COVID-19

Western Carolina Medical Society and WCU working together to take inventory of Personal Protective Equipment in WNC

April 1, 2020

ASHEVILLE AND CULLOWHEE, NC – The Western Carolina Medical Society (WCMS) is working in collaboration with Western Carolina University (WCU) to identify available resources for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in Western North Carolina and beyond. If you possess non-essential and unused Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that you’re willing to donate, please contact WCMS Program Director, Nadia Z. Mazza, at nadia@mywcms.org. WCMS and WCU are organizing a comprehensive list of what’s available in an effort to connect those in need of PPE with those who have the capacity to donate. If you are a medical practice or community-based non-profit in need of PPE, please contact Nadia. If you are working on a similar initiative, please reach out to Nadia to collaborate and avoid duplicate efforts.

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Cheat Sheet: Strategies to Optimize PPE & Equipment

March 31, 2020

Overview of CDC’s new guidelines following PPE shortages due to COVID-19

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Trump Administration Makes Sweeping Regulatory Changes to Help U.S. Healthcare System Address COVID-19 Patient Surge

March 31, 2020

At President Trump’s direction, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today is issuing an unprecedented array of temporary regulatory waivers and new rules to equip the American healthcare system with maximum flexibility to respond to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. CMS sets and enforces essential quality and safety standards for the nation’s healthcare system, and is the nation’s largest health insurer serving more than 140 million Americans through Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Federal Exchanges.

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H.R. 748, the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” (CARES Act) Health Care Highlights

March 31, 2020

Provisions that will benefit physicians and physician practices.

• Small business loans. Small businesses, including physician practices, with no more than 500 employees are eligible to apply for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) section 7(a) Payroll Protection Program. This allows a small business to apply to an SBA-approved lender for a loan of up to 250 percent of the business’ average monthly payroll costs to cover eight weeks of payroll as well as help with other expenses like rent, mortgage payments, and utilities. The maximum loan amount is $10 million. Sole-proprietors, independent contractors, and other selfemployed individuals are eligible. A loan can be forgiven based on maintaining employee and salary levels. For any portion of the loan that is not forgiven, the terms include a maximum term of 10 years, a maximum interest rate of four percent. Small businesses and organizations will be able to apply if they were harmed by COVID-19 between February 15, 2020 and June 30, 2020. This program is retroactive to February 15, 2020 and are available through June 30, 2020. (Division A) 

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Coronavirus practice guide, part 1: Financial steps to save your practice during the coronavirus outbreak

March 30, 2020

The outbreak of the Covid-19 virus is having a financial impact on private practices nationwide. Experts say that many practices are seeing a decline in patient volume as people try to avoid doctors’ offices unless they have no other choice, and that decline is expected to continue as the crisis broadens.

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CARES Act 2020

March 30, 2020

On Friday the President signed the $2 trillion stimulus and COVID-19 relief package, which Congress approved last week. The AMA provided this brief overview of how the package might impact your medical practice.

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From NCMS: Keeping up with Covid-19: Special Message from NCDHHS for Primary Care Providers

March 17, 2020

The NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) recognizes that many primary care and outpatient clinics may be feeling overwhelmed with the vast amount of nearly hourly news about Covid-19 and are looking for easy access to practical information as they are on the frontlines of patient care.

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Administration Provides Financial Relief for Medicare Providers

March 30, 2020

Trump Administration Provides Financial Relief for Medicare Providers

Action comes to aid providers and suppliers facing challenges in responding to COVID-19 pandemic

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BCHHS Public Health Provider Alert: Updated COVID-19 provider guidance & Buncombe County update

March 30, 2020

This memo updates previous guidance shared on March 23rd, 2020. It is intended to provide the latest information to all North Carolina clinicians and laboratory staff regarding the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Please read thoroughly as there are several updates, including: 
 
• Updated criteria for submission of specimens to the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health

• Providers no longer asked to fill out person under investigation forms for patients tested for COVID-19

• Requirement for reporting of COVID-19-associated deaths 

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CMS Announces Relief for Medicare Providers

March 30, 2020

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced an expansion of its accelerated and advance payment program for Medicare participating health care providers and suppliers, to ensure they have the resources needed to combat the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). This program expansion includes changes that were part of the recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

 

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: Buncombe County Reports Additional Cases

March 30, 2020

Latest Coronavirus Updates on Confirmed Cases

Watch the daily briefings from Buncombe County Public Health on the Coronavirus and preparedness efforts in Buncombe County.

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COVID-19 Financial Hardship Offerings from Curi

March 30, 2020

Curi has three options to support our insureds with financial hardships associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.   

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Pardee CEO: COVID-19 peak may be months off, hundreds could be hospitalized in weeks, ventilators a concern

March 30, 2020

COVID-19 cases could peak in Henderson County as far off as mid-May to early June, according to President and CEO of Pardee UNC Health Care Jay Kirby, adding that locally we are just now seeing “the outer bands of a hurricane.”

He shared his opinions based on recent models and data to the Henderson County Board of Commissioners Friday.

“Today I am not here to lead, guide or direct your governance, what I am here today is to tell you what Pardee hospital, its frontline nurses and its medical staff are up against,” Kirby said.

He explained that the data he is receiving from medical experts is alarming.

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One Buncombe

March 30, 2020

Our community is engaged in a battle with an invisible enemy; COVID-19. Each day brings new reports of shuttered businesses, layoffs and furloughs, and children unable to attend school. These are the moments that define communities, and ours will be defined by its willingness to help one another. It is this spirit that has driven the creation of the “One Buncombe” Fund. Together we will get through this.

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NCMS Statement on Governor's Stay-at-Home Order

March 30, 2020

Governor Roy Cooper issued a statewide stay-at-home order this afternoon. Below is the NCMS' statement to the media in response to the order.

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NC DHHS Issues New Telepsychiatry/Telehealth Policy Guidance

March 27, 2020

Effective Monday, March 30, 2020, the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is temporarily modifying enhanced behavioral health policies and telemedicine and telepsychiatry policies to better enable the delivery of remote care to Medicaid and state-funded beneficiaries during the COVID-19 outbreak. This will include dates of service on or after March 10, 2020 and will remain in effect until the State of Emergency is declared over or when this policy is rescinded.

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Business Interruption Resources from Ward and Smith, P.A.

March 27, 2020

Responding to the Coronavirus Outbreak (COVID-19)

We are writing about the outbreak on a regular basis, and plan to keep our clients updated about key issues as they happen. Bookmark this page to stay up to date.

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NC Pharmacy Board Files Emergency Drug Preservation Rule

March 27, 2020

The North Carolina Board of Pharmacy has filed an emergency rule, effective April 1, 2020. Read the rule and  notice for temporary rulemaking

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Topline Summary of Stimulus Legislation

March 26, 2020

Late Wednesday night the Senate approved a massive $2 trillion stimulus and COVID-19 relief package.

Provisions of particular interest to physicians and their practices include the following:

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Buncombe County Emergency Services Memo

March 26, 2020

Here are the instructions for how providers can request PPE:

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Join Our Primary Care Collaborative and Discuss Telehealth Benefits in Response to COVID-19

March 25, 2020

Telehealth in the setting of COVID-19 offers an essential solution for separating the sick and well. In this critical time, telehealth enables us to declutter waiting rooms, to provide ongoing monitoring for patients, and to reduce the exposure from ill persons with staff, other patients, and facilities. Telehealth is able not only to expand the reach of services to communities that have limited access, but also to minimize the exposure for both the health workers and patients who are at high risk for infection. Many clinics and medical offices already use these methods to triage and manage patients as part of usual practices. MAHEC is offering a free, region-wide ECHO (Extension in Community Healthcare Outcomes) to explore local ways to maximize the benefits of telehealth during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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NC AHEC offering physicians and providers up-to-date information on COVID-19

March 25, 2020

In light of developing reports of confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in North Carolina, the NC AHEC Program is committed to helping health care professionals, providers, and communities across our state access the most up-to-date information on COVID-19. This page will continue to be modified as new and updated resources are developed. https://www.ncahec.net/news/resources-and-courses-on-covid-19/

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AMA releases special coding advice related to COVID-19

March 25, 2020

New guidance from the AMA provides special coding advice during the COVID-19 public health emergency. One resource outlines coding scenarios designed to help health care professionals apply best coding practices. The scenarios include telehealth services for all patients.

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NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Lending Program

March 25, 2020

Dear friends and partners, 

I am pleased to announce that earlier today, in partnership with the Golden LEAF Foundation, Thread Capital, and other nonprofit lenders throughout the state, the NC Rural Center launched a new emergency small business lending program in response to the ongoing economic impact of COVID-19 on North Carolina’s entrepreneurs and small-business owners.

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Coding during the Coronavirus pandemic

March 25, 2020

A1:  There are numerous options when it comes to reporting visits that are not the traditional face-to-face office visit. This varies somewhat by payer, of course.

As you mention, on 3-17-20 Medicare has temporarily relaxed some of the geographic and security/privacy restrictions on Telehealth visits – including the office visit codes. This will allow patients to call your office, and as long as there is some type of combined audio/video communication between the provider and the patient – these ‘visits’ can be billed with the 99201-99215 series codes, adding the 95 modifier.

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NCDHHS Calls for Medical Volunteers

March 24, 2020

The NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is asking for medical volunteers to “bolster our health care system to ensure we can care for those impacted by the Covid-19 virus. A crucial part of that effort is recruiting volunteers to supplement our health care workforce. We are asking for your help to meet these needs,” wrote NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD, MPH in a letter to health care organizations.

Read the full letter.  (PDF)

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MATRC Telehealth Resources for COVID-19

March 24, 2020

STARTING A TELEHEALTH PROGRAM

What is the Different Between Telemedicine, Telehealth and Remote Monitoring?

Telemedicine typically refers to the practice of medicine using technology to deliver care at a distance. A physician/clinician in one location uses a telecommunications infrastructure to deliver care to a patient at a distant site.  Telemedicine is a subset of telehealth.

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NC Medicaid Requests Temporary Plan Changes to Respond COVID-19

March 24, 2020

Raleigh

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has sought authority from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to temporarily waive certain Medicaid and NC Health Choice policies as part of North Carolina’s response to the COVID-19. The waivers will provide flexibility to NC Medicaid and providers to address the urgent health care needs of beneficiaries during this public health emergency.

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New State COVID-19 Guidance

March 24, 2020

Dear Colleagues:

Apologies for so many communications, but in this rapidly evolving world we feel it is better to over communicate rather than leave you in the dark. The state released new guidance today which is attached and posted on our MissionandMe/COVID-19 website.

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COVID-19 Response and Resources from WCMS

March 24, 2020

NEW COVID-19 WCMS WEBPAGE

WCMS will continue to update this webpage with COVID-19 news and articles relevant to our WNC community

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CMS Approves NC Medicaid's Request for Flexiblity During COVID-19

March 24, 2020

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced approval of an additional 11 Section 1135 waiver requests, including North Carolina's, intended to give states and providers regulatory relief under Medicaid to respond to COVID-19. North Carolina submitted its waiver request on March 17. The waiver will help physicians and PAs address requirements for prior authorization for services, provider enrollment, fair hearings and appeals, nursing home pre-admission reviews, reimbursement to providers for care in alternative settings due to facility evacuations (telehealth), and public notice and deadlines for state plan amendments related to COVID-1. CMS Administrator Seema Verma emphasized that the agency “has been able to swiftly remove barriers and cut red tape for our state partners.”

Read more about North Carolina's waiver approval.

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BCHHS Public Health Provider Alert: COVID-19 Updated Provider Guidance

March 24, 2020

As I mentioned in yesterday’s email, attached is the updated clinician guidance from NC DHHS with changes related to testing for COVID-19.

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PPE Recommendations/Update - Please Read

March 23, 2020

Dear Colleagues:

We continue to hear concerns/need for clarification about PPE Guidance for patients suspected of having COVID-19. I have attached a slide set that delineates the current recommendations. Please review as soon as you can. It is imperative that we use our PPE judiciously as we move forward with unknown needs facing us.

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BCHHS Public Health Provider Update: Additional guidance on testing for COVID-19

March 23, 2020

As you have likely heard this weekend, residents of several WNC counties, including Buncombe, were found to have lab-confirmed COVID-19. Our case count in Buncombe has continued to increase throughout the day today and we expect that to be the case for the coming days as well. Based on contact investigations that are underway, it is likely that we have local community spread.

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CMS Announces Relief for Clinicians, Providers, Hospitals and Facilities Participating in Quality Reporting Programs in Response to COVID-19

March 23, 2020

Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced unprecedented relief for the clinicians, providers, and facilities participating in Medicare quality reporting programs including the 1.2 million clinicians in the Quality Payment Program and on the front lines of America’s fight against the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

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Important Update on Elective Surgeries

March 23, 2020

Starting Monday, March 23, 2020 all “non-essential surgery” as defined by CMS guidance will be canceled.

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Message from William Hathaway and Anthony Spensieri

March 23, 2020

William R Hathaway M.D., CMO NC Division, HCA Healthcare

Anthony M. Spensieri, MD CMO Mission Hospital

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CMS Adult Elective Surgery and Procedures Recommendations

March 18, 2020

Limit all non-essential planned surgeries and procedures, including dental, until further notice

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BCHHS Public Health Provider Alert: Updates on COVID-19 response and Buncombe County Community Testing Sites

March 20, 2020

As you may have heard yesterday afternoon, there is now documented community transmission of COVID-19 in North Carolina with a case identified in Wilson County. Data from NC and elsewhere in the US indicate that we are moving into the acceleration phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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NC Medicaid Requests Temporary Plan Changes to Respond COVID-19

March 20, 2020

Raleigh

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has sought authority from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to temporarily waive certain Medicaid and NC Health Choice policies as part of North Carolina’s response to the COVID-19. The waivers will provide flexibility to NC Medicaid and providers to address the urgent health care needs of beneficiaries during this public health emergency.

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The Physicians Foundation Announces The Telehealth Initiative to Improve Access to Quality Health Care

March 19, 2020

Initiative launches as the world grapples with surging demand for medical care in the midst of COVID-19 

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HHS Office of Civil Rights Enforcement Discretion related to HIPAA

March 17, 2020

In light of the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency, the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is exercising its enforcement discretion and, effective immediately, will not impose penalties on physicians using telehealth in the event of noncompliance with the regulatory requirements under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

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NC Division of Public Health (DPH) guidance on COVID-19 for Providers

March 10, 2020

Summary

A respiratory disease named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”) caused by a novel coronavirus named “SARS-CoV-2” was first detected in China in late 2019 and has subsequently spread to many other countries, including the United States.  The World Health Organization announced a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 30 and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency on January 31, 2020.   

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NCDHHS and NC AHEC Offer Forum to Answer Your Questions

March 11, 2020

The NC DHHS, Division of Public Health (DPH) and NC AHEC are partnering to enhance communication about and preparedness for COVID-19 by holding weekly forums for health care providers. The forums will be held on Fridays from 12:30 to 1:30 pm, beginning this Friday, March 13 and will continue until they are no longer needed.

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COVID-19 testing through LabCorp

March 12, 2020

To facilitate greater access to testing for the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, NC DHHS encourages providers to submit specimens to LabCorp when the following conditions are met: 

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BCHHS Public Health Provider Alert: Updated COVID-19 Guidance & Local Response

March 16, 2020

This [COVID-19] remains a rapidly evolving situation of course, but as of noon today, there have been 23 cases (presumptive + and confirmed +) in NC.

Still no cases identified in Buncombe County or WNC at this time, although numerous tests are pending.

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Medical Staff COVID-19 Update

March 16, 2020

Medical Staff COVID-19 Update: We are writing to communicate an update on COVID-19 testing guidelines and test availability. We recognize the challenges and appreciate the concerns with the historical limitations in testing access.

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BCHHS Public Health Provider Alert: Request that clinics setting up community testing sites coordinate with Buncombe County EOC

March 16, 2020

Medical Practices, Community Partners, and Healthcare Providers:

We appreciate your efforts to assist with this evolving situation. In an effort to ensure that our community has access to supportive and lifesaving measures, effective and efficient multiagency coordination is a necessary strategy. This is occurring at a very high level through Buncombe County Emergency Operations Centers (EOC).

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Buncombe County Confirms First Case of COVID-19 in Visitor to County 3/16/19

March 16, 2020

Buncombe County Health and Human Services (BCHHS) wants our community to know that their health and safety is our number one priority. Today, Macon County Public Health announced a presumptive positive case of the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) in a person who visited Buncombe County last week. This is the first known presumptive positive case of COVID-19 associated with Buncombe County.

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BCHHS Public Health Provider Alert: Updated Provider Guidance and Info on Buncombe County Community Testing Sites

March 17, 2020

Updated Provider Guidance and Info on Buncombe County Community Testing Sites

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Asheville Therapists and Healers Launch “Care for Corona” to provide free counseling sessions to frontline healthcare workers

April 1, 2020

April 1, 2020

Asheville, North Carolina

A consortium of therapists and healers have formed “Care for Corona”, a grassroots support system comprised of therapists and healing practitioners who offer no-cost online sessions to Buncombe County medical personnel and psychotherapists who are reeling from the demands to care for our community.

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New DEA Buprenorphine Guidance

April 1, 2020

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) late yesterday issued guidance to DEA-registered physicians providing new flexibility for physicians managing patients with opioid use disorder. The new guidance permits physicians and other health professionals with a waiver allowing them to prescribe buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid use disorder to issue these prescriptions to new and existing patients based on an evaluation via telephone. The new policy is effective from March 31 for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.

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NC Medical Board Eases Some Requirements in Response to COVID-19

April 1, 2020

The North Carolina Medical Board (NCMB) held an emergency meeting last Friday during which they took several actions to support the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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