If It Is Tuesday – There Must Be News!

March 31, 2020

This morning there is quite a bit of news, and while the number of cases in Virginia is growing (so is the testing!), much of the news, for providers at least, is good:
  • Re FFCRA and the questions about whether or not providers of DD or BH would be exempt from the requirement to grant extended leave under the new “FMLA” rule – DOL issued a FAQ which contains the following (highlights are mine, and please remember we do not provide either legal or financial advice):
    • 56: Who is a “health care provider” who may be excluded by their employer from paid sick leave and/or expanded family and medical leave?”For the purposes of employees who may be exempted from paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave by their employer under the FFCRA, a health care provider is anyone employed at any doctor’s office, hospital, health care center, clinic, post-secondary educational institution offering health care instruction, medical school, local health department or agency, nursing facility, retirement facility, nursing home, home health care provider, any facility that performs laboratory or medical testing, pharmacy, or any similar institution, employer, or entity. This includes any permanent or temporary institution, facility, location, or site where medical services are provided that are similar to such institutions. This definition includes any individual employed by an entity that contracts with any of the above institutions, employers, or entities institutions to provide services or to maintain the operation of the facility. This also includes anyone employed by any entity that provides medical services, produces medical products, or is otherwise involved in the making of COVID-19 related medical equipment, tests, drugs, vaccines, diagnostic vehicles, or treatments. This also includes any individual that the highest official of a state or territory, including the District of Columbia, determines is a health care provider necessary for that state’s or territory’s or the District of Columbia’s response to COVID-19.To minimize the spread of the virus associated with COVID-19, the Department encourages employers to be judicious when using this definition to exempt health care providers from the provisions of the FFCRA.
    • ANCOR has been informed that the Secretary’s intent was to ensure the guidance/definition was written broadly to include our sector and others, as evidenced by the inclusion of “any similar institution, employer, or entity”.   DOL’s FAQ also appear to capture employees in those states where our providers have been deemed essential or necessary for a state’s response to COVID-19.
  • In Virginia, on behalf of Commissioner Land, DBHDS issued the following yesterday following the release of  Executive Order #55 which speaks to the definition of “essential employees”:
    • “Very importantly, the state and community public and private providers serving Virginia’s behavioral health and developmental services system provide services that are essential to ensure health and safety statewide. Essential workers also include the non-direct care staff that support maintaining the infrastructure and ability to continue essential services. Without efforts from the state, CSBs and private providers in our system to prevent crises and skillfully handle emergencies when they arise, the medical system would be quickly overwhelmed in this pandemic. That said, staff who are experiencing COVID-related symptoms or waiting for test results should not report to work.”
    • DBHDS has also consolidated all of their “guidance” and FAQs onto one COVID-19 page on their website – look under “Offices!”
  • As I believe we said on Friday’s call, the CARES Act contains a number of provisions to both support individuals (extended and enhanced unemployment – see the information on the VEC Website as it will be updated regularly) and support for small business (see the Small Business Administration for details).
I recognize that we are sharing links to websites over providing details – it is beyond our scope or expertise to provide the kind of detailed advice that you need; our best help is to point you in the right direction! Closer to home:
  • The Job Board has been expanded to include positions with BH Providers – take a look!
  • DBHDS is moving along with the proposed permanent regulations that are relevant to DOJ and will replace the Emergency Regs on risk management, root cause analysis and incident reporting that were released in September 2018.  We have time for review and comment – I will keep you posted!
Look for more information this afternoon on Medicaid actions to date!