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P3 Investigates: Trump Administration Plans to Reopen Nursing Homes

P3, as a medical billing service and a MIPS Qualified Registry, keeps in touch with CMS news as it happens. CMS, yet again, informs the public of the plans, the government has for nursing homes to reopen safely with the pandemic still around. While state and local officials follow it to ensure safe beginnings for nursing homes across the country, they are a part of President Trump’s Guidelines for Opening Up America Again.

Why were the restrictions put in the first place? The government had to take stern action against nursing homes and put them under quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including severe infection prevention, ample testing, and investigation.

This plan that the government has come up with will be a guide through troubling times as life gets back to normal for nursing homes.

When stats suggest that 8 out of 10 COVID-19 deaths are of citizens 65 and above, the more careful we are the better. We owe it to the seniors of this country more than we owe it to anyone else.

By acting upon this guide, nursing homes will be able to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 exposure and prevent its spread within facilities.

In light of these issued recommendations, states should observe if nursing homes are taking the appropriate and necessary steps to ensure resident safety; moreover, they should know the right time when to reopen doors to the public.

In finality, the information you find here should support states and nursing homes bring families together, reunite them with their loved ones in a gradual manner.

Administrator Seema Verma has led from the front during the crisis; this time, she said and I am paraphrasing it; the coronavirus has had a shocking impact on our nursing homes, and as we reopen the country, we want to be sure that we are doing everything in our power to protect our most vulnerable citizens.

She continued by saying that their constant focus is on the protection and quality of life of the nursing home residents. While we reach the stage when we finally reopen, she said, we want to make sure that the communities have a set strategy moving forward.

Further, CMS recommends additional criteria for the safety of the nursing home residents since COVID-19 poses a direct threat to them as the country passes through the reopening phase. It is to complement the Trump Administration’s broader idea of the Reopening of America Again.

A nursing home, as part of the recommendation, must not advance through phases of reopening until all residents and staff have received their baseline test results.

CMS wants state survey agencies to keep an eye on nursing homes if they suffered from a serious COVID-19 outbreak before reopening.

As its final recommendation, CMS states that homes should remain in the highest state of restriction even if they see relaxation in the community around them, to ensure the preservation of lives.

Moving on, nursing homes will start taking in visitors in phase three, which will only occur when health reports show considerably less COVID-19 cases. Visitors must go through screening and wear a face-covering during the visit.

The guidance was released a couple of days back on May 18, 2020, but we thought by revisiting the recommendations, we can make a difference. P3, as QPP MIPS 2020 reporting registry, has considered it an honor to go the distance for the health of US citizens; this, specifically, goes out to seniors to whom we are grateful.

State leaders in collaboration with local health departments and state survey agencies would implement the guidance to limit COVID-19 exposure in nursing homes. Relaxation of the intense measures in a nursing home should only occur after a careful review of the following factors:

  • Number of COVID-19 cases in the local community
  • Number of COVID-19 cases in nursing homes
  • Available staff members
  • Baseline tests of all residents; weekly tests of all staff members; social distancing; face coverings
  • Presence of enough personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Nearby hospital’s capacity

State and local leaders have a responsibility to see to these factors now and then and adjust their strategies accordingly, depending on the intensity of coronavirus spread in their vicinity. CMS is committed to taking measures that ensure the safety and revival of nursing homes.

tPA drug, COVID-19, anti-clotting drug, COVID-19 Treatment, Health IT Industry, healthcare services, COVID-19 pandemic

There Might be a Breakthrough for COVID-19 Respiratory Failure Cure

COVID-19 has struck everything. From people to the economy, everything is suffering, and the death toll is increasing day by day. While some countries have managed to restrict the risk like China, some are still struggling.

The symptoms of this infection are cough, flu, fever, and fatal respiratory issues. Although, this virus is serious but not every COVID positive person ends up in the hospital, generally, the intense or worse cases require hospitalization. As a result of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which is a severe lung injury, these patients seek serious medical assistance.

A concrete cure for ARDS is still not found. Physicians treat the bearer of this disease with mechanical ventilation and supportive care.

What Health IT Industry is doing for COVID-19 Treatment?

A team of physician-scientists is conducting research and testing out the anti-clotting drug for serious COVID infectees with ARDS. After several tests and trials, the scientists have concluded that a drug called tPA has the potential to reduce the death rate among ARDS infectees.

Researchers say that this drug can be life-changing. It can reduce recovery time and with a faster recovery time of patients, there can be more ventilators available.

A Little History

The US Food and Drug Administration in 1996 approved tPA to be used for patients experiencing a heart attack, stroke, and pulmonary embolism.

Therefore, for two decades, researchers have found anti-clotting drugs useful against ADRS diseases.

FDA really didn’t give thumbs up to this method. However, for ARDS induced COVID patients, this drug might work.

How An Anti-Clotting Drug is Expected to Help COVID?

There is major clotting around IV lines in many COVID patients. Researchers are hopeful that tPA drug can show fruitful results in severe patients or at least tell if the assumption is true.

This clinical trial committee is now enrolling patients.

Later on, they will record biomarkers, such as, the medical conditions of each patient to identify under which conditions tPA gives the most advantage. The drug is already approved on a large scale to treat heart patients and people with strokes as an off-label medicine.

The COVID Effect on American Hospitalization Capability

This pandemic is not over. We don’t have any effective treatment for it at the moment, and the number of COVID-19 infected persons is only going to rise.

When the lockdown will lift up, chances are the pandemic situation will get worse. According to a study, many more Americans are expected to use ventilation services in the upcoming months. Looking into statistics, America has currently 200,000 ventilators.

With collective efforts, hopefully, we’ll be able to generate an effective strategy to deal and restrict COVID -19.

Before the pressure of pandemic saturates our healthcare services, it is important to consider the existing therapies and procedures that may help us to accommodate the surge of patients in the future. These procedures/therapies must be widely available so that they serve the purpose of easily accessible healthcare to COVID.

An Overview: New York State Battles COVID-19 Complacently

To call it a battle seems right.

Ever wondered what it’s like to have a non-human combatant in front of you. Well, it feels just like how the world feels at the moment. Emotionally, we are all in this together, the sooner we accept it, the better. Coronavirus is not a friend but an enemy to billions of people on this planet regardless of their color, race, or wealth

It is not even a living organism; it doesn’t have tanks or artillery to fight off humans but still manages to injure and attack us. However, Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor of the New York State, is hopeful that they will come out of it stronger, healthier, and smarter than ever before.

Under the current circumstance, when New Yorkers are looking in the eye of COVID-19, to say that it brings the best out of them will not be wrong. Healthcare heroes are activated to full effect across the country, and New York has them too. They have maintained a steady caring environment for patients who are recovering, and the incoming surge of patients.

It reminds me of healthcare saying by Thomas Frist M.D., “Take care of the patient and everything else will follow”

Sounds about right?

Quality care could be a ray of hope and lesson the number of patients coming into the hospitals. At the time, it feels idealistic when it is not. The fact is that we must take this slow; one day at a time, ensure care equipment such as ventilators is all there for them.

You never know, the results could just surprise us, in a good way. That’s what care can do and what the patient so rightly deserves.

Healthcare providers, hospitals, population health experts, doctors, nurses, volunteers, and staff are all playing their part diligently; we can’t ask for more. Sadly, the number of deaths keeps on climbing up for New York. Governor Cuomo admitted that the rate of deaths will increase in the upcoming days. However, the good thing is that the number of people coming to hospitals will decrease.

We will see a rise in the number of deaths each day in New York. Why? According to Governor Cuomo, the people that are already in hospitals, on ventilators for weeks now; they have less chance of surviving.

Coronavirus has so far consumed the lives of many of our fellow humans. I have to say I didn’t expect something like this to hit the world in 2020. Although the world remains calm, courtesy to the leaders who are doing their jobs well. Otherwise, with a virus like this one shaping up into a pandemic, chaos was inevitable.

Here, P3Care would like to appreciate Governor Cuomo for this war against an unseen enemy. Yesterday, he said and I am paraphrasing it, why do the poorest among us have to suffer the most? Whether it is hurricane Katrina or some other disaster, poor people suffer the most. The person at the rooftop wasn’t a rich white man. We have to find out the reason for that. We really do.

Also, he was of the view, and I am paraphrasing that this virus is our true enemy; it attacked the weakest and the vulnerable. It is our duty as a society to protect our weak and vulnerable.

A Brief History of the Virus in New York State and the United States

According to a recent article in the New York Times, several studies prove that this virus came to the US through Europe and not an Asian country. Research puts the time of this virus to mid-February when it began to circulate in the state of New York.

In New York alone, there are 159,937 confirmed cases so far; 13,000 have recovered; and a staggering number of 7,067 deaths. God bless the departed souls.

There are 469,121 confirmed cases; 26,448 who have recovered; and 16,676 deaths across the United States so far.

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Guide to the Latest Medical Billing Codes for COVID-19 Test

The constant threat of coronavirus has led the panel of AMA – The American Medical Association to introduce CPT (Current Procedural Terminology) codes for medical billing services.

As the number of infected cases in the USA increased, the need for a separate code for COVID-19 testing emerged. The president of AMA, Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA, announced a unique code to report for laboratory testing of the coronavirus. This information was released on March 13, 2020, in order to translate the advantages of tracking, allocating, and optimizing resources.

What’s New for Medical Billing Services Regarding Corona Test Coding?

The coronavirus code belongs to a new category I of CPT codes.  The details are as follows.

  1. 87635 infectious agent detection by nucleic acid (DNA or RNA)
  2. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (Coronavirus disease [COVID-19]), for the examination technique

The codes are now available to use to report on behalf of physicians by the medical billing companies. This code also has short and medium descriptors, which can be accessed on the official AMA website – https://www.ama-assn.org/practice-management/cpt/cpt-releases-new-coronavirus-covid-19-code-description-testing

Coronavirus around the Globe

The situation of the novel coronavirus is serious. President Trump has declared a national emergency in the USA, and the only way to stay safe is by maintaining the social distance.

The Healthcare industry, in almost every country, is under pressure to combat the seriousness of coronavirus pandemic. The number one step for managing this catastrophe is by dealing with hundreds and even thousands of diagnostics procedures, and this code will help deal with the billing matters.

Rick A. Bright, Ph.D., director of Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) at HHS stressed the need of increasing the capacity of testing kits to identify and separate infected individuals as early as possible.

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There have been delays reported in terms of accessing the diagnostic procedures of COVID-19. The delays and shortage in facilities may affect the frontline fighters (physicians), and ultimately potential patients.

According to AMA, the newly released code is a progressive step towards optimal coronavirus diagnostic services. All along, the physician or medical billing company is required to use the Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) codes to document public encounters with the health payment programs as Medicare.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) also stated to create two new HCPCS codes to support the coronavirus diagnostic procedure.

The first code released in February (U0001) is for SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic tests performed specifically for CDC testing laboratories.

The second billing code (U0002) released this month will extend medical billing services for coronavirus lab tests, allowing to bill for non-CDC laboratory tests for SARS-CoV-2/2019-nCoV, (novel coronavirus or COVID-19).

QPP MIPS requests everyone to stay strong and be mindful of others around you. Spend this difficult time to connect with yourself and be creative while staying home.  You never know who carries the virus therefore, use hand sanitizers, clean your space, wear gloves, and face mask before going out and keep a safe distance from everyone.