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KMS Update: COVID-19 vaccine availability, new PPP loans, and other updates

From KMS Executive Director Rachelle Colombo
While calendars bring new activities and resolutions, they rarely alter the challenges and opportunities before us as a mere matter of a date in time. And so, while we bid a hearty adieu to 2020, we greet 2021 with informed perspective and expectations for what might lie ahead. The medical community—and the world at large—has weathered much these last nine months and, like the rest of the globe, has been wearied by the experience and seeks hope of brighter days on the horizon.

The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines have offered such a confluence of expectations, hope, as well as some frustration. It has been universally established by federal and state health agencies that health care workers should be among the first to receive the vaccine due to the critical necessity of keeping physicians and other health care providers available to care for and treat the rest of the population. However, the early dissemination of the vaccine in many states, Kansas included, has not been as successful as hoped.

Much like in the early days of PPE shortages, many physicians and other health care providers find themselves without access to the vaccine and reliable information about its rollout. Though it appears the majority of hospital-affiliated physicians have been able to be vaccinated, many physicians who aren’t hospital-affiliated have neither been able to secure the vaccines for their practice and patients nor find out where or when they can obtain the vaccines.

Though KDHE originally advised that all physicians should sign up through WebIZ, this is no longer what is required. All health care workers are eligible to receive the vaccine through their local county health department or hospital. Only those wishing to serve as a vaccination site or vaccinator are required to sign up through WebIZ. KMS has reached out to KDHE to report the difficulty of many Kansas physicians in acquiring the vaccine and navigating the information or lack thereof regarding the process and available vaccination sites. Please continue to share your experiences with us so that we can work towards an improved process, communication, and outcome for you and the patients you serve.

While you continue to take care of your patients and communities, the legislature will commence the 2021 session this Monday, January 11. The challenges before them—both physically, as they consider how to safely meet and vote per the requirements of the Kansas Constitution, and politically, as they work to address pandemic-related policies and beyond—will be many. As is always the case, KMS is here to serve as a key connection between Kansas physicians and the policymakers enacting laws affecting the practice of medicine. We do that best when we hear from you. Though we have postponed Advocacy Day in light of an unpredictable legislative schedule and environment and an abundance of caution, we will not be any less engaged in our advocacy efforts. Our legislative updates will be included in these email newsletters and we will also be hosting a monthly call-in for all KMS members interested in legislative news and activity.

In closing, thank you for the remarkable tenacity you embody each and every day, regardless of the calendar year and what it holds. Many things have changed in these many months, but the character of the physician community continues to reflect unwavering service. Thank you for your patience, persistence, and dedication to the best care possible for Kansas patients.

Please continue to reach out and let us know how we can serve you.

 

KMS Annual Meeting
While we are postponing Advocacy Day, the KMS Annual Meeting portion of the event, somewhat different than in the past, is still scheduled to take place as planned, but via Zoom. For this year, the principal purpose for the meeting is to select officers presented by the KMS nominating committee, as indicated below. Register for the KMS Annual Meeting here to receive log-in information.

The KMS Nominating Committee has presented the following slate of candidates for the KMS trustee and officer positions, for the election to be held on Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at the KMS annual meeting beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Central District Trustee II        —        G. Aron Fast, MD, Family Medicine, Moundridge
Eastern District Trustee II       —        Douglas S. Gleason, MD, OBGYN, Topeka
Western District Trustee II.     —        Kelly B. Gabel, DO, General Surgery, Colby
AMA Delegate                        —        Robert C. Gibbs, MD, Radiology, Parsons
Secretary/Treasurer               —        Nicholas M. Brown, MD, General Surgery, Wichita

 

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) updates
As we shared in the previous KMS Update, the latest COVID-19 relief package includes an additional $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Under the program, small businesses can borrow money from private lenders without collateral, personal guarantees, or fees. The loans don't have to be repaid to the extent that they are used to cover certain allowable expenses. This week, the Small Business Administration (SBA) posted these documents reflecting the information that will be requested from you when you apply with a lender:

View a list of lenders participating in the Paycheck Protection Program.

 

Request for assistance with Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program (MDPP)
CMS is seeking to increase the number of Medicare beneficiaries taking advantage of the MDPP benefit. In particular, CMS is reaching out to primary care physicians and other health care providers who have recently diagnosed or are treating pre-diabetic patients who may be eligible for the program.

The MDPP is a structured behavior change intervention that aims to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes among Medicare beneficiaries with an indication of prediabetes. The clinical intervention consists of a minimum of 16 intensive “core” sessions of a CDC-approved curriculum furnished over six months that provides practical training in long-term dietary change, increased physical activity, and behavior change strategies for weight control. The primary goal of the program is at least 5% weight loss by participants.

There are MDPP Suppliers in Kansas ready to serve eligible Medicare beneficiaries. This service may be conducted virtually and is available at no cost. CMS has provided a printable poster and tear-away sheet to help with patient education.

For questions or technical guidance, providers are encouraged to contact Chinara Smith at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Webinar: What's New in Medicare 2021
The Kansas Medical Society—in partnership with the Missouri State Medical Association (MSMA) and WPS GHA—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.

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If you have questions about this update or other matters, please contact KMS Executive Director Rachelle Colombo: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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