June 24, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

POMA continues to monitor the changing information surrounding the spread of COVID-19.

In an effort to provide accurate and helpful information to POMA members, we have gathered some of the resources we are finding to be most useful and accurate at this time. We hope this helps you in staying on top of the latest developments in the spread of the disease and in helping your patients.

Beginning in July, POMA's COVID newsletter will be published on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month. Rest assured, we will send urgent items of importance when they arise. 

Stay safe and healthy!


New Headlines

PA Insurance Department Issues Notice Highlighting Inappropriate Billing

Yesterday, Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman announced that the department has submitted a notice to the PA Bulletin outlining guidance for insurers that encounter providers engaging in inappropriate billing practices during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The department was recently made aware of new COVID-related fees that providers, in particular dental providers, may be charging patients outside of the insurer-provider contract.  The department has also been hearing about egregious bills, particularly for lab services, related to COVID-19.  This notice is a continuation of Notice 2020-03, issued March 21, which urged health insurers to help consumers avoid balance billing and surprise balance bills.  The notice also recommended health insurers make all necessary and useful information available on their websites, or through consumer assistance lines, in an effort to provide readily available accurate information for insureds during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If a consumer receives an unexpected bill related to COVID-19, or other health care services, they are encouraged to contact the PA Insurance Department at 1-877-881-6388.

Pennsylvania COVID-19 Testing & Contact Tracing Update

Today, Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine released updated information on testing and contact tracing strategies as part of the phased reopening of Pennsylvania. They noted that over 400 testing facilities are available throughout the Commonwealth with testing capacity of more than 16,000 tests per day.  In addition, over 800 contact tracers have volunteered through the state portal and hundreds of others have volunteered through other community or academic institutions.  The tracers have identified and monitored more than 4,000 close contacts of COVID-19 cases to date.

Click here to find a COVID-19 testing site near you.  Click here if you want to become a contact tracer.

Pennsylvania Distributes 5th Shipment of Remdesivir Across Commonwealth

On Friday, June 19, the Pennsylvania Department of Health has distributed 4,788 doses of remdesivir to 82 hospitals across the Commonwealth.  The distribution of the investigational antiviral medication is based on the number of COVID-19 patients at the hospital over a recent seven-day period, and the severity of the illness of those patients.  While there is limited information on the safety and effectiveness of using remdesivir to treat COVID-19 patients, it was shown in a clinical trial to shorten the recovery time in some patients, which is why the FDA has authorized the emergency use of the medication for COVID-19 treatment.  To date, over 22,000 doses since mid-May.

Pennsylvania DOH Applies for $301 Million Federal Grant

On Thursday, June 18, Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced that the Department of Health has applied for a $301 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to strengthen state and local public health capacity in Pennsylvania.  In the application, more than $100 million is earmarked to bolster county and municipal public health departments' response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The balance of the grant funding would be used to expand testing efforts, case investigating and contact tracing, and the data infrastructure to improve response.

Previously Published but Relevant Headlines

Pennsylvania Continues to Show Steady Decline in COVID Cases

As Pennsylvania continues to move through the phased reopening process, the state is also seeing a steady decline in COVID-19 cases and deaths.  Mask wearing is required in all businesses in yellow and green phases of reopening.  Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said, "Pennsylvania has been a model for the country on how to reopen effectively using a careful, measured approach. However, the virus has not gone away.  Each of us has a responsibility to continue to protect ourselves, our loved ones and others by wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing and washing our hands frequently. Together we can protect our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians, our essential workers and our healthcare system."

Pennsylvania Suspends Licensing Regulations

Due to COVID-19, Governor Wolf has granted a number of temporary waivers for health care professionals to increase the available number of practitioners in the Commonwealth and reduce barriers to temporary licensure. Following are a list of waivers relevant for osteopathic physicians:

Click here for a complete list of suspended licensing regulations. For all licensing-related inquiries, please use the email addresses found here to contact the appropriate licensing board.

Updated Pennsylvania Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Cases, Graphics, Resources

Daily Briefings and Updates from Pa. Governor Wolf and Secretary Levine

Resources from the CDC

The CDC has provided guidance and resources for healthcare providers, healthcare facilities, laboratories, as well as information for schools and childcare, businesses and employers, community and faith-based organizations, and the general public. Visit the CDC COVID-19 webpage for more information.

POMA will continue monitoring COVID-19 and provide updates and recommendations from PA-DOH, the CDC, the WHO and local health agencies. POMA's COVID-19 webpage and social media channels will be updated as information is shared from these organizations.

If you have any comments or questions for POMA, please email us at [email protected]. 

Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association | 1330 Eisenhower Boulevard, Harrisburg, PA 17111
(717) 939-9318 | www.poma.org