COVID-19 in the News July 27th – August 3rd

on Tuesday, 04 August 2020. All News Items | Case Management | Documentation | Coding

Accelerated/Advanced Payment Recoupment, Telehealth Trends, and COVID-19 Counseling Reimbursable

MMP remains committed to continuing to monitor for COVID-19 updates specific to our reader base. This week we highlight key updates spanning from July 27th through August 3rd.


Resource Spotlight: CDC Toolkit for Young Adults: 15 to 21

As parents across the country are facing the dilemma of whether or not to send their child back to school or attend school “remotely,” the CDC has developed a series of Factsheets for Young Adults covering a variety of topics related to COVID-19.


July 28, 2020: CMS Updates COVID-19 Data

In a CMS Press Release, they announced the first monthly update of data providing a snapshot of the impact of COVID-19 on the Medicare population.

About the Data

  • For the first time the data included information for American Indian/Alaskan Native Medicare beneficiaries,
  • The data confirms “that the COVID-19 public health emergency is disproportionately affecting vulnerable populations, particularly racial and ethnic minorities,”
  • The data is based on COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations from January 1, 2020 to June 20, 2020,
  • The data is based on Medicare claims and encounter data CMS received by July 17, 2020,
  • Key data points about the data are that black beneficiaries, beneficiaries eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid and beneficiaries with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) are being hospitalized at a higher rate, and
  • “CMS paid $2.8 billion in Medicare fee-for-service claims for COVID-related hospitalizations, on an average of $25,555 per beneficiary.”


July 28, 2020: CDC Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA) Call: COVID-19 and Diabetes

For those that were unable to attend the July 28th session, the CDC hosted a call focused on current information about the impact and increased risk for COVID-19 complications in people with diabetes and the importance of diabetes prevention, management, and support. The CDC has made available a video recording, slides and transcript of this call.  


July 28, 2020: Dramatic Trends in Medicare Beneficiary Telehealth Utilization and COVID-19

The U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a Press Release announcing the release of a “new report showing the dramatic utilization trends of telehealth services for primary care delivery in Fee-for-Service (FFS) Medicare in the early days of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic…Even after Medicare in-person primary care visits resumed in May, there continues to be steady demand for telehealth visits which are now more broadly available to Medicare beneficiaries and providers during the PHE. This suggests there will be continued interest in telehealth post-pandemic for millions of Medicare beneficiaries.”


July 29, 2020: Palmetto GBA FAQs: COVID-19 Accelerated/Advance Payment (AAP) Repayment FAQ

Palmetto GBA, the JJ and JM MAC has posted an FAQ document “to help providers understand the process and options of repaying accelerated/advance payments (AAPs) issued for COVID-19.”


July 29, 2020: OIG Updates FAQs – Application of OIG’s Administrative Enforcement Authorities to Arrangements Directly Connected to COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

The OIG is accepting questions “from the health care community regarding the application of OIG's administrative enforcement authorities, including the Federal anti-kickback statute and civil monetary penalty (CMP) provision prohibiting inducements to beneficiaries (Beneficiary Inducements CMP).”

The most recent addition to this document was on July 29th when the OIG answers the question of whether or not “an oncology practice can offer free or discounted lodging to its financially needy patients who are Federal health care program beneficiaries if, prior to the COVID-19 public health emergency, such patients would have had access to free or discounted housing at a nonprofit lodging facility while receiving chemotherapy or radiation treatment?”

You can read the answer to this and all other questions posted on the OIG website at


July 29, 2020: FDA Posts FAQs about Antibody (Serology) Testing During COVID-19 PHE

The FDA announced the release of FAQs for patients and consumers about antibody (serology) testing during the COVID-19 pandemic in their July 30th Edition of the COVID-19 Update: Daily Roundup. Topics reviewed in the FAQs includes:

  • Antibodies and antibody testing: the basics,
  • Understanding antibody test results,
  • Practical information on antibody tests: who needs them where to get them; and
  • Additional Resources where you are provided to the CDC webpage Using Antibody Tests for COVID-19.


July 30, 2020: CMS MLNConnects Newsletter: COVID-19 Lab Claims Requiring the NPI of the Ordering/Referring Professional – Update

The following information was included in the July 30, 2020 edition of CMS MLNConnects eNewsletter: “During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE), CMS relaxed requirements for a limited number of laboratory tests required for a COVID-19 diagnosis. These tests do not require a practitioner order during the PHE. We added a new test to this list (PDF): CPT 87426 (Infectious agent antigen detection by immunoassay technique, (e.g., enzyme immunoassay [EIA], enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay [ELISA], immunochemiluminometric assay [IMCA]) qualitative or semiquantitative, multiple-step method; severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (e.g., SARS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2 [COVID-19]).

Any health care professional authorized under state law may order these tests. Medicare will pay for these tests without a written order from the treating physician or other practitioner:

  • If an order is not written, you do not need to provide the National Provider Identifier (NPI) of the ordering or referring professional on the claim
  • If an order is written, include the NPI of the ordering or referring professional, consistent with current billing guidelines

For More Information:


July 30, 2020: National Public Health Experts to America: Donate Plasma

The HHS Press Office announced the release of a series of public service announcements (PSAs) to Americans seeking to “dramatically increase donations of convalescent plasma by the end of August in the whole-of-America fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.” Messaging in the PSAs to Americans includes the following three points:

  • If you have recovered from COVID-19 after a confirmed test for the virus and have had no symptoms for at least two weeks, find a location and donate plasma;
  • There are thousands of locations around the country where you can donate, and
  • Donation locations can be found by visiting gov.


July 30, 2020: CMS and CDC Announces Provider Reimbursement for Counseling Patients to Self-Isolate at Time of COVID-19 Testing

In a July 30th Special Edition MLNConnects eNewsletter, CMS and the CDC announced “that payment is available to physician and health care providers to counsel patients, at the time of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing, about the importance of self-isolation after they are tested and prior to the onset of symptoms.”

Provider counseling will include the discussion of the following:

  • Immediate need for isolation, even before test results are available,
  • The importance to inform their immediate household that they too should be tested for COVID-19,
  • Review the signs and symptoms and services available to them to aid in isolating at home, and
  • If a patient tests positive for COVID-19, they will be counseled to wear a face mask at all times, that they will be contacted by public health authorities to provider information for contact tracing, and to tell immediate household and recent contacts in case it is appropriate for them to also be tested for COVID-19 and self-isolate.

MLN SE20011 was revised on July 30th to add information about Counseling and COVID-19 Testing and how to bill for the counseling services.


July 31, 2020: CDC and CMS COVID-19 Counseling Reimbursement Resources

The CDC’s Clinician Outreach and Community Activity (COCA) issued a COCA Now email about COVID-19 Counseling Reimbursement noting that “counseling can help slow the spread of the virus and keep families and communities safe.” In the announcement the CDC provides links for Healthcare Providers and Public Health Professionals to CDC and CMS developed resources. 

Resources for Healthcare Providers

Resources for Public Health Professionals
Patient Resources:

Provider Resources:

You can sign up for future COCA Now Messages on the CDC website at undefined.


August 3, 2020: Proposed Expansion of Telehealth Benefits Permanently Beyond the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE)

CMS announced in a Press Release proposed changes to expand telehealth permanently simultaneous to an Executive Order on Improving Rural Telehealth Access signed by President Trump.  “Before the public health emergency (PHE), only 14,000 beneficiaries received a Medicare telehealth service in a week while over 10.1 million beneficiaries have received a Medicare telehealth service during the public health emergency from mid-March through early-July.”

CMS is proposing to permanently allow some of the 135 services added, during the PHE, to the list of services that can be paid when delivered by telehealth, “including home visits for the evaluation and management of a patient (in the case where the law allows telehealth services in the patient’s home), and certain types of visits for patients with cognitive impairments. CMS is seeking public input on other services to permanently add to the telehealth list beyond the PHE in order to give clinicians and patients time as they get ready to provide in-person care again.” CMS is also proposing to extend payment for other telehealth services, such as emergency department visits, through the calendar year in which the PHE ends.

The entire list of services being proposed are included in the calendar year (CY) 2021 Physician Fee Schedule Proposed Rule also issued on August 3rd, 2020. 

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. 

In her current position, Beth is a principle writer for MMP’s Wednesday@One weekly e-newsletter, an active member of our HIPAA Compliance Committee, MMP’s Education Department Program Director and co-developer of MMP’s proprietary Compliance Risk Assessment (CRA) Tool. You may contact Beth at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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.

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