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September 2021 COVID-19 Updates

Published on 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

 | Billing 
 | Coding 

COVID-19 Updates

August 20, 2021: CMS COVID-19 Flexibilities Reminders: Prior Authorization Process, Utilization Management and Medical Necessity

The CMS issued a letter (link) to Medicare Advantage Organizations (MAOs) noting that with the recent COVID-19 delta variant surge resulting in increased hospitalizations, they encourage MA Plans “to waive or relax plan prior authorization requirements and utilization management processes to facilitate the movement of patients from general acute-care hospitals to post-acute care” settings (i.e., skilled nursing facilities, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, inpatient rehabilitation facilities and home health agencies).

Of note, CMS goes on to remind MAOs that “while they and their contract providers are not required to follow Original Medicare’s documentation requirements or policies for establishing medical necessity, the methods implemented…to determine medical necessity cannot result in coverage standards that are more stringent than standards that apply in Fee-For-Service Medicare.”

August 27, 2021: FAQs Regarding ICD-10-CM/PCS Coding for COVID-19 Updated

The FAQ document jointly developed and approved by the American Hospital Association’ Central Office on ICD-10-CM/PCS and the American health Information Management Association provides answers to questions related to Coding COVID-19. This document (link) was most recently revised August 27, 2021.

September 2, 2021: Resumption in Use and Distribution of Bamlanivimab/Etesevimab in all U.S. States, Territories, and Jurisdictions

In late August, use of this COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatment was revised to authorize use only in areas where the combined frequency of variants resistant to both treatments administered together was less than or equal to 5%. On September 2nd, the FDA announced (link) that based on most recently available data, Bamlanivimab and Etesevimab, administered together, can be used in all U.S. states, territories, and jurisdictions under the condition of authorization for EUA 94.

September 9, 2021: CDC Clinician Outreach and Communications Activity Call: 2021-2022 Influenza Vaccination Recommendations and Guidance on Coadministration with COVID-19 Vaccines

The CDC held this call on Thursday, September 9, 2021. Presenters provided updates on the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendations for the 2021-2022 influenza vaccination season and guidance for co-administration of influenza and COVID-19 vaccines. One key take away is that COVID-19 vaccines may be administered without regard to timing of other vaccines. For those that missed this call, you can visit the CDC webpage specific to this call (link) to download a copy of the slides.

September 10, 2021: FDA Statement – COVID-19 Vaccines for Young Children

Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock M.D., and Peter Marks, M.D, Ph.D., director the FDA’s Center for Biologics Research and Education, released a statement (link) providing an update detailing steps being taken to ensure the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines for young children. The statement ends with the following advice, “Until we authorize or approve a vaccine for this younger population, it’s especially important that parents and others who interact closely with children under 12 years of age get vaccinated, wear masks, and follow other recommended precautions so that we can protect those who cannot yet protect themselves through vaccination.”

September 10, 2021: HHS Announced $25.5 Billion in COVID-19 Provider Funding

The HHS announced (link) that funding from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and Provider Relief Fund (PFR) totaling $25.5 billion is being made available for health care providers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. HHS Secretary Xavier Bacerra noted that “this funding critically helps health care providers who have endured demanding workloads and significant financial strains amidst the pandemic…the funding will be distributed with an eye towards equity, to ensure providers who serve our most vulnerable communities will receive the support they need.”

September 30, 2021: CDC COCA Call: Evaluating and Supporting Patients Presenting with Fatigue Following COVID-19

The CDC will be holding a Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA) call Thursday September 30, 2021, in which presenters will discuss post-COVID conditions (PCC), “an umbrella term for the wide range of health consequences present four or more weeks after infection with SARS-CoV-2, which includes Long-COVID.” If you are unable to attend, call materials will be available on the CDC specific webpage for this call (link).

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.