COVID-19 Update June 16, 2020

Notes from Governor Cuomo’s Briefing:

Day 108 of COVID-19
Day 23 of civil unrest

– 1,538 total hospitalizations.
– 25 lives lost yesterday: 16 in hospitals, 9 in nursing homes.
– NY has performed over 3 million tests.
– The state conducted a 12,000 person random statewide sample to test
for antibodies.
– The state collected data from May 1st to June 13th.
– Overall, the amount of positive results increased from
12.3% (5/1) to 13.4% (6/13).
– Hospitals may now accept visitors at their discretion.
– Capital region will enter Phase III tomorrow.
– Gov stressed that a phased reopening is crucial to avoiding deaths
later on in 2020.

– Gov reiterated his plan to reform and reinvent NYS police.
– Communities must decide for themselves how to reform local
public safety.
– Gov wants legislation by April 1, 2021.


– On privacy concerns w/ contact tracing: Gov said that there are
disclaimers when people are tested.
– Gov reiterated that it is possible to be reinfected with COVID-19,
and there are still a lot of unknowns.
– Zucker: next year, the state will have a better idea of the
effects of COVID-19.
– Gov said local governments must decide if it is safe to reopen

– On visitations: Gov said nursing homes are still not allowed to
accept visitors.

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SBA Loans for Economic Disruption Due to COVID-19 Impact
To further meet the needs of U.S. small businesses and non-profits, the U.S. Small Business Administration reopened the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance program portal to all eligible applicants experiencing economic impacts due to COVID-19 today. “The SBA is strongly committed to working around the clock, providing dedicated emergency assistance to the small businesses and non-profits that are facing economic disruption due to the COVID-19 impact.  With the reopening of the EIDL assistance and EIDL Advance application portal to all new applicants, additional small businesses and non-profits will be able to receive these long-term, low interest loans and emergency grants – reducing the economic impacts for their businesses, employees and communities they support,” said SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza.

“Since EIDL assistance due to the pandemic first became available to small businesses located in every state and territory, SBA has worked to provide the greatest amount of emergency economic relief possible.  To meet the unprecedented need, the SBA has made numerous improvements to the application and loan closing process, including deploying new technology and automated tools.” Learn more.

Six State Medical Societies Urge Congress to Fight for Funding for Community Physician Practices in Next Stimulus Package
On behalf of the tens of thousands of physicians collectively represented by our associations, and the millions of patients we treat, we are urging that Congress continue to fight for needed funding in the next “stimulus” package to assist community physician practices to be able to keep their doors open for their patients.  Like many businesses, our physicians have faced a devastating impact on their practices as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

At stake is access to care for the patients we serve and the staff we employ. With patients having appropriately limited their trips out of the house including to their doctor’s offices along with all elective procedures being suspended for months, the impact has devastated practices and the hundreds of thousands of those physicians employed by community physician practice.

For example, a survey by the Medical Society of the State of NY found that: 79% of physicians had seen a reduction of more than 50% in the volume of patients visiting their practices; Nearly 3/4 had a greater than 50% drop in practice revenue; and 40% had to lay off or furlough at least 25% of their staff.  While the survey also demonstrated that the CARES Act enacted by Congress in March and supplemented in April helped to marginally offset some of these enormous deficits, it has been nowhere near enough to ensure the survival of many physician practices across the state.

We urge that you fight to ensure that the final package includes important protections, including a re-start of the Medicare Advance Payment Program and ensuring that grant funding is dedicated to community physician practices without size restrictions or employee thresholds. So far, community physicians have only received a microscopic portion of the billions in grant funding allocated by Congress in the CARES Act, which has mostly benefitted large health systems.  While our hospitals must be protected and strengthened, so too must our community physicians for whom our patients depend.

We also urge that the next stimulus bill include provisions to ensure that critically important expanded telehealth coverage rules are maintained – including required coverage by ERISA plans not subject to state regulation but also rejecting industry efforts to fulfill network adequacy requirements only through telehealth at the expense of in-person care.

We also urge that the market dominant health insurers who faced a significant drop in claim submissions ensure that their windfall profits are shared with their contracted physicians including through support for the huge increase in Personal Protective equipment (PPE) costs.  For example, Aetna recently announced that its claims submission had dropped by 30% during April at the height of the pandemic.

Moreover, it is critically important that any proposal to address surprise out of network medical bills are consistent with demonstrated successful laws such as New York’s groundbreaking solution, rather than one-sided solutions advanced by the market-dominant health insurance industry that could potentially adversely impact patient access to essential on-call specialty care in emergency departments across the State.  Now is not the time to disrupt our health care safety net.

Critically important as well is providing support for those physicians, residents and students who provided on the front lines who provided needed care to patients while putting their life and health at risk, including hazard pay and/or student loan relief.  Representative Maloney has advanced important legislation (HR 6720) that would achieve this goal.

To repeat, we are extremely concerned about the stability of our health care system given these enormous losses. The next package coming out of Congress must help to preserve our States’ health care infrastructure, including community physician practices.   This is not only essential for the hundreds of thousands of jobs we provide but most importantly to ensure we can continue to be able to treat our patients who continue to depend upon as begin to recover from this crisis.


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MSSNY Opposes Effort to Allow Discrimination Against Patients
“MSSNY opposes the Trump Administration’s final rule from the US Department of Health and Human Services that reverses a policy banning health care providers from discriminating against certain patients, including LGBTQ, women and others.

“As physicians, we believe that respect for all of our patients is our highest priority.  Our professional and moral obligation is to ensure healthcare for all Americans, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

“The Federal Government should never stand in the way of an individual’s ability to access health care.”

Statement Attributable to:
Bonnie Litvack, M.D.
President, Medical Society of the State of New York

CDC: Patients with Health Issues More Likely to Die
Patients with underlying health issues are 12 times more likely to die from COVID-19, according to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released June 15. The CDC examined data on more than 1.7 million COVID-19 cases and 103,700 related deaths reported by state and local health departments between Jan. 22 and May 30. Hospitalizations were six times higher for people with underlying health conditions, the most common being heart disease, diabetes and chronic lung disease.

Warning About Faulty Face Masks
The FDA and CDC have issued warnings about faulty face masks. Some masks tested by the FDA proved to filter out only 20-25% of particles instead of the 95% they are supposed to catch.

Please see the FDA’s warning letter to health care providers here. You can use this link to look up specific products by manufacturer on the CDC website here.

MSSNY has heard concerns from members about the high price and limited availability of N95 masks and that many suppliers are quoting 2-4-week delays on delivery of PPE.

Our leadership has spent an enormous amount of time looking for PPE that is certified to meet NIOSH and FDA standards and that can be purchased in reasonable quantities. KN-95s are not NIOSH approved. Many N-95 masks being sold are counterfeit so MSSNY is only recommending vetted sources.

MSSNY has also reached out to the highest levels of government to make them aware of the severity of the problem physicians are facing with regard to finding PPE and to ask for government involvement in sourcing safe, reasonably priced PPE to our NYS community physicians.

Please be safe!  Thank you for all you are doing.

Bonnie Litvack, MD
MSSNY President

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NY State of Health Informs Patients of Health Insurance Options in “Grim Times”
Trying to provide answers for your patients regarding health insurance options?  This is particularly important as many patients have found themselves out of work and have lost their job-based health insurance coverage.  The United Hospital Fund has put together a Q&A regarding coverage options in New York, including COBRA, Exchange plans, CHIP and Medicaid options.  Please click here to read and share their guide.”

Over 2.6 million people across the state have filed unemployment claims, and one study estimated that 1.4 million New Yorkers would lose their employer-sponsored coverage when this is all over. But if there is a bright spot in the current crisis, it is that it has never been easier to enroll in coverage, and there are more affordable options than ever before. United Hospital Fund is working to assist the NY State of Health Marketplace in reaching uninsured New Yorkers and helping them enroll in plans.

Attached and linked below for your attention is our recent publication, Grim Times and Health Insurance: Maintaining Coverage During the Pandemic. This consumer guide poses and answers common questions consumers are likely asking about their options for maintaining employer-based coverage or finding new coverage on the NY State of Health Marketplace. Available at our website in English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Russian, Bengali, and Creole versions, the guide provides details about relevant state and federal consumer protection laws, the enrollment process, and important resources.

Please join the NYS Department of Health Thursday, June 18th 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 and access code: 5161819

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MSSNY Helpline for Physicians Experiencing COVID-19 Related Stress 518-292-0140