Drug & Alcohol

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As COVID-19 cases are surging and the holidays are approaching, it is critical that Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) licensed residential facilities remain vigilant about preventing the spread of COVID-19 in their facilities.

As you know, your residents are among the most at-risk population for COVID-19. Visitation and non-medical outings during the upcoming holiday season will increase their risk of exposure to COVID-19.

  • Facilities should ensure that residents and their families and friends are fully aware of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Considerations for Preventing the Spread of COVID-19. It is suggested that facilities communicate openly with residents and their families and friends.  We’ve attached a pledge to assist you in educating and having residents and their families and friends acknowledge an understanding of the seriousness of this matter.
  • The COVID Alert app is a critical tool in our fight against the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Encouraging residents and staff in your facility who have a smartphone to download the app will be useful in mitigating the virus.

If you have any questions or feedback, please contact your RCPA policy director.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has planned a special open-door forum to discuss the final rule that was released on November 20, 2020. This final rule clarified the regulations that interpret the federal physician self-referral law (known as the Stark Law). It supports CMS’s “Patients Over Paperwork” initiative by reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens on physicians and other health care providers. It also reinforces the Stark Law’s goal of protecting patients from unnecessary services and the practice of being led to less convenient, lower quality, or more expensive services because of a physician’s financial self-interest. This final rule will be published in the December 2, 2020 Federal Register.

Agenda topics for this special call include:

  • Exceptions that Facilitate the Transition to Value-Based Care Delivery and Payment Arrangements
  • New Guidance and Clarifications Related to Key Terminology of the Stark Law
  • Flexibilities to Enhance Compliance and Reduce Burden

This open-door forum will be held on December 2, 2020 from 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm Eastern Time. To participate, use the information below:

Dial-In Number: 1-888-455-1397

Participant Passcode ID #: 2037400

A transcript and audio recording of this open-door forum will be posted to the Podcast and Transcripts webpage.

Photo by Dario Valenzuela on Unsplash

National Family Caregivers Month – a time to celebrate the contributions of caregivers, provide them with tools that they need, and continue to advocate for individuals with mental illness.

There are over 53 million Americans who are unpaid caregivers to family, friends, and neighbors. Twenty-seven percent or nearly a third of adult caregivers are helping someone with a mental illness. Caregiving can often have a significant impact on the life of the caregiver in more ways than one. It can make maintaining your physical and mental health more difficult and may put a strain on work and social life.

[View Mental Health America web page for information, resources, and toolkits]

Washington, DC * November 18, 2020 – Today the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the official launch of the AskUSDA Contact Center program. The AskUSDA Contact Center will serve as the “one front door” for phone, chat, and web inquires. It will transform how the public interacts with USDA and provide an enhanced experience for the public.

Prior to the creation and implementation of AskUSDA, members of the public had to navigate dozens of phone numbers and had no chat function or online platform for self-service. This situation created frustrations and inefficiencies. AskUSDA was created to make USDA more responsive to the public by providing a single destination for phone, chat, and web inquiries. Whether it’s talking to a USDA representative via phone, chatting with a live agent on our website, or communicating with USDA via email, the public will have streamlined access.

The launch of AskUSDA delivers a centralized contact center that offers customer service and consistent information for the public. With over 29 agencies and offices, USDA’s mission impacts every single person in the US and hundreds of millions around the globe. AskUSDA assures that farmers, researchers, travelers, parents, and more have efficient access to the information and resources that they need.

AskUSDA is set up to handle common questions across programs that service a variety of audiences. For example, customers who may have basic questions about USDA’s nutrition services can be assisted via phone, email, and web chat by trained AskUSDA representatives. Meanwhile, customers who may have complicated questions about loan programs can be quickly connected to agency experts. AskUSDA also hosts over 5,000 articles for a self-service option to help with more common questions such as food safety inquiries or pet-travel guidance.

Over the course of its pilot program, AskUSDA successfully assisted with over 93,000 citizen inquiries, and the AskUSDA website received over 1.4 million knowledge article page views. USDA looks forward to continuing to implement this enhanced best-in-class contact center across the department.

The public can contact AskUSDA by phone at (833) ONE-USDA. Representatives are available from 9:00 am – 5:30 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) on weekdays. The website is available 24/7 and includes live chat agents who are available from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm EST on weekdays. Inquiries can also be sent via email at any time.

Unprecedented additions to regulations that interpret Stark Law open avenues for health care providers to ensure that patients receive the highest quality of care.

Today the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized changes to outdated federal regulations that have burdened health care providers with added administrative costs and impeded the health care system’s move toward value-based reimbursement. The Physician Self-Referral Law, also known as the Stark Law, generally prohibits a physician from sending a patient, who needs many types of services, to a provider who the physician owns, is employed by, or otherwise receives payment from—regardless of what that payment is for. The old federal regulations that interpret and implement this law were designed for a health care system that reimburses providers on a fee-for-service basis, where the financial incentives are to deliver more services. However, the twenty-first century American health care system is increasingly moving toward financial arrangements that reward providers who are successful at keeping patients healthy and out of the hospital. This is an arrangement where payment is tied to value rather than volume.

Read more here.

Please contact your RCPA policy staff for more information.