Governor announces financial and administrative relief for hospitals

Posted 22 April 2020 at 10:00 pm

Cuomo also announces contract tracing program to be led by Mike Bloomberg, helping to control infection rate

Photo by Tom Rivers: The American flag is lowered at the Orleans County Emergency Management Office with the fire training building in the background. This site is on West Countyhouse Road in Albion. The governor has directed flags to be lowered out of respect for the victims of Covid-19 until at least May 15, while the state is on “pause” with schools and non-essential businesses closed. The governor today reported 474 people died from Covid-19 on Tuesday, bringing the state’s death toll from the virus to 15,302.

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the New York State Department of Financial Services will direct health insurers to provide cash flow relief to, and ease administrative burdens on, New York State hospitals in response to COVID-19.

Relief provided to hospitals during the pandemic includes insurers’ immediate payment of outstanding accounts receivables, suspension of preauthorization requirements for all hospital services, and prohibition of retrospective review of claims.

DFS will issue a circular letter directing health insurers to:

  • Immediately process for payment outstanding hospital claims;
  • In collaboration with DFS, work with hospitals in insurers’ network to provide additional financial assistance if needed and feasible, focusing on community, rural, and safety-net hospitals;
  • Suspend preauthorization requirements for all services performed at hospitals, including lab work and radiology, until June 18, 2020;
  • Not conduct retrospective reviews of hospital claims, until June 18, 2020, subject to limited exceptions; and
  • Not make medical necessity denials related to emergency department and inpatient hospital treatment for COVID-19.

“We are at a profound moment in this crisis where we are finally passing the apex of the curve, but if we make a bad move now it’s going to set us back,” Governor Cuomo said. “We’re beginning to make plans on how to re-open our economy and start the return to the new normal, but in the meantime we have to ensure our health care system and our hospitals that have been so critical in combating this virus have the support they need. The Department of Financial Services is going to issue a directive to health insurers to provide financial and administrative relief to our hospitals so they can continue safely and quickly providing the care that is so desperately needed right now.”

The Governor confirmed 5,526 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 257,216 confirmed cases.

Bloomberg will provide funding, leadership with tracing program

Cuomo and Mike Bloomberg also announced a new nation-leading COVID-19 contact tracing program to control the infection rate of the disease.

Mike Bloomberg and Bloomberg Philanthropies have committed organizational support and technical assistance to help build and execute this new program. The contact tracing program will be done in coordination with the downstate region as well as New Jersey and Connecticut and will serve as an important resource to gather best practices and as a model that can be replicated across the nation.

There has never been a contact tracing program implemented at this scale either in New York or anywhere in the United States. The program will launch immediately.

As part of this effort, The Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University will build an online curriculum and training program for contact tracers. The New York State Department of Health will work with Bloomberg Philanthropies to help identify and recruit contact tracer candidates for the training program, including staff from the State Department of Health, investigators from various state agencies, hundreds of tracers from downstate counties and SUNY and CUNY students in medical fields.

Bloomberg Philanthropies has committed $10.5 million, along with organizational support and technical assistance, to help build and execute this new program.

“We’re all eager to begin loosening restrictions on our daily lives and our economy,” Bloomberg said. “But in order to do that as safely as possible, we first have to put in place systems to identify people who may have been exposed to the virus and support them as they isolate”

Contact tracing helps prevent the spread of a virus by using testing to confirm if someone has COVID-19, interviewing that person to identify people they may have been in contact with during their illness and during the few days before symptoms began, reaching out to their contacts to alert them to their risk of infection and then referring contacts to medical providers and asking non-ill people to stay home for 14 days to be sure they don’t spread COVID-19 to others.

Contact tracing is a proven public health tool which can profoundly help “box in” the virus. Several countries, such as Germany, Singapore and South Korea, have used contact tracing effectively amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. As a result, those countries have been able to re-open for business quicker and have experienced fewer deaths and lower rates of infection.

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