COVID-19 in the News February 2nd through February 8th, 2021
Medicare Fraud and COVID-19, Waiver and Flexibility Fact Sheets Updated, New COVID-19 Vaccine coming soon?
This week we highlight key updates spanning from February 2nd through February 8th, 2021.
Resource Spotlight: CMS Notice – What Partners Need to Know About Medicare Fraud
On February 5th, CMS shared the following information about Medicare Fraud and COVID-19: “As COVID-19 vaccines begin rolling out across the country CMS is taking action to protect the health and safety of our nation’s patients and providers and keeping you updated on the latest COVID-19 resources from HHS, CDC and CMS.
With information coming from many different sources, CMS has compiled resources and materials to help you share important and relevant information on the COVID-19 vaccine with the people that you serve. You can find these and more resources on the COVID-19 Partner Resources Page and the HHS COVID Education Campaign page.
We look forward to partnering with you to promote vaccine safety and encourage our beneficiaries to get vaccinated when they have the opportunity.
As the country begins to distribute COVID-19 vaccines, scammers are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic. The HHS Office of Inspector General alerted the public about COVID-19 fraud schemes, with scammers using telemarketing calls, text messages, social media platforms, and door-to-door visits to perpetrate COVID-19-related scams.
Con artists may also try to get Medicare Numbers or personal information so they can steal identities and commit Medicare fraud. Medicare fraud results in higher health care costs and taxes for everyone.
What can you do to help prevent Medicare beneficiaries from being a victim of fraud?
Share this important information with Medicare beneficiaries to help them protect themselves from Medicare fraud:
Medicare covers the COVID-19 vaccine, so there will be no cost to you.
- You will need to share your Medicare card with your health care provider or pharmacy when receiving your vaccine, even if you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan.
- If anyone else asks you to share your Medicare Number or pay for access to the vaccine, you can bet it's a scam.
- You can't pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine.
- You can't pay to get early access to a vaccine.
- Don't share your personal or financial information if someone calls, texts, or emails you promising access to the vaccine for a fee.
Guard your Medicare card like it’s a credit card.
- Medicare will never contact you for your Medicare Number or other personal information unless you’ve given them permission in advance.
- Medicare will never call you to sell you anything.
- You may get calls from people promising you things if you give them a Medicare Number. Don’t do it.
- Medicare will never visit you at your home.
- Medicare can’t enroll you over the phone unless you called first.
Learn more tips to help prevent Medicare fraud.
- Learn How to Spot Medicare fraud. Review your Medicare claims and Medicare Summary Notices for any services billed to your Medicare Number you don’t recognize.
- Report anything suspicious to Medicare. If you suspect fraud, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048.
- If you need to replace your card because it’s damaged or lost, log into (or create) your secure Medicare account to print an official copy of your Medicare card. You can also use your Medicare account to access your Medicare information anytime, add prescription drugs to help you find and compare health and drug plans in your area, and more.
What role can partners play in fighting healthcare fraud, waste and abuse?
- Become a HFPP partner. The Healthcare Fraud Prevention Partnership (HFPP) is a voluntary public-private partnership that helps detect and prevent healthcare fraud through data and information sharing. Partners include federal government, state agencies, law enforcement, private health insurance plans, employer organizations, and healthcare anti-fraud associations.
- By working together, we can be more effective at preventing health care fraud, waste, and abuse. The Healthcare Fraud Prevention Partnership (HFPP) continues to expand nationally by encouraging participation by all eligible public and private health care entities. The insights and input of each member contribute to the overall value of the Partnership.
February 2, 2021: Joint Commission Sentinel Event Alert – Special Pandemic Edition
This Joint Commission newsletter includes information related to:
- What they are hearing from healthcare workers, patients, families, government agencies and more,
- Five ways to support health care workers; and
- Several links to additional resources related to the COVID-19 pandemic developed by the Joint Commission.
February 3, 2021: CMS Updates Provider Specific Fact Sheets on Waivers and Flexibilities
CMS updated all of the Provider Specific Fact Sheets on New Waivers and Responsibilities. The Hospitals: CMS Flexibilities to Fight COVID-19 Fact Sheet, was updated to include information related to coverage of monoclonal antibody therapies and Price Transparency for COVID-19 testing was added.
February 4, 2021: FDA Limits Use of Convalescent Plasma
The FDA revised the Letter of Authorization for COVID-19 convalescent plasma. The authorization limits “use of high titer COVID-19 convalescent plasma for the treatment of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 early in the disease course and to those hospitalized patients who have impaired humoral immunity and cannot produce an adequate antibody response.”
February 4, 2021: New COVID-19 Vaccine Coming Soon?
The FDA announced they have scheduled a meeting of its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) for February 26, 2021 to discuss Janssen Biotech Inc.’s request for emergency use authorization (EUA) for a COVID-19 vaccine. A meeting agenda and committee roster will be made available to the public no later than two business days prior to the meeting.
February 5, 2021: CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR): Decline in COVID-19 Hospitalization Growth Rate Associated with Statewide Mask Mandates
In this CDC MMWR Report, the authors found that from March 22 through October 17, 2020, “10 sites participating in the COVID-19-Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network in states with statewide mask mandates reports a decline in weekly COVID-19-associated hospitalization growth rates by up to 5.5 percentage points for adults aged 18-64 years after mandate implementation, compared with growth rates during the 4 weeks preceding implementation of the mandate.” The implication for public health practice concluded by the author’s is that “mask-wearing is a component of a multipronged strategy to decrease exposure to and transmission of” COVID-19.
February 7, 2021: CDC Tracking COVID-19 Variants
The CDC has created a webpage to report cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. caused by variants. As of February 7, 2021 the CDC is tracking three variants (B.1.17, B.1.351 and P.1). To date B.1.1.7 is the most prevalent variant with 690 reported cases in 33 states. B.1.1.7 is the variant identified in the United Kingdom (UK). This variant was first detected in the US at the end of December 2020 and is noted to spread more easily and quickly than other variants. You can read more about all three variants on the CDC’s New COVID-19 variant webpage.
CDC COVID Data Tracker – United States COVID-19 Cases
|Data Date||Total Cases||Total Deaths||Cases in Last 7 Days|
|September 8, 2020||6,287,362||188,688||282,919|
|October 5, 2020||7,396,730||209,199||301,438|
|November 2, 2020||9,182,628||230,383||565,607|
|December 14, 2020||16,113,148||298,266||1,476,230|
|January 4, 2021||20,558,489||350,664||1,502,620|
|February 1, 2021||26,034,475||439,955||1,015,960|
|February 7, 2021||26,761,047||460,582||839,344|
|Resource: CDC COVID Data Tracker at https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/?deliveryName=USCDC_2067-DM37553#cases_totalcases|
Article by Beth Cobb
Beth Cobb, RN, BSN, ACM, CCDS, is the Manager of Clinical Analytics at Medical Management Plus, Inc. Beth has over twenty-five years of experience in healthcare including eleven years in Case Management at a large multi-facility health system.
This material was compiled to share information. MMP, Inc. is not offering legal advice. Every reasonable effort has been taken to ensure the information is accurate and useful.