New Guidance & OSMA Advocacy Efforts
Below is an update on recent changes and issues in which OSMA is actively engaged at the federal and state level.
Updated Rule, Guidance & Advocacy Efforts
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
We have heard from numerous physicians across Ohio regarding the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). As we know, PPE is in short supply across the country.
At this time, Ohio has received and distributed its allotment from the national stockpile. But this distribution wasn’t adequate to meet Ohio’s needs. Shipping equipment into Ohio through normal private channels is also limited. Therefore, Ohio has been turning inwards to address the PPE shortage. On Sunday, Battelle received clearance from the FDA to initiate a cleaning service for masks. When in full development, Battelle estimates that it will be able to clean between 80,000 – 160,000 masks per day.
Additionally, earlier today, April 1, 2020, the governor announced the formation of the Ohio Manufacturer Alliance to Fight COVID-19 with the purpose to “engage manufacturers to see which companies have interest in repurposing their manufacturing operations to produce some of the most in-demand products in the fight against COVID-19, especially products for the healthcare industry.” The Alliance has created a website, www.repurposingproject.com. The OSMA will be working with the Alliance and the Department of Health on distribution as materials become available.
In addition to these Ohio-based efforts, we know questions have arisen from many physicians regarding creating their own PPE or speaking out regarding the lack of PPE. Yesterday, the Joint Commission updated its guidance to clarify that its policy does not prohibit healthcare workers from bringing their own PPE from home.
There is nothing more important than the health of all Ohio physicians and healthcare workers. The OSMA will continue to work with the governor, ODH and other organizations to ensure you have the PPE that you need to safely treat patients and care for yourself.
Testing & Assessment
We know many Ohio physicians have concerns that the time it takes to get test results back for doctors and other healthcare workers is taking too long, and therefore forcing individuals to stay away from work longer than necessary. To address this problem, Ohio Department of Health Director, Amy Acton M.D., signed an order instructing all hospitals with assessment centers to send all their tests to either the ODH lab or a lab available at another hospital in the state rather than to a private lab. The turnaround times at ODH and the hospital labs are much faster and therefore can get the critical results back in a more timely fashion. As other changes are made to the testing process, we will let you know.
CMS Updates to Telehealth
Yesterday, March 31, 2020, CMS announced additional changes to telehealth regulations. We will be updating our telehealth page and materials to reflect these updates. For those of you that have already reviewed our telehealth webinar, we will be sending you and posting updated information by the end of this week. For those yet to review the webinar, it will be updated with new information available for viewing by the end of this week. In addition, we continue to provide new information from commercial insurance carriers and other government programs as it becomes available.
On March 31, 2020, President Trump approved Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s request to declare Ohio a disaster area. This declaration invokes the immunity protection in Ohio law that applies to medical care rendered in disaster emergencies. The OSMA advocated for and got this protection passed in 2017. In addition to this provision that is now activated in current law, the OSMA is working with interested parties to further clarify the scope of this protection for physicians, other health care workers and facilities as numerous aspects of the healthcare delivery system have been disrupted during the pandemic. We will provide updates as soon as more details are known.
Electronic Death Registry System (EDRS)
We received the following communication from Anahi Ortiz, M.D. the Franklin County Coroner asking that this information be shared across the state:
“Our state is currently planning for a non-acute mass fatality due to the pandemic. We hope to not have to utilize the plan, but we must prepare. In that light, we are asking that physicians throughout the state register with the Electronic Death Registry System or EDRS. This will enable faster processing of death certificates so decedents can be buried or cremated without significant delay.”
Medical Board Clarifies Use of Chloroquine or Hydroxychloroquine in Treatment of COVID-19 Patients
On March 26, the Medical Board issued a statement and modified rules that clarified the circumstances in which physicians may prescribe Chloroquine or Hydroxychloroquine for presumptive positive patients. The new language in Ohio Administrative Code 4729-5-30.2 (B) states:
The Pharmacy Board’s Executive Director, in consultation with the Pharmacy Board President have authorized the dispensing of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine for presumptive positive patients for either of the following:
- For use as part of a documented institutional review board-approved clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the drugs to treat COVID-19. Prescriptions must include documentation that the patient is enrolled in a clinical trial.
- For the continuation of inpatient treatment for COVID-19 using chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine for patients discharged from a hospital. The prescriber shall be required to notate on the prescription that the patient has been discharged from the hospital and the prescription shall be for no more than a fourteen-day supply.
New DEA Buprenorphine Guidance
On March 31, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued guidance to DEA-registered physicians providing new flexibility for physicians managing patients with opioid use disorder. The new guidance permits physicians and other health professionals with a waiver to prescribe buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid use disorder for new and existing patients based on an evaluation via telephone. The new policy is effective from March 31 for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.
Business Support Education
Webinar on HR Issues & Changes
With the passage of federal and state legislation related to the economic impact of COVID-19 on small business, several members have had numerous HR questions. OSMA is currently working to develop an on-demand webinar that will be available for viewing next week to address these changes and questions. If you have specific questions or issues you would like addressed, please submit them by this Friday, April 3, 2020 and we will include them in the webinar.We are also planning on providing additional business-related webinars in the near future to address common questions and challenges we are hearing from our members. Stay tuned for more soon.