Have You Heard? (April 2020)

Special Message from ADA Leaders
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for ADA members as citizens, parents, caregivers, clinicians, and business owners. Our first priority is the health and safety of every ADA member and stakeholder and that of your patients, colleagues, friends, and families.

As small business owners and employees, ADA members are the backbone of the American economy, and also among the most vulnerable to financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. ADA and its leaders are committed to delivering the most useful, relevant, and accurate information, so that you can make the best clinical and professional decisions for you and your practice during this unprecedented time.    
CARES Act Information for Small Business Owners: Good Places to Go for What You Need to Know
On Friday, March 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act into Law. This $2 trillion package includes various relief programs and among them is assistance to small businesses, such as audiology practices, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the most up-to-date information, please visit home.treasury.gov and www.sba.gov.

Click here to view the ADA CARES Act Town Hall Webinar and download the handouts.

ADA urges audiology practice owners to seek guidance directly from their attorneys, accountants, bankers, and business consultants to help ensure the best possible course and outcome for their businesses.    
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Took Effect April 1st: Employer and Employee Information Released by DOL
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires private employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide emergency paid sick leave and emergency FMLA leave to eligible employees. Employers are required to notify their employees of these benefits and to post the information in a conspicuous place within the premises.

The most up-to-date guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor can be found at the following link: www.dol.gov.    
The ADA COVID-19 Telehealth, Reimbursement, and Compliance Town Hall Webinar and Resources Now Available
The ADA COVID-19 Telehealth, Reimbursement, and Compliance Town Hall webinar, featuring Kim Cavitt, Au.D., is now available for on-demand viewing at the ADA COVID-19 Webpage.    
CARES Act Authorizes HHS Secretary Broad Waiver Authority on Telehealth
Passage of the CARES Act provides the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with the authority to waive statutory requirements for telehealth services identified under Section 1834(m), during the COVID-19 public health emergency. As such, CMS could, at its discretion, expand the list of providers that can be reimbursed for telehealth services for Medicare Part B beneficiaries to include audiologists.

ADA Requests 1135 Waiver to Allow Safer Medicare Patient Access to Audiology Services
On Friday, March 27, 2020, ADA submitted a request to CMS Administrator, Seema Verma, MPH, seeking a 1135 Waiver to remove the requirement that Medicare beneficiaries obtain a physician order prior to seeking treatment from an audiologist and to add audiologists to the list of providers who are authorized to perform telehealth services under the Medicare program. View the request letter.

State Laws Prohibiting Audiologists from Providing Telehealth Services Must be Updated for Any Federal Improvements to Apply
It is important to note that even if Medicare laws are changed to allow audiologists to provide telehealth services, audiologists will not be able to do so if prohibited by state law. If your state does not allow audiologists to provide telehealth services, please work with your state audiology organization and/or independently to request an emergency policy change.

MAASA Legislation Would Make Much Needed Medicare Improvements
The Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act (MAASA), H.R. 4056 and S. 2446, would make much needed improvements to Medicare statute, alleviating some the challenges now faced by patients and providers.

Today’s Medicare rules impose unnecessary burdens and risks for beneficiaries seeking audiologic care.
  • Medicare Part B beneficiaries are currently required to obtain a physician order prior to seeking treatment from an audiologist. This requirement is inconsistent with evidence-based practices in the delivery of audiologic services and places undue burdens upon beneficiaries, ordering physicians/providers, and the Medicare system, particularly when healthcare systems are overcapacity.
  • Because audiologists are classified by Medicare as suppliers, they are left out of important telehealth provisions that would allow continuity in care, every day, and particularly during healthcare crises. Providers who are classified as practitioners under the Medicare program are already authorized to provide telehealth services, without the need for special waivers or considerations that create unnecessary distractions during emergencies.
  • Medicare recognizes audiologists as diagnosticians only. Therefore, audiologists cannot be reimbursed for the Medicare-covered treatment services that they are licensed to provide. These restrictions detrimentally limit the use of telehealth delivery of audiology services for Medicare beneficiaries and creates unnecessary barriers to treatment.
ADA and its members have long advocated for legislation to modernize Medicare and streamline patient access to audiology services. Congress should pass MAASA as soon as possible to make much needed and permanent fixes to mitigate these problems.

MAASA will make important improvements to the Medicare Program. If enacted MAASA will:
  1. Remove the physician order requirement and allow Medicare beneficiaries to have direct access to audiologists;
  2. Reclassify audiologists from suppliers to practitioners; and
  3. Allow audiologists to be reimbursed for the Medicare-covered treatment services that they are licensed to provide under their state licensure laws (in addition to diagnostic services).
Contact your members of Congress today and urge them to pass MAASA as soon as possible so that audiologists can be better utilized in the critical months and years to come--and so that Medicare beneficiaries have improved access to evidence-based hearing and balance care.

Please visit www.chooseaudiology.org for more information and to contact your Members of Congress.    
CMS Announces Expansion of the Accelerated and Advance Payment Program for Medicare Participating Health Care Providers and Suppliers
On Saturday, March 28, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a notice of Expansion of the Accelerated and Advance Payment Program for Medicare Participating Health Care Providers and Suppliers, to assist providers facing hardships related to being asked to delay non-essential procedures, healthcare staff unable to work due to childcare issues, and other disruptions in reimbursement.

According to the CMS statement, “Accelerated and advance Medicare payments provide emergency funding and addresses cash flow issues based on historical payments when there is disruption in claims submission and/or claims processing. These expedited payments are typically offered in natural disasters to accelerate cash flow to the impacted health care providers and suppliers. In this situation, CMS is expanding the program for all Medicare providers throughout the country during the public health emergency related to COVID-19. The payments can be requested by hospitals, doctors, durable medical equipment suppliers and other Medicare Part A and Part B providers and suppliers.”

To qualify for accelerated or advance payments, the provider or supplier must:
  • Have billed Medicare for claims within 180 days immediately prior to the date of signature on the provider’s/ supplier’s request form,
  • Not be in bankruptcy,
  • Not be under active medical review or program integrity investigation, and
  • Not have any outstanding delinquent Medicare overpayments.
Medicare will start accepting and processing the Accelerated/Advance Payment Requests immediately. CMS anticipates that the payments will be issued within seven days of the provider’s request. Click here for more information.    
ADA 2020 Student Business Plan Competition and Webinar Series Now Open
Attention ADA Students—Do you have an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to create your own destiny? Does your future include private practice ownership?

If so, it’s time to get down to business and get your business plan ready, polished and perfected for the ADA 2020 Business Plan Competition. The deadline to complete the intent to participate is June 1, 2020. Contestants must be ADA student members in good standing and 2nd, 3rd, or 4th year students at some point during the 2020 program year.

Finalists will receive an all-expense paid trip to the AuDacity Conference, November 2-4, 2020 at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Dallas, TX, where they will present their business plans in person. The Grand Prize Winner will receive a $5,000 ADA cash grant to be used to advance business objectives and enhance business and leadership skills.

Please visit www.audiologist.org for complete rules and to register.