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A Doctor's note on Coronavirus
Posted by on March 25, 2020 | comments
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March 25, 2020

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to know that the Senate draws close to voting on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

I appreciate the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to push forward and provide solutions for the crisis at hand. It is disappointing that some members decided this was the time to push their own partisan agendas and worked to implement policies that would do nothing to help Americans affected by this Coronavirus.

As we move forward, I hope that we can reunify in defeating this common and invisible enemy.

National Update:
New trusted guidance and resources for hospitals and health care workers are now available. The Joint Commission launched a Coronavirus resource page on its website that provides hospitals and health care workers with the information they need to continue to fight on the front lines of this pandemic.

While you check the weather, also check out The Weather Channel’s COVID-19 resource page. This page has links to each state health department’s Coronavirus site, Coronavirus tracking resources, links to important health information by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and – of course – the weather, all in one place.

Communities have been granted $250 million to provide meals for older adults. The Department of Health and Human Services will award additional funding for nutrition services programs that provide meals to more than 2.4 million older Americans each year. Check out what your state will receive here.

New guidance is available for health care professionals to help ensure first responders receive the necessary health information to treat individuals exposed to this Coronavirus. The Office for Civil Rights at HHS issued guidance for how to manage protected health information during this time. This guidance will help first responders have access to necessary real time information about the patients they are treating.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has published implementation guidance on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. There is published guidance for employees and employers. Employers are encouraged to share this information with their employees and to call 202-693-4600 or email: OCIACongressionalNotifications@dol.gov with any questions.

The Trump Administration is implementing enhanced Medicaid state funding provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. CMS has released guidance on the possible 6.2% increase in the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) for each state and territory. This guidance will help states and territories navigate how best to obtain and utilize this additional funding.

New guidance has been released for insurers. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have issued new guidance on payment and grace period flexibilities for insurers offering coverage on the federal platform, FAQs on the usage of telehealth services through private health insurance coverage, and FAQs on prescription drugs for issuers offering health insurance coverage in the individual and small group markets.

Guidance on filing your 2019 tax return. President Trump and Secretary Mnuchin announced that all federal tax returns and payments that are due April 15, 2020, are now due July 15, 2020. Any tax payments will be deferred without accruing interest or being levied a penalty. Guidance information can be found here. In addition, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar issued a statement on using online tools to pay Texas sales tax.

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The Trump administration is providing relief to federal student loan borrowers impacted by this Coronavirus. The Department of Educationannounced today that it will stop all wage garnishments and collection actions for borrowers in default and refund over $1.8 Billion of garnished wages and tax returns to over 830,000 borrowers. This relief will last at least 60 days from March 13, 2020. More information can be found here.

Texas Update:
President Trump approved Governor Abbott’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration for Texas. This official declaration will unlock much needed resources for the Lone Star State in its response to this Coronavirus pandemic as our state’s case count continues to increase.

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Texas hospitals can now double their occupancy. Governor Abbott approved the Texas Hospital Association’s double occupancy waiver this week. This waiver allows hospitals to temporarily increase the number of beds in patients’ rooms,meaning hospitalscan treat more patients.

Texas has a new online portal that allows individuals and businesses to donate and sell medical supplies. This online portal will help the supply chain and availability of medical supplies in Texas. It also includes information about how to volunteer if you are a retired medical professional or a medical student.

Until tomorrow, this is your doctor's note.
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Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D.

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