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KMS update: COVID-19, Advocacy Day registration, and other updates

KMS Advocacy Day & Annual Meeting registration
Please register today for the Kansas Medical Society Advocacy Day & Annual Meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, as well as a networking event the evening prior. Attendees will meet with legislative leadership as well as one-on-one with your own representatives. You will also be able to meet with a number of specialty societies. 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. Find more information and registration here: www.kmsonline.org/AdvocacyDay.

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Provider Relief Fund and other COVID-19 updates

Additional funding for physicians announced via Provider Relief Fund
HHS announced this week that it will begin availing $15 billion in additional funds to eligible physicians via the Provider Relief Fund. The payment to each provider will be at least 2% of reported gross revenue from patient care; the final amount each provider receives will be determined after the data is submitted, including information about the number of Medicaid patients that providers serve.

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Legislative update: Provider liability bill under consideration as session wraps up

capitol dome smA message from KMS Executive Director Rachelle Colombo:
This weekend marks the passing of two full months since a state of emergency related to COVID-19 was declared in Kansas. During that time, life has changed dramatically, bringing kids home from schools, adults home to work remotely, and the suspension of most medical care that wasn’t emergent or COVID-19-related. We have heard from you regarding the challenges of adapting to delivering care during the pandemic. As schools and the economy have shuttered, the delivery of health care has soldiered on, albeit at a different rhythm and with plenty of setbacks of its own. Many of you have reached out to tell us your stories, from the challenges of procuring PPE, to maintaining payroll and waiting for patient volume to resume as you’ve tried to keep your practices afloat. Hearing from you has honed our advocacy, as we have shared your stories with federal, state, and community leaders and urged them to adopt public policies that will address the problems you have identified, as well as enabling the health care system to reopen, safely and responsibly.

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COVID-19 Update: Legislative update, Provider Relief Fund, Remdesivir, virus reporting

Legislative update
The Kansas Legislature will return for one day to finish its work on May 21, the last official day of the 2020 legislative session. Legislative leaders in both the House and Senate have authorized a number of committees to hold virtual meetings during the next two weeks for consideration of high priority issues they hope to address when the entire legislature returns. KMS continues to urge legislators to consider liability protections for health care providers and the passage of Senate Bill 493, which is KMS’s proposal in response to the Hilburn ruling. Both the Senate President and the House Speaker have identified liability issues for health care providers and businesses as a priority for the virtual committee work in advance of the full legislature returning. Governor Kelly has also expressed hope that an agreement could be reached around COVID-19-related liability protections for health care providers.

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COVID-19 Update: Governor to not extend stay-at-home order, BCBSKS no-interest loans, free N95 mask decontamination

Governor to issue plan for reopening state, will extend emergency declaration
At her Wednesday press conference, Gov. Laura Kelly said she will announce plans for re-opening the state during a televised speech at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. She also indicated that she would not be extending the statewide stay-at-home order, which expires at midnight May 3. The governor also said that she would extend the state’s emergency disaster declaration by two weeks through May 14, preserving state eligibility for federal disaster relief. After that time, she said, the State Finance Council could extend it for an additional 30 days. In order for the emergency declaration to remain in place beyond June 13, she said the Legislature would need to extend it through a Concurrent Resolution.

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COVID-19 Update: Statewide order to expire, legislature to reconvene, new PPP loans available

Governor to issue reopening plan this week
At her Monday briefing, Gov. Laura Kelly said her administration would issue plans to reopen the state by Thursday, April 30, before the statewide stay-at-home order expires at midnight May 3. In absence of the statewide order, restrictive policies may be imposed as warranted by public health officials in individual counties. Gov. Kelly said KDHE Secretary Lee Norman, MD, will have authority to override local health officials. The governor also said that she discussed with White House officials on Monday the need to significantly improve the state’s testing capacity to help minimize the spread of the virus as public activity increases.

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COVID-19 Update: KMS response to Executive Order, new PPP details, elective procedure podcast

 A message from KMS Executive Director Rachelle Colombo:
We have heard from many of you regarding the Governor’s executive order on medical services. Concerns about her authorization of unlicensed, unsupervised providers without malpractice coverage and questions about what protections are afforded to physicians are warranted and not yet easily answerable. Although KMS has made requests for liability protections both for COVID-19-related care and care which has been delayed or deferred due to COVID-19, Executive Order 20-26 does not reflect our requests or suggested provisions.

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COVID-19 Update: Governor emergency order on medical services, telehealth, MIPS credit for clinical trials

Governor issues medical services emergency order
Today, Gov. Laura Kelly announced Executive Order 20-26, a sweeping emergency order that eliminates all statutory provisions relating to supervision and delegation requirements for virtually all health care providers who are rendering COVID-19-related care. Among other things, the order removes all collaborative practice, supervisory, or protocol-based agreements between physicians and other health care providers (APRNs, PAs, LPNs, pharmacists, health care profession students, etc.), for any care provided during the COVID-19 emergency declaration period. The order states that health care providers can provide “medical services…without supervision from a licensed physician or nurse, without criminal, civil, or administrative penalty related to a lack of supervision or…a supervision agreement.”

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COVID-19 Update: Liability protection, Medicaid rates, further federal support urged, payor policy changes, updated guidance

KMS urges Gov. Kelly to implement financial and liability actions
Today, KMS again requested specific measures from Governor Laura Kelly regarding liability protection and financial support for Kansas physicians. To offset the financial strain facing most practices, KMS urged the state to implement long overdue increases in the Medicaid physician fee schedule. Physicians’ fees under Kansas Medicaid have for the most part been frozen since 2006, and in several cases have actually decreased. KMS believes Medicaid payment rates should be increased to have parity with Medicare payment rates. KMS also urged the Governor to extend liability protections to health care workers during the COVID-19 state of emergency.

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COVID-19 Update: Liability protection sought from state, payments issued to providers, new licensure policy, and other updates

KMS urges Gov. Kelly to issue executive order on liability amid COVID-19 pandemic
Today, KMS formally requested Governor Laura Kelly to join other state executives, such as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who issued an executive order providing immunity from civil liability to health care professionals for any injury or death alleged to have been sustained directly as a result of an act or omission by such professionals in providing medical services during the COVID-19 pandemic, unless such injury or death was caused by a professional’s gross negligence. KMS believes that physicians and other health care providers should not incur liability for care decisions or outcomes made during the public health emergency period when a physician’s judgment, for example, to provide medically appropriate diagnostic or therapeutic procedures is delayed or denied in order to preserve equipment, drugs, or other resources for COVID-19-related needs.

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COVID-19 Update: Prescriptions, elective care, and other guidance

Board of Healing Arts COVID-19 guidance
The Kansas Board of Healing Arts (the Board) has posted guidance for physicians and other licensees on issues related to COVID-19. Among the issues covered are statements on the prescribing of hydroxychloroquine and the performance of non-urgent surgical and other procedures during the COVID-19 public health emergency. In response to inquiries from several members, KMS recently asked the Board to clarify if a physician could be disciplined for “off-label” prescribing of hydroxychloroquine, or for performing non-urgent or elective surgical or other procedures during this pandemic.

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COVID-19 Update: Financial resources, liability coverage, telehealth, PPE, and more

SBA $10,000 Advance Forgivable Loan (distinct from PPP)
Potentially forgivable loans are currently available under the Payroll Protection Program (PPP, see previous KMS update), but it is important that physician practices know that they are also now eligible for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. This loan advance will not have to be repaid. The loan advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Get more information and the application.

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COVID-19 Update: CARES Act podcast, new federal and state resources

Financial Relief Available: CARES Act Podcast
While circumstances stemming from the COVID-19 virus are putting immense financial strain on physician practices, a major new source of federal aid is beginning this week. The “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security” (CARES) Act is the single largest relief package ever passed by Congress and there are a number of provisions that can help physician practices. In a previous update, we provided an overview of the CARES Act. Today, we are supplementing that information via a podcast discussion with Dan Murray, Kansas State Director of the National Federation of Independent Business. This 10-minute discussion provides a succinct outline of what physician practices need to be aware of in considering whether to apply for relief under the CARES Act. This is a time-sensitive federal program, so we hope you will take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with its provisions.

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COVID-19 Update: New state and federal guidance

A message from KMS Executive Director Rachelle Colombo:
Thank you for continuing to share your experiences with us, as well as your questions and concerns so that we may work to address issues you are facing. We have taken your stories and concerns directly to the governor and legislative leaders, particularly regarding the immense financial impact on physician practices during this pandemic. Also in response to those concerns, we will be hosting a podcast this week to outline newly available opportunities for practices to obtain financial relief—please watch for forthcoming details via email. We know you are continuing to show up for your patients—with or without COVID-19 infection—and we are working hard to support you in the ways you need most.

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COVID-19 update: CARES Act becomes law — what physicians need to know

The CARES Act was signed it into law by the President, following Congress’ swift action on the massive coronavirus relief bill. The following information via the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) provides a few key highlights related to the new loan program which will be available to physician practices.

It is expected that most small businesses will be interested in this opportunity—if your physician practice is looking to take advantage of the small business loan, you should get in contact with your financial institution as soon as possible.

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COVID-19 update: Financial resources, PPE, and telehealth

A message from KMS Executive Director Rachelle Colombo:
We heard from many of you about financial strain, lack of PPE, testing concerns, and questions around telehealth. Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences with us. It helps us focus our advocacy on those things that are most important to you. We hope this update provides quick access to some of the answers and resources you need. We are talking to policymakers at every level, every day. Sharing your stories is powerful and timely. In addition to the resources from government at the state and federal level, your local communities are looking for ways to support you. As an example, the Kansas Farm Bureau—which has local chapters throughout rural Kansas—has reached out and encouraged physicians to call upon their members for help with childcare and homemade protective equipment, and has pledged to partner with us in conversations with our congressional delegation to ensure these needs are met.

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Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) updates amid COVID-19

KMS has received numerous inquiries regarding Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) during shortages amid the COVID-19 response. We are working with federal, state, and local officials to address your questions and provide accurate responses given rapidly changing circumstances. We will post the latest PPE information here and in our periodic COVID-19 updates as we receive it, as well as respond to your individual questions by email.

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COVID-19 update: March 24, 2020

A message from KMS Executive Director Rachelle Colombo:
KMS is here to support you as you work to care for your patients, to protect your own health, and to ensure your practice is best equipped to navigate the many changing circumstances ahead due to COVID-19. To that end, we want to hear from you about the challenges you are experiencing and how we can better advocate for the resources you need at this time. We are in constant communication with federal, state, and local leaders to collect, distill, and disseminate COVID-19 information for our members as well as to report your needs back to policymakers.

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Telehealth and other payor updates

On March 17, the Trump Administration announced expanded Medicare telehealth coverage that will enable beneficiaries to receive a wider range of health care services without having to travel to a health care facility. This temporary broadened telehealth access to Medicare patients (under the 1135 waiver authority and Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act), is effective March 6, 2020.

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COVID-19 update: March 20, 2020

Today the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts (KSBHA) extended temporary licensure provisions for inactive health care providers seeking to help care for COVID-19 patients. The KSBHA is offering a temporary emergency license available for all health care professions regulated by the Board. Those who hold an emergency temporary license are limited to engaging in the practice of their profession for health care services relating to COVID-19 response efforts and/or mitigating any effect of COVID-19. The KSBHA is also waiving licensing fees for such licenses. Please refer to the full release on KSBHA's website for more details.

COVID-19 update: March 19, 2020

COVID-19 developments accelerated this week at a pace that can be difficult to keep up with. We are monitoring issuance of guidance and government action at the state and federal levels in order to provide you with succinct periodic summaries, knowing your time and focus is largely consumed with caring for your patients.

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Suggested Resources for Maintaining Your Mental Health During COVID-19

As we continue to face challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, KMS seeks to support our membership with a variety of resources. The Federation of State Professionals’ Health Programs (PHP) and the KMS PHP has compiled the following list of free resources available that will hopefully assist you in maintaining your own health. If you need additional resources or emotional support, the KMS PHP staff can be reached 24 hours a day at (785) 235-2383.

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COVID-19 update: March 17, 2020

Nearly every aspect of our nation’s activity has been impacted by the novel coronavirus. States, communities, businesses, and schools are implementing strategies to slow the spread of COVID-19.

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Coronavirus Resources for Kansas

As developments surrounding COVID-19 rapidly evolve, it is more critical than ever to rely on trusted resources for the latest, accurate information. We recognize Kansas physicians are on the front lines of this pandemic and we intend to be available to support you however we can.

Working in conjunction with state and federal agencies and others, KMS will be distilling and disseminating information for Kansas physicians here.

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