August 12, 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.

Stay safe and healthy!


New Headlines

Provider Relief Fund: New Applications Being Accepted

On July 31, 2020, HHS announced that certain Medicare providers would be given another opportunity to receive additional Provider Relief Fund payments. These are providers who previously missed the June 3, 2020 deadline to apply for additional funding equal to 2 percent of their total patient care revenue from the $20 billion portion of the $50 billion Phase 1 General Distribution, including many Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and dental providers with low Medicare revenues. In addition, certain providers who experienced a change in ownership, making them previously ineligible for Phase 1 funding, will also be given an opportunity to apply for financial relief.

Starting August 10, 2020, these eligible providers may now submit their application for possible funds by August 28, 2020. This deadline aligns with the extended deadline for other eligible Phase 2 providers, such as Medicaid, Medicaid managed care, CHIP, and dental providers.

  • Providers who did not receive an initial payment that totals approximately 2 percent of their annual patient revenue
  • Providers who did receive an initial payment, but missed the June 3rd deadline to submit their revenue information
  • Providers who were ineligible for prior General Distribution funds due to a change in ownership or because they did not have Medicare fee-for-service revenue in 2019
  • Providers who previously received Phase 1 General Distribution payment(s), but rejected and returned the funds and are now interested in reapplying.

All eligible providers will only receive funding of up to 2 percent of their reported total revenue from patient care.  The deadline for applying for funds is August 28, 2020.

  • For the latest information on the Provider Relief Fund Program, visit:
  • The full press release, can be found here 

Wolf Administration Highlights the Importance of Vaccinations and Introduces Updated Guidelines for New School Year

This week, the Pennsylvania departments of Education, Health, Human Services, and Insurance reminded parents to ensure their children’s immunizations are up to date as part of back-to-school preparations. Vaccine requirements also extend to students of cyber and charter schools.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s recommended that parents and guardians schedule immunization appointments early, due to potential delays in scheduling and decreased appointment windows. To address this potential issue, the Department of Health has temporarily suspended the regulation regarding requirements for children’s immunization for a two-month period after the beginning of the school year or the beginning of enrollment in an early childhood education program.

The temporary regulatory suspension of children’s immunizations requirements allows children to enter and attend school or an early childhood program for two months without the required immunizations. The department is temporarily suspending the list of immunizations a child must have and the grades in which the child must have them, the requirement that children who do not meet the regulations should be excluded, the guidelines that schools need to follow to verify that children with medical exemptions who are on a plan to get their immunizations actually get them, and the regulation that requires children currently enrolled in child care programs maintain updated immunizations according to the federal guidelines.

Additional information on immunizations can be found on the Department of Health’s website at

Wolf Administration Highlights Increased Efforts to Expand COVID-19 Testing Availability

The Wolf Administration continues to work to further increase testing in Pennsylvania. This includes partnerships in place with Walmart and Quest Diagnostics, which provide direct access in many communities, including rural areas. Nine drive-thru Walmart testing sites launched on Aug. 5. These nine new sites are in addition to existing Walmart drive-thru sites in Clarion, State College, New Castle and Edinboro.

Pennsylvania has conducted the ninth highest total number of tests for COVID-19 in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 1.6 million tests have been completed, which equates to 13 percent of the Pennsylvania population.

The most updated testing sites and information is available at the Department of Health. Testing sites continue to be added.

For the updated commonwealth map of testing sites, visit Pennsylvania COVID-19 Viral Testing Sites.

Update on Pennsylvania's COVID-19 Dashboard

Last week’s status update detailing the state’s mitigation efforts Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine today released a weekly status update detailing the state’s mitigation efforts showed decreased case counts across the state. This was the second week in a row which showed decreased percent positivity.

As of Thursday, August 6, the state has seen a seven-day case increase of 5,016. The previous seven-day increase was 6,228, showing that new cases decreased in the last seven days by 1,252 cases throughout the state.

The Department of Health also updated its travel recommendations, originally announced on July 2, to add Nebraska, North Dakota and Wisconsin to the list of states recommended for domestic travelers returning from to quarantine for 14 days upon return to Pennsylvania.

CMS and CDC Announce Provider Reimbursement Available for Counseling Patients to Self-Isolate at Time of COVID-19 Testing

On July 30, CMS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced payment is available to physicians and health care providers to counsel patients, at the time of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing, about the importance of self-isolation after they are tested and prior to the onset of symptoms. 

Provider counseling to patients, at the time of their COVID-19 testing, will include the discussion of immediate need for isolation, even before results are available, the importance to inform their immediate household that they too should be tested for COVID-19, and the review of signs and symptoms and services available to them to aid in isolating at home. In addition, they will be counseled that if they test positive, to wear a mask at all times, and they will be contacted by public health authorities and asked to provide information for contact tracing and to tell their immediate household and recent contacts in case it is appropriate for these individuals to be tested for the virus and to self-isolate as well. 

CMS will use existing evaluation and management payment codes to reimburse providers who are eligible to bill CMS for counseling services no matter where a test is administered, including doctor’s offices, urgent care clinics, hospitals, and community drive-thru or pharmacy testing sites.

For More Information:

Previously Published but Relevant Headlines

Pennsylvania DOH Builds Contact Tracing Resources for COVID-19

Today, the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA-DOH) provided an update on contact tracing efforts in Pennsylvania.  It is estimated that the state currently needs about 625 contact tracers to identify, notify and monitor anyone who came in close contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 while they were infectious.  To date, the Commonwealth has a total of 661 contact tracers.  The PA-DOH continues to expand and build the infrastructure for long-term public health needs, which includes volunteers, regional partnerships and hiring contact tracing staff.  The PA-DOH is also hiring contact tracing field managers and community health nurses to strengthen contact tracing needs throughout the state.  Click here for more information on contact tracing.

Masks are Mandatory in All Public Spaces in Pennsylvania

On July 1, Governor Wolf announced a new order signed by Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine that makes mask-wearing mandatory whenever anyone leaves home.  Dr. Levine said "It is essential that Pennsylvanians wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  While cases increase in some areas, we cannot be complacent.  My mask protects you, and your mask protects me.  Wearing a mask shows that you care about others, and that you are committed to protecting the lives of those around you."

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 |