COVID-19 Update: Liability protection sought from state, payments issued to providers, new licensure policy, and other updates

KMS urges Gov. Kelly to issue executive order on liability amid COVID-19 pandemic
Today, KMS formally requested Governor Laura Kelly to join other state executives, such as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who issued an executive order providing immunity from civil liability to health care professionals for any injury or death alleged to have been sustained directly as a result of an act or omission by such professionals in providing medical services during the COVID-19 pandemic, unless such injury or death was caused by a professional’s gross negligence. KMS believes that physicians and other health care providers should not incur liability for care decisions or outcomes made during the public health emergency period when a physician’s judgment, for example, to provide medically appropriate diagnostic or therapeutic procedures is delayed or denied in order to preserve equipment, drugs, or other resources for COVID-19-related needs.

HHS payments to health facilities and professionals
On Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the immediate disbursement of the first $30 billion out of the $100 billion that Congress allocated to physicians, hospitals, and other health care providers in the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The distribution policy adopted by HHS largely reflects the recommendations from organized medicine made to HHS by the AMA and 137 medical societies earlier last week.

All facilities and health professionals that billed Medicare FFS in 2019 are eligible for the funds. These are grants, not loans, and do not have to be repaid. Note that the funds will go to each organization's TIN which normally receives Medicare payments, not to each individual physician. The automatic payments will come to the organizations via Optum Bank with "HHSPAYMENT" as the payment description. Additional details about the allocation are available at:

The Administration is working rapidly on further, targeted distributions that will focus on providers in areas particularly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, rural providers, providers requesting reimbursement for the treatment of uninsured Americans, as well as providers of services with lower shares of Medicare reimbursement or who predominantly serve the Medicaid population.

HHS officials have said that the agency is disbursing these funds in advance of an attestation with the expectation that each recipient could document, if asked, that they have experienced lost revenue or increased costs that are at least equal to the amount of the grant.

Gov. Kelly extends all professional and occupational licensure
On Friday, Gov. Laura Kelly issued an executive order extending all professional and occupational licensure that would have needed renewal during the state’s response to COVID-19. Under the order, all state agencies shall extend renewal deadlines for any occupational or professional license that has expired – or will expire – during this disaster. Licenses will remain valid as long as the disaster declaration is in effect, and for 90 days after it expires. The measure also waives any late penalties or expiration fees, and it extends deadlines for continuing education requirements. Read the full order here.

ABIM increases flexibility for Maintenance of Certification
This week, the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) announced that any physician who is currently certified and has a Maintenance of Certification (MOC) requirement due in 2020—including an assessment, point requirement, or attestation—will now have until the end of 2021 to complete it. Currently, all fall 2020 MOC assessments are scheduled to be offered as planned. The ABIM will send information later this spring about additional assessment dates in 2020 and 2021, and how to select one. The full statement from ABIM President and CEO Richard J. Baron, MD, is available here.

DEA issues exceptions to regulations
In an effort to facilitate continuous patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic, DEA has issued two exceptions to regulations for DEA-registered clinics and hospitals:

  1. A DEA-registered hospital/clinic, under its existing DEA registration, may handle controlled substances at a satellite hospital/clinic location (one or more), under certain conditions.
  2. Distributors can ship controlled substances directly to these alternate satellite hospital/clinic locations, even though these locations do not have their own DEA registrations (non-registered).

These two exceptions are in effect starting April 10 until the public health emergency declared by the Secretary of Health and Human Services ends, unless DEA specifies an earlier date. 

This letter sets forth the above exceptions and lists conditions that must be met in order to receive controlled substances at a non-registered alternate satellite hospital/clinic. As outlined in the letter, DEA-registered hospital/clinics, as well as distributors of controlled substances, will need to coordinate with their local DEA offices.

HRSA webinar: “Telehealth in the Time of COVID-19”
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will host a free webinar on telehealth and COVID-19 from 1:30pm - 3:00 pm CST on Monday, April 20. Register here. HRSA will review current telehealth policies under COVID-19; discuss successful telehealth approaches/models to address challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic; and highlight technical resources to assist in the development and expansion of telehealth programs.

AMA guide to telehealth
The American Medical Association has released resources to support physicians and practices in expediting the implementation of telemedicine.

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If you have questions about this update or other matters, please contact KMS Executive Director Rachelle Colombo: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..