2019 National EMS Scope of Practice Model, Change Notices

Download Change Notice

Date:               March 29, 2021

To:                  State EMS Directors

From:              Jon R. Krohmer, M.D., FACEP, Director, Office of Emergency Medical Services

RE:                  2019 National EMS Scope of Practice Model, Change Notices

The National EMS Scope of Practice Model (model) was first published in February 2007 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) Office of Emergency Medical Services (EMS). The most recent version of the model was published by NHTSA in February 2019. The model was developed by the National Association of State EMS Officials (NASEMSO) with funding provided by NHTSA and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Over the past 14 years, the model has provided guidance for States in developing their EMS Scope of Practice legislation, rules, and regulation. While the model provides national guidance, each State maintains the authority to regulate EMS within its border, and determine the scope of practice of State-licensed EMS clinicians.

Recognizing that the model may impact States’ ability to urgently update their Scope of Practice rules, in 2016 the National EMS Advisory Council (NEMSAC) recommended that NHTSA develop a standardized urgent update process for the model. The Rapid Process for Emergent Changes to the National EMS Scope of Practice Model (rapid process) was developed by NASEMSO and published by NHTSA in September 2018.

Using the rapid process, in March 2021 NHTSA convened a subject matter expert panel (panel) to respond to the following questions: 1) Should immunizations via the intramuscular (IM) route be added to the emergency medical responder (EMR) and emergency medical technician (EMT) scope of practice levels?; 2) Should monoclonal antibody (MCA) infusion be added to the advanced EMT (AEMT) and paramedic scope of practice levels?; and 3) Should specimen collection via nasal swabbing be added to the EMR, EMT, AEMT, and paramedic scope of practice levels?

The panel considered the ability of EMRs and EMTs to perform the psychomotor skill of medication administration via the IM route and recommended that IM medication administration be added only to the EMT scope of practice as part of their common daily practice.

The panel considered the ability of EMRs and EMTs to administer medical director approved immunizations and recommended that immunizations during a public health emergency be added only to the EMT scope of practice.

The panel considered the ability of EMRs, EMTs, AEMTs, and Paramedics to perform the psychomotor skill of specimen collection via nasal swab and recommended that specimen collection via nasal swab be added only to the EMT, AEMT, and Paramedic scopes of practice as part of their common daily practice.

The panel did not issue a recommendation on MCA infusion.

Based on the panel’s recommendations NHTSA used the rapid process to develop the two attached change notices on IM medication administration, vaccinations during a public health emergency, and specimen collection via nasal swab.

It should be noted that, although the recommendations address the psychomotor skills associated with these specific activities, the assumption of the panel in making the recommendations was that all associated educational activities, knowledge of indications and potential contraindications, other potential skills (e.g.: drawing the appropriate dose of medication up from an ampule or vial [single or multi-dose], supervised assessment of skill competency, and quality improvement activities) would be components of the entire program.

I hope you find these change notices useful to you in meeting the urgent needs of your patients and the practitioners you regulate. In the very near future we will publish a revised version of the model which incorporates these change notices. Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions.

Download Change Notice

CMS | Repayment of COVID-19 Accelerated & Advance Payments Began 3/30

Repayment of COVID-19 Accelerated and Advance Payments Began on March 30, 2021

CMS issued information about repayment of COVID-19 accelerated and advance payments. If you requested these payments, learn how and when we’ll recoup them:

  • Identify payments we recovered
  • Prepare your billing staff

More Information:

NAEMT Survey | Impact of COVID-19

A year has passed since NAEMT released a national survey on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 survey captured real time data on how EMS agencies and fire departments were being affected by the pandemic. It allowed NAEMT to share with elected officials the story of EMS, serving on the frontlines of this public health crisis. This data motivated Congress, state legislatures, and government agencies to take action to support EMS.

We believe that EMS agency and fire department leaders should be surveyed again to collect data on how the last twelve months of the pandemic have affected their workforce, finances, operations, equipment and supplies.

We kindly ask for less than 10 minutes of your time to respond to this survey to help us provide a clear picture for federal and state leaders on the areas of greatest concern that need to be addressed.

Take NAEMT Survey

To collect and analyze the data in a timely fashion, we ask that you complete this short survey by Monday, April 19. Please be sure that only one leader from your agency completes the survey.

Thank you for your continued dedication to advancing EMS.

Sincerely,

Bruce Evans, MPA, NRP, CFO, SPO

President, NAEMT

GAO | Appointments to State All Payer Claims Databases Advisory Committee

From the General Accountability Office

WASHINGTON, DC (March 29, 2021) – Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States and head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), today announced the appointment of six members to the newly created State All Payer Claims Databases Advisory Committee (SAPCDAC).

“At almost $4 trillion dollars annually and growing, health care spending poses significant challenges for both the economy as a whole as well as federal and state budgets. State All Payer Claims Databases can assist a wide variety of stakeholders—policymakers, consumers, providers, and payers—in monitoring health care costs, access, and quality,” Dodaro said. “We had a number of exceptional candidates interested in serving on the committee, and the experiences and perspectives of today’s appointees should greatly benefit SAPCDAC as it advises the Secretary of Labor on data standards for voluntary reporting to State All Payer Claims Databases.”

The newly appointed members are Niall Brennan, Cheryl Damberg, Emma Hoo, Frederick Isasi, Mike Kapsa, and Josephine Porter.

Congress established the committee in December 2020 to make recommendations to the Secretary of Labor on the standardized format and associated guidance for the voluntary reporting by group health plans to State All Payer Claims Databases. The Comptroller General is responsible for naming six committee members. Additionally, the Secretary of Labor has responsibility for appointing nine committee members representing various agencies within the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services, as well as one chair and one representative of a State All Payer Claims Database.

The No Surprises Act, enacted as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, requires the committee to provide recommendations to the Secretary of Labor within 180 days.

For more information, please visit the SAPCDAC website, or email the Department of Labor at SAPCDAC@dol.gov. Other calls should be directed to Chuck Young in GAO’s Office of Public Affairs at (202) 512-4800.

Brief biographies of the new committee members follow:

Niall J. Brennan, MPP, is the President and CEO of the Health Care Cost Institute in Washington, DC, where he leads one of the largest multi-payer claims databases in the country, with 100 million covered lives across the commercial and Medicare sectors. Prior to that role, he held numerous positions involving health care data analytics, including as Chief Data Office at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and as a Senior Analyst at the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. Mr. Brennan advises Congressional staff and other key health system stakeholders on important health policy and transparency topics, and he has testified before Congress on these issues. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Health Data Organizations and was a cofounder and member of the All Payer Claims Database Council. Mr. Brennan received his MPP from Georgetown University.

Cheryl L. Damberg, PhD, is a Principal Senior Economist and Distinguished Chair in Healthcare Payment Policy at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, CA. She is also Professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. She leads health economic and health services research studies focused on health system performance, alternative payment models, price transparency, and the use of incentives to drive system improvement. Before joining RAND, Dr. Damberg held numerous positions, including Director of Research and Quality at the Pacific Business Group on Health. She is an international expert on health system redesign and has advised Congress, federal agencies, and the governments of Great Britain, Germany, and South Korea on the use of incentives and ways to measure provider performance. Dr. Damberg was appointed by California’s governor Newsom as Vice-Chair of the California Healthcare Payments Database (HPD) Review Committee to establish a plan for California’s all payer claims database. She now serves as a member of the HPD Advisory Committee that is guiding the implementation of the California APCD. Dr. Damberg received her PhD in Public Policy from RAND.

Emma Hoo is the Director of Pay-for-Value at the Purchaser Business Group on Health in San Francisco, CA. In that role, she works closely with employer and purchaser groups as well as health plan, provider, and consumer stakeholders to advance health care data availability and transparency. Her focus areas include advancing common Accountable Care Organization quality and efficiency measures, measurement-based behavioral health care, and adoption of patient-reported outcomes measures. She has managed data analytics and evaluation for several pilot programs to test payment reform and health delivery redesign, including an Intensive Outpatient Care Program under a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Innovation Award. She also supported the Better Quality Information initiative that aggregated Medicare and commercial claims data to assess the quality of care at various levels of the delivery system. Previously, Ms. Hoo was the Director of Operation at Baycare Medical Group, Inc., where she managed overall operations and management information systems for a 200-member primary care group. She also serves on numerous committees, including the California Healthcare Payments Data Review Committee, which supports the planning and development of a statewide all payer claims database. Ms. Hoo received her BA cum laude in Social Studies from Harvard University.

Frederick Isasi, JD, MPH, is the Executive Director of Families USA in Washington, DC. In that role he directs national, state, and local initiatives to ensure accessible and affordable health care for all consumers. He has testified before congressional committees on the importance of establishing a national all payer claims database to improve the quality of health care, reduce costs, and provide transparency for consumers, policy makers, and other stakeholders. Prior to joining Families USA, Mr. Isasi held various leadership positions involving health care research and state multi-payer claims databases, including as Health Division Director at the National Governors Association and Vice President of Health Policy at The Advisory Board Company. Mr. Isasi received his JD from Duke University in Durham, NC, and his MPH from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Michael J. KapsaPhD, is the Chief Financial Officer of SolidaritUS Health Inc. in Washington, DC, working with local exchanges that share claims databases to develop cost-effective primary care programs for employer and labor union employees. Dr. Kapsa is also Chief Economist for America’s Agenda, a national alliance of international labor unions and employers, where he helps develop federal and state health policy and primary care delivery models aimed at reducing costs and improving health care quality and outcomes. His prior experience includes leadership positions negotiating health and other benefits for various labor union employees, including the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, the Service Employees International Union, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Dr. Kapsa received his PhD from the New School for Social Research in New York City.

Josephine Porter, MPH, is the Director of the Institute for Health Policy and Practice at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH, overseeing academic health care research and serving as Principal Investigator on a number of research projects. In addition, she is the Co-Chair of All Payer Claims Database (APCD) Council, a partnership with the National Association of Health Data Organizations, which serves as a national learning network for APCDs. In this role, she serves as a national authority on APCD issues, presenting on state and national panels with a focus on the use of APCDs to promote healthcare transparency. She was the lead author on an APCD Development Manual and has been actively involved in the development of a data submission standard to help bring data submission in line across the states. Prior to that, she held a variety of leadership positions in the private and public sectors. Ms. Porter received her MPH from Boston University.

CMS | Increased Medicare Payment for Life-Saving COVID-19 Vaccine

From CMS on March 15

Biden-Harris Administration Increases Medicare Payment for Life-Saving COVID-19 Vaccine

On March 15, CMS increased the Medicare payment amount for administering the COVID-19 vaccine. This new and higher payment rate will support important actions taken by providers that are designed to increase the number of vaccines they can furnish each day, including establishing new or growing existing vaccination sites, conducting patient outreach and education, and hiring additional staff. At a time when vaccine supply is growing, CMS is supporting provider efforts to expand capacity and ensure that all Americans can be vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible.

Effective for COVID-19 vaccines administered on or after March 15, 2021, the national average payment rate for physicians, hospitals, pharmacies, and many other immunizers will be $40 to administer each dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This represents an increase from approximately $28 to $40 for the administration of single-dose vaccines and an increase from approximately $45 to $80 for the administration of COVID-19 vaccines requiring two doses. The exact payment rate for administration of each dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will depend on the type of entity that furnishes the service and will be geographically adjusted based on where the service is furnished.

These updates to the Medicare payment rate for COVID-19 vaccine administration reflect new information about the costs involved in administering the vaccine for different types of providers and suppliers, and the additional resources necessary to ensure the vaccine is administered safely and appropriately.

CMS is updating the set of toolkits for providers, states, and insurers to help the health care system swiftly administer the vaccine with these new Medicare payment rates. These resources are designed to increase the number of providers that can administer the vaccine, ensure adequate payment for administering the vaccine to Medicare beneficiaries, and make it clear that no beneficiary, whether covered by private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid, should pay cost-sharing for the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Coverage of COVID-19 Vaccines:

As a condition of receiving free COVID-19 vaccines from the federal government, vaccine providers are prohibited from charging patients any amount for administration of the vaccine. To ensure broad and consistent coverage across programs and payers, the toolkits have specific information for several programs, including:

Medicare: Beneficiaries with Medicare pay nothing for COVID-19 vaccines and there is no applicable copayment, coinsurance, or deductible.

Medicare Advantage (MA): For calendar years 2020 and 2021, Medicare will pay providers directly for the COVID-19 vaccine (if they do not receive it for free) and its administration for beneficiaries enrolled in MA plans. MA plans are not responsible for paying providers to administer the vaccine to MA enrollees during this time. Like beneficiaries in Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage enrollees also pay no cost-sharing for COVID-19 vaccines.

Medicaid: State Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program agencies must provide vaccine administration with no cost sharing for nearly all beneficiaries during the Public Health Emergency (PHE) and at least one year after it ends. Through the American Rescue Plan Act signed by President Biden on March 11, 2021, the COVID vaccine administration will be fully federally funded. The law also provides an expansion of individuals eligible for vaccine administration coverage. There will be more information provided in upcoming updates to the Medicaid toolkit.

Private Plans: CMS, along with the Departments of Labor and Treasury, is requiring that most private health plans and issuers cover the COVID-19 vaccine and its administration, both in-network and out-of-network, with no cost sharing during the PHE. Current regulations provide that out-of-network rates must be reasonable, as compared to prevailing market rates, and reference the Medicare reimbursement rates as a potential guideline for insurance companies. In light of CMS’s increased Medicare payment rates, CMS will expect commercial carriers to continue to ensure that their rates are reasonable in comparison to prevailing market rates.

Uninsured: For individuals who are uninsured, providers may submit claims for reimbursement for administering the COVID-19 vaccine to individuals without insurance through the Provider Relief Fund, administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

More Information:

 

ET3 | Model Medical Triage Line Notice of Funding Opportunity

From CMS on March 12, 2021

Emergency Triage, Treat and Transport (ET3) Model Medical Triage Line – Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) Available

 

Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) is releasing a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the Emergency Triage, Treat and Transport (ET3) Model. Through the NOFO, CMS will fund state and local governments, their designees, or other entities that operate or have authority over a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) to establish or expand Medical Triage Lines aimed at reducing inappropriate use of emergency ambulance services and increasing efficiency in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) systems.

The NOFO complements the ambulance payment component of the ET3 Model, which began implementation on January 1, 2021 and for which the final list of Participants was posted today. Applicants to the NOFO must share at least one ZIP Code with the ambulance providers and suppliers that are participants in the model. Under the ET3 Model, CMS provides greater flexibility to ambulance care teams to address emergency health care needs of Medicare Fee-for-Service (FFS) beneficiaries following a 911 call, by paying ambulances to transport beneficiaries to Alternative Destinations or to facilitate Treatment in Place with a Qualified Health Care Partner, either in-person or through telehealth.

The NOFO is available at grants.gov under Opportunity Number CMS-2F2-21-001.

For more information, please see the ET3 Model’s webpage. Stay up to date on the latest ET3 Model news and updates by subscribing to the ET3 Model listserv or contact us at ET3Model@cms.hhs.gov.

CMS | Updated Nursing Home Visitation Guidelines

From CMS on March 10, 2021

 CMS Updates Nursing Home Guidance with Revised Visitation Recommendations

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), issued updated guidance today for nursing homes to safely expand visitation options during the COVID-19 pandemic public health emergency (PHE).

This latest guidance comes as more than three million doses of vaccines have been administered within nursing homes, thanks in part to the CDC’s Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authorization for emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines.

According to the updated guidance, facilities should allow responsible indoor visitation at all times and for all residents, regardless of vaccination status of the resident, or visitor, unless certain scenarios arise that would limit visitation for:

  • Unvaccinated residents, if the COVID-19 county positivity rate is greater than 10 percent and less than 70 percent of residents in the facility are fully vaccinated;
  • Residents with confirmed COVID-19 infection, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, until they have met the criteria to discontinue transmission-based precautions; or
  • Residents in quarantine, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, until they have met criteria for release from quarantine.

The updated guidance also emphasizes that “compassionate care” visits should be allowed at all times, regardless of a resident’s vaccination status, the county’s COVID-19 positivity rate, or an outbreak. Compassionate care visits include visits for a resident whose health has sharply declined or is experiencing a significant change in circumstances.

CMS continues to recommend facilities, residents, and families adhere to the core principles of COVID-19 infection control, including maintaining physical distancing and conducting visits outdoors whenever possible. This continues to be the safest way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, particularly if either party has not been fully vaccinated.

“CMS recognizes the psychological, emotional and physical toll that prolonged isolation and separation from family have taken on nursing home residents, and their families,” said Dr. Lee Fleisher, MD, CMS Chief Medical Officer and Director of CMS’ Center for Clinical Standards and Quality. “That is why, now that millions of vaccines have been administered to nursing home residents and staff, and the number of COVID cases in nursing homes has dropped significantly, CMS is updating its visitation guidance to bring more families together safely. This is an important step that we are taking, as we continue to emphasize the importance of maintaining infection prevention practices, given the continued risk of transmission of COVID-19.” 

High vaccination rates among nursing home residents, and the diligence of committed nursing home staff to adhere to infection control protocols, which are enforced by CMS, have helped significantly reduce COVID-19 positivity rates and the risk of transmission in nursing homes.

Although outbreaks increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission, as long as there is evidence that the outbreak is contained to a single unit or separate area of the facility, visitation can still occur.

For additional details on the updated nursing home visitation guidance released today, visit here: https://www.cms.gov/medicareprovider-enrollment-and-certificationsurveycertificationgeninfopolicy-and-memos-states-and/nursing-home-visitation-covid-19-revised

A Fact Sheet can be found here: https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/cms-updates-nursing-home-guidance-revised-visitation-recommendations

EMS.gov | Rural EMS training and recruiting grants

From NHTSA’s Office of EMS

DEADLINE REMINDER: Apply now for rural EMS training and recruiting grants
Eligible applicants from rural EMS agencies are encouraged to submit applications before March 18, 2021

EMS organizations planning on applying for a Rural EMS Training Grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment must submit applications by March 18. SAMHSA plans on awarding up to $5.5 million in awards to help eligible agencies recruit and train personnel. More information is available on SAMHSA’s website.

In recognition of the great need for emergency services in rural areas and the critical role EMS personnel serve across the country, SAMHSA plans on funding up to 27 projects, with a maximum of $200,000 per grant awardee. Eligible applicants include rural EMS agencies operated by a local or tribal government (fire-based and non-fire based) and non-profit EMS agencies.

Learn More or Apply Now

Updated CDC Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Individuals

This past week, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated their guidance related to the COVID-19 vaccination. The guidance modifies the quarantine restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals who were exposed to COVID-19. The guidance is a small sign of progress for many EMS organizations who have been on the frontlines of the pandemic.

Under the most recent guidance, those individuals who are fully vaccinated (defined as those who are two weeks following the second dose administration), are within three months following the last dose in the series and have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure, are not required to quarantine. Individuals who do not meet all three criteria, must follow the current quarantine guidance. The guidance recommends that individuals who meet all three criteria should continue to monitor for COVID-19 related symptoms for two weeks following the exposure. If symptoms develop, individuals should be tested.

Many EMS organizations have inquired if the administration of the COVID-19 vaccination to their workforce modifies the state-level mask mandates or other bloodborne/airborne pathogen protection practices or procedures that are currently in place at EMS organizations or other healthcare facilities.  While the roll-out of the vaccination is a step in the direction of returning to a “new normal”, employers should know that this does not modify any existing COVID-19 related restrictions or requirements.  Employees should continue to wear masks, socially distance, and follow all other COVID-19 recommended safety precautions.

We will keep you informed of updates to the guidance by the CDC and other regulatory agencies.  Be sure to visit the CDC’s website for more information on the current CDC guidance for COVID-19 or the COVID-19 vaccination.  As always, if you have questions or need assistance, contact the AAA at hello@ambulance.org.

CMS Ambulance Open Door Forum Feb 25

From CMS on February 18, 2021

February 25 Open Door Forum

Thursday, February 25, 2021 | 14:00 ET

Dial: 1-888-455-1397 & Reference Conference Passcode: 8604468

The next CMS Ambulance Open Door Forum is scheduled for:

Date:  Thursday, February 25, 2021

Start Time:  2:00pm-3:00pm PM Eastern Time (ET);

Please dial-in at least 15 minutes before call start time.

Conference Leaders: Jill Darling, Susanne Seagrave

Agenda

**This Agenda is Subject to Change**

  1. Opening Remarks

Acting Chair- Susanne Seagrave, Acting Director, Division of Data Analysis and Market-Based Pricing (Center for Medicare)

Moderator – Jill Darling (Office of Communications)

  1. Announcements & Updates

III. Open Q&A

**DATE IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE**

Next Ambulance Open Door Forum: TBA

ODF email: AMBULANCEODF@cms.hhs.gov

———————————————————————

This Open Door Forum is open to everyone, but if you are a member of the Press, you may listen in but please refrain from asking questions during the Q & A portion of the call. If you have inquiries, please contact CMS at Press@cms.hhs.gov. Thank you.

Open Door Participation Instructions:

This call will be Conference Call Only.

To participate by phone:

Dial: 1-888-455-1397 & Reference Conference Passcode: 8604468

Persons participating by phone do not need to RSVP. TTY Communications Relay Services are available for the Hearing Impaired.  For TTY services dial 7-1-1 or 1-800-855-2880. A Relay Communications Assistant will help.

Instant Replay: 1-866-372-3811; Conference Passcode: No Passcode needed

Instant Replay is an audio recording of this call that can be accessed by dialing 1-866-372-3811 and entering the Conference Passcode beginning 1 hours after the call has ended. The recording is available until February 27, 2021, 11:59PM ET.

For ODF schedule updates and E-Mailing List registration, visit our website at http://www.cms.gov/OpenDoorForums/.

Were you unable to attend the recent Ambulance ODF call? We encourage you to visit our CMS Podcasts and Transcript webpage where you can listen and view the most recent Ambulance ODF call. Please allow up to three weeks to get both the audio and transcript posted to: https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Outreach/OpenDoorForums/PodcastAndTranscripts.html.

CMS provides free auxiliary aids and services including information in accessible formats. Click here for more information. This will point partners to our CMS.gov version of the “Accessibility & Nondiscrimination notice” page. Thank you.

US Department of Labor issues stronger workplace guidance on coronavirus

U.S. Department of Labor | January 29, 2021

US Department of Labor issues stronger workplace guidance on coronavirus
New OSHA guidance seeks to mitigate, prevent viral spread in the workplace

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor announced today that its Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued stronger worker safety guidance to help employers and workers implement a coronavirus protection program and better identify risks which could lead to exposure and contraction. Last week, President Biden directed OSHA to release clear guidance for employers to help keep workers safe from COVID-19 exposure.

“Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace” provides updated guidance and recommendations, and outlines existing safety and health standards. OSHA is providing the recommendations to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace.

“More than 400,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and millions of people are out of work as a result of this crisis. Employers and workers can help our nation fight and overcome this deadly pandemic by committing themselves to making their workplaces as safe as possible,” said Senior Counselor to the Secretary of Labor M. Patricia Smith. “The recommendations in OSHA’s updated guidance will help us defeat the virus, strengthen our economy and bring an end to the staggering human and economic toll that the coronavirus has taken on our nation.”

Implementing a coronavirus protection program is the most effective way to reduce the spread of the virus. The guidance announced today recommends several essential elements in a prevention program:

  • Conduct a hazard assessment.
  • Identify control measures to limit the spread of the virus.
  • Adopt policies for employee absences that don’t punish workers as a way to encourage potentially infected workers to remain home.
  • Ensure that coronavirus policies and procedures are communicated to both English and non-English speaking workers.
  • Implement protections from retaliation for workers who raise coronavirus-related concerns.

“OSHA is updating its guidance to reduce the risk of transmission of the coronavirus and improve worker protections so businesses can operate safely and employees can stay safe and working,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick.

The guidance details key measures for limiting coronavirus’s spread, including ensuring infected or potentially infected people are not in the workplace, implementing and following physical distancing protocols and using surgical masks or cloth face coverings. It also provides guidance on use of personal protective equipment, improving ventilation, good hygiene and routine cleaning.

OSHA will update today’s guidance as developments in science, best practices and standards warrant.

This guidance is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. It contains recommendations as well as descriptions of existing mandatory safety and health standards. The recommendations are advisory in nature, informational in content and are intended to assist employers in recognizing and abating hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm as part of their obligation to provide a safe and healthful workplace.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.

CDC | Essential Workers Vaccine Communication Toolkit

CDC has designed a COVID-19 Vaccination Communication Toolkit for Essential Workers to help employers build confidence in this important new vaccine. The toolkit will help employers across various industries educate their workforce about COVID-19 vaccines, raise awareness about the benefits of vaccination, and address common questions and concerns.

Access Toolkit

The toolkit contains a variety of resources including:

  • key messages,
  • an educational slide deck,
  • FAQs,
  • posters/flyers,
  • newsletter content,
  • a plain language vaccine factsheet (available in several different languages),
  • a template letter for employees,
  • social media content, and
  • vaccination sticker templates.

This toolkit will help your organization educate employees about COVID-19 vaccines, raise awareness about the benefits of vaccination, and address common questions and concerns.
Access Toolkit

Fierce Healthcare | Agency veteran appointed as acting CMS administrator

From Fierce Healthcare on January 20

Agency veteran Liz Richter has been named the acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

The announcement Wednesday comes as President Joe Biden has yet to name a permanent administrator, who will require Senate confirmation.

Richter has served at CMS since 1990 and most recently served as the deputy center director for the Center for Medicare. She has also served as the director of the Hospital and Ambulatory Policy Group in the Center for Medicare Management.

Continue Reading

CMS | Updated Medicare COVID-19 Snapshot

From CMS on January 15

Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released our monthly update of data that provides a snapshot of the impact of COVID-19 on the Medicare population. The updated data show over 1.9 million COVID-19 cases among the Medicare population and over 493,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The updated snapshot covers the period from January 1 to November 21, 2020. It is based on Medicare Fee-for-Service claims and Medicare Advantage encounter data CMS received by December 18, 2020.

Read on CMS.gov