265 Church Street, 14th Floor
New Haven, CT 06510
Phone: 203-687-4422
Fax: 475-202-6844
PLEASE BE ADVISED OF THE IMPORTANT UPDATE BELOW
Dear CMG Members,

Essential updates for 12.31.20:

As our last communication of 2020, I would like to take a moment to thank every member of Community Medical Group. I am extremely appreciative of the support and feedback we have received throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Our goal with this COVID-19 update is to ensure that our members have access to and awareness of the latest updates on all fronts. We look forward to continuing this update and providing you helpful and useful resources and information for the new year.

I want to take a moment to reflect on the events of the past year. One year ago today, the Chinese government officially reported the first cases of a novel infectious pneumonia. The first Covid-19 death in the United States was reported 8 weeks later, on February 29th. We sent our first update out on March 10th.

If you read my first update, there was not much positive news. There was no testing available. Telemedicine services were, at best, limited. PPE was scarce, and we had yet to understand its effectiveness in protecting against Covid. We had little understanding of the best way to diagnose, triage, and manage Covid-19. Navigating the complexity of the Payroll Protection plan, relief funding, and potential staff furloughs were daunting.

Considering where we were on March 10th, your response was nothing short of heroic. Clinical care was never disrupted. Every practice in CMG implemented telemedicine within days. We unwaveringly stuck to the basic tenets of evidence-based medicine and maintained our status as stewards of the public health despite incredible external pressures to relax those core principles. We took care of our employees, compassionately and responsibly under devastating financial and operational stresses. Many of our practices stayed open throughout the first wave, and when recovery began, we opened up faster and more nimbly than larger organizations. Most importantly, we showed up for our patients every day in whatever way we could and cared for them in the compassionate, patient-centered, and high-quality manner we always have.

As we finish this year, there is much to be hopeful for, as a long-awaited vaccine has finally arrived! Hopefully, this will mark the beginning of a transition back to the normalcy we all desire.

From all of us here at CMG, I want to wish each of you and your loved ones a happy and healthy New Year. Here is to better times ahead and a brighter future for 2021.

Stay safe. Be well. God bless.
COVID-19 Vaccine Information
The pace of vaccination continues to increase, with more availability opening up in the coming weeks. All patient-facing medical staff at YNHHS should have received an invite for vaccination by now. Many have been able to schedule directly through the DPH for their vaccine at numerous sites across the state. We will be messaging other opportunities for CMG to schedule vaccines for their staff early next week. We have also received feedback about registering for the VAMS site with DPH and are following up on those issues.

Key updates from YNHHS:
 
  • Out of the 10,000 individuals vaccinated, only one person had a mild reaction of hives/urticaria that was easily treated, confirming these vaccines' safety.
 
  • Yale's Occupational Health and Infection Prevention teams have developed new guidance to compare the common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines with other common vaccines (tetanus and shingles vaccines) available here.

  • Covid testing supply chain disruption continues to cause heightened concern. Still, YNHH informs its community partners that the testing enterprise manages to keep the vast majority of tests in-house.
  • Holiday hours for this week at all drive-through testing sites will be as follows:
  • Thursday, December 31st, 7:30 am – 5 pm.
  • Friday, January 1st, 8:30 am – 12 pm.

Key Updates from DPH:

The state continues to add more vaccine access to multiple different locations. If you have not already done so, if you register with VAMS, your front-line employees can.

Early this week, DPH acknowledged that there had been some CMG member practices that have not received their VAMS access. Please make sure you have completed all the necessary steps and submit a ticket to the help desk at this link.

As of 12/31, Connecticut remains in Phase 1a of the COVID-19 vaccination program.

Help make sure Connecticut residents get the facts about the vaccine. Download, and share these promotional resources in multiple languages.
Telemedicine
There are many important updates regarding telemedicine that will take effect in January. Please review carefully our updated excel sheet with telemedicine billing codes and coverage guidelines. (Please note: This excel sheet is updated regularly and posted on our COVID-19 web page)

If you have any questions or need clarification on telemedicine policies, please reach out to:
Weekly CDC and DPH Update
Please see today's summary from the CDC and DPH here. 
Medicare FFS Claims: 2% Payment Adjustment (Sequestration) Suspended Through March
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act suspended the payment adjustment percentage of 2% applied to all Medicare Fee-For-Service (FFS) claims from May 1 through December 31. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, signed into law on December 27, extends the suspension period to March 31, 2021. Click here for more information.
EEOC Guidance on Vaccines in the Workplace
The arrival of COVID-19 vaccinations may raise questions from employers and employees about the applicability of various equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws. On December 16, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission updated its Technical Assistance Questions and Answers web page to provide new guidance on how employers can implement vaccination programs and what factors must be considered to ensure compliance with applicable EEO laws. You can review the EEOC’s new guidance here (see Section K, Vaccinations).
Information you may have missed:
Interesting + Important Reads
  • What is (and isn't) safe after you've gotten a coronavirus vaccine. Many Americans are excited to get vaccinated against Covid-19 so they can resume their pre-pandemic "normal" lives, but scientists say even with a vaccine, it may not be safe to resume many pre-pandemic activities just yet, the New York Times' "The Upshot" reports. Read the article from the Advisory Board's, 'The Daily Briefing' to what you can safely resume once you're vaccinated—and which activities will likely be unsafe for a while longer, according to experts. 

  • Federal Agencies Warn of Emerging Fraud Schemes Related to COVID-19 Vaccines. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are warning the public about several emerging fraud schemes related to COVID-19 vaccines. They have received complaints of scammers using the public’s interest in COVID-19 vaccines to obtain personally identifiable information (PII) and money through various schemes. Click here to read about the potential indicators of fraudulent activity regarding the vaccine.
COVID-Testing Update
Attached is a summary of various locations for COVID testing across the state. Some require a provider order and others do not. Turnaround time will vary based upon test type and location.

COVID-19 resources and links
Stay safe. Be well. God bless.

Best,

Joseph L. Quaranta, MD

Joseph L. Quaranta, MD
President, Community Medical Group