Today’s Top Story

Senate Approves Changes to Paycheck Protection Program

The Senate voted to pass changes to the Paycheck Protection Program. The bipartisan legislation seeks to add flexibility to the terms of use for the program’s loans, extending the eight-week period during which small businesses must use the emergency loans in order to be eligible for loan forgiveness to 24 weeks. The “75/20” ratio requiring businesses to use 75 percent of the money for payroll costs and no more than 25 percent for other costs would change to 60/40. The bill now awaits President Donald J. Trump’s signature.

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In Other News

Most Emergency Health Funds Remain Undistributed

Despite Congress’ approval of a $175 billion emergency package for healthcare providers months ago, the Trump administration has yet to distribute nearly $100 billion of the funds. Nationwide, at least 1,900 health center sites have been forced to temporarily shut down, and many are furloughing staff to remain afloat. A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services attributed the delay to “concerns that these distributions be allocated fairly, transparently, and with appropriate oversight into the process,” according to POLITICO.

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QPP Update: New COVID-19 Clinical Trials Improvement Activity

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) updated its Quality Payment Program (QPP) fact sheet in response to the pandemic, including an update regarding COVID-19 clinical trials improvement activity. Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS)-eligible clinicians or groups who treat patients with COVID-19 and report their data to a Qualified Clinical Data Registry or participate in a clinical trial for therapeutics are able to attest to the new improvement activity in this year’s performance period.

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Study Assesses Hydroxychloroquine to Prevent COVID-19

Hydroxychloroquine does not prevent COVID-19 infection when used as postexposure prophylaxis within four days of exposure, according to a randomized trial published online in The New England Journal of Medicine. Adults with confirmed COVID-19 exposure were randomized to receive either placebo or hydroxychloroquine (800 mg once, followed by 600 mg in six to eight hours, then 600 mg daily for four additional days). Of 821 asymptomatic patients, 87.6 percent reported a high-risk COVID-19 exposure. No significant differences of new illness compatible with COVID-19 were observed in the hydroxychloroquine (11.8 percent) or placebo (14.3 percent) groups.

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Workplace Safety: Temperature Checks Alone Aren’t Enough

According to an article in the Associated Press’ COVID-19 fact-checking series, daily temperature checks should not be the only preventative measure taken by employers to reduce COVID-19 risk. Employees may have COVID-19 and be contagious without a fever. No-touch infrared thermometers can be used, but certain things may affect the readings. Headbands and bandanas may make a person too hot, while cosmetic wipes may cool them down.

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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Telemedicine Coding in the Era of COVID-19

With the ever-changing policies on reporting telemedicine services during the current public health emergency, this article addresses the most frequently asked questions regarding how to report telemedicine services. This article contains pertinent coding updates from the April 30 CMS Interim Final Rule.

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AAOS Registry Program Collecting COVID-19 Data

Effective immediately, AAOS’ Registry Program will begin collecting COVID-19 data through the capture of the International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision code for COVID-19 confirmed diagnosis, U07.1. The new code is enabled across each of the AAOS registries, including the American Joint Replacement Registry, the world’s largest national registry of hip and knee joint replacement data by annual procedural count; the Shoulder & Elbow Registry; the Musculoskeletal Tumor Registry; and the American Spine Registry, a collaborative effort with the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

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