COVID-19 in the News June 15th – 22nd
FDA Warns of Potential Drug Interaction Related to Remdesivir and What COVID-19 Telehealth Policy Change may become Permanent Changes?
MMP remains committed to continuing to monitor for COVID-19 updates specific to our reader base. This week we highlight key updates spanning from June 15th – 22nd.
Resource Spotlight This Week:
This week’s COVID-19 resource spotlight is on the HHS Coronavirus (COVID-19) Home webpage. The HHS indicates that they and their federal partners “are working together with state, local, tribal and territorial governments, public health officials, health care providers, researchers, private sector organizations and the public to execute a whole-of-America response to the COVID-19 pandemic to protect the health and safety of the American people.” Following is a list of a few of the topics related to COVID-19 available on this webpage:
- CARES Act Provider Relief Fund,
- Telehealth, and
- Mental Health and Coping.
June 15, 2020: FDA Revokes Emergency Use Authorization for Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine
The FDA has revoked the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the use of these two drugs in treating COVID-19. They indicated in a News Release that “Based on its ongoing analysis of the EUA and emerging scientific data, the FDA determined that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are unlikely to be effective in treating COVID-19 for the authorized uses in the EUA. Additionally, in light of ongoing serious cardiac adverse events and other potential serious side effects, the known and potential benefits of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine no longer outweigh the known and potential risks for the authorized use.” At the same time of the News Release, the FDA posted a related FAQ Document.
June 15, 2020: FDA Warns of Newly Discovered Potential Drug Interaction Related to Remdesiver
On June 15th, in addition to revoking the EUA for Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine, the FDA posted another News Release warning health care providers that “Based on a recently completed non-clinical laboratory study, the FDA is revising the fact sheet for health care providers that accompanies the drug to state that co-administration of remdesivir and chloroquine phosphate or hydroxychloroquine sulfate is not recommended as it may result in reduced antiviral activity of remdesivir. The agency is not aware of instances of this reduced activity occurring in the clinical setting but is continuing to evaluate all data related to remdesivir.”
June 16, 2020: Applying COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control Strategies in Nursing Homes
On Tuesday June 16th, the CDC hosted a webinar where presenters used case-based scenarios to discuss how to apply infection prevention and control guidance for nursing home and other long-term care facilities. A recording of the call and slide deck are available on the CDC Clinical Outreach and Communications (COCA) Calls/Webinars webpage.
June 17, 2020: Senate Health Committee Chair: Make the Two Most Important COVID-19 Telehealth Policy Changes Permanent
A June 17, 2020 Press Release provides remarks made by Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) during the “Telehealth: Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic” committee hearing.
Senator Alexander noted that “As dark as this pandemic event has been, it creates an opportunity to learn from and act upon these three months of intensive telehealth experiences, specifically what permanent changes need to be made in federal and state policies.” Specifically, Alexander said the following two changes should be permanent:
- Permanently extend policy changes allowing physicians to be reimbursed for telehealth appointment wherever the patient is located, including the patient’s home, and
- Permanently extent the policy change that nearly doubled the number of telehealth services that could be reimbursed by Medicare.
He also indicated that there are 29 other temporary federal policy changes that could also be considered for being made permanent. You can view the entire Press Release at https://www.help.senate.gov/chair/newsroom/press/alexander-make-the-two-most-important-covid-19-telehealth-policy-changes-permanent.
Link to White Paper: Preparing for the Next Pandemic by Senator Lamar Alexander: https://www.alexander.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/0b0ca611-05c0-4555-97a1-5dfd3fa2efa4/preparing-for-the-next-pandemic.pdf
June 18, 2020: COVID-19 Diagnostic Laboratory Tests: Billing for Clinician Services
CMS provided the following reminders in the June 18, 2020 edition of their weekly MLNConnects eNewsletter:
“Physicians and Non-Physician Practitioners (NPPs): Here are several reminders related to billing for COVID-19 symptom and exposure assessment and specimen collection performed on and after March 1, 2020:
- Use CPT Code 99211 to bill for assessment and collection provided by clinical staff (such as pharmacists) incident to your services, unless you are reporting another Evaluation and Management (E/M) code for concurrent services. This applies to all patients, not just established patients.
- Submit the CS modifier with 99211 (or other E/M code for assessment and collection) to waive cost sharing.
- Contact your Medicare Administrative Contractor if you did not include the CS modifier when you submitted 99211 so they can reopen and reprocess the claim.
- We will automatically reprocess claims billed for 99211 that we denied due to place of service editing.”
June 19, 2020: Weekly Update of Nursing Home COVID-19 Data as of June 7, 2020
CMS has posted the second set of COVID-19 Nursing Home Data as of June 7th and is available at https://data.cms.gov/stories/s/bkwz-xpvg.
Residents Cases and Deaths as of June 7, 2020:
- 107,389 total confirmed cases of COVID-19,
- 71,278 total suspected cases of COVID-19, and
- 29,497 total deaths attributed to COVID-19.
Moving forward this data will be updated weekly. In addition to the data release, CMS has released additional FAQs on Nursing Home COVID-19 data at https://data.cms.gov/api/views/b62a-ieuz/files/e883f38f-77da-4f58-975f-390b858ccf9f?filename=NH%20COVID-19%20data%20FAQ%206-18-2020.pdf.
June 19, 2020: Medicare Coverage of COVID-19 Testing for Nursing Home Residents and Patients
CMS announced in a June 19th, 2020 Special Edition MLNConnects that they have instructed Medicare Administrative Contractors and notified Medicare Advantage plans that they “must continue not to charge cost sharing (including deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance) or apply prior authorization or other utilization management requirements for COVID-19 tests and testing-related services.”
June 19, 2020: FDA Letter: Stop Using COVID-19 Antibody Tests on the FDA’s “Removed” Test List
On June 19th, the FDA issued a Letter to Clinical Laboratory Staff and Health Care Providers with the recommendation to stop using COVID-19 antibody tests listed on their “removed” test list.” “The “removed” test list includes tests in which significant clinical performance problems were identified that cannot be or have not been addressed by the commercial manufacturer in a timely manner, tests for which an Emergency Use Authorization request has not been submitted by a commercial manufacturer of a serology test within a reasonable period of time as outlined in the FDA’s guidance, and tests voluntarily withdrawn by the respective commercial manufacturers.”
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.