MN Community Care moves services online to keep patients safe – changes in Medicare reimbursement help

Business Wire reports…

Minnesota Community Care, the state’s largest federally qualified health center, is activating a full transformation of its system to implement community mitigation strategies and reduce the spread and impact of COVID-19. Effective April 1, 2020, the organization will actively transition its sites, services, and programs to immediately respond to the current status of COVID-19’s spread in Minnesota.

“We are at the epicenter of COVID-19’s impact on the most vulnerable populations among us – the unsheltered, uninsured, and historically underserved,” says Reuben Moore, the CEO of Minnesota Community Care. “This transition will increase access to testing and respiratory care for the uninsured and underserved. It will also maintain access to in-person essential medical services in a safe environment for those in need.”

A key feature of the transformation is a redesign of Minnesota Community Care’s ambulatory care delivery sites. East Side Clinic has been structured as a testing and respiratory sick care site while La Clinica is being dedicated to well-care and telehealth delivery. Patients will also have access to drive-up pharmacy and lab services, and emergency dental care. This will separate sick and well patients, and ensure a safe environment for vulnerable populations to access care.

The addition of telehealth has been quick work…

In addition to transforming care delivery sites, Minnesota Community Care has also created a telehealth practice in less than two weeks. The practice will ensure continuity of care for primary care, mental health, and substance use disorder patients.

Finally, Minnesota Community Care is leveraging its 40-year partnership with St. Paul Public Schools to maintain operations at its Health Start School-Based Clinic in Gordon Parks High School. Through the clinic, all youth (up to age 22), regardless of school enrollment, will be able to access essential medical services, sexual health services, and tele-therapy.

“In under two weeks our team has been able to completely transform our system,” says Moore. “It really shows how dedicated we are to addressing the critical needs in our community.”

Part of what makes this possible is the changes in Medicare reimbursement, as JD Supra reports…

In response to COVID-19, CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) has broadened access to Medicare telehealth services on a temporary and emergency basis for the duration of the Public Health Emergency. Under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act’s waiver authority and the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, Medicare recipients can now receive a wider array of healthcare services from their providers without having to leave their homes.

This waiver allows Medicare to pay for telehealth visits, including office, hospital and other visits, virtual check-ins, and e-visits, furnished at the patient’s own home. Telehealth services may be provided by doctors, nurse practitioners, clinical psychologists, and licensed social workers. The goal of this waiver is to expand the use of technology to help limit the community spread of the virus by providing routine care to Medicare beneficiaries, especially vulnerable beneficiaries and beneficiaries with mild symptoms, at home. CMS has prepared detailed telehealth and telemedicine toolkits for General PractitionersEnd-Stage Renal Disease Providers, and Long-Term Care Nursing Facilities.

This entry was posted in Healthcare, MN, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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