This page is intended to connect Iowa physicians and clinic administrators to the most up-to-date resources as our state responds to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic. If you are unable to locate necessary information or have information or have further questions, please contact Kady Reese or Dennis Tibben with IMS.
Proposed CY 21 Physician Fee Schedule Extends COVID-19 Telehealth Policies
CMS has published the proposed Calendar Year 2021 Physician Fee Schedule, which includes both permanent and temporary extensions of many telehealth coverage expansions and policy flexibilities that were initially implemented in response to COVID-19.
Confirmation of CMS Coverage for COVID Counseling
CMS has confirmed provider reimbursement coverage for patient counseling around the importance of self-isolation for patients who are being tested for COVID-19, regardless of where the test is administered. CMS will use existing evaluation and management (E/M) payment codes to reimburse providers who are eligible to bill CMS for counseling services. CMS has also created a Counseling Check List to assist providers in counseling and providing resources to patients.
UnitedHealthcare Extends COVID-19 Flexibilities Through October 22 - 7/29/2020
UnitedHealthcare recognizes that the persistence of COVID-19 cases across the country continues to have an impact on the healthcare system – both for COVID-19-related care as well as for regular preventive visits. To provide ongoing support to members and providers, UnitedHealthcare is extending many of the COVID-19 temporary program, process and coverage changes through Oct. 22, 2020. Full details, including applicable benefit plans and service information, can be found online.
IMS: Iowa's State of Public Health Disaster Emergency Declaration UPDATE - 7/24/2020
Renewal of a Public Health Emergency
USA Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar extended the current COVID-19 public health emergency, for an additional 90 days. This was originally set to expire on July 25.
AMA Releases New Physician Wellness Resources - 7/8/2020
7/7/2020 - Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) released a new Fact Sheet for Medicaid and CHIP Providers that is now available on the Provider Relief Fund website. Applications are due July 20, 2020
Gov. Reynolds signs new proclamation continuing the State Public Health Emergency Declaration - 6/25/2020
HHS Provider Relief Fund Update - 6/19/2020
Last week, HHS launched an application portal to distribute $15 billion in CARES Act Provider Relief Fund payments to eligible Medicaid and CHIP physicians and organizations. The payment will be at least 2 percent of reported gross revenue from patient care, and the final amount will be determined based on submitted data, including the number of Medicaid patients served. Eligible physicians and organizations have until July 20, 2020, to submit their application and report other necessary information, such as annual patient revenue data.
Wellmark to Continue Paying Health Care Providers the Same for Virtual Visits Until Feb. 1 2021 - 6/17/2020
Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield announced it has agreed to extend the same reimbursement fee to Iowa providers for virtual visits as is paid for in-person visits until Feb.1, 2021. This applies to all appropriate medical and behavioral health virtual visits with any Wellmark in-network provider in Iowa.
UnitedHealthcare Extends COVID-19 Temporary Telehealth Expansion and Cost Share Waivers - 6/17/2020
UnitedHealthcare is temporarily expanding the dates through which they are waiving the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) originating site requirements for Medicare Advantage, Medicaid and Individual and fully insured Group Market health plan members.
COVID-19 Liability Protections - 6/12/2020
The following COVID-19 Liability Protections have passed the legislature and currently await the governor’s signature:
IMS Elective Procedures & Public Health Declaration Updates - 6/10/2020
HHS Announces Enhanced Provider Portal, Relief Fund Payments for Safety Net Hospitals, Medicaid & CHIP Providers - 6/9/2020
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), has announced additional distributions from the Provider Relief Fund to eligible Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) providers that participate in state Medicaid and CHIP programs. HHS expects to distribute approximately $15 billion to eligible providers that participate in state Medicaid and CHIP programs and have not received a payment from the Provider Relief Fund General Distribution. HHS is also announcing the distribution of $10 billion in Provider Relief Funds to safety net hospitals that serve our most vulnerable citizens. The safety net distribution will occur this week.
HHS Announces New Laboratory Data Reporting Guidance for COVID-19 Testing - 6/8/2020
Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced new Guidance that specifies what additional data must be reported to HHS by laboratories along with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) test results. The Guidance standardizes reporting to ensure that public health officials have access to comprehensive and nearly real-time data to inform decision making in their response to COVID-19. As the country begins to reopen, access to clear and accurate data is essential to communities and leadership for making decisions critical to a phased reopening.
UnitedHealthcare Continues Phasing Out COVID-19 Flexibilities – 6/1/2020
UHC has published a schedule of when COVID-19 policy flexibilities will phase out, starting today.
June 1 – All prior authorization requirements and site of service reviews resume.
June 24 – Telehealth flexibilities extended through this date for Individual and fully-insured Group Market plans.
June 30 – Claims with a date of service on or after Jan. 1, 2020 will not be denied for timely filing if submitted by
AMA Publishes Updated Clinic Reopening Guide – 5/28/2020
The AMA has published updated clinic reopening guide, which includes a reopening checklist, a template pre-appointment patient screening script and information for practices considering implementing a tele-triage program.
CDC Issues COVID-19 Serology Testing Guidelines – 5/27/2020
The CDC has issued interim guidelines on the use of serological testing to determine proactive immunity and infectiousness among COVID-19 patients.
State Extends Emergency Declaration – 5/26/2020
Governor Reynolds has issued a new Public Health Disaster emergency Declaration, extending many of the provisions of interest to the medical community until June 25. In doing so, she modified slightly the partial ban on elective procedures, lowering the threshold for ICU beds hospitals must reserve for potential COVID-19 patients from 30% to 20% of ICU bed capacity.
CDC Releases Detailed Reopening Guidance – 5/21/2020
The CDC has released its long-form state reopening guidance, which includes recommendations on disease surveillance, healthcare system capacity, infection control and contact tracing, testing usage, surveillance assessment and hospital gating, and setting-specific guidance.
Medicaid Issues Updated COVID-19 Testing & Lab Coding Guidance – 5/20/2020
IME has published a new Informational Letter to update coding guidance for COVID-19 testing and lab services.
Medicare Updates COVID-19 Testing Payment Guidance – 5/19/2020
CMS has issued updated guidance to Medicare Administrative Contractors for the payment rates to assign to new COVID-19 testing codes.
AHRQ COVID-19 Telehealth White Paper
New IMS Patient & Family COVID-19 Communication Resource
Medicare Telehealth Coverage & Payment FAQ Video
UHC Ending Most Medicare Advantage Coverage for Audio-Only Telehealth
CMS Announces Additional Practice Flexibilities
CMS has announced an additional round of COVID-19 blanket waivers, including payment parity for audio-only telehealth visits and additional flexibility for telehealth services under the Medicare program, as well as flexibility for medical staff privileging and the scope of services that may be provided at ambulatory surgical centers.
HHS partnered with UnitedHealth Group (UHG) to deliver the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund payments. Physicians with inquiries about the status of their payments should contact UHG Provider Relations. Upon receiving funds, providers have 30 days from the date of payment to complete the payment attestation and agree to the terms and conditions. Practices that do not already have direct deposit through CMS or UHG’s Optum Pay, will receive a paper check unless they call UHG to set up direct deposit.
LifeServe is looking to collect COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma (CCP) from patients who have had a confirmed SARS-CoV-19 diagnosis and subsequent resolution of symptoms. They have issued CCP donor guidance.
· CDC Guidance: Elective Surgeries & Nonemergent Medical Services
· IMS Letter: Protecting Yourself and Loved Ones from COVID-19
IDPH Issues Guidance for Reporting COVID-19 Deaths & Poison Alert
Medicare Releases FAQ Video on Telehealth Flexibility
State and federal officials, as well as commercial payers, have implemented numerous policy and regulatory changes in recent weeks to help practices implement more wide-spread telehealth services. To help practices make sense of it all, IMS has arranged for Katie Fergus, President of Des Moines-based PractiSynergy, provide an overview of both the national and state-specific billing and coding changes that have been implemented. This webinar will be held on Wednesday, April 8 from 12:00-1:00 pm.
IME Issues COVID-19 Updates: Waivers, FAQs, Telehealth Billing Guidance
· IME Informational Letter No. 2125 – Medicaid Waivers & FAQ Documents
· IME Informational Letter No. 2126 – Telehealth Billing Guidance
The Board of Medicine has issued updated guidance on liability protections afforded to individuals volunteering during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as information for recent medical graduates to obtain expedited emergency licensure.
· IMS Summary of Key Healthcare Provisions (Updated 3/27/2020)
· UnitedHealthcare Releases Billing & Coding Updates
· Paramount Health Options Assembles Commercial Carriers Telehealth Billing & Coding Quick Reference Guide
o PHO Telehealth Billing & Coding QuickReference Guide
· Updated PPE Shortage Reporting and StockpileRequest Guidance
· IMS Resource Page: Business Resources for Impacted Practices
Governor Signs New State Public Health Emergency Declaration
· CMS Relaxes MIPS & ACO Reporting Requirements
Wellmark Announces Telehealth Coverage Updates, Including Payment Parity
Medicaid Issues Updated COVID-19 Billing Guidance
· CMS Procedural Recommendations
· CMS Announces Expanded Telehealth Benefits for Medicare Beneficiaries
· HHS Office of Civil Rights Easing Enforcement of HIPAA Standards for Telehealth Services
· Wellmark Waives Credentialing Standards, Allows Telephonic Visits, & Ensures Partial Reimbursement for Services
· UnitedHealthcare Waives Originating Site Restrictions, Allows Telephonic Visits, & Ensures Partial Reimbursement for Services
IMS Staff Working Remotely; All April IMS In-Person Meetings Cancelled
PPE Manufacturers and Distributors
Provider Personal Protection
Personal Protective Equipment & Medical Supplies
Volunteer to Help with Disaster Response
COVID-19 Practice Guidelines & Resources
Billing & Coding
External Resource Pages
Public Health Disaster Emergency Declarations
LifeServe Blood Center
LifeServe Blood Center is looking to collect COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma (CCP) from patients who have had a confirmed SARS-CoV-19 diagnosis and subsequent resolution of symptoms. They have issued CCP donor guidance.
Business Resources for COVID-19 Impacted Practices