APA Annual Meeting and APA Reception Update
The following press release was sent out from the APA on Sunday, March 15:

The 2020 Annual Meeting in Philadelphia  will not take place  in the wake of numerous travel restrictions and public health guidance associated with the pandemic spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The meeting was scheduled for April 25-29. In lieu of the Annual Meeting, the APA will work with speakers to develop the  2020 APA On Demand  product this spring. APA is also exploring other options for delivering psychiatric education this spring.

After careful deliberations, APA concluded it is not possible to hold the Annual Meeting. Many of our physician members are restricted by their respective institutions from traveling to conferences and meetings to help stop the spread of COVID-19, making it impossible for lecturers and registrants to attend the medical conference. The latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Pennsylvania health authorities supports our judgment that travel restrictions, meeting restrictions and social distancing are the required, safe and responsible actions. Public health must come first.
To support members in need of continuing medical education (CME), APA is planning to provide an online educational product this spring in addition to a  2020 APA On Demand online CME product .

All current 2020 Annual Meeting registrants will have the option of a full refund or crediting their registration fee toward the 2020 APA On Demand product. For more information,  visit the FAQ page here .

We especially hope that our members and colleagues in the medical community who are dealing with containing and treating the virus and its mental health impact will remain safe and healthy.

NOTE: with the cancellation of the APA annual meeting, we will not be holding our APA Member Reception. We are sorry for the inconvenience.
Telemedicine: Resources/Updates/Changes
As the coronavirus pandemic evolves, our members struggle to determine the best way to provide care to their patients. Over the past few weeks, APA, PaPS and even the Pennsylvania Medical Society have been fielding emails and calls about how to use telemedicine- its challenges, how to adequately get reimbursed, how to begin the process- even just the basics to set up the process. Below is information from the state and federal level to initiate the process.


In late February, Pennsylvania’s Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) released an updated telehealth bulletin. The updated bulletin and the attestation to begin the service is enclosed here . Changes to the bulletin included an expansion to the Department of Human Services’ Fee-for-Service program and expanded those medical health professionals who could provide the service.

However with the advent of COVID-19, a revised document was distributed on March 15. Click here to view the revised document. Additional relaxations to the service include the ability to allow service to be transmitted “in house” vs. with a healthcare professional present; the elimination of a HIPAA required line; and no limits on its use for treatment.

NOTE: this applies only to Medicaid. You will have to check with third party payers as to their coverage of telemedicine.


The APA has updated their website with additional information on telehealth and telepsychiatry. Specifically, they are watching closely how insurers will be reimbursing our members and that delays do not occur for those beginning to provide telehealth services and those providers expanding their services.

Click here to read a blog with resources from the APA.

Many members have asked about how COVID-19 and telehealth affects prescribing of controlled substances. The DEA created a PDF in May of 2018 on providing Medication Assisted Treatment in a telehealth setting. It is enclosed here . A link to their website is attached here to provide information on prescribing during the Coronavirus.


HOT OFF THE PRESS - March 17, 2020

Today, the Trump Administration today announced expanded Medicare telehealth coverage that will enable beneficiaries to receive a wider range of healthcare services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility. Beginning on March 6, 2020, Medicare—administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)—will temporarily pay clinicians to provide telehealth services for beneficiaries residing across the entire country.

This guidance, and earlier CMS actions in response to the COVID-19 virus, are part of the ongoing White House Task Force efforts. To keep up with the important work the Task Force is doing in response to COVID-19 click here . For information specific to CMS, please visit the Current Emergencies Website .

We were informed this week that malpractice carriers are receiving a significant amount of calls about telemedicine and how providers are covered during this pandemic. Click here for additional resources on the topic.

NOTE: This information is usually only shared with PRMS clients. In the interest of helping during this challenging time, we wanted to get it out to all psychiatrists and members of the mental health community. However, we were urged to share this information with our members.
PaPS Update
Your staff has been in constant contact with PaPS and chapter leadership over the past few weeks to deliberate on current and future meetings, and how to guide the organization into a virtual office environment. COVID-19 has taken a toll on numerous chapter meetings, including the unfortunate cancellation of the Philadelphia Colloquium of Scholars (COS) and the hopeful rescheduling of Philadelphia’s Women’s Brunch and Pittsburgh’s Symposium. Since we can turn our meetings into virtual meetings, we have been utilizing Zoom to conduct state and chapter business. Although we are aware that this process has not been perfect, we have attempted to minimize member disruption or inconveniences with last-minute meeting cancellations or changes. This is unfamiliar territory for all of us, so know we are here to weather this storm with you. If you have any questions or need information, contact our executive director at dshoemaker@pamedsoc.org .