As we continue to monitor the situation around the COVID-19 pandemic, we will share a regular weekly update on important news affecting the hospitals and health systems on the front line.
The CARES ACT
Last week, the U.S. Senate approved a $2 trillion stimulus package to address the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill includes payments and benefits to the jobless, support for businesses hard-hit by the shutdown, and funding for healthcare. Relief for individuals will bein direct payments and extended unemployment while small businesses with fewer than 500 employees will be able to access loans and delay payroll taxes. Over $150 billion will go directly to healthcare. About $100 billion will go to hospitals as they fight COVID-19. TThe rest is divided among community health centers, CDC programs, medical supplies, and development and approval of medications. his money will be paid out in grants from the Department of Health and Human Services. The bill also reauthorizes expansion of telehealth.
For more information, here are some updated resources:
- American Hospital Association https://www.aha.org/advisory/2020-03-30-special-bulletin-cares-act-financial-resources-assist-hospitals-and-health
- U.S. Treasury Department https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/top-priorities/cares-act/assistance-for-small-businesses
Addressing Financial Challenges
There was a good article in Rev Cycle Intelligence about strategies to dealing with the fiscal challenges of COVID-19. Read Playing Defense Key to Overcoming Fiscal Challenges of COVID-19.
In addition, CMS has extended the deadline for MIPS submission for providers from March 2019 to April 30, 2020. And they are automatically applying the “extreme and uncontrollable circumstances policy exception” to anyone who chooses not to submit. For hospitals, fourth quarter data submission is now optional. Performance for hospitals will be based on the data from Q1 to Q3. Data for early 2020 won’t be counted and submission isn’t required. Not only do these changes reduce the burden on overextended providers and hospitals to deal with reporting but they protect their revenue.
Data Sharing Coalition
Several news outlets have shared the story that there is a new coalition to share data and coordinate the response to COVID-19. According to a piece by Anne Zeiger on Healthcare IT Today, the coalition is intended to support the “rapid deployment of open source solutions addressing the COVID-19 virus.”
Group members have agreed to some guiding principles to ensure they are in it for the greater good and not to market themselves. They have also agreed to with MITRE Corp to manage data sharing and avoid getting bogged down by one company’s bureaucracy. The companies involved include Amazon Web Services (AWS), athenahealth, CommonWell Health Alliance, Epic, HCA Healthcare, Intermountain Healthcare, LabCorp, Mayo Clinic, Microsoft, Rush University System for Health, Buoy Health, Arcadia.io, Leavitt Partners, MassChallenge, Salesforce, Walgreens, Cerner, Diagnostic Robots, and the University of California Healthcare System.
According to Zeiger, “Eventually, as organizations learn from their efforts, it will become clearer how to not only slow the spread of COVID-19 but also how to prepare better for future pandemics.”
We'll provide more updates next week as response to the COIVD-19 pandemic continues. For ways to use patient communication tools during this time, visit our COVID-19 page.