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News & Press: Public Awareness

Updates from the AOA on COVID-19

Monday, April 13, 2020  
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Please contact the AOA for questions or additional information needed.

Support for DOs: HHS to Distribute $30 Billion in Grants Starting Today

The AOA has advocated for physicians impacted by COVID-19 in multiple ways over the last several weeks. We have pushed for liability protection, paid medical leave, and funding for PPE and other essential medical supplies. The AOA has also worked with partners across the allopathic and osteopathic medical community to push for financial support for physicians.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the $2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill signed into law last week, includes $100 billion for a new program to provide grants to hospitals and other Medicare and Medicaid enrolled providers to cover unreimbursed health care related expenses or lost revenues attributable to the public health emergency resulting from the coronavirus.

However, it was unclear whether any of this funding would be directed to physicians. Through the hard work of the physician community, HHS has announced that $30 billion will be distributed immediately, with payments arriving through direct deposit beginning April 10 to eligible providers throughout the healthcare system.

This is a grant program, not a loan or advance payment. These payments are for providers in areas heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as those who have healthy patients delaying care and cancelling elective services. Learn more.


Emergency Funding Needs

The American Osteopathic Foundation (AOF) has compiled resources for COVID-19-related emergency funding needs. These include:


If you you need assistance to determine if a grant is right for you or if you have questions about grant requirements, please contact AOF Director of Development Terry Sanders via email at TLSanders@aof.org or phone at (312) 202-8230.


New COVID-19 ICD-10-CM Diagnosis Code

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) created a new ICD-10-CM diagnosis code (U07.1) for the virus. Providers should use this new diagnosis code, where appropriate, for discharges on or after April 1, 2020.  

In addition, CMS has updated the ICD-10 MS-DRG GROUPER software package to accommodate the new ICD-10-CM diagnosis code currently available on the CMS webpage. This updated GROUPER software package (V37.1 R1) replaces the GROUPER software package V37.1. For detailed information regarding the assignment of new diagnosis code U07.1, COVID-19, under the ICD-10 MS-DRGs, visit the MS-DRG Classifications and Software webpage.


CMS Applies Extreme and Uncontrollable Circumstances Policy for MIPS in Response to COVID-19

CMS will automatically identify individual, group and virtual group participants in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) program who do not submit their MIPS performance data by the extended April 30 deadline, and apply the extreme and uncontrollable circumstances policy, instead of issuing a negative payment adjustment for the 2021 MIPS payment year.  

If you have started the MIPS data submission process, but are now unable to complete it due to the impact of COVID-19, you will have until 8 p.m. ET on April 30, 2020 to complete an application for extreme and uncontrollable circumstances. When completing the application, make sure that you:

  • Select 1/1/2020 and 4/30/2020 as your start and end dates;
  • Indicate that you are unable to complete your 2019 performance year data submission due to the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • Select all four MIPS performance categories for re-weighting

  

An application citing COVID-19 will override any previous data submission. If your application is approved, all four MIPS performance categories will be re-weighted and you will receive a neutral payment adjustment for the 2021 payment year. 


For more information, please see the Quality Payment Program COVID-19 Response Fact Sheet or contact the Quality Payment program at 1-866-288-8292, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET or by email.


One-Year Extension of Board Eligibility Status

The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists (BOS) and the division of Certifying Board Services (CBS) announced that a one-year extension of board eligibility status will be granted to graduating residents and other physicians seeking initial certification or recertification in 2020, among other policy changes, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To view the AOA Board Certification policy changes that take effect immediately for both initial certification and Osteopathic Continuous Certification, visit the AOA Board Certification website. For further assistance for those impacted by COVID-19 related exam postponements, email certification@osteopathic.org.


Update on AOA Coronavirus Resources

We continue to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and provide resources to help members and affiliates. To serve the osteopathic community, we are actively developing content on patient care, physician wellness, CME, and more.

To stay informed, please continue to review the following AOA pages:


Licensing During COVID-19

With many states easing licensure requirements to allow more physicians—including retirees—to help meet the pressing healthcare needs of the pandemic, please remember that AOA Members can send their AOA Profile to all state medical boards at no cost, while non-members pay a nominal fee.


New eLearning CME on OMM Techniques For COVID-19

The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) and American Academy of Osteopathy (AAO) are partnering to offer an online learning activity to help you review applicable OMM techniques for optimizing pulmonary function in COVID-19 or suspected  COVID-19 patients. The eLearning module, titled, “Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM) Techniques Addressing Respiratory Symptoms of COVID-19” will provide a refresher in applicable OMM techniques. Free for all members and non-members, the patient-centered CME will offer 1.0 AOA 1-B credit or 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit ™Click here to learn more or enroll. While it's no cost for AOA members and non-members, you do need an AOA account/number to log on to AOA Online Learning. New users can create an account for free.


Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists Handbook: Proposed Updates – Comment Period 

The Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists (BOS) has submitted proposed changes to the Handbook of the BOS relating to Pathways for Initial Certification (not previously certified by AOA or ABMS) and Entry into Osteopathic Continuous Certification (OCC) by Physicians with Certification from an ABMS Board. The proposed changes will remain posted for review and open comment for a period of 45 days. Submitted comments will be shared with the BOS and made available to the AOA Board of Trustees and/or the Executive Committee of the AOA Board of Trustees.

The open comment period closes on Monday, May 4; comments should be sent to BOSHandbookPolicies@osteopathic.org. Visit the For Open Comment page for more details.



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