Date: March 16, 2020
To: All Medical Assistance Program Providers
Re: Coronavirus and Expanded Care Options
First, we extend many thanks to our provider partners around the state as we collectively work to address the rapidly changing environment around COVID-19. We have a shared priority in the safety and health of our members and ability of the health care system to serve those members and others.
We understand the value in trusted medical providers helping the public to understand the realities of COVID-19 and to respond appropriately. HFS encourages all providers to use materials available through the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) as part of their education approaches and explanations, including:
HFS is working as quickly as possible to understand the new flexibilities to the Medicaid program authorized by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and/or the national emergency declaration. We believe these flexibilities will broaden coverage and encourage increased access to care, such as remote monitoring and other telehealth and telepsychiatry options. We are instructing MCO partners to immediately notify providers of policy and process changes related to COVID-19. These flexibilities under emergency waivers or state plan amendments are expected to allow HFS and our MCOs to reimburse our partners in the health care system as they respond in the most appropriate fashion to keep members safe and in accordance with social distancing recommendations.
HFS will be putting out guidance and revising policies in the coming days and weeks to allow flexibility in provision of many important services. As we all work to provide needed services swiftly, please immediately begin:
- Covering appropriate COVID-19 related testing and treatment for uninsured as well as Medicaid members;
- For providers who help patients in applying for coverage, submit completed medical applications without waiting for verification documents such as pay stubs;
- Providing needed services at alternate sites as you determine appropriate;
- Utilizing telehealth and telepsychiatry options in all available circumstances and sites (including non-traditional sites).
- Providing needed services without prior authorization for therapy services (physical, occupational and speech), supplies when requested amounts are over stated maximums, home health services and pharmacy items
Effective immediately and through at least June 1, 2020, telehealth rules will be significantly broadened and will accommodate new places of service and means of engagement and communication. We recommend all providers utilizing telehealth of any kind to continue practicing the same level of documentation as for in person visits.
More information will be made available to providers in a variety of ways, including provider notices. Please look for frequent updates in the coming days/weeks with additional guidance which will be published as soon as we are able. It is the intention of HFS to reduce as many barriers to testing and treatment as possible through the Medicaid program and other sister agencies, to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Please note that while some HFS operations may be altered temporarily, our staff remain committed to ensuring applications are processed, providers are enrolled, claims are paid, and questions are answered. Although walk-in offices will be closed to the public, there will be other ways to communicate with our offices, including online, by phone, or email. Please feel free to share this information with your staff and our shared clients.
During this difficult time and unprecedented time, we appreciate your help in ‘flattening the curve’ and for your continued commitment to Medicaid members and the health of all Illinoisans.