The following is the latest COVID-19 information from the federal government as of 2:45 p.m. on Tuesday, March 16.
- The White House has posted a transcript of the March 15 press briefing provided by its COVID-19 response team and public health officials. During the briefing, White House officials noted that under to the American Rescue Plan (the COVID-19 relief bill), the federal government will now cover 100 percent of the cost for Medicaid and children’s health insurance beneficiaries to get vaccinated.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
- CMS announced that it is increasing Medicare payments for administering COVID-19 vaccines. Effective for COVID-19 vaccines administered on or after March 15, 2021, the national average payment rate for physicians, hospitals, pharmacies, and many other immunizers will be $40 to administer each dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This represents an increase from approximately $28 to $40 for the administration of single-dose vaccines and an increase from approximately $45 to $80 for the administration of COVID-19 vaccines requiring two doses. The exact rate will depend on the type of entity furnishing the service and will be geographically adjusted. Resources that provide additional information about this increase include:
- CMS’s announcement of the new policy
- updated billing codes for administering vaccines
- a special edition of the online CMS publication MLN Connects, which also offers links to additional payment-related resources.
- CMS has issued a correction notice making changes in the telehealth list finalized in the Medicare physician fee schedule rule that affects providers that bill for evaluation and management services as part of those telehealth visits. The notice explains that CMS “inadvertently included” CPT codes 99221, 99222, and 99223 in the table that represents the Category 3 temporary additions to the telehealth list through the end of 2021 or the year in which the COVID-19 public health emergency ends. These are evaluation and management codes for initial hospital care (30, 50, 70+ minutes). This does not affect the ability of providers to bill for these services during the public health emergency.
- CMS has released a fact sheet that outlines how the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 – the COVID-19 relief bill – affects the health care marketplace, the cost of health insurance, and access to subsidized insurance made available through the Affordable Care Act. Find that fact sheet here.
- CMS has introduced an infographic presenting its new guidance for visiting nursing homes. This infographic is available in English and Spanish.
- In recent days CMS has issued two dozen section 1135 waivers to give states greater flexibility to serve their Medicaid beneficiaries during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
HHS COVID-19 Stakeholder Calls
HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response sponsors COVID-19 Clinical Rounds Peer-to-Peer Virtual Communities of Practice that are interactive virtual learning sessions that seek to create a peer-to-peer learning network in which clinicians from the U.S. and abroad who have experience treating patients with COVID-19 share their challenges and successes. These webinar topics are covered every week:
- EMS: Patient Care and Operations (Mondays, 12:00-1:00 PM eastern)
- Critical Care: Lifesaving Treatment and Clinical Operations (Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00 PM eastern)
- Emergency Department: Patient Care and Clinical Operations (Thursdays, 12:00-1:00 PM eastern)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- The CDC has updated its guidance to essential workers on when and how to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
- The CDC has updated its guidance for people at high risk of serious illness about the advisability of receiving COVID-19 vaccines.
- The CDC has updated its case for older Americans to receive COVID-19 vaccines.
- The CDC has updated its information about adverse events resulting from COVID-19 vaccines.
- The CDC has published a study analyzing the rate at which individuals receiving two-dose COVID-19 vaccines successfully receive both doses.
Food and Drug Administration
- The FDA has issued emergency use authorization for Propofol-Lipuro 1% injectable emulsion for infusion to maintain sedation via continuous infusion in patients greater than 16 years old who require mechanical ventilation in an intensive care unit as part of treatment for COVID-19. For additional information, see the FDA’s letter issuing this emergency use authorization and a separate fact sheet on the use of Propofol-Lipuro 1% injectable emulsion.
- The FDA has issued a warning to clinical laboratory staff, point-of-care facility staff, and health care providers that false positive results can occur with the Roche Molecular Systems, Inc. cobas COVID-19 & Influenza A/B Nucleic Acid Test.