April 1, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

POMA continues to monitor the rapidly changing information surrounding the spread of COVID-19. As we have seen this week, the numbers in Pennsylvania continue to climb each day.

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.

COVID Webpage

PPE Material Distribution

During last week's press conference, Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine discussed the supply distribution to the healthcare system, including hospitals, health systems, health care professionals, counties and emergency responders. The supplies include 678,630 N95 masks; 207,600 procedure masks; 380,000 gloves; 36,870 personal protective equipment (PPE) gowns; and over 44,000 goggles and face protection. Supplies are acquired through the federal stockpile, but the department is working to purchase whatever is available to ensure sufficient protection and resources for medical personnel. All providers should be working with their Regional Health Care Coalition to submit requests for PPE. Please scroll to the bottom for the contact information of each region's Public Health Preparedness Coordinator. Click here for COVID-19 PPE guidance from PA-DOH.

Pennsylvania to Allow Retired Health Care Professionals to Support COVID-19 Response

The Pennsylvania Department of State is acting to enable retired health care professionals to assist with COVID-19 response by waiving certain licensing regulations. Licensees under the State Board of Osteopathic Medicine (SBOM) who are in active/retired status for less than four years can apply for reactivation of their licenses. Their CME requirements and license reactivation fees will be suspended. This measure allows retired/inactive DOs to become active unrestricted until October 31, 2020. If a licensee wishes to continue practicing beyond that date, the licensee would need to renew the active-unrestricted license and meet all current requirements at that time. Visit the PALS website to reactivate your active/retired license. PA-DOS is working on specific directions which will be posted on their Suspended Licensing Regulations for Health-Care Professionals page and on the Boards & Commissions Landing Page in the coming days. If you have questions, please email the SBOM directly at [email protected].

Federal Stimulus Package (CARES Act) Highlights

The $2 trillion federal coronavirus economic stimulus bill, the CARES Act, was signed into law on Friday, March 27. The legislation aims to provide relief for individuals and businesses that have been adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Highlights of the provisions most relevant to physicians and medical students include:

  • Provisions impacting physician payment and patient access to care
  • Financial relief for small businesses and 501(c)(3) organizations
  • Financial aid and student loan information
  • Financial relief for individuals
  • Tax filing deadline extension
  • Funding provisions for medical response efforts, the CDC, HRSA and the VA

Click here to read the AOA's summary of the CARES Act.

PRIORITY Study: Pregnancy Coronavirus Outcomes Registry

PRIORITY (Pregnancy CoRonavIrus Outcomes RegIsTrY) is a nationwide study of pregnant or recently pregnancy women aged 19+ who are either under investigation for COVID-19 or have been confirmed to have COVID-19. This study is being done to help patients and physicians better understand how COVID-19 impacts pregnant women and their newborns.

Click here for more information, call (415) 269-9496 or email [email protected].

POMA Clinical Assembly & Governance Meeting Updates

POMA20 Is Going Virtual!
Last week we announced that the 112th Annual Clinical Assembly & Scientific Seminar is transitioning from an in-person meeting to a virtual conference. The dates remain April 29-May 2 and the times will remain relatively the same - more information will be provided once the virtual schedule has been finalized in the coming days.

POMA20 Virtual will offer 34 Category 1-A AOA CME credits and will be utilizing a combination of live streaming sessions and chat forums to facilitate dialogue, questions/answers and interaction. The virtual conference will be available on multiple electronic devices. Additional information regarding the virtual platform technology will be provided in the coming weeks as we finalize the virtual conference.

Early-bird pricing has been extended through May 2 and refunds are being offered with no administrative fee. Registrants also have the ability to transfer their registration to 2021 or donate their fees. If you have already registered for POMA20 and wish to participate in POMA20 Virtual, no action is needed as your registration will be automatically transferred to the virtual conference. Still need to register? Click here - your username is ##[Username]##, fax your registration form to (717) 939-7255 or call (717) 939-9318 x170 and leave a message. Please note, mail is not preferred as TeamPOMA is working remotely.

The resident poster session will be transitioned to virtual presentations. The resident leadership program will also be transitioning to a virtual program but the dates have not yet been determined - stay tuned for additional information.

POMA has informed Valley Forge that we are moving to a virtual platform. Those who already secured housing will receive a cancellation email from the venue.

POMA Governance Updates
The governance meetings that occur during the annual Clinical Assembly are being discussed, however specifics are not yet available. Details will be sent directly to members of the Board of Trustees and House of Delegates within the next week.

POMA Foundation Funds PPE Research

Pamela S.N. Goldman, DO, MHSA, FACOI, chair of the POMA Foundation (POMAF) announced the funding of a research project out of the Clarion Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program to test Novel 3D Printed Respirators. Steve Martin, DO and James R. Latronica, DO submitted a request for funding to fit test Novel 3D printed respirators to address shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE). “During these unprecedented times, the POMA Foundation supports research in pursuit of creative and innovative solutions to meet an immediate need of the community,” said Dr. Goldman. The foundation board of directors was able to quickly address the grant request to fund this project that has the potential to directly support healthcare workers in these trying times.

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.

Telehealth and Virtual Visits

The payment options for treating COVID-19 and treating chronic patients are changing every day. More private insurers are waiving patient co-pays for telehealth visits (note: some employer-sponsored plans may exclude telehealth options). Temporarily, telephonic-only (no visual) are being paid for but at a lower rate than full E/M visits done with both audio and video. It is paid by time increments and can only be used with an established patient, and documentation is important to ensure it meets a virtual visit. Per CMS (and possibly by private payors), virtual check-ins were previously limited to rural areas and are now a reimbursed service for most patients. Physicians should follow the guidelines for billing from their employer, if applicable. Click here for CMS' Medicare telemedicine health care provider fact sheet.

For Medicaid patients, you can have telehealth visits but they are included in your negotiated monthly rate. Click here for Pennsylvania's Medicaid telemedicine guidelines related to COVID-19

New to telemedicine? Click here to learn from Michael Brown, DO, a telehealth veteran practicing family medicine in Missouri, who shares his experiences as the first physician to adopt telemedicine in his state.

POMA will continue monitoring COVID-19 and provide updates and recommendations from PADOH, 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