Daily COVID-19 Email Update - March 20, 2020

A Message from Dr. Rebecca Wartman, NCOS Third Party Liaison

The IRS will offer some payment extensions for certain income tax balances for the 2019 tax year. Individuals will be able to defer up to $1 million, and some corporations and small businesses will be able to defer up to $10 million. First quarter 2020 estimated tax payments are still due April 15. 

New information from United Health Care 

Provider Enrollment Hotline: Temporary Provisional Medicare Billing Privileges

Palmetto Provider Emergency Enrollment 
Effective immediately, Palmetto GBA has established a JJ / JM Provider Enrollment Part B Hotline at 833-820-6138, which will be available from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM ET. 

This hotline will allow physicians and non-physician practitioners to initiate temporary provisional Medicare billing privileges via telephone and address questions regarding provider enrollment flexibilities afforded by the COVID-19 waiver. We will process your application while you are on the telephone to establish a Provider Enrollment Chain and Ownership System (PECOS) enrollment record. 

CMS Coronavirus Partner Virtual Toolkit 
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is taking action to protect the health and safety of our nation's patients and providers in the wake of the 2019 Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. CMS has released a Virtual Toolkit to help you stay up-to-date on CMS materials available on COVID-19. 

The CDC has updated information about provider risk and what you should do in the case of potential exposures - click here.  

Summary of Call with NC DHHS and with DHHS Public Health 

  • Laboratory Confirmed Cases in NC 137
  • One case of community transmission 
  • No deaths 

North Carolina is currently moving from the containment stage of COVID-19 pandemic into the mitigation stage, which is focused more on the prevention of spread in order to "flatten the curve" so that our hospital and front-line medical personnel are not overrun. NC public health officials think there will be more than one wave in this pandemic and we all need to be thinking in terms of MONTHS and not weeks. The public health system is working to increase access to testing and access to personal protective equipment. They are working to better track the spread using the current flu monitoring system. The guidance for testing is, at minimum: fever, cough and a negative flu test. Remember that this is allergy season so many of us may be sneezing. 

The current guidance from the state is to STAY HOME if you are sick but not critical. Testing, while helpful, is not necessary in all cases if you self-isolate or quarantine at home. 

The public health officials also realize that we cannot indefinitely postpone essential health functions such as well checks. They recommend performing as much care as possible via telehealth and other non-face to face means. 

The really good news is that by April 7, 2020, optometry should be allowed to perform telehealth services for Medicaid patients. The process to allow this is in place. While we would prefer this to have happened on March 6, 2020, the wheels of power turn slowly, but for NC Medicaid, this is lightning speed. 

I am on calls with NC DHHS and NC Public Health officials regularly in order to gather as much information as possible to send out. Stay Health and Stay tuned for updates as information evolves. 

Is Your Practice Closing Due to COVID-19?

NC Medicaid is trying to track optometrists who are closing their practices due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If this applies to you, please send the information below to Adrianne Drollette at [email protected].

  • Provider type
  • Name of provider and practice
  • Number of practices
  • Practice city/cities
  • NPI numbers if applicable

Additional Resources

Disaster Loan Assistance

AOAExcel Resources

Statement from the 
North Carolina State Board of Examiners in Optometry

AOA's COVID-19 Resource Page

AOA's COVID-19 and Medicare Telehealth Services Webinar