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A Doctor's note on Coronavirus
Posted by on March 30, 2020 | comments
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March 30, 2020

Dear Friends,

Today, is Doctor's Day. This day is celebrated each year in remembrance of Dr. Crawford Long. He was a pioneer in the medical field. As we reflect on this Doctor's Day, let us remember to be grateful for the doctors on the front lines of this pandemic. Remember today and every day to thank a doctor because not all heroes wear capes.

National Update:
New information is available on how the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is working to mitigate supply chain issues during this time. The FDA released detailed descriptions of its efforts to ensure access to necessary medical devices, such as personal protective equipment, drugs, blood supply, food, and veterinary medicine.

The FDA issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to allow for the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19. These drugs, traditionally used for the treatment of malaria, are now available to use for treatment of Coronavirus patients. The EUA also allows companies to donate these drugs to the Strategic National Stockpile. Today, 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine were donated by Sandoz, and one million doses of chloroquine phosphate were donated by Bayer Pharmaceuticals.

BARDA announced that it will support vaccine trials. Today, BARDA said it will support non-clinical studies and a Phase 1 clinical trial of Janssen’s investigational COVID-19 vaccine. BARDA will also support Phase 2 and 3 clinical trials of the investigational vaccine spearheaded by Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Coronavirus Rumor Control – available at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website. FEMA has resources for how to help, including how to donate or volunteer and how to partner as a private sector entity. Any assistance will help FEMA continue its work, which includes collaborating with the National Guard to build temporary hospitals in New York City and across the country.

Cigna and Humana are waiving cost-sharing for COVID-19 related treatment. This will ensure that patients who need treatment will be able to receive it without facing financial barriers.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Update:

  • The federal tax deadline has been extended to July 15, 2020.
  • Secretary Mnuchin expects tax rebates for those with direct deposit information on file within three weeks. Those who want to sign up for direct deposit can do so on the IRS website once they upload that form, anticipated in just a few days.
    • There is no need to sign up, payments will automatically be based on 2018 or 2019 tax returns or a social security benefit statement.
    • Visit www.irs.gov/coronavirus for more updates as they become available.

Guidance from the IRS:

  • Notice of the effective date for employment tax credits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
  • Notice providing additional relief for taxpayers who have Federal gift and generation-skipping transfer tax returns.
  • Notice providing relief for taxpayers affected by COVID-19.
  • Notice regarding high deductible health plans and expenses related to COVID-19.

FAQs for Taxpayers:

Texas Update:
Dallas will get the first pop-up hospital in Texas for Coronavirus patients. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Guard will work together to turn the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas into a temporary 250-bed hospital. This pop-up hospital is an innovative way to expand capacity during this Coronavirus outbreak.

Governor Abbott expands executive order mandating 14-day self-quarantine for travelers from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and New Orleans. This executive order now includes travel from anywhere in Louisiana, Miami, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, and anywhere in California and Washington state.

Texas granted additional flexibilities by CMS. Last week, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission submitted an 1135 waiver request to CMS to allow for flexibility regarding provider enrollment and prior authorization, among other things. CMS approved that waiver today.

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

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