April 16, 2020

Your Gastroenterology
COVID-19 Update

  • Planning a Return to Elective Procedures

  • Update on Emergency Federal Funds

  • Revised MOC Requirements

  • Telehealth & Virtual Help for GI

  • Pharmacy Board Updates Prescribing Rules

  • AMA Urges More Financial Help for Physicians


Planning a Return to Elective Procedures

Gov. Mike DeWine this week asked the Ohio Hospital Association (OHA) to develop a plan to resume treating patients whose non-COVID-19 elective procedures were delayed or deferred due to the ongoing pandemic. The governor later added that he hopes to begin gradually reopening business overall in Ohio on May 1.

The Ohio Department of Health previously ordered that elective surgeries be postponed to expand hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients and to conserve the personal protective equipment (PPE) that is in short supply. The governor says that order has allowed Ohio hospitals time to prepare should a widespread virus outbreak hit Ohio, though concerns remain about adequate supplies of PPE.

The governor asked OHA to complete its plan within one week. 

Update on Emergency Federal Funds

The American Medical Association (AMA) issued the following statement today:

Since last Friday when HHS announced it would begin disbursing the first $30 million of the emergency fund created under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to physicians and other providers via direct payment, the AMA has received several questions about how to verify eligibility for payment and who to contact when a physician believes they are eligible but did not receive a payment.

HHS partnered with UnitedHealth Group (UHG) to deliver the stimulus payments, and physicians should contact UHG’s Provider Relations at 866-569-3522 about eligibility, whether a payment has been issued, and where it was sent. Note, if a physician or practice did not already set up direct deposit through CMS or UHG’s Optum Pay, they will receive a check at a later date. Practices that would like to set up direct deposit now can call the UHG Provider Relations number. 

In addition, HHS has opened the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund Payment Attestation Portal. Physicians who have been allocated a payment from the initial $30 billion general distribution must sign an attestation confirming receipt of the funds and agree to the terms and conditions within 30 days of payment. The terms and conditions are listed here.


Most National Boards Revise MOC Requirements

 Most of the major national Boards have announced changes to Maintenance of Certification (MOC) requirements, with the majority pushing 2020 deadlines to next year.

American Board of Internal Medicine 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. Physicians currently in their grace year will also be afforded an additional grace year in 2021.”

American Board of Family Practice announced that most 2020 deadlines for MOC, re-entry, etc. have been extended for one year.

American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS): Specific deadlines for the other Boards can be referenced through the ABMS website.


Telehealth & Virtual Help for GI Practices

The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) and Rx.Health have partnered to launch a Telehealth and Virtual Care Hub to support GI practices as they operate with reduced office visits during this unprecedented time. The Hub expands upon the existing AGA-Rx.Health digital transformation network and will provide:

  • Digital screening of patients before in-person appointments.

  • Seamless transitioning of in-person visits to virtual care visits with dedicated telehealth onboarding support to maximize personnel resources.

  • A secure and dedicated telehealth room for each provider.

  • A digital prescription of GI educational modules to patients from the AGA GI Patient Center, including PPE competency modules for health care workers.

  • Digital assistance to automate and guide pre- and post-procedure care for colonoscopy and other endoscopy procedures.


Pharmacy Board Issues Prescribing Updates

The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy has authorized prescribers to delegate personal furnishing of non-controlled drugs to nurses. This expanded resolution incorporates language from a previous resolution issued on March 18 that authorized prescribers to delegate personally furnished non-controlled drug samples to nurses. This update also authorizes prescribers to delegate the personal furnishing of all non-controlled drugs, as opposed to drug samples.

View updated guidance >

The Pharmacy Board also authorized licensees conducting sterile compounding to reuse certain personal protective equipment (PPE). The waiver was updated to align with recently released PPE conservation guidance issued by the FDA.

Finally, the Pharmacy Board issued updates and a frequently asked questions sheet about dispensing chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, two drugs that have been touted as effective treatments for COVID-19.

  • For the continuation of inpatient treatment for COVID-19 using chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine for patients discharged from a hospital. The prescriber shall be required to notate on the prescription that the patient has been discharged from the hospital and the prescription shall be for no more than a seven-day supply – no refills authorized. (Originally Authorized 3/26/2020, Updated 4/14/2020)

  • For patients discharged from an emergency department, for a probable COVID-19 diagnosis based upon case classifications established by the Ohio Department of Health. The prescriber shall be required to notate on the prescription that the patient has been discharged from the emergency department with a probable COVID-19 diagnosis and the prescription shall be for no more than a seven-day supply – no refills authorized. (Authorized 4/14/2020)


AMA Urges More Financial Help for Physicians

The American Medical Association (AMA) sent a letter to U.S. congressional leaders urging them to protect patient access to medical care by preserving the viability of physician practices across the country. Noting that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) includes significant programs and resources that benefit physicians and patient care, the AMA urged additional federal support for physician practices that are financially battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter, signed by the Ohio State Medical Association and American Gastroenterological Society, calls on lawmakers to consider supplemental measures, including:

  • Adjustment of Medicare and Medicaid payment provisions

  • Telemedicine services coverage

  • Expansion of small business loan funding

  • Tuition relief for medical students contributing to patient care

  • Medical liability protections


To share your COVID-19 experience or ask a question,
email OGS Director Reginald Fields
And continue to check for updates at the OGS website.

Stay Current on the Latest:

Coronavirus.ohio.gov   OSMA.org/coronavirus

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