November 10, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

POMA continues to monitor the rapidly 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

CMS Issues Omnibus COVID-19 Health Care Staff Vaccination Rule

On November 5, 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an emergency regulation, the Omnibus COVID-19 Health Care Staff Vaccination Rule that requires eligible staff working at Medicare- or Medicaid-certified providers or suppliers be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by January 4, 2022. The rule was issued as an interim final rule with a 60 day comment period closing January 4, 2022. The regulation took effect on November 5, 2021.

This interim final rule directly applies only to the Medicare- and Medicaid-certified providers and suppliers that are regulated under the Medicare health and safety standards known as Conditions of Participation, Conditions for Coverage or Requirement. It does not directly apply to other health care entities, such as physician offices, that are not regulated by CMS. However, a physician admitting and/or treating patients in-person within a facility subject to the CMS health and safety regulations and included as a part of this requirement must be vaccinated so that the facility is compliant.

It is important to note that the Omnibus rule is distinct from other rules. It does not allow covered providers or suppliers to offer eligible staff the choice between weekly testing and vaccination. And unlike the federal contractor obligations, it does not contain requirements related to masking or remote workers. Further, it applies even in states that prohibit vaccine mandates.

CMS held a webinar on the rule and has made the video and slide deck available for viewing.

Click here to view the interim final rule with comment period.

Click here for a list of frequently asked questions.

Dept. of Health Launches New Dashboard for COVID Impact on Skilled Nursing Facilities

The Pennsylvania Department of Health launched a new dashboard to provide a comprehensive view of the COVID-19 impact on residents and staff in nursing homes in Pennsylvania. The dashboard includes facility-level COVID-19 resident and staff cases, deaths, and vaccination rates leveraging data that nursing homes are already required to report to the federal government. It will be updated weekly each Friday. The new Skilled Nursing Facility COVID-19 data dashboard is on the long-term care COVID-19 data page.

Highmark to Resume Cost-Sharing for COVID-19 Treatment

On October 20, 2021, Highmark announced that its cost-sharing waiver for in-network, inpatient COVID-19 treatment will expire as planned on December 31, 2021. Members who may require in-hospital treatment for COVID-19 after December 31 will continue to have coverage for treatment with some cost-sharing. Additionally, Highmark's Medicare Advantage members will continue to see no copays for COVID related hospital admissions through the end of 2022.

Read more

Resources for the Holiday, Travel and Flu Season

The holiday season is quickly approaching! The CDC is providing several resources to help everyone enjoy holiday traditions and protect your health:

It's Time to Get the Flu Vaccine

The Pennsylvania Department of Health and the CDC are promoting the 2021-22 flu vaccine to help protect yourself, your family and your community from flu. This year, both the flu shot and nasal spray are available and recommended for everyone six months of age and older to protect against the flu. October is a great time to get a flu vaccine!

Click here to learn more about the 2021-22 flu season.

Pennsylvania's COVID-19 Vaccine Update

Pennsylvania is currently administering the Comirnaty (Pfizer) vaccine, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccination numbers for Pennsylvania do not include Philadelphia, which is its own jurisdiction, or federal facilities, which are working directly with the federal government.

According to the PA Department of Health, as of November 9, 14,280,088 total doses have been administered, including 954,343 additional shots for immunocompromised individuals and booster shots. There are 6,500,759 fully vaccinated people with a seven-day moving average of more than 44,900 people per day receiving vaccinations.

According to the CDC, as of November 8th, 72.5% of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated. Pennsylvania ranks 5th among all states for total doses administered.

Become a COVID-19 Vaccine Provider

POMA is working with the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) to spread the word that YOU can become a COVID-19 vaccine provider!

Several months ago, Pennsylvania's Acting Physician General Denise Johnson, MD spoke about the DOH's current vaccine objective, pivoting from larger/mass vaccination sites to community physician practices. Enroll as a provider and administer the vaccine in your office - click here to access the enrollment form.

Read the full message from Dr. Johnson regarding this important initiative and how you can keep your community healthy.

PA Health Alert Network (PA HAN) - Health Alerts, Advisories and Updates

Previously Published but Relevant Headlines

PA DOH Video Resource About COVID Vaccine Safety

The Pennsylvania Department of Health Acting Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Director of the Vaccine Education Center and Professor of Pediatrics Dr. Paul Offit have developed a video resource for Pennsylvanians to answer questions about COVID vaccine safety. The video includes a review of the vaccine approval process through the FDA, including the Emergency Use Authorization. They also discuss information on the increasing scientific data on the safety of vaccines for children and pregnant women and the effectiveness of the vaccine against variants, with a highlighted focus on effectiveness against the delta variant.

Dr. Johnson said "With so much information and misinformation out there, access to reliable and trusted sources can help you make the best decision for you and your family... It's essential that we continue to inform and educate Pennsylvanians about the COVID-19 vaccines, because good information leads to good decisions."

Anyone can access and share this video resource on Facebook or PAcast.

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

Briefings and Updates from Pa. Governor Wolf and the Department of Health

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 |