From KMS Executive Director Rachelle Colombo
While the elections are now at least partially behind us, the all too familiar tension and unpredictability of 2020 is lingering. Hospitals across the state are struggling to manage the influx of COVID-19 and other critical patients, which is creating staffing and capacity challenges in facilities. Our communities, neighbors, providers, and patients are fatigued—even as we head into the holiday season and expected resulting surges across the state. We know your practices are facing myriad challenges, first with PPE and protocols for COVID-19 care, then with surviving the shut down and securing financial resources. Now we face appropriately prioritizing the backlog and current demand of necessary medical care for the spectrum of patients amid strained capacity. As you encounter these ongoing challenges, please know we continue to advocate for you each day as the environment evolves.
The Kansas Legislature will resume on January 11, 2021, and it appears that both the House and Senate will be more conservative, with Republicans holding supermajorities in both chambers. They will resume their pandemic-related work, including addressing changes to the Kansas Emergency Management Act, health care provider and business liability, as well as redrawing legislative districts and balancing the state budget. Though we don’t know what the rhythm of the coming session will look like amid the ongoing pandemic, we do know the legislature is planning to meet in person to address these issues and we will be there to advocate for Kansas physicians.
Many of you have reached out through the course of this year with requests for help, with information about how you’re navigating well and where you can provide guidance for others, and sometimes with simple questions about the individual serving or running for office in your district. While we can’t predict what the rest of 2020 and beyond holds, we know you will continue showing up each day for your patients, and as you do, we will be here to support you.
Thank you for your tireless service to the people of our state.
Maintaining your mental health during COVID-19
Kansas is now being hit harder than ever by COVID-19 and public health officials warn it is likely to get worse before it gets better. For months now, fallout from the virus has placed considerable psychological strain on physicians and other frontline health care workers.
KMS seeks to support our membership with resources to help if you are struggling with the mental and physical toll from such strain. The KMS Professionals’ Health Program (PHP) staff can be reached 24 hours a day at (785) 231-1304. We are here to help you however we can. Our PHP team has also compiled a list of free online resources that may assist you in attending to your own health amid such difficult times.
Webinar: What's New in Medicare 2021
The Kansas Medical Society—in partnership with the Missouri State Medical Association (MSMA) and the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services—is hosting a webinar for members of KMS and MSMA on developments in Medicare coming in 2021. The webinar will be on Wednesday, January 20 from 9:00-11:00 a.m. More information and registration here.
Webinar: Critical Information About COVID-19 Trends and Treatment
PT codes for COVID-19 vaccines released
Working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CPT Editorial Panel this week approved a unique CPT code for each of two coronavirus vaccines as well as administration codes unique to each such vaccine. The new CPT codes clinically distinguish each coronavirus vaccine for better tracking, reporting, and analysis that supports data-driven planning and allocation. Importantly, these CPT codes are available prior to the public availability of the vaccines to facilitate updating of health care electronic systems across the U.S. The new Category I CPT code and descriptors are available here.
Guidance for masks in schools
The Kansas COVID Workgroup for Kids (KCWK) promotes best practices to keep kids in school amid the pandemic, working in conjunction with recommendations from the Kansas Academy of Family Physicians and the Kansas Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics (KAAP). KCWK asks that primary care physicians and medical professionals in Kansas work to support and promote masking for adults and children. Rather than writing mask exemptions, please advise youth and their parents on how to increase comfort on wearing masks. For additional guidance, see this brief from KAAP.
State issues summary on COVID-19 reporting requirements
KDHE this month said it had received much feedback about confusion over reporting requirements for COVID-19. Given that there are many mandatory requirements being placed on different kinds of health care facilities from many different sources, KDHE has issued guidance on what is required to be reported to KDHE. Also, the KDHE Epidemiology Hotline (877-427-7317) is operated 24/7 to answer questions.
MIPS 2020 Hardship Exception Deadline
CMS recognizes that practices have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, for the 2020 performance year, CMS will be using its Extreme and Uncontrollable Circumstances policy to allow clinicians, groups, and virtual groups to submit an application requesting reweighting of one or more Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) performance categories due to the current COVID-19 pandemic public health emergency. Apply for a hardship by December 31. Fill out the application or learn more.
KMS Advocacy Day update
The 2021 Kansas Medical Society Advocacy Day & Annual Meeting is set for Wednesday, Jan. 27. Fourteen medical specialty societies will be partnering with KMS to discuss the importance of legislative advocacy and engage on issues impacting the practice of medicine. Find more information and registration here: www.kmsonline.org/AdvocacyDay.
We hope you will make plans to join your peers from across the state to network and learn how our collective advocacy shapes the practice of medicine in Kansas.
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