September 16, 2020

Celebrating 228 Years

1792 - 2020
Governor Lamont Extends Connecticut's State of Emergency in Response To the COVID-19 Pandemic To February 9

Governor Ned Lamont announced that he has signed orders extending to February 9, 2021, Connecticut’s states of civil preparedness and public health emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally declared in March and scheduled to expire on September 9, the governor said that the states of emergency must remain in place in order for the state to effectively respond to the unprecedented and ongoing global pandemic. Governor Lamont’s orders extending Connecticut’s COVID-19 states of civil preparedness and public health emergency
Read on
Executive Order Extends Immunity Provisions Until
November 9, 2020

On Tuesday, September 8, Governor Ned Lamont issued Executive Order 9A
This executive order (EO) renews and extends, until November 9, 2020, all of the unexpired EOs that were issued under the Governor’s March 10, 2020 COVID-19 Public Health and Civil Preparedness Emergency declaration. The EOs are in effect unless an order already has a specific expiration date, in which case the specific expiration date will remain in place. 

Executive Order 9A also extends, through November 9, 2020, all unexpired orders, rules, regulations, directives, or guidance issued by any official, agency, department, municipality, or entity pursuant to a COVID-19 EO, unless otherwise modified or terminated earlier. 

Of note to healthcare providers, Executive Order 9A extends the immunity provisions issued in EO 7U and EO 7V.
Two Additional CPT Codes Added in Response to COVID-19

The AMA published an update to the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT®) code set that includes two code additions for reporting medical services sparked by the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first addition, CPT code 99072, was approved in response to sweeping measures adopted by medical practices and health care organizations to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), while safely providing patients with access to high-quality care during in-person interactions with health care professionals.
The additional supplies and clinical staff time to perform safety protocols described by code 99072 allow for the provision of evaluation, treatment or procedural services during a public health emergency in a setting where extra precautions are taken to ensure the safety of patients as well as health care professionals.
The second addition, CPT code 86413, was approved in response to the development of laboratory tests that provide quantitative measurements of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, as opposed to a qualitative assessment (positive/negative) of SAR-CoV-2 antibodies provided by laboratory tests reported by other CPT codes. By measuring antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the tests reported by 86413 can investigate a person’s adaptive immune response to the virus and help access the effectiveness of treatments used against the infection. 
(9/9/HIT Consult)
OHS Releases 2019 Fiscal Report on Connecticut’s Hospitals
On Wednesday, September 9, the Office of Health Strategy (OHS) released its analysis of the fiscal health of Connecticut’s hospitals for federal fiscal year 2019. OHS releases the report on an annual basis and the report includes data on revenue, expenses, uncompensated care, and margins. As OHS noted in a press release accompanying the report, the analysis does not include the fiscal impact of COVID-19 on Connecticut’s hospital sector given the time frame of the report’s review.   

Among the highlights in the report:
  • 71% of Connecticut hospitals achieved a positive margin (including operating and non-operating gains)
  • Hospitals statewide earned a total margin of 5.15% in FY 2019, compared to 5.92% in 2018
  • Statewide hospital uncompensated care totaled $806 million in FY 2019, a 5.3% increase over 2018

The 2019 report can be found here.
Insurance Regulators Reduce Proposed Health Insurance Rates

Connecticut’s Insurance Department knocked down the average rate increase that health insurance companies wanted for customers purchasing plans in the individual and small group markets in 2021.

Proposed price increases for plans in the individual market were decreased from 6.29% to 0.01% and small group plans went from an average increase of 11.28% to 4.1%. The total amount of money 214,600 Connecticut consumers will save as a result is $96 million, according to Insurance Commissioner Andrew Mais. 
CT News Junkie
The Hartford County Medical Association
invites you to its first virtual annual meeting
that will be hosted online using ZOOM
228th Annual Meeting and Physician Award Ceremony
Thursday, October 22, 2020 at 6:00 PM

Save the date!
Additional information will be forthcoming
One in Three CT Residents is Anxious and/or Depressed

The good news is that the rate of Connecticut residents reporting symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder is down some since the end of April, according to a new CDC survey. The bad news is that it’s three times higher than this time last year. The week of April 23rd, when Connecticut was deep into the COVID pandemic, we were the third highest among states at 40.2%. But we are recovering, by the week of July 16, we were 46th (35.1%). 

With a deadly pandemic, rising unemployment, and social isolation this is not surprisingAlcohol and substance abuse are up in Connecticut. But there is help.
While the numbers are coming down, they are much higher than last year. Only national comparisons are available for this survey in 2019, but historically Connecticut residents rank better than most Americans on mental health metrics. In 2017, the CT Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) found that Connecticut residents were significantly less likely than other Americans to suffer from depressive disorders.
Another Special Session of the CT General Assembly is on the Horizon

As of now, a Special Session of the Connecticut General Assembly is tentatively being scheduled for the later part of September. Like everything since the end of regular session, the second special session is subject to change. Possible legislation for debate in this session include extensions of the Governor’s emergency powers, school construction grants, amendments to the police accountability bill, changes to the electric utility grid, and COVID relief. The precise scope and breadth of the upcoming session is still unclear, but it is anticipated the above bills will be discussed in some capacity.
Harassment-Free Training Deadline Rapidly Approaching

All Connecticut Employers, including medical practices, need to provide their employees with Harassment-Free training by October 1, 2020, to be in compliance with Connecticut’ Time’s Up Act! 

Free training is available from the CT Commission on Human Rights and opportunities. 
Connecticut Minimum Wage Increased September 1

As the result of a law championed last year that schedules gradual increases in the state’s minimum wage over the next several years – the minimum wage in Connecticut increased from the rate of $11.00 per hour to $12.00 beginning on Tuesday, September 1.

Signed by Governor Lamont on May 28, 2019, Public Act 19-4 requires the minimum wage to increase five times over a five year period, from the then-rate of $10.10 to:

  • $11.00 on October 1, 2019;
  • $12.00 on September 1, 2020;
  • $13.00 on August 1, 2021;
  • $14.00 on July 1 2020; and finally
  • $15.00 on June 1, 2023.

Ultimately, beginning January 1, 2024, that same law requires the minimum wage to become indexed to the employment cost index, which is calculated by the U.S. Department of Labor, and for the first time in Connecticut the rate will grow according to economic indicators.
CT DPH Warns of Scam

The Department of Public Health has been made aware of phone scammers targeting licensed health care professionals under the pretense of an investigation by the Department of Public Health in collaboration with DEA and FBI. The Department has learned that this scam is also happening in other states and is not unique to Connecticut.

It has been reported that the caller ID shows up as a Department of Public Health phone number (860-509-7603 or similar number with the same area code and prefix). The caller identifies themselves as an investigator from the Department working with the FBI and/or DEA, and says an arrest or criminal charges are pending. The callers often share publicly available information such as the licensee's NPI number or license number. The caller may request personal information including credit card numbers or social security numbers.

Although the Department of Public Health occasionally phones licensees regarding routine regulatory or license-related issues, the Department will never contact a licensee by phone demanding money or payment of any form or personalized information without conducting an official investigation.