COVID-19 Update May 19, 2020


MSSNY is now able to provide members with access to a PPE supply chain, in a collaborative effort with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Items available range from N95 masks and face shields to hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes. New items are consistently being added and restocked.  Shipment times may vary from several days to several weeks. Some orders may be fulfilled by outside vendors with longer shipping times.

MSSNY members have been sent details on linking to the ASPS, where they can see available supplies and create an account to purchase items.  If you are not currently a MSSNY member you can renew for 2020 or apply online here.

MSSNY is proud to offer this benefit to our members and grateful to ASPS for extending this opportunity to help medical practices and patients in our state resume practice swiftly and safely.

Physicians: Join NYSDOH for COVID-19 Update 1-2 PM

Please join the NYS Department of Health Thursday May 21st at 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM for a COVID-19 update for healthcare providers.

To accommodate the large number of participants, find our webinar streaming via YouTube Live (and available for viewing immediately thereafter) on the NYSDOH COVID website for providers: 

For audio only, please dial in: 844-512-2950

Guidance for Office Based Surgery Practices
This Guidance is directed at Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASC) Office Based Surgery practices (OBS), and Diagnostic and Treatment Centers (DTC) that are in counties without a significant risk of COVID-19 surge and are deemed eligible to perform Deferred Procedures, (i.e., elective surgeries and non-urgent procedures).

These centers and practices are required to meet the same provisions required of hospitals in these eligible counties that are also resuming deferred procedures.

Any ASC, OBS, or DTC that fails to comply with this Guidance may be subject to civil penalties. The guidance from the NYS Department of Health regarding the resumption of elective surgery in the 49 counties across the State where such surgery has been permitted, including in ASCs and OBS.

Moderna Releases Positive Data on Early COVID-19 Vaccine Trial
Moderna reported May 18 that its COVID-19 vaccine, the first of its kind to test human subjects, safely creates an immune response against coronavirus, according to The New York Times. The vaccine stimulates the creation of antibodies that can stop coronavirus from replicating, and the levels of those neutralizing antibodies were found to match the levels in recovered COVID-19 patients. The biotech company’s findings are based on results from the first trial beginning in March, in which eight volunteers each received two doses.

The Food and Drug Administration approved Moderna’s second phase of the trial, which will begin soon and involve 600 people. A third phase is planned for July and is slated to include thousands of volunteers. Depending on the success of the coming trials, the vaccine could become available for widespread use by the year’s end or early 2021. (Becker’s Hospital Review) May 18.

US Reopening Doesn’t Hinge on Coronavirus Vaccine, HHS Chief Says
Echoing President Donald Trump’s recent comments that the U.S. will reopen whether a COVID-19 vaccine is available or not, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said “everything does not depend on a vaccine,” according to CNN.

Mr. Azar said that while the White House is committed to delivering a vaccine, it is only one part of a “multi-factorial response program,” during a CNN interview.

Other parts of the plan include testing symptomatic people, broader surveillance of cases, containing surges and therapeutics, Mr. Azar said.

On May 15, President Trump and HHS unveiled a vaccine effort called Operation Warp Speed, a program designed to drastically reduce the time it takes to get a COVID-19 vaccine to U.S. residents. The program is a collaboration between HHS, the U.S. Defense Department, private firms, and other federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Energy Department, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Read HHS’ full news release here.(Becker’s Hospital Review Leadership & Management May 18)

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Trump Inks Deal to Create Nation’s First Strategic Stockpile of COVID-19 Drugs
President Donald Trump signed a four-year $345 million contract with Richmond, Va.-based drugmaker Phlow Corp. May 19 to create a national COVID-19 medication stockpile, according to The New York Times. The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority awarded Phlow with the contract to manufacture the raw pharmaceutical ingredients needed to make popular generics and drugs that treat COVID-19, most of which are now produced in India and China.

The contract “will not only help bring our essential medicines home but actually do so in a way that is cost competitive with the sweatshops and pollution havens of the world,” said Peter Navarro, Mr. Trump’s trade advisor. Phlow has partnered with nonprofit drugmaker Civica Rx to produce the stockpile. They will first focus on manufacturing critical care medicine for COVID-19 patients, such as antibiotics and medicines used for ventilator support and pain, according to Eric Edwards, MD, PhD, CEO, and president of Phlow. (May 19, Becker’s Hospital Review)

AMA Answers Questions re CARES Act Provider Relief Fund
The AMA has received many questions from physicians and medical societies related to the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund, and we have been in touch with senior HHS officials about them. Certain formulas that were previously on the HHS website led some physicians to believe they may have received more money from this fund than they were supposed to, and they were worried that it will be recouped by HHS. Because the AMA informed the administration of the concerns and alarm the previous formulas and language about overpayments were causing many physicians, HHS removed it from the website.

HHS was concerned that many physicians were using the formulas to calculate for themselves what they thought HHS intended for them to receive from the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund, and then deciding on the basis of their own calculations that they were going to be in trouble. HHS has asked for people to provide documentation of certain revenue information so that it can make the calculations specific to each TIN (Taxpayer Identification Number).

HHS removed the formula and overpayments language from the portal last week to allay concerns from physicians who had done their own estimates and reached conclusions about potential overpayments instead of relying on HHS to do the calculations. Unfortunately, in some cases these changes with formulas appearing and disappearing from the website heightened rather than allayed concerns. On Friday, May 15th, HHS posted revised FAQs on the Provider Relief Fund General Distribution Portal.

Several of the FAQs are dated May 14th, and seek to clarify some of the recent confusion, particularly these two questions: 

How Did HHS Determine the Additional Payments Under the General Distribution?

HHS is distributing an additional $20 billion of the General Distribution to providers to augment their initial allocation so that $50 billion is allocated proportional to providers’ share of 2018 net patient revenue. The allocation methodology is designed to provide relief to providers, who bill Medicare fee-for-service, with at least 2% of that provider’s net patient revenue regardless of the provider’s payer mix.

Payments are determined based on the lesser of 2% of a provider’s 2018 (or most recent complete tax year) net patient revenue or the sum of incurred losses for March and April. If the initial General Distribution payment you received between April 10 and April 17 was determined to be at least 2% of your annual patient revenue, you will not receive additional General Distribution payments. 

How Can I Estimate 2% Of Patient Revenue to Determine My Approximate General Distribution Payment? (Added 5/14/2020)

In general, providers can estimate payments from the General Distribution of approximately 2% of 2018 (or most recent complete tax year) patient revenue. To estimate your payment, use this equation:

  • (Individual Provider Revenues/$2.5 Trillion) X $50 Billion = Expected Combined General Distribution.
  • To estimate your payment, you may need to use “Gross Receipts or Sales” or “Program Service Revenue.” Providers should work with a tax professional for accurate submission.

This includes any payments under the first $30 billion general distribution as well as under the $20 billion general distribution allocations. Providers may not receive a second distribution payment if the provider received a first distribution payment of equal to or more than 2% of patient revenue.

Additional information that has recently been added notes that HHS is making a list publicly available of the providers who have received and accepted money from the Provider Relief Fund here.

Other questions have arisen regarding what HHS views as the appropriate use of the CARES Act funds. We have not seen additional guidance beyond that provided on the website and we think it would be difficult for HHS to craft language in a way that would be relevant to each practice’s individual needs.

We believe that the key thing is that each practice is able to clearly document the revenue losses and expenses it is incurring that are directly due to COVID-19, which could include losses related to social distancing (such as cancellation of visits and procedures, Part B drugs that have passed their expiration date), costs of new infection control practices, PPE, digital health equipment, etc., and that are not reimbursable from other sources (excluding loans that have to be repaid).

Registration Now Open for Veterans Matters CME Webinar PTSD in Returning
Veterans on June 3, 2020 @ 8:30 am

The Medical Society of the State of New York, along with Cobleskill Regional Hospital are hosting a CME live webinar entitled Veterans Matters: PTSD in Returning Veterans on Wednesday, June 3, 2020.

Click here to register for the webinar

Adolph Meyer, MD will serve as faculty for this program and the educational objectives are:

  • Identify diagnostic criteria for PTSD
  • Discuss medical and psychiatric comorbidities of military related PTSD
  • Discuss evidence based treatment modalities for PTSD including medications and psychotherapy
  • Discuss strategies to help veterans overcome stigma to seek and accept treatment for military related trauma

For more information, contact Jangmu Sherpa at  or call (518) 465-8085.

The Medical Society of the State of New York is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians 

The Medical Society of the State of New York designates each of these live activities for a maximum of 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 credits™.  Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

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COVID-19 Map – Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center