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COVID-19 in the News October 27th - November 2nd

Published on 

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

MMP remains committed to continuing to monitor for COVID-19 updates specific to our reader base. This week we highlight key updates spanning from October 27th – November 2nd.


Resource Spotlight: November 2, 2020 - CDC Adds to List of Medical Conditions Putting Patients at Risk for Severe Illness due to COVID-19

The CDC webpage People with Certain Medical Conditions has once again been updated to add sickle cell disease and chronic kidney disease to the conditions that might increase the risk of severe illness among children. As we approach the holiday season, this webpage also provides guidance regarding what to consider before being around people and things to consider to help make personal and social activities as safe as possible.


October 28, 2020: FDA Enforcement Policy for Non-Invasive Remote Monitoring Devices during COVID-19 PHE (Revised)

The FDA initially issued guidance in June 2020 “to provide a policy to help expand the availability and capability of non-invasive remote monitoring devices to facilitate patient monitoring while reducing patient and healthcare provider contact and exposure to COVID-19 for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency.” They note in this October 28, 2020 Announcement that the guidance has been updated and that it is intended to remain in effect only for the duration of the Public Health Emergency (PHE) related to COVID-19.


October 28, 2020: Fourth COVID-19 Interim Final Rule with Comment Period (IFC-4) – Eliminating Barriers, Flexibilities, Extension CJR Model,

CMS announced, in an October 28 Press Release, the release of a fourth COVID-19 Interim Final Rule. In a related Fact Sheet, CMS indicates that this final rule, “removes administrative barriers to eliminate potential delays to patient access to a lifesaving vaccine. In addition, the rule:

  • Creates flexibilities for states maintaining Medicaid enrollment during the COVID 19 PHE;
  • Establishes enhanced Medicare payments for new COVID-19 treatments;
  • Takes steps to ensure price transparency for COVID-19 tests, and
  • Provides an extension of Performance Year 5 for the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) model; and
  • Creates flexibilities in the public notice requirements and post-award public participation requirements for a State Innovation Waiver under Section 1332 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act during the COVID-19 PHE.”


October 28, 2020: Fourth COVID-19 Interim Final Rule with Comment Period (ICF-4): New COVID-19 Treatments Add-On Payment (NCTAP)

As a segue to the new add-on payment, Section D. of ICF-4 reviews section 3710 of the CARES Act and the IPPS New Technology Add-On Payment process before transitioning to the FDA Coronavirus Treatment Acceleration Program created for possible coronavirus therapies. One aspect of this program is the issuance of Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE). “CMS has determined that it is appropriate for CMS to consider drug and biological products which are authorized for emergency use for COVID-19, with letters of authorization, and are used to treat COVID-19 disease, to fall within the drugs and biologicals” Medicare benefit category.

CMS believes that as “drugs or biological products become available and are authorized or approved by FDA for the treatment of COVID-19 in the inpatient setting, it would be appropriate to increase the current IPPS payment amounts to mitigate any potential financial disincentives for hospitals to provide these new treatments during the PHE.”

CMS indicates effective with the date of ICF-4 and until the end of the PHE, when a therapy meets specific criteria it will be eligible for NCTAP. They also note that currently there are only two drug and biological products that meet the criterion. The following table highlights the two products and the ICD-10-PCS codes assigned to the products.

Drug & Biological ProductICD-10-PCS CodeCode Description
RemdesivirXW033E5Introduction of Remdesivir Anti-infective into Peripheral Vein, Percutaneous Approach, New Technology Group 5)
XW043E5Introduction of Remdesivir Anti-infective into Central Vein, Percutaneous Approach, New Technology Group 5)
Convalescent PlasmaXW13325Transfusion of Convalescent Plasma (Nonautologous) into Peripheral Vein, Percutaneous Approach, New Technology Group 5
XW14325Transfusion of Convalescent Plasma (Nonautologous) into Central Vein, Percutaneous Approach, New Technology Group 5)
Source: ICF-4 at

“CMS is setting the NCTAP amount for a case that meets the NCTAP eligibility criteria equal to the lesser of: (1) 65 percent of the operating outlier threshold for the claim or (2) 65 percent of the amount by which the costs of the case exceed the standard DRG payment, including the adjustment to the relative weight under section 3710 of the CARES Act. As with the new technology add-on payment and outlier payments, the costs of the case are determined by multiplying the covered charges by the operating cost-to-charge ratio. In addition, the NCTAP will not be included as part of the calculation of the operating outlier payments.”

To date, no drug or biological product has a EUA for treatment of COVID-19 patients in the outpatient setting. However, this Interim Final Rule includes the criteria for separate payment for New COVID-19 Treatments in the Outpatient Setting for the remainder of the PHE if and when a product is granted EUA.

October 28, 2020: Incentive Payments to Nursing Home Curing COVID-19 Deaths and Infections

Over 10,000 nursing homes will be receiving money from the approximately $333 million in first round performance payments to be made by HHS through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). HHS Secretary Alex Azar indicated in an HHS Press Release that "These $333 million in performance payments are going to nursing homes that have maintained safer environments for residents between August and September. We've provided nursing homes with resources and training to improve infection control, and we're rapidly providing incentives to those facilities that are making progress in the fight against COVID-19."

October 30, 2020: CDC Morbidity & Mortality Report: COVID-19 Exposure and Infection Among Health Care Personnel

The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) for October 30th focused on COVID-19 exposure and infection among health care professionals in Minnesota from March 6th through July 11, 2020. The report summary acknowledges that it is already known that health care personnel (HCP) are at increased risk for COVID-19 from workplace exposures. The authors of this report found that “HCP in congregate living and long-term care setting experience considerable risk and post a transmission risk to residents. Improved access to personal protective equipment, flexible medical leave and testing is needed.”

October 30, 2020: CMS Announces Launch of the Nursing Home Resource Center

CMS announced the launch of this new online platform which “consolidates all nursing home information, guidance and resources into a user-friendly, one-stop-shop that is easily navigable so providers and caregivers can spend less time searching for critical answers and more time caring for residents. Moreover, the new platform contains features specific to residents and their families, ensuring they have the information needed to make empowered decisions about their healthcare.”

The Resource Center includes information for Providers & CMS Partners and Patients & Caregivers. Resource Topics specific to Providers and CMS Partners includes the following:

  • Regulations & Guidance,
  • Training & Resources,
  • Technical Information,
  • COVID-19 Data & Updates, and
  • Payment Policy Information.


October 30, 2020: Supply Kits to Safely Administer COVID-19 Vaccines to Americans

An HHS news release indicates that they have “recently contracted with McKesson Corporation to produce, store and distribute these vaccine ancillary supply kits on behalf of the Strategic National Stockpile. Each kit will contain enough supplies to administer up to 100 doses of vaccine and will include:

  • Needles (various sizes for the population served by the ordering vaccination provider)
  • Syringes
  • Alcohol prep pads
  • Surgical masks and face shields for vaccinators
  • COVID-19 vaccination record cards for vaccine recipients
  • Needle information card”

October 31, 2020: BinaxNOW COVID-19 Tests Distribution

HHS announced that in ongoing efforts to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks in high risk communities, 389,040 Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 rapid tests have been distributed at no cost to 83 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HCBU’s) in 24 states. “The Abbott BinaxNOW test is the only rapid point of care test that does not require instrumentation – is easy to use, produces COVID-19 test results within fifteen minutes and costs just five dollars. In addition to responding quickly to flash outbreaks, these tests are ideally suited for the screening and ongoing surveillance of underserved demographic groups and in congregate settings such as group homes, nursing homes, K-12 schools and institutions of higher learning.”

CDC COVID Data Tracker – United States COVID-19 Cases

Data DateTotal CasesTotal DeathsCases in Last 7 Days
September 8, 20206,287,362188,688282,919
October 5, 20207,396,730209,199301,438
November 2, 20209,182,628230,383565,607
Resource: CDC COVID Data Tracker at
Article Author: Beth Cobb, RN, BSN, ACM, CCDS
Beth Cobb, RN, BSN, ACM, CCDS, is the Manager of Clinical Analytics at Medical Management Plus, Inc. Beth has over twenty-five years of experience in healthcare including eleven years in Case Management at a large multi-facility health system. In her current position, Beth is a principle writer for MMP’s Wednesday@One weekly e-newsletter, an active member of our HIPAA Compliance Committee, MMP’s Education Department Program Director and co-developer of MMP’s proprietary Compliance Protection Assessment Tool.

This material was compiled to share information.  MMP, Inc. is not offering legal advice. Every reasonable effort has been taken to ensure the information is accurate and useful.