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Updated Guidance on Ohio Department of Medicaid Telehealth Rules During the Covid-19 Public Health Emergency

In its initial response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Ohio Department of Medicaid (“ODM”) issued emergency rule 5160-1-21, which dramatically expanded reimbursable telehealth services, telehealth providers, allowable technology, location of both providers and patients, and covered billing provider types. See BMD’s initial COVID-19 and Telehealth Resource Guide here. This emergency rule provides wide flexibility for patients to receive necessary healthcare services while Ohio’s Stay-At-Home Order remains in place. Regulations are continually changing in response to the public health crisis, and on April 13, 2020, ODM issued new guidance further expanding telehealth services reimbursable under Ohio’s Medicaid program.

  1. Expanded Telehealth Services, Providers, and Billing Provider Types

First, ODM is now covering the following telehealth services:

  • Limited oral evaluation
  • Hospice home care and long-term care
  • Direct skilled nursing services in the home health or hospice setting
  • Services of home health or hospice aides
  • Additional occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech language pathology, and audiology services
  • End stage renal disease (ESRD) related services

Second, the following practitioner types are now allowed to provide telehealth services and seek reimbursement from ODM:

  • Dentists
  • Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses working in a hospice or home health setting
  • Licensed and credentialed health professionals working in a hospital or nursing facility setting
  • Home health and hospice aides

Finally, the following provider types may now bill for covered services:

  • Professional dental groups
  • Home health and hospice agencies 
  1. Updated Billing Guidance

Most important in this update is the new billing guidance from ODM. This guidance will help ensure that providers are appropriately reimbursed for services provided to Medicaid beneficiaries through telehealth during this emergency. For all services, excluding ESRD-related services and some skilled therapy services (which will be updated at a later date), the telehealth changes found in 5160-1-21 will be implemented in the claims processing systems on Wednesday, April 15, 2020. This will be updated for fee-for-service, the Managed Care Plans, and MyCare Ohio Plans.

Once the system updates are in place, providers are encouraged to follow the new billing guidelines, which can be found here for non-OHMAS certified providers, and here for OHMAS certified providers. 

  1. Reminder on Previous Medicaid Telehealth Expansion

Pursuant to the emergency rule from ODM, the definition of telehealth now includes the use of telephone calls, fax, email, and other communication methods that may not have audio and video elements. Medicaid beneficiaries can be in any location and receive telehealth services, including homes, schools, temporary housing, hospitals, nursing facilities, group homes, and any other location, except for a prison or correctional facility. Likewise, eligible providers can deliver telehealth services from any location, including their own home offices and other non-institutional settings. Telehealth services are available even if the patient and provider do not have a pre-existing relationship.

For more information of Medicaid reimbursement during the COVID-19 public health emergency, please visit the Updated Telehealth Rule FAQs or contact a BMD health care attorney. 

HHS Announces an Additional $20 Billion In Provider Relief Grants

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) announced an additional $20 billion in new funding for providers on October 1, 2020. Eligible providers include those that have already received Provider Relief Fund payments as well as previously ineligible providers, such as those who began practicing in 2020, and an expanded group of behavioral health providers confronting the emergence of increased mental health and substance use issues exacerbated by the pandemic. The new Phase 3 General Distribution is designed to balance an equitable payment of 2% of annual revenue from patient care for all applicants plus an add-on payment to account for revenue losses and expenses attributable to COVID-19.

DOL Proposes New Rule Regarding Independent Contractor Status - But How Will the Election Affect Its Future?

On September 22, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a new proposed rule regarding employee and independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The full text of the proposed rule is available here. The rule's drafters intend to reduce uncertainty and enhance the precision and predictability of the long-standing "economic reality" test, which currently relies on a multifactor balancing test.

Major Change to Franklin County, Ohio Eviction Process: Landlord Testimony Required

Although there is currently a nationwide temporary halt on all residential evictions through December 31, 2020 in place, the eviction process in Franklin County – which processes the highest number of evictions in the State of Ohio at approximately 18,000 a year – recently changed significantly.

UPDATE: Governor Dewine Signs HB 606 Granting Short Window of Immunity from COVID-19 Personal Injury Lawsuits

The Ohio General Assembly, in Am. Sub. H.B. No. 606, is in the final stages of passing a law that will prohibit lawsuits seeking damages from COVID-19. This includes injury, death, or loss to person or property if the lawsuits are based, in whole or in part, on the exposure to, or the transmission or contraction of the coronavirus, unless the defendant in the lawsuit acted intentionally or recklessly. In circumstances where this immunity does not apply, H.B. 606 prohibits such claims being aggregated and brought as a class action.

Revised Department of Labor FFCRA Guidance, Effective September 16, 2020

In response to attacks on the legality of the Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Final Rule regarding the Families First Coronavirus Act (“FFCRA” or the “Act”), which took effect in April 2020, the Department of Labor issued new guidance on Friday, September 11th to formally address ongoing questions and concerns related to the COVID-19 legislation.