Coronavirus Response Newsletter

CHA Request for State Support on COVID-19 Response 

As part of our ongoing work to secure support from the state to maximize hospitals’ ability to treat patients needing acute and intensive care during the ongoing COVID-19 surge, CHA sent a formal request to the Governor’s Office and the California Health and Human Services Agency on Dec. 13. CHA requested specific steps in four areas:

  • Supplies
  • Coordination
  • Hospital Decompression
  • Regulatory Flexibility

Conversations at the highest levels are already underway. As the state responds to our most recent request, we will keep members informed.  

HHS Updates Hospital Data Reporting Requirements 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently updated its COVID-19 hospital reporting requirements (see #39 in the HHS FAQs). The new requirements add data fields related to therapeutic treatment and make influenza reporting mandatory. These reporting requirements are a Medicare Condition of Participation under the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) interim final rule released earlier this month. Changes in data reporting include: 

  • The addition of four new fields, which are currently optional and will become mandatory starting Jan. 8, 2021: 
    • Current Inventory: casirivimab/indevimab  
    • Courses Used in Past Week: casirivimab/indevimab 
    • Current Inventory: bamlanivimab 
    • Courses Used in Past Week: bamlanivimab 
  • The six influenza fields, which are currently optional and will become mandatory beginning Dec. 18 

On Thursday, Dec. 17, CHA will update its COVID-19 Tracking Tool to incorporate the new fields related to therapeutics and will provide hospitals and systems currently using the data upload feature with a revised template. In addition, CHA will work with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to update the data dictionary and the jointly created data reporting guidance document. 

CHA will also update its county dashboards to include only counts of adult ICU beds rather than adult, pediatric, and neonatal ICU beds. Questions can be directed to [email protected].

CDPH Provides Questions and Answers, States in Writing Deadline for Testing Plans as Dec. 14

In its weekly COVID-19 health facilities call today, CDPH clarified that it will not release any FAQs on testing recommendations All-Facilities Letter (AFL) 20-88. However, the department provided a few commonly asked questions and answers in the notes from its Dec. 8 weekly COVID-19 health facilities call.

The notes include responses about how the general acute care hospital COVID-19 mitigation testing plans are required, and how other elements in the AFL are recommended. It also states that the deadline for testing plans from general acute care hospitals to their local CDPH licensing district office was Dec. 14. While CDPH had stated this verbally on the call, the notes now provide it in writing. 

CDPH Webinar, Guidelines for Vaccination Program

CDPH will host a webinar Dec. 18 from 9-10 a.m. (PT) for hospitals, long-term care facilities, and local health departments about its COVID-19 Vaccine Program. The meeting will cover vaccine program updates, updates on provider enrollment and post-enrollment, updates from the Community Vaccine Advisory Committee and the Drafting Guidelines Workgroup, Vaccine Finder, and other details. It will also allow time for questions and answers. To join, go to the event login site.

As a reminder, as hospitals begin vaccinations, on Dec. 5 CDPH released its recommended guidelines for prioritizing the COVID-19 vaccine during this first phase, 1-A, of statewide distribution.

CMS Provides Coverage Guidance for Vaccines and Antibody Treatments

On Dec. 14, CMS reported that, during the COVID-19 public health emergency, Medicare will cover and pay for the administration of vaccines (when furnished according to emergency use authorizations). The agency’s updated payment and HCPCS Level I CPT code structure includes specific COVID-19 vaccine information. Providers are instructed to only bill for the vaccine administration codes when submitting claims to Medicare, and not to include the vaccine product codes when vaccines are free.

CMS has also provided information about coverage for monoclonal antibodies to treat COVID-19. CMS’ FAQs have been updated with Section BB addressing billing and reimbursement for these treatments, as well as an infographic with key information about expected Medicare payment.    

OSHPD Releases Vaccine Freezer Checklist, Provides Expedited Review 

The Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) has posted a Vaccine Freezer Checklist to its COVID-19 Resources page. The checklist is intended to be used for the expedited review and installation of ultra-low temperature freezers used for the storage of COVID-19 vaccines in California health care facilities. It summarizes and references the applicable requirements from OSHPD and should be completed by the project architect or engineer based on the design reflected in plans at the time of completion of the checklist. Hospitals can use the checklist to determine whether an OSHPD permit is necessary. If so, hospitals should submit the completed checklist with the permit application through the OSHPD eServices Portal. OSHPD is internally expediting review of vaccine freezer permit applications.

State Changes Reservation Process for Acquiring Hotel Rooms for Employees

The state’s Non-Congregate Sheltering for California Healthcare Workers Program will undergo significant changes to the reservation process beginning Jan. 12, 2021. To meet the criteria established by the Hotels for Healthcare Workers program, all certified health care facilities are required to assign a designated point of contact to assist and oversee the reservation process, to serve as the approver for all lodging reservations, and to submit and/or approve all hotel reservation requests. 

As of Jan. 12, the points of contact are the only individuals who can submit and approve reservation requests. The facility point of contact is expected to respond promptly, preferably within 24 hours, to approve or reject each hotel reservation request if contacted by CalTravelStore or Department of General Services staff. Failure to do so may result in delays and/or a lapse in the reservation. Health care facilities can identify as many points of contact as they deem necessary. Additional details are in this memo from the Department of General Services and in CHA’s Human Resources FAQs

CHA, Hospitals Push Hard-Hitting Message Imploring Californians to Stay Home

CHA has partnered with the United Nurses Associations of California (UNAC) to deliver a hard-hitting message from the front lines: Health care workers are tired, strained, and need everyone to do their part to stop the COVID-19 surge. Last week, CHA released this downloadable video, produced in partnership with UNAC, in which an ICU nurse shares her experience from the front lines and implores Californians to take this virus seriously by staying home and wearing a mask when going out. CHA expects to produce several more videos in the next couple weeks and will share them as they are completed.

Next CDPH Call for Health Care Facilities: Dec. 22, 8-9 a.m. (PT)  

Dial: (844) 721-7239  

Passcode: 7993227