Medicare Getting On Board With More Telehealth

The widespread Medicare Advantage program will feature broadened access to telehealth services, under a newly adopted rule. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced a new rule, seeking to expand access to telehealth services for the many users of Medicare Advantage, effective June 1. From an article on the site HealthCareFinanceNews.com: CMS is giving MA plans more flexibility to count telehealth providers in certain specialty areas such as Dermatology, Psychiatry, Cardiology, Ophthalmology, Nephrology, Primary…

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CDC Issues “Re-Opening” Guidelines

The US Centers for Disease Control has issues a 60-page document, outlining guidelines for "re-opening" of businesses and activities amidst coronavirus concerns. The CDC document, released this week, spells out steps for schools, businesses and other facilities - both public and private - to take as they contemplate opening in the wake of virus-driven closures. Its release follows some widely reported back-and-forth about its specifics. See CNN coverage. Read the full CDC Document online.

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Governor Vetoes Kirwan, Tax, Fiscal Bills in Silent Session Cap-off

On the final day allotted for his decision regarding legislation passed by the General Assembly during its abbreviated session, Governor Hogan vetoed 37 bills, including the high profile Kirwan Blueprint school funding legislation, and others with fiscal effects. Governor Hogan, through statements and in the absence of any traditional "bill signing ceremony," revealed his decisions regarding legislation passed during the recent legislative session, itself abbreviated by coronavirus worries. The bottom line - 37 vetoed bills,…

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School’s Out… For Summer

Maryland formally announced public schools would not be re-opening for the current academic year, and will complete their lessons remotely. Following a series of measured step-by-step school closure announcements, State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon joined Governor Hogan at a press announcement yesterday to confirm the widely expected news - Maryland's schools would remain closed through this school year. Superintendent Salmon noted that the decision was made by the State Board of Education, after reviewing…

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State to Counties: We’ll Frontload CARES Funds With Your Plan AND Agreement

The Department of Budget and Management has revised its guidance on the distribution of federal Coronavirus Relief Funds - indicating that a county with an approved spending plan and indemnification agreement may receive "frontloaded" distributions, rather than waiting for item-by-item reimbursement. Today's letter from Secretary Brinkley indicates a path forward for jurisdictions concerned that a purely spend-then-reimburse may slow, or even prohibit, local programs under the new funds. The full contents of the letter are…

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RAND Releases Online Tool for Timing, Effects of “Re-Opening” Decisions

The RAND Corporation has released a tool, designed to help policymakers in their efforts to sensibly time "reopening" decisions for businesses, public areas, and other activity in their jurisdiction. RAND released a new tool designed to help state decisionmakers weigh the public health and economic trade-offs of COVID-19 related responses, like continuing, scaling back, or lifting entirely a range of interventions such as stay-at-home orders or non-essential businesses closures. The model also may have applications for county-level…

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Counties: Proposed Reimbursement Model for CARES Funds Too Slow

Counties react to guidance from the State this week that county CARES funds would be available as reimbursements - meaning the county must spend its own funds first, and then apply to the State for potential reimbursement. Counties fear this will halt or delay important relief efforts and programs, for lack of cash flow or uncertainty about State process. The letter, sent today and signed by 28 chief elected officials of 22 counties, urges a…

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Feds Offer Detailed Guidance on CARES Funds

The US Department of the Treasury released a detailed document guiding the use of federal funds to pay for, and reimburse, expenses related to the COVID crisis. A newly released guidance document (four pages, pdf document) is available on the Treasury website. It covers the categories of uses permitted under the emergency federal CARES legislation. From the guidance: The CARES Act provides that payments from the Fund may only be used to cover costs that—…

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Counties to DBM: Clarity w/CARES $ Will Help Save Lives

MACo has asked the State for quick and clear guidance on local use of federal CARES funds - where an efficient process and clear guidance on appropriate uses can accelerate needed services in our communities. MACo Executive Director Michael Sanderson sent a letter to Budget Secretary David Brinkley today, informed by input from multiple county leaders, laying out county priorities for the fast-track implementation of the federal CARES funding reaching 19 counties. The three areas…

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Does No MOE Waivers Mean No County Worries? (Spoiler: Nope)

Counties probably don't have the data to ask for a Maintenance of Effort waiver by next week, the state deadline. Don't interpret that to mean "this is fine." State law allows one window for counties to request a waiver from Maintenance of Effort of school funding - it's right now, ending Monday April 20. With profound uncertainty about county economies, most (or all) counties will sit out this process, with no formal data or firm…

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