As you are aware, the healthcare system in Ohio and across the country and world is in a state of flux due to issues related to COVID-19. After speaking to numerous practices over the last several days we recognize physicians and practices are looking for information and guidance related not only to testing/treating patients for COVID-19 but also simply how you can keep your practice open, safe and viable over the next several weeks.
To that end, this update will attempt to provide you with recent guidance and an overview of information and policies we are currently working through. We would also certainly be open to hearing directly from you about challenges you are having and information you are seeking but haven’t found. We might not have all the answers but we can try to find them or advocate for needed changes.
Yesterday, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) updated these guidelines as more assessment centers are made available for testing. There are still questions to which we are trying to find answers, such as, "what if my local hospital doesn’t have an assessment center – where do I send the patient?" or, "I don’t have staff privileges at the hospital that has the closest assessment center – what do I do?"
We will be providing updates to these and other questions as we get answers.
Here are various ongoing activities that will impact practice operations – we are working closely with state officials leading the response to ensure the voice of physicians is being heard.
The OSMA is currently working with the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM), the Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) to revise rules and create directives that will significantly alter the manner in which healthcare services can be provided and reimbursed during this time of crisis. Additionally, we are working with the State Medical Board of Ohio to revise the licensing rules around telemedicine.
We believe the first of these changes could come as early as Wednesday. This flexibility should allow offices to provide services in a safe manner and replace visits that aren’t occurring in person. We recognize this will require changes in workflow, documentation, etc. We will be developing educational resources to inform practices of best practices as soon as they are available.
The State Medical Board of Ohio will likely have to consider a series of emergency rule changes related to a variety of regulatory topics such as licensure, telemedicine, prescribing, etc. We are closely following board activity and as soon as information is available, we will provide it to you.
On Sunday, the Governor’s administration outlined a series of provisions to support small businesses such as expanded access to unemployment benefits. We will provide more detailed information about this change and others that may be announced, as well as tips for staying in compliance with workplace rules such as OSHA, non-discrimination and wage/hour requirements. Additionally, as the federal government considers a stimulus package, national medical organizations are advocating for direct support for physicians and their practices. We should have more details regarding these opportunities before the end of this month.
We anticipate Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton, MD, will issue specific orders to hospitals, surgery centers, medical practices, dentists, veterinarians and other healthcare providers regarding rescheduling/postponing non-urgent procedures to ensure the system has capacity and conserves personnel and protective equipment. This will impact many of your practices and we have provided some suggestions to the administration. When the guidance is finalized, we will provide it to you.
This is going to depend on your location and specialty. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and JAMA have issued broad guidance related to protecting your staff and patients. See the links below. Also, remember to consult the ODH’s website for the most up-to-date information at www.coronavirus.ohio.gov
As you are probably aware, the recent guidance from Dr. Acton is changing the way the OSMA’s staff is working. OSMA staff will be working remotely but you should notice little or no difference in our ability to meet your needs. Should you have any questions or concerns about any information listed above or happening in your practice or community, please don’t hesitate to contact me at email@example.com or 614-527-6782.
Todd M. Baker
Chief Executive Officer
Ohio State Medical Association
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