Medicare Coverage and Coronavirus - January 2021SHIP Natl TechAssist Ctr

As the number of cases of COVID-19 (also known as coronavirus) increases, so does the importance of helping Medicare beneficiaries understand what services are covered.

Covered services include: 

Coronavirus testing

Coronavirus testing is covered under Medicare Part B as a clinical laboratory test. A beneficiary’s doctor can bill Medicare for this test beginning April 1, 2020 for testing provided after February 4, 2020. As of September 2, 2020, and for the rest of the COVID-19 public health emergency, Medicare covers one coronavirus test without the order of a physician or other health practitioner. However, Medicare requires a physician’s or other health care practitioner’s order for any additional coronavirus tests a beneficiary receives.  A beneficiary will owe nothing for the laboratory test and associated provider visits (no deductible, coinsurance, or copayment). This applies to both Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plans.

COVID-19 vaccine

A COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized for limited emergency use. This emergency authorization means that the vaccine is only available for certain groups of people, such as nursing home residents and health care workers. The vaccine is not yet approved for or available to everyone. Beneficiaries should speak with their doctor to learn more about eligibility to receive the vaccine and its availability in their state. 

Original Medicare Part B covers the vaccine, regardless of whether a beneficiary has Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan. They will owe no cost-sharing (deductibles, copayments, or coinsurance).

Click here to see entire document with additional coverages.

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December 21, 2020

COVID-19 vaccine fraud press release PSA and scam bulletin developed jointly by HHS OIG, FBI, DOJ, and CMS:

Federal Agencies Warn of Emerging Fraud Schemes Related to COVID-19 Vaccines

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are warning the public about several emerging fraud schemes related to COVID- 19 vaccines.

The FBI, HHS-OIG, and CMS have received complaints of scammers using the public’s interest in COVID-19 vaccines to obtain personally identifiable information (PII) and money through various schemes. We continue to work diligently with law enforcement partners and the private sector to identify cyber threats and fraud in all forms.

The public should be aware of the following potential indicators of fraudulent activity:

  • Advertisements or offers for early access to a vaccine upon payment of a deposit or fee
  • Requests asking you to pay out of pocket to obtain the vaccine or to put your name on a COVID-19 vaccine waiting list
  • Offers to undergo additional medical testing or procedures when obtaining a vaccine
  • Marketers offering to sell and/or ship doses of a vaccine, domestically or internationally, in exchange for payment of a deposit or fee
  • Unsolicited emails, telephone calls, or personal contact from someone claiming to be from a medical office, insurance company, or COVID-19 vaccine center requesting personal and/or medical information to determine recipients’ eligibility to participate in clinical vaccine trials or obtain the vaccine
  • Claims of FDA approval for a vaccine that cannot be verified
  • Advertisements for vaccines through social media platforms, email, telephone calls, online, or from unsolicited/unknown sources
  • Individuals contacting you in person, by phone, or by email to tell you the government or government officials require you to receive a COVID-19 vaccine

Tips to avoid COVID-19 vaccine-related fraud:

  • Consult your state’s health department website for up-to-date information about authorized vaccine distribution channels and only obtaining a vaccine through such channels.
  • Check the FDA’s website (fda.gov) for current information about vaccine emergency use authorizations.
  • Consult your primary care physician before undergoing any vaccination.
  • Don’t share your personal or health information with anyone other than known and trusted medical professionals.
  • Check your medical bills and insurance explanation of benefits (EOBs) for any suspicious claims and promptly reporting any errors to your health insurance provider.
  • Follow guidance and recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other trusted medical professionals.

General online/cyber fraud prevention techniques:

  • Verify the spelling of web addresses, websites, and email addresses that look trustworthy but may be imitations of legitimate websites.
  • Ensure operating systems and applications are updated to the most current versions.
  • Update anti-malware and anti-virus software and conduct regular network scans.
  • Do not enable macros on documents downloaded from an email unless necessary and after ensuring the file is not malicious.
  • Do not communicate with or open emails, attachments, or links from unknown individuals.
  • Never provide personal information of any sort via email; be aware that many emails requesting your personal information may appear to be legitimate.
  • Use strong two-factor authentication if possible, using biometrics, hardware tokens, or authentication apps.
  • Disable or remove unneeded software applications.

If you believe you have been the victim of a COVID-19 fraud, immediately report it to the FBI (ic3.gov, tips.fbi.gov, or 1-800-CALL-FBI) or HHS OIG (tips.hhs.gov or 1-800-HHS- TIPS).

For accurate and up-to-date information about COVID-19, visit:


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News Release from the Arizona Department of Health Services

For Immediate Release: December 29, 2020
Media Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
Phone: 602-364-3065

State Committee Prioritizes Those 75 and Older for Second Phase of COVID-19 Vaccination
Aligned with federal guidance, recommendation is designed to protect Arizona’s most vulnerable

PHOENIX — Arizonans 75 and older are now prioritized to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in the second phase of distribution following an updated recommendation yesterday by a panel of state, local, and tribal experts, including members of the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS).

“One of Arizona’s top priorities since the start of the pandemic has been to protect our most vulnerable,” said Governor Doug Ducey. “This updated prioritization will get older Arizonans vaccinated sooner, further protecting those most at-risk and relieving the strain on our hardworking health care professionals. My thanks to the trained vaccinators across the state working to mitigate the spread of the virus and protect Arizonans.”

The recommendation by the Arizona Vaccine and Antiviral Prioritization Advisory Committee (VAPAC) is intended to protect those who are most at risk for severe outcomes due to COVID-19, such as hospitalization and death, and to reduce strain on Arizona’s hospitals. Older Arizonans are far more likely to experience severe COVID-19 complications and be hospitalized than younger individuals.

The VAPAC decision is aligned with the updated recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which recently voted to include those over the age of 75 in phase 1B. According to national data from the CDC, those 75 years of age and older are eight times more likely to be hospitalized and 220 times more likely to die compared to younger adults. These risks continue to significantly increase for individuals 85 and older.

“We have seen the devastating effects COVID-19 has had on our communities,” said ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ. “Prioritizing those 75 and older in the next phase of vaccinations will protect those at even greater risk while helping preserve hospital capacity.”

Vaccination has begun across Arizona for front line healthcare workers, emergency medical services workers, and residents and staff at long-term care facilities. This group is referred to as phase 1A for COVID-19 vaccine prioritization in Arizona. 

Those 75 and older will now be eligible for vaccination in the next phase, which also includes education and childcare workers and members of protective services occupations. This group is referred to as prioritized phase 1B. ADHS anticipates moving into prioritized phase 1B mid to late January statewide. Some counties may move into this phase earlier.

The Vaccine and Antiviral Prioritization Advisory Committee, which met yesterday, provides recommendations to ensure fair and equitable vaccine allocation across the state of Arizona.  The committee makes recommendations to the Department on populations that should be prioritized to receive vaccine doses when there are limited supplies available.  This group has been meeting routinely to discuss prioritization since the beginning of December and will continue to meet to review vaccine distribution and make recommendations for Arizona.


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Arizona Department of Health Services Offering Free Masks
for Individuals 65 and Older and Other Identified Vulnerable Populations*


MaskUp Order Form

It is important that every Arizonan does their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which includes wearing a cloth face mask whenever you are in public, washing your hands frequently, and maintaining physical distance from others.

We want to ensure every Arizonan has access to face masks and we have partnered with Hanes to provide free face masks to Arizona’s most vulnerable populations. We encourage anyone who meets this criteria or may not be able to purchase a mask to place an order below. Each order will provide 5 washable, reusable cloth face masks, one order per household. We intend to provide cloth face masks to individuals 65 years and older and other identified vulnerable populations. If you have questions about ordering or for information about how this program works, visit our FAQs page. For questions about your order or the product itself please contact Hanes at 1-800-503-6698.

Licensed facilities will receive a form to order masks for their residents.

*From the Arizona Department of Health Services website.

                        

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medicare dot gov

Avoid COVID-19 scams

Have you gotten robocalls, text messages, or emails offering free face masks? Or maybe you've seen social media posts about free COVID-19 testing kits, "cures," or protective equipment?

Unfortunately scammers are using the COVID-19 pandemic to try to steal your Medicare Number and personal information. If anyone reaches out to get your Medicare Number or personal information in exchange for something, you can bet it's a scam.

Prevent Medicare Fraud

Stop scams before they happen. Watch this short video and visit Medicare.gov/fraud for tips on preventing Medicare scams and fraud. If you suspect fraud, call 1-800-MEDICARE to report it.

Medicare fraud video, click to watch

Sincerely,

The Medicare Team

This message is paid for by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It was created and distributed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

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FDA advises consumers not to use hand sanitizer products manufactured by Eskbiochem

 [6/19/2020] FDA advises consumers not to use any hand sanitizer manufactured by Eskbiochem SA de CV in Mexico, due to the potential presence of methanol (wood alcohol), a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested. FDA has identified the following products manufactured by Eskbiochem:

  • All-Clean Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-002-01)
  • Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-007-01)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-008-04)
  • Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-006-01)
  • The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-010-10)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-005-03)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-009-01)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-003-01)
  • Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-001-01)

FDA tested samples of Lavar Gel and CleanCare No Germ. Lavar Gel contains 81 percent (v/v) methanol and no ethyl alcohol, and CleanCare No Germ contains 28 percent (v/v) methanol. Methanol is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitizers and should not be used due to its toxic effects.

Consumers who have been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol should seek immediate treatment, which is critical for potential reversal of toxic effects of methanol poisoning. Substantial methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death. Although all persons using these products on their hands are at risk, young children who accidently ingest these products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute, are most at risk for methanol poisoning.

On June 17, 2020, FDA contacted Eskbiochem to recommend the company remove its hand sanitizer products from the market due to the risks associated with methanol poisoning. To date, the company has not taken action to remove these potentially dangerous products from the market. Therefore, FDA recommends consumers stop using these hand sanitizers and dispose of them immediately in appropriate hazardous waste containers. Do not flush or pour these products down the drain.

FDA reminds consumers to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing one’s nose. If soap and water are not readily available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend consumers use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent ethanol.

FDA remains vigilant and will continue to take action when quality issues arise with hand sanitizers. Additionally, the agency is concerned with false and misleading claims for hand sanitizers, for example that they can provide prolonged protection such as 24-hours against viruses including COVID-19, since there is no evidence to support these claims.

To date, FDA is not aware of any reports of adverse events associated with these hand sanitizer products. FDA encourages health care professionals, consumers and patients to report adverse events or quality problems experienced with the use of hand sanitizers to FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program:

  • Complete and submit the report online; or
  • Download and complete the form, then submit it via fax at 1-800-FDA-0178. 


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COVID 19 funds

Seniors’ need in Pinal and Gila counties continues to grow during the COVID pandemic.   It is a fact that the older adult population is one of the hardest hit by the virus, especially those who are socially isolated, have chronic health illnesses, are economically disadvantaged, or are ethnic minorities.  The State DES Aging & Adult Administration notified PGCSC that as an Area Agency on Aging in the Region, we are a focal point charged with meeting the needs of homebound and socially isolated seniors in the area to the best of our abilities.  

To date, Pinal-Gila Council for Senior Citizens staff, coordinating through their many community partners and volunteers, were able to get 5,600 meals, 2,000 bottles of bleach, and toilet tissue to 10 senior center communities in Pinal and Gila counties.  Most items were purchased by Pinal-Gila Council for Senior Citizens contributions, donations, and utilization of Federal COVID 19 funds.        

The shipment was so large and heavy that PGCSC called for help from our community brother and sister agencies.  Thanks to the Pinal County Health Department emergency staff unit, Jan Vidimos,   arrangements were made to bring in the National Guard to deliver to over 9 community senior centers within Pinal and Gila counties.  Once the products are delivered, the City staff or provider agencies will deliver to homebound and congregate meal seniors.  The Cities, Towns, and provider agencies participating are Eloy, Coolidge, Florence, Casa Grande, Superior, Globe, Miami, Apache Junction, Payson Multipurpose Senior Center, Catholic Social Services of Southern AZ, and the Army National Guard.

The State of AZ, DES Department of Aging & Adult leadership, made it a priority to provide technical assistance and remove policy obstacles that would hinder the way of getting food to our seniors. 

Fernando Cornejo from Eva’s Fine Mexican Food assisted in helping PGCSC obtain over 2,500 gallons of bleach and tissue when all grocery shelves were empty, and also prepared 30 emergency meals for delivery.  

Scott McEuen called to donate masks made by Volunteers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints within 3 minutes of PGCSC making a request for Handmade Masks.  Dottie Sanchez from Globe and Shelly Hanley from Casa Grande also helped make masks for seniors.  Over 600 masks have been made to deliver to seniors. 

Volunteers Tito Medina, Jose Gonzales, and Mac Martinez helped package and deliver food and bleach to the Food Banks.  CAHRA’S staff and Santa Cruz Food Bank volunteers and Maricopa Food Bank volunteers helped distribute supplies to seniors.   


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March 20, 2020
Pinal-Gila Council for Senior Citizens Statement and COVID-19 Response Plan

Pinal-Gila Council for Senior Citizens (PGCSC), along with its President/CEO and Board are fully committed to protecting the health and safety of all agency clients, employees and the communities we serve. As a principal provider of aging services in Pinal & Gila Counties, the recent outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in our region is of great concern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with the Arizona Department of Health Services warn that older adults, particularly those with serious underlying conditions may be at higher risk of becoming extremely ill from the virus. The CDC has recommended that during the COVID-19 outbreak, organizations and individuals take every precaution necessary, including limiting contact with others, to further reduce the risk of exposure. PGCSC takes this warning seriously and with support and direction from the Arizona Department of Economic Security (ADES), Department of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS) has implemented the following adjustments to our programs and services to slow the spread of the virus.

Nutrition Programs:
Effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020 all contracted nutrition sites in Pinal and Gila counties have suspended senior center programs. In an effort to continue to meet the nutritional needs of program participants, congregate meals will continue to be offered at the individual sites via a drive-up “to-go” method or delivered directly to the homes of those individuals who may not have access to transportation. Home delivered service will continue as planned, with nutrition sites working to increase the number of meals typically authorized per individual. Where feasible, sites will deliver additional frozen meals for the week or provide a box of shelf stable meals for individuals to use in the event they are short of food. PGCSC will continue to accept home delivered program referrals in an effort to serve the most frail and isolated individuals in our communities during this health emergency. And with the help of our contracted nutritional sites, we will continue to monitor the situation and make the necessary adjustments to reach as many elderly individuals as possible. For more information on these program changes, please contact your local senior center or PGCSC Information & Referral at 520-836-2758. 

Case Management, Family Care Support & Community Education Programs:
In PGCSC’s effort to minimize exposure and maintain social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak, effective immediately all case managers will suspend home visits to clients' homes. All clients will be contacted via telephone, and the necessary reviews, assessments and reauthorizations will be completed telephonically. In addition, all scheduled in-person community outreach events, educational workshops and caregiver support group activities have been suspended. PGCSC will continue to assess the situation and make adjustments to the suspension as more information is received.  Please check our calendar of events for virtual opportunities as we continue to connect with those we serve.  We are currently holding virtual support groups by phone or computer.  Although we are maintaining our normal Support Group schedule, PGCSC takes this opportunity to invite all caregivers, regardless of their geographical location to join in our virtual meetings. These meetings are a great opportunity to break down physical location and offer information, resources, support and hope to our caregivers. Call 520-836-2758 or 1-800-293-9393 for more information on how to connect to our virtual support groups. Location is no longer a barrier to connecting with others on their care giving journey.

Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program:
As directed by the DAAS, the The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program will cease to conduct visits to long term care facilities for a minimum of 30 days, effective March 13, 2020. Recent federal guidance has required long term care facilities to restrict all visitors, volunteers and non-essential health care personnel from entering their facilities. Residents still have the right to access the Ombudsman Program; however, facilities are being asked to facilitate residential communication with Ombudsman staff and volunteers via telephone or another format. For more information please contact PGCSC.

PGCSC offices remain open and continue to provide all other services, including Information and Referral, which is of dire need during this health emergency. PGCSC staff are also making every effort to minimize exposure to the public by asking individuals seeking services to not visit our office in person, but contact us via telephone (520-836-2758), e-mail or our website (www.pgcsc.org) to connect to services. PGCSC is continuing to monitor information from the Federal, State and County government and health organizations, and will take every measure necessary to serve and ensure the safety of our clients, staff and community, including making additional adjustments in our services.