexibility regarding banking late fees and credit card fees 
During the Governor's recent press release, he mentioned implementing "Matilda's Law," which would require that certain vulnerable citizens take extra precautions. To date, there is no further guidance available to clearly define "vulnerable citizens," initial understanding is that it applies specifically to individuals ages 70 and up and those who have underlying medical conditions that would make them more vulnerable to COVID-19. We do not have reason to believe that someone would fall under this protective measure simply by virtue having an intellectual or other developmental disability. 

Telehealth Update 
OPWDD has revised their interim guidance on the delivery of services through telehealth modalities. This is a revision of their guidance originally released on March 14. The revisions are in response to the Governor's 202.5 Executive Order issued March 18 and guidance issued by the Office of Civil Rights ("OCR") at the Department of Health and Human Services ("HHS") on March 17. Section D has been revised to direct the use of non-public facing technology to provide services to individuals remotely. The use of public-facing applications for service delivery are still prohibited. Section E has been updated to clarify the requirements for licensure of the provider of telehealth services and guidance on what constitutes an approved provider.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) published a valuable FAQ on telehealth use and greater detail on the enforcement discretion that OCR will apply  to support the good faith provision of telehealth. 

OPWDD Webinars 
The Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), in collaboration with the Managed Care Community of Practice (MC-COP), is offering a webinar series for providers to assist in understand OPWDD guidance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first, offered Monday, March 23rd at 1 p.m. will provide an overview of OPWDD guidance to date. Registration for Monday's webinar can be found here A second webinar on Tuesday, March 24th at 2 PM will focus on Day Services Guidance and Implementation, including a focus on the closure template details and billing allowances/options. Registration info can be found here

To help ensure adequate capacity given the anticipated large number of attendees, OPWDD is requesting agencies call in from a single line or have one representative call-in on behalf of the agency. These webinars will be recorded and shared following the live webinar.

Extension of CPR Certification Requirements 
The American Heart Association has extended CPR certification by 60 days. Guidance on the extension can be found here. To date, neither the National Safety Council nor the Red Cross have issued such extensions. The Arc New York is seeking an amendment temporarily waiving the requirements of CPR/FA recertification for all staff. 

Guidance on Delivery of Service for Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury
The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) has published guidance to Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) 1915(c) Medicaid Waiver providers. The guidance includes the NYSDOH authorization for TBI providers to deliver services via telehealth in lieu of a face-to face contact. The guidance also details the screening process that providers of TBI services should follow if face-to-face contact is clinically indicated and in response to a life safety-issue.

Emergency Childcare 
The YMCA is working with districts and municipalities across the state to provide childcare options for emergency personnel who are unable to work from home, including Direct Support Professionals. Financial assistance is available. Childcare will be offered at a variety of sites beginning Monday, March 23 at 7 a.m. Please let staff who may benefit from this opportunity to contact their regional YMCA for site locations and enrollment and financial aid information. More details, including a link to find your regional YMCA can be found here

Essential Employee Verification Letter 
In light of concerns regarding potential civil penalties for noncompliance with the 100% workforce reduction order, ANCOR has developed a template letter for staff to verify their role as exempt, essential employees. You may customize and provide this letter to your employees at your discretion. 

Federal Paid Sick Leave 
The federal administration  announced  two new refundable payroll tax credits, available immediately, to reimburse businesses with fewer than 500 employees for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave. This relief is provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Act), signed by President Trump on March 18, 2020. More guidance on these tax credits will be provided as it becomes available. 

Federal IRS Deadline Extension
The Federal Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service announced special tax filing and payment relief to individuals and businesses in response to the COVID-19 Outbreak. The filing deadline for income tax returns and payments due April 15, 2020 has been extended to July 15, 2020. The IRS urges taxpayers who are owed a refund to file as quickly as possible. For those who can't file by the July 15, 2020 deadline, the IRS reminds individual taxpayers that everyone is eligible to request an extension to file their return. New York State taxes should still be filed by April 15, 2020, unless otherwise indicated.

This and all related updates will be cataloged on The Arc New York COVID-19 Resource Page for future reference. Please contact us if you have questions regarding any of this information.

Josh Christiana , Associate Executive Director for Quality, Compliance & Chapter Relations

This email was sent to:
  • President Jack Kowalczyk 
  • Board of Governors 
  • Chapter Presidents
  • Executive Directors 
  • Chief Operating Officers
  • Chief Financial Officers  
  • HR Directors 
  • PR Directors 
  • Quality & Compliance Staff 
  • Joint Committee on Quality & Compliance 
  • State Office Staff