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November 24, 2020


Vaccine Distribution News. Yesterday, the Department of Health (ODH) issued a notice, which came through the Board of Pharmacy, on its registration process for vaccine providers. The main point of the notice was to underscore that an entity does not need to have ultra-cold storage capability to be a vaccine provider. ODH urged others to enroll. They added that providers who do not have ultra-cold storage capacity can receive vaccines packed in dry ice. This is not without its own challenges, as explained in this ODH fact sheet. In the notice, ODH includeds updates about the status of the first three vaccine candidates as they move toward Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs). The first candidate, Pfizer/BioNTech, filed for an EUA last Friday, and the FDA committee responsible for considering the application will meet December 10. The ODH notice closes with a link to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web page entitled, "10 Things Healthcare Professionals Need to Know about U.S. COVID-19 Vaccination Plans."

At his press conference today, Governor Mike DeWine said he expects Ohio to get the first batch of the Pfizer vaccine by mid-December and the Moderna version a week later. He again specifically mentioned prioritizing caregivers in congregate settings.

We also began to hear from OHCA members (including an ICF/IID provider) that they received an emailed letter from Walgreens entitled, "Walgreens Support & Plan for COVID19 Vaccines," which specifies, "we will host immunization clinics for your residents/patients and staff (if they have not previously been immunized) over the next few weeks." These letters, which include several attachments, presumably were sent to members who selected Walgreens in the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care. We have not heard if CVS sent similar letters to providers who selected them.

NHSN Reporting Changes. The National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) made some important changes to its reporting process for COVID-19 test results yesterday, including "back-dating" results to the date the specimen was collected. NHSN held webinars yesterday and today explaining the changes, reportedly suggesting they will move toward daily reporting of positive results in the near future. NHSN announced that they will hold additional webinars next Monday and Thursday, both at 12:30 p.m. The links for the additional webinars have not yet been posted on the NHSN website, but the revised formats for the resident impact and staff and personnel impact reporting, along with the resident and staff instructions, are available.

BWC Approves $5B Dividend; Checks Issued Mid-December. The Board of Directors of the Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) unanimously approved the $5 billion dividend request Governor DeWine originally made back in October. The $5 billion dividend is the third dividend of more than $1 billion this year, bringing the total to nearly $8 billion to help Ohio employers combat the challenges of COVID-19. State-fund employers should expect to see their checks in the mail in mid-December. To learn more about the details of this next BWC dividend, please click here.

ODM Issues MyCare Ohio SNF PA Waiver Grid. Yesterday, the Department of Medicaid (ODM) released a grid created by the Medicaid managed care organizations (MCOs) and MyCare Ohio Plans (MCOPs) that outlines the necessary steps for coverage of SNF admissions under the newly-issued prior authorization (PA) waivers required by the recent ODM directive. The grid is very helpful in detailing the requirements for the various product lines (Medicaid, MyCare Medicaid, and MyCare Medicare), but does not include information relating to any marketplace plan, special needs plan (SNP), or traditional Medicare Advantage product. Providers should consult the health plan websites and bulletins for this information. Please note that SNF admissions still require a level of care determination by the plan, and the provider should contact the plan within 72 hours of admission.

State Visitation Dashboard. ODH's Rebecca Sandholdt sent the following message to certain SNFs and assisted living communities about updates to the dashboard.

I want to thank you all for registering and entering your information into the visitation dashboard.  In order to provide an accurate picture of the facilities that are reporting information I need to make some updates to your demographic (license number or Medicare number) information on the visitation portal. When I make this update you will receive an email notification that a change was made to your visitation information. I don’t want you to be alarmed when you receive this notification. 

I will be working on this over the next few days. If you have any questions please fee free to reach out to be directly. Thank you all for everything you do! Have a nice Thanksgiving and happy holiday season!   

Notices from Board of Nursing. The Board of Nursing circulated two notices today on national campaigns, one asking people to limit holiday visits and the other promoting mask-wearing.

The American Nurses Association, the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association urged Americans to celebrate safely during the holiday season by scaling back traditional gatherings to help prevent the further spread of COVID-19: “With Thanksgiving and the holiday season fast approaching and a deadly COVID-19 pandemic surging, we – the physicians, nurses, hospital and health system leaders and public health professionals on the front lines of this pandemic – strongly urge everyone throughout our country to celebrate responsibly, in a scaled-back fashion that limits the virus’s spread, to help reduce the risk of infecting friends, family and others you love.”

In addition, CDC asked Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving and to not spend the holiday with people from outside their household citing more than 1 million new cases in the U.S. over the past week as the reason for issuing the new guidance. Please see https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/public-health/open-letter-covid-19-and-holiday-gatherings-american-public.

A new campaign features front-line health care workers urging everyone to wear a mask. It is intended to recognize health care workers’ fatigue in dealing with the eight-month-long pandemic in the U.S. See https://www.everymaskup.com/.

Free One-Time PCR Testing Opportunity for Member Facilities (from AHCA/NCAL). AHCA/NCAL is alerting member facility operators of a free one-time testing opportunity with Corteva Agriscience. On Friday, December 18, 2020, Corteva plans to simultaneously receive approximately 100,000 samples from individuals across the United States to demonstrate a COVID-19 testing platform that can process this many diagnostic lab samples in one day. Results are planned to be returned electronically to all participants within 24-48 hrs. of collection. This is a PCR-based test that will meet CMS testing requirements.

If you are interested in participating in this study, please review the attached materials for more information:

If you are interested in this program, either on behalf of your corporation/company or individual center, please email barryjd@prahs.com with a contact name, number and email. A team member from PRA Health Sciences will contact you with further information.