January 12, 2022

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

Wolf Administration Announces New Support for Long-Term Care Facilities

The Wolf Administration today announced a new initiative to help long-term care facilities respond to COVID-19 and improve resiliency.  

The Long-Term Care Resiliency, Infrastructure Supports, and Empowerment program (LTC RISE) gives long-term care facilities the support they need to battle COVID-19, recover, and rebuild.

A federal grant provided by the CDC is funding the LTC RISE initiative which began operation on Jan. 1, 2022, replacing the Regional Congregate Care Assistance Teams (RCATs), whose contract expired Dec. 31, 2021. 

The LTC RISE program is a partnership among DOH, DHS, PEMA and the following healthcare organizations that have established partnerships covering six regions across Pennsylvania to support preventive and emergent assistance for LTCFs: 

  • Penn Medicine in partnership with Temple Health 
  • The Pennsylvania State University   
  • LECOM Health  
  • AMI Expeditionary Healthcare   

More information about the LTC RISE imitative is available online here.

Pennsylvania DOH Urges Pregnant Pennsylvanians to Get Vaccinated

Yesterday, the Department of Health (DOH) held a press conference at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Harrisburg to encourage Pennsylvanians who are pregnant, recently pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or might become pregnant in the future to get vaccinated.

Currently, COVID-19 vaccination rates among pregnant populations is low, between 30 and 35 percent in the United States. Studies show that pregnant women are at a higher risk of severe outcomes if they contract COVID-19 during their pregnancy.

The state Health Department recommends that pregnant Pennsylvanians get fully vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible and use the CDC’s v-safe pregnancy registry, an app that offers personalized health check-ins.

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 January 12th, 17,501,033 total doses have been administered, including 154,179 booster doses and 48,395 pediatric doses.

There are 7,005,428 fully vaccinated people in Pennsylvania. According to the CDC, as of January 10th, 74.6% of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated. 

New HCPCS Code for Remdesivir Antiviral Medication

Following the recent statement from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel regarding therapies for the COVID-19 Omicron variant, CMS created HCPCS code J0248 for VEKLURY™ (remdesivir) antiviral medication when administered in an outpatient setting. This code is available for use by all payers and is effective for dates of service on or after December 23, 2021:

  • Long descriptor: Injection, remdesivir, 1 mg
  • Short descriptor: Inj, remdesivir, 1 mg

Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) determine Medicare coverage when there is no national coverage determination, including in cases when providers use FDA-approved drugs for indications other than what is on the approved label. The MACs consider the major drug compendia, authoritative medical literature and accepted standards of medical practice to determine medical necessity when considering coverage. Therefore, the MACs will determine Medicare coverage for HCPCS code J0248 for VEKLURY™ (remdesivir) administered in an outpatient setting. 

Your MAC will share coverage and claims processing information for J0248. Contact your MAC if you have questions about coverage.

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

Previously Published but Relevant Headlines

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 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 | www.poma.org