Coronavirus Update #143
HFAM Update, MDH Orders, Public Health Emergency Extended, MDH Webinar Presentation, Reminder on Resources for Frontline Workers, AHCA Updates
HFAM Update


The State of Maryland has extended their coordination and funding of COVID-19 testing until August 15.  We are reviewing the below and ask that you do the same:

As we have shared, testing will remain challenging in terms of lab wait time, re-agent, logistics, and cost. Wait times for test results are typically a little over a week and can be more in many areas of the state, with the state and commercial labs. This renders testing a much less effective tool against COVID-19. Going forward we will continue to look for adaptive clinically driven testing regimes, like that being done in Massachusetts right now where the rate of testing is correlated to the amount of community spread. 

As always, here are our universal reminders:

  • Focus on providing quality care
  • Over-communicate with residents, patients, families, and staff
  • Operate DRIVEN your infectious disease protocol (Observation +++)
  • TEST and keep accurate rosters
  • Take and document your action
  • Keep a timeline
  • Work with your hospital partners, and coordinate with local and state regulatory partners
  • Training - now is the time to be continuously training on PPE, Donning, Doffing and all things infectious disease protocol, workforce/workflow

Be well,
Joe DeMattos
President and CEO
Public Health Emergency Extended

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has renewed for a second time the federal public health emergency (PHE) as a result of the continued consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. The current authority expires October 23, 2020. For more information see Renewal of Determination That a Public Health Emergency Exits published July 23, 2020.

Impact on Providers

The health care and safety of Medicaid providers and participants is a priority during the COVID-19 emergency. All COVID-19 related flexibilities implemented by the Department remain in place, including the ability to offer telehealth services delivered using audio-only or non-HIPAA compliant technology. The flexibilities the Department of Health (the Department) has been able to offer health care providers during this time are based on both Executive Orders from the Governor of Maryland and waivers from the federal government. Information regarding these flexibilities is available on the COVID-19 Provider Information page.

To prevent transmission and spread of COVID-19 disease, the Department has implemented certain flexibilities with respect to delivery of services covered by the Medical Assistance Program via telehealth, these include:

  • Permitting a participant’s home or any other secure location to serve as a telehealth originating site for purpose of delivery of Medicaid-covered services;
  • Permitting reimbursement for audio-only health care services delivered by phone; and
  • Permitting use of telehealth technology not compliant with HIPAA.

The Department will continue to reimburse services delivered using HIPAA-compliant technology until the end of the Maryland State of Emergency. This flexibility is not tied to the federal PHE.

The federal waivers that allow for telephonic and non-HIPAA compliant technology are scheduled to sunset in tandem with the end of the federal Public Health Emergency. In the event that the federal PHE is not extended a third time, these specific flexibilities will end on October 23.

Impact on COVID-19 Waivers

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has granted the Department numerous waivers to assist healthcare providers in responding to COVID-19. The extension of the federal PHE means these waivers, including the 1135 waiver and the disaster state plan amendments will remain in place.

Note that the Department’s 1915 Appendix K authorities remain in effect until February 28, 2021, and March 12, 2021. The expiration of these authorities is not directly tied to the end of the federal Public Health Emergency.

More information on the COVID-19 Waivers is available on the Department’s website.
MDH Webinar Recap

Yesterday, the Maryland Department of Health held a webinar call to update the long-term care sector on COVID-19 developments and best practices. The call was recorded, in case you were unable to join or would like to review the topics discussed, which included:

Resources for Frontline Workers in LTC Facilities

Below are three documents regarding free counseling to frontline workers in nursing homes and long term care facilities. Please review this documents and share with your teams.

CMS Releases List of Nursing Homes Prioritized for POC Testing Instrument  

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced that it will begin providing nursing homes with a Point of Care (POC) rapid response testing instrument to bolster each facility’s ability to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The data collected through the NHSN system directly supports this initiative by helping to prioritize those nursing homes with testing needs and an increasing number of cases. CMS has also provided information about their methodology for prioritizing facilities and a listing of the facilities , as well as a list of frequently asked questions .

Other COVID-19 Updates

Preliminary Provider Relief Fund Reporting Guidance Released : On July 21, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a framework for more detailed Provider Relief Fund reporting guidance and materials to be released on August 17, 2020.  Read More

HHS FAQ Updates on Auditing and Funds Transfers:  Today, the Department of Human Health Services (HHS) added FAQs further defining which funds may be moved among TINs and lines of care as well as providing preliminary information on Provider Relief Fund audits.  Read More
Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Distribution Update

In June, HHS announced the opening of the application period and plans to distribute approximately $15 billion to eligible providers that participate in state Medicaid and CHIP programs who had not yet received a payment from the $50 billion General Distribution. Since the announcement on June 9, HHS has hosted a number of webinars targeted at providers and provider organizations to answer questions and assist those eligible through the application process.

fact sheet - PDF  explaining the application process has also been created to address frequently asked questions. HHS is continuing to work with provider organizations, congressional, state and local leaders to get the word out about this program. To ensure eligible Medicaid and CHIP providers, including dentists, have the opportunity to apply for a funding distribution, the deadline to apply has been extended to August 3, 2020.

Registration Is Now Open for the
AHCA/NCAL Virtual Convention!

October 8, 15, and 22

The past few months have been full of unprecedented challenges to the long term and post-acute care sector. That's why it's more important than ever that we gather for the 71st AHCA/NCAL Virtual Convention & Expo to review the past year, recognize the heroic work that you and your staff have done, and design solutions for what lies ahead.

Join your colleagues as we come together to reflect, share, and learn.
Did you miss HFAM's previous alerts?

Visit our website to view all previous HFAM alerts, as well as guidance
from our federal and state partners.
Thank you.

We cannot thank you enough for the dedication and diligence in doing all that you can for the residents in your communities. HFAM continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic with our state and national partners and will do all we can to support you during this time.