Read the Latest Issue of Advocacy Update
July 28, 2020
In this Issue:
- HHS Renews COVID-19 Emergency Declaration After Urging by CAP and Coalition
- HHS Extends Relief Funds Application Deadline to Aug. 3
- HHS, DOD Spend $7.5 Million to Expand Production of COVID-19 Test Supplies
- Webinar August 5: 2020 Medicare Payment for Pathologists
- Last Chance to Test Your July Advocacy News Knowledge
HHS Renews COVID-19 Emergency Declaration After Urging by CAP and Coalition
The federal government extended its COVID-19 emergency declaration for an additional 90 days following advocacy from the CAP, American Society for Microbiology (ASM), and a strong coalition of pathologist and laboratory groups and several others. Due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the health care system, the groups had urged the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to renew the public health emergency that was set to expire on July 25.
The physician, laboratory, and public health groups expressed concern about the impending deadline and the implication for various regulatory waivers implemented because of the pandemic. On June 30, the ASM, the American Clinical Laboratory Association, the American Lung Association, the American Public Health Association, the Association of Public Health Laboratories, along with the CAP, asked the HHS to renew the emergency declaration. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unique challenges to the health care system, and many states are still experiencing an increase in and hospitalizations due to COVID-19.
HHS Extends Relief Funds Application Deadline to Aug. 3
The HHS extended the deadline for eligible physicians to apply for the Provider Relief Fund to August 3 for physicians who have not previously received a payment from the program. The CAP, the American Medical Association, and several others had asked the HHS for additional funds with a broader distribution because initial efforts only supported Medicare-enrolled physicians and facilities.
The Provider Relief Fund, created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, has assisted physician practices and health care facilities facing severe expenses and revenue losses caused by the public health emergency. The CAP has developed a guide for pathologists with questions about the Provider Relief Fund. View the CAP guide online here.
The HHS also provided updated information on reporting requirements. According to the agency’s reporting requirements document, the reporting system will become available to recipients on October 1, 2020, and detailed reporting instructions and a data collection template with the necessary data elements will be available through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) website by August 17, 2020.
On July 22, the AMA sent a letter to congressional leaders asking them to “allocate as part of the next COVID-19 relief package at least an additional $100 billion to the emergency relief fund to provide direct funding to front line health care personnel and providers, including nurses, doctors, hospitals, and health systems, to continue to respond to this pandemic.”
HHS, DOD Spend $7.5 Million to Expand Production of COVID-19 Test Supplies
On July 26, the HHS and the Department of Defense awarded a $7.6 million contract to Hologic Inc. to expand COVID-19 test production of custom sample collection and processing consumables.
The unprecedented demand for molecular diagnostic testing driven by the COVID-19 pandemic exceeded Hologic Inc.’s production capacity. The tube, cap, and multi-tube unit consumables are critical for performing molecular diagnostic tests on the Panther and Panther Fusion systems. This investment by the federal government is projected to increase Hologic's production from 4.8 million COVID-19 tests per month to 6.8 million tests per month. Hologic Inc. is expected to deliver the increased volume of consumables to market by January 2021.
The CAP has advocated for the government to address persistent issues regarding test supply shortages. Recent survey data collected by the CAP has shown that laboratories have increased their testing capacity but could provide more tests if supply shortages were addressed. For instance, 64% of laboratory directors responding to the survey reported difficulty in acquiring reagents for platforms/test kits to conduct COVID-19 testing.
Webinar on August 5: 2020 Medicare Payment for Pathologists
The CMS will soon issue its proposed updates to the 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule and the Quality Payment Program regulations, including the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). The CAP will host an exclusive webinar to August 5 at 1 PM ET/ Noon CT where CAP experts will review regulatory changes that will impact payment for services and pathologists’ participation in MIPS.
Webinar presenters will be the Chair of the Council on Government and Professional Affairs Jonathan Myles, MD, FCAP; Chair of the Economic Affairs Committee W. Stephen Black-Schaffer MD, FCAP; and Vice Chair, Economic Affairs Committee Diana Cardona, MD, FCAP.
During the 60-minute webinar, attendees will learn about updates to the 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule and the Quality Payment Program regulations and its impact on pathologists. The CAP panel will also answer questions from attendees.
Last Chance to Test Your July Advocacy News Knowledge
It’s the last week to take the July Advocacy News Quiz. See how you compare against your fellow CAP members’ in the July News Quiz.