Parts of the federal government’s massive pandemic response ended more than a few months ago.These include Temporary Changes to Child Tax Credit and the end of February Expanding support for food stamps, experts say protection has led to a decline in child poverty.Before that, the government scrapped expanded unemployment benefits, and in March states, including New Hampshire, started unregistering people They’ve lost their Medicaid eligibility and many have moved to other insurance options.
The end of the federal public health emergency on Thursday ended further pandemic aid affecting hospitals and COVID-19 testing, vaccination and treatment.
Hospitals will run out of options as bed demand remains high
During the pandemic, hospitals had considerable flexibility to respond to the unprecedented health crisis. This flexibility ended Thursday or will end in the next few months.
Before the pandemic, many of the state’s “critical care hospitals” were limited to 25 beds and 96 hours per patient. Those rules were set aside during the pandemic to allow hospitals to treat more people.
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The end of the public health emergency means these restrictions are back, even as patient demand remains high. That’s worrying, says Steve Ahnen, president and chief executive of the New Hampshire Hospital Association.
“As the demand for patient care and enhanced vision increases, we will continue to monitor the situation closely to ensure patient access to care is not impacted,” he said.
Until the pandemic hit, Medicare required patients to be hospitalized for three days before being transferred to skilled nursing facilities. The rule will be put on hold until Thursday’s public health emergency is over, meaning patients can be transferred sooner to free up hospital beds.
“Obviously, we are concerned about what impact that will have, especially given the high number of patients we see,” Ahnen said.
Hospitals are allowed to remotely monitor patients during diagnostic services. It ends in December.
“This is a workforce issue and a workforce challenge,” Ahnen said. “And it will certainly be a challenge for us to ensure that we have clinicians on site at all times while these services are being provided.”
State hospitals and health care providers welcomed changes to the law requiring insurance companies to cover telemedicine visits. Ahnen called it a “shining example” of what worked well during the pandemic. He is concerned that telemedicine coverage for Medicare patients will end in December.
“Medicare is the biggest payer in the country,” Ahnen said. He and others advocate that Medicare continue to pay for telemedicine visits. “We are certainly not in the middle of a pandemic like we were before, but there are still ongoing challenges and ongoing problems with workforce and access.”
Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Jake Leung said the state will continue to offer free telemedicine for COVID-19 through partner Onsite Medical Services through Aug. 31. For more information, please visit: on-sitemedservices.com/telemedicine Or call us at 800-816-5802.
Two key pandemic-inspired initiatives remain
Dartmouth Health will launch a long-running COVID-19 clinic in 2021 to help patients connect with resources and better understand symptoms associated with the disease. Dartmouth Health spokeswoman Cassidy Smith said the clinic will remain open.
so far, Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome Clinic To date, we have received approximately 1,600 referrals and have seen approximately 600 patients. Smith said his referral numbers haven’t slowed down.
The pandemic has also caused hospitals across the state to begin working closely with each other to secure masks, gloves and gowns. share resources. And even accept each other’s patients when necessary. Ahnen said the collaboration will continue and should continue.
“I think this was certainly an advantage of bringing all the hospitals together to share information and share resources,” he says. “The (New Hampshire Hospitals) Association has served as a connection point and will continue to do so. I hope we will continue to benefit from this collaboration.”
With the end of the public health emergency, there have also been some changes to COVID-19 health insurance coverage.
If you have private insurance
The biggest change for those with private insurance is the end of free COVID-19 testing at home.
Insurers are required to cover up to eight over-the-counter tests per person per month. This requirement ended with the end of the public health emergency.
Anthem and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, two of the state’s three largest insurers, will no longer pay for home testing kits, but will pay for at least one medically prescribed COVID-19 test. He told the news agency that he would continue to cover the department’s expenses out of pocket.
Kimberly Wynn of Point32Health, which includes Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare, will do the same. However, members who have purchased up to eight home tests can apply for refunds for tests purchased before May 11, Wynn said.
Wynn said self-insured employer associations may choose to continue coverage for testing, and urged those with plans to check with their employers on coverage options. .
Two test packs typically cost between $20 and $24.
and Analysis released this weekThe Kaiser Family Foundation announced that the median cost of outpatient COVID-19 testing for patients on large employer-based plans was $45 in 2021.
Anthem spokespeople Wynn DuBois and Stephanie DuBois said the companies will continue to cover COVID-19 vaccinations when offered by providers in their network. According to the website, most of Anthem’s plans do not require copayments for vaccines. Suggested subscribers to review plan benefits.
Wynn said subscribers will not pay any fees for vaccines in the network. However, if in-network medical providers are unavailable, members will be exempted from paying for out-of-network COVID-19 vaccinations. Wynn said members should contact member services if they can’t find a provider in the network.
Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare will continue to cover medically necessary treatment for COVID-19 at its own expense. Dubois did not respond to questions about Anthem’s coverage of COVID-19 treatments, and the company’s website she referred to in her bulletin was unclear.
“Anthem helps coordinate COVID-19 care,” it said.
Since the pandemic, states have taken steps to ensure telemedicine visits are covered by insurance. Individuals should check their plans for that coverage.
If you have Medicare
Free home testing for Medicare recipients also ended on Thursday. However, like people with private insurance, they pay nothing for tests requested by their health care provider.
Vaccines will continue to be free for Medicare Part B recipients. If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you will continue to receive free vaccinations from providers in our network.
Medicare will also continue to cover treatment for COVID-19, according to the company. Guidance from Medicare and Medicaid Service Centers (CMS). Cost contributions and deductions, if currently applicable, will continue to apply. Even after the public health emergency ends, access to oral antivirals such as Paxlovid and Lajevrio will remain as long as federal supplies continue.
Telemedicine services for Medicare beneficiaries will continue unchanged through December 31, 2024, including home visits.
If you have Medicaid
As a result of the American Rescue Plans Act, states are obligated to provide free COVID-19 vaccinations, testing and treatment to Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) eligible individuals through September 30, 2024. There is
After that, many Medicaid and CHIP enrollees will continue to be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, although coverage of COVID-19 treatment and testing may vary by state. Telemedicine visits will continue to be covered.
The CDC said: Updated May 5 It announced that it will continue to offer free tests at pharmacies participating in the Increased Community Access to Testing program. To find locations in New Hampshire, visit: testinglocator.cdc.gov.
The federal government will continue to provide free vaccines to uninsured and non-paying children, according to the CDC website.
The Department of Health and Human Services will continue to provide free vaccines by van until May 31, Leon said. Schedules are available online. on-sitemedservices.com/vaccination-map.
The Department of Health and Human Services Dashboard of COVID-19 indicatorsand weekly updates The number of new deaths and the number of patients being treated for COVID-19 in hospitals. The latest update on 4 May reported 5 new deaths and 10 hospitalizations, down significantly from January 2022. Hospitalizations peaked at 433.
Leon declined to say whether these updates will continue. And the dashboard will change, he said, but gave few details.
He said the ministry will continue to work with selected communities to monitor wastewater and confirm the presence of COVID-19. That information will continue to be shared on the new dashboard, and metrics from the current dashboard will be shared, he said.
But doctors and health care providers no longer need to report information about positive cases of COVID-19 to the New Hampshire Department of Public Health, he said. That data is becoming increasingly unreliable as more people test at home and don’t report their results.
Leon said the recommendations on who should receive the updated boosters will continue to evolve. The CDC announced that new guidance New coronavirus infectious disease vaccination for both those with weakened immunity and those who are not. These include new recommendations for the number of vaccines.
Leung recommends that people with questions or concerns about COVID-19 measures, especially those at high risk of severe COVID-19, such as the elderly and those with weakened immune systems, be referred to primary care providers. introduced.
The site has become an important source of information on deaths, outbreaks, hospitalizations, and hotspots statewide. It also tracks COVID-19 levels in wastewater and cases within individual schools.
The New Hampshire Hospital Association has released daily updates on the number of COVID-19 cases in hospitals across the state, in part to show the strain the pandemic is placing on health care providers.it is now Report those numbers on your website every week. In the latest report dated May 11, hospitals in the state counted 18 recovering COVID-19 patients and 11 under treatment.
This story was first published new hampshire bulletin.