Daily COVID-19 Email Update - April 3, 2020

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

NC Medicaid and Telehealth: Even though I have been told for more than 3 weeks that by April 7, 2020, optometry would be included in the list of providers who can provide telehealth and telephonic services to NC Medicaid patients, this has not yet happened. I have been in contact with multiple people through the NC DHHS to see if this issue can be resolved ASAP.

At this point, optometry is not included in the list of providers who can use the telehealth codes or telephonic code for NC Medicaid patients. However, you can use these codes for the majority of other insurers in NC including Medicare.

Stay tuned, but rest assured I am fighting for NC optometry.

Today's Statistics

World: 1,081,287 cases with 58,136 deaths (5.1%)
US: 266,259 cases with 6,803 deaths (2.4%)
NC: 2,170 cases with 19 deaths (0.84%); over 250 hospitalizations

Keep in mind that NC is NOT testing every patient. If symptoms are mild to moderate, patients are being told to stay home and self-isolate. If symptoms are worse, then testing is being performed.

The NC DHHS reports that face-to-face medical visits have decreased by 75% in the last week, while the rise of telehealth visits have risen dramatically. NC has over 2,000 ventilators in the state currently (not all are being used). The NC DHHS reports that 47% of the personal protective equipment requests cannot be met. Finally, in long term care facilities, if there is one confirmed COVID-19 case, the assumption is that 30% of the patients have COVID-19.

Click here to view the NC DHHS COVID-19 dashboard.

Register Now: AOA's COVID-19 Resources Webinar Series

The current COVID-19 public health emergency continues to create challenges and uncertainties for many doctors of optometry, but AOA remains committed to relaying actionable, timely information and guidance that doctors need to know immediately. This information can be accessed through the new, AOA COVID-19 Resources Webinar series.

Due to popular demand coming out of the previous session, doctors can enroll now for AOA's next webinar, providing an interactive opportunity with Jeff Michaels, O.D., and other experts to address questions regarding COVID-19 federal crisis relief legislation, including details on CARES, loans, leave and more.

What: COVID-19 Federal Laws and Financial Options for Optometry
When: 9 p.m., ET, Wednesday, April 8

Register here.

Doctors of optometry can also access a recorded version of the original webinar, as well as common questions and answers.

In addition to webinars, AOA's COVID-19 resources page offers doctors of optometry the latest information related to patient care and practice guidance, federal relief and AOA advocacy efforts, and state-by-state resources.

AOA Presses Vision Plans to Ease Burdens on Doctors and Patients During COVID-19 Emergency

Citing CDC and CMS guidance to postpone nonessential care, the AOA requested NAVCP and member plans allow additional flexibility and considerations for patients and doctors. Click here to read more.

Updates from the AOA Health Policy Institute

The AOA and the Health Policy Institute are closely monitoring developments and will actively provide updates regarding COVID-19 to ensure the health and safety of the public and the optometric community. Click here to read more.

New ICD Codes for COVID-19

Coding for Coronavirus: NEW Guidance Replaces Rule of 1 Month Ago

Palmetto COVID-19 Health Emergency Affects Part B Medicare Second-Level Appeals by Mail

Palmetto has sent out the following information at the request of the Qualified Independen Contractor (QIC). 

C2C conducts second-level Medicare Part B Fee-For-Service 
claims appeals, for claims submitted in your MAC jurisdiction. As of today, they are limiting their on-site mailroom operations in response to the COVID-19, public health emergency. 

During this public health emergency, 
providers and Medicare beneficiaries are encouraged to submit new second-level Medicare appeals and related correspondence via fax or portal. For additional information including the QIC fax numbers and a link to their portal, please visit www.C2Cinc.com.

Palmetto COVID-19 Accelerated Payment Hotline FAQs

This article provides accelerated payment hotline frequently asked questions. Please share with appropriate staff.

CMS to Apply MIPS Extreme and Uncontrollable Circumstances Policy In Response to COVID-19, Reopens Application

CMS is offering multiple flexibilities to provide relief to clinicians responding to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In addition to extending the 2019 Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) data submission deadline to April 30, 2020 at 8 PM ET, the MIPS automatic extreme and uncontrollable circumstances policy will apply to MIPS eligible clinicians who do not submit their MIPS data by the April 30 deadline.

If you are a MIPS eligible clinician and do not submit any MIPS data by April 30, 2020, you won't need to take any additional action to qualify for the automatic extreme and uncontrollable circumstances policy. You will be automatically identified and will receive a neutral payment adjustment for the 2021 MIPS payment year. Please note, CMS has updated the Qpp Participation Status Tool so eligible clinicians can see if the policy has been automatically applied.

Additional 2019 Relief Measure

They are also reopening the MIPS extreme and uncontrollable circumstances application for individuals, groups, and virtual groups. 

Who should submit an application?

  • Individual clinicians who started, but are unable to complete, their data submission;
  • Groups that started, but are unable to complete, their data submission; and
  • Virtual groups that are unable to start or complete their data submission.

An application submitted between April 3 and April 30, 2020, citing COVID-19, will override any previous data submission.

For more information, please see the Quality Payment Program COVID-19 Response Fact Sheet.

You can contact the Quality Payment program at 1-866-288-8292, Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM-8:00 PM ET or by e-mail at: [email protected].

  • Customers who are hearing impaired can dial 711 to be connected to a TRS Communications Assistant

Patient Outreach Email Draft 

The AOA has developed a draft patient outreach letter for optometrists to use to reach out to patients - click here to view.

Visual Acuity Chart for Telehealth

SECO University has created this visual acuity chart which is designed to be used as a shared screen during a Zoom, Teamviewer, Doxy.me or other remote desktop session, and it's really easy to use. Just read the brief instructions at the top of the page. This chart is only meant for situations where the patient is on the computer. A mobile friendly versions should be available soon.

NCOS Partner Support

ABB Optical Group

ABB Optical Group supports NCOS members with five new initiatives and resources in response to COVID-19 (3/26/20)


Allergan Is Easing The Financial Impact For Your Patients And Your Practice (4/2/20)

Allergan can help alleviate some of the stress of obtaining REFRESH® for your patients who may be unable to purchase it directly at your practice. The REFRESH® eCommerce platform allows patients to purchase their preferred REFRESH® products from your own RefreshMyEyes online store. Products will be shipped directly to patients within 3 to 5 days without the need for you to be in your office or physically stocking product. Shipping is free on any orders over $30 ($4.95 otherwise).

Visit https://refreshbrand.com/ecommerce to register and get started. Click here for an information flyer and here to view a video demo on how the program works.


VSP Global News Alert (3/26/20)

VSP is accelerating their efforts to bring all network practicefree resources to help their business now and in the future through the Premier Academy360 education and training program. In the coming days, look for educational resources on topics ranging from how to apply for Small Business Association loans to leadership and financial management.


Optometry and Telemedicine During COVID-19 (3/26/20)

New Resources

Losing Sense of Smell, Taste, May Be Early Signs of COVID-19 (4/3/20)

Hydroxychloroquine: Possible COVID Drug Can Be Toxic to Retinas (4/3/20)

AOA's COVID-19 Resources Webinar II - What doctors of optometry need to know about just-enacted Federal crisis relief legislation, including details on CARES, loans, leave and more (4/1/20)

National Academy of Medicine - Clinician Well-Being and Resilience (4/1/20)

NC DHHS - Cases in NC (4/1/20)

NC Republican, Democratic leaders Back More Tax Relief Due to Coronavirus (3/31/20)

A Message From the North Carolina State Board of Examiners (3/31/20)