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A Doctor's note on Coronavirus

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Washington, April 8, 2020 | comments
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April 8, 2020

Dear Friends,

Today the U.S. Department of the Treasury released updated FAQs on the Paycheck Protection Program:

Also, here are helpful links provided by the Treasury Department for assistance to small businesses, non-profits, veterans organizations, and tribal businesses—as well as to some self-employed and independent contractors:

National Update:
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approved $34 billion for providers. This funding will be administered through an expansion of the Accelerated and Advance Payment Program. These payments are available to Part A providers, including hospitals, and Part B providers, including doctors and durable medical equipment suppliers. More information regarding eligibility and process are available here.

CMS has posted a letter to clinicians outlining actions CMS has taken to provide clinicians with maximum flexibility to provide patient care during this outbreak. CMS has worked to provide clinicians with flexibilities outline in this letter to prevent unnecessary regulations from hindering patient care. Additionally, CMS updated recommendations to postpone non-essential surgeries.

Today, CMS released new infection control guidelines. These guidelines are based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to protect health care workers and patients and are intended to increase the flexibility of health care facilities to isolate and treat patients infected with COVID-19.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health and Services Administration awarded more than $1.3 billion to over 1,300 health centers. This funding will help these health centers on the frontline of this Coronavirus response continue the work they are doing to help American patients.

The Food and Drug Administration has issued an update on serological tests. Serological tests measure the number of antibodies or proteins present in the blood when the body is responding to an infection. These tests can be used to monitor the body’s immune response to COVID-19. This will help us understand and identify individuals who have overcome the infection and developed an immune response.

Today, HHS announced contracts with General Motors and Philips under the Defense Production Act for the production of ventilators. General Motors is expected to produce 30,000 ventilators, and Philips is expected to make 43,000.

HHS also announced that it will provide millions of TYVEK protective suits for health workers. This announcement is the result of an interagency, international effort to bring large volumes of these suits, which are manufactured in Vietnam, to the United States.

The Health Information Sharing and Analysis Center (H-ISAC) announced a new free Cybersecurity Assessment program. The ISAC center will be offering free, ongoing cybersecurity rating assessments to health care organizations across the world to be administered in partnership with RiskRecon, of Mastercard. This service is available to both H-ISAC members and non-members.

CDC released a report on COVID-NET about the hospitalization rates of individuals with lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 during the first month of surveillance in the United States. The data shows that the highest rates of hospitalization are found among older adults and those with underlying health conditions.

Texas Update:
The Texas Medical Board released FAQs regarding supervision during this pandemic. These FAQs are based on Governor Abbott’s waiver of certain regulations surrounding the supervision of physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses. These regulations have been temporarily lifted in order to help fight this Coronavirus.

Texas Health and Human Services announced an expansion of Texas WIC, a supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children. This will expand the number of food items eligible to be purchased through the program. Individuals can find more information on the Texas WIC website or by downloading the MyTexasWIC app from the app store.

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

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