MSSNY eNews: December 4, 2020 – NYSDOH COVID-19 Vaccination Program Enrollment


Vaccines: The Talk of the Water Cooler


The COVID-19 Vaccine has been the talk of the virtual water cooler over the past couple of weeks.  With rising COVID-19 positivity rates, rising hospitalizations and rising numbers of deaths, the vaccine news has been a welcome bright spot.

The NYS Department of Health (NYSDOH) is now enrolling healthcare provider practices (outside of NYC’s five boroughs) in the NYSDOH COVID-19 Program. Click on this link (or in the box below) to enroll in the Program.

The Governor announced on Wednesday that by the middle of the month, Pfizer will be sending enough vaccine doses to NYS to immunize 170,000 people and shortly after that, the State will receive an additional shipment of vaccine from Moderna.  The first to be immunized will be frontline healthcare workers and the most at risk residents of long-term care facilities.   With ICUs filling up quickly and rising numbers of positive patients, this plan safeguards our healthcare workforce and in doing so helps to ensure access to care as the virus surges.  This plan at the same time also protects the safety of those most at risk for severe disease/death.

The results of our recent MSSNY vaccine survey indicate that our community and hospital–based physicians are prepared to receive the vaccine and in doing so, send a strong message to patients that being immunized is the best protection possible.

Nearly 80% of physician respondents reported that they plan to become immunized with the COVID-19 vaccine.  Physicians in our survey recognized that there will be hurdles to overcome in order to accomplish our goal of widespread vaccination, but our physicians plan to build on patient trust and use self-modeling and education tools to combat vaccine hesitancy.

NYS COVID BoxHerd immunity through vaccination is our safest and fastest way out the COVID-19 crisis.  Our vaccine survey shows that our physician members stand ready and able to begin the process of immunizing the New Yorkers.  As the COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available, our MSSNY and the New York State’s vaccine task force are committed to ensuring that the vaccines are widely disseminated to all people in a fair and equitable manner.

Bonnie Litvack, MD
MSSNY President

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NYSDOH COVID-19 Vaccination Program Enrollment
The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) is now enrolling healthcare provider practices (outside of New York City’s five boroughs) in the NYSDOH COVID-19 Vaccination Program. 

Practices (outside NYC) interested in administering COVID-19 vaccine when the vaccine becomes available to their group must enroll in the NYSDOH program to be ready to order and receive publicly supplied COVID-19 vaccine and ancillary supplies. 

Please review the following documentation and complete the online COVID-19 vaccine enrollment application located in the Health Commerce System by Friday, December 18, 2020. 

Send questions regarding the NYSDOH enrollment process to:

Note: The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYCDOHMH) has a separate process for enrolling providers located within NYC.   NYC providers should email enrollment questions here.

Seven State Medical Societies including MSSNY Press Congress to Prevent Steep Medicare Cuts, Enact COVID-19 Relief
MSSNY joined with six other northeastern medical societies this week in a joint letter to our respective Congressional delegations urging immediate action to prevent steep Medicare cuts and an expansion of COVID-19 relief financial lifeline programs such as the CARES Act provider pool and the Medicare Advance Payment Program.

This week, CMS announced it was implementing a drastic, over 10% decrease to the 2021 conversion factor that determines all Medicare payment rates. While the 2021 Medicare payment rule would also provide long overdue increases in payments for Evaluation and Management (E/M) codes, because of budget neutrality requirements, CMS is bound to make cuts to offset these increases. 

MSSNY has for weeks been urging physicians to send a letter to Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, and their respective US Representatives, to urge Congress to pass legislation to permit these E/M increases to go forward, but to prevent the corresponding deep cuts that will accrue to several specialties (You can send a letter here).  Several members of New York’s Congressional delegation have signed letters to House and Senate leadership urging action to prevent these cuts.

As Congress is seeking to finalize a continuing Budget resolution by December 11, there have been extensive discussions about including funding to prevent these Medicare cuts, as well as a new COVID-19 relief package that could include further additions to the CARES Act provider pool, and funding to state governments to help prevent steep cuts to state programs such as Medicaid.  MSSNY’s joint letter with the state medical societies of Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Ohio, urges Congressional action in these areas, as well as urging that any proposal to address surprise medical bills is fairly balanced and consistent with demonstrated successful laws, such as New York’s, rather than one-sided solutions advanced by the market-dominant health insurance industry.

The letter notes that Congressional acts to prevent these Medicare cuts and to adopt a further COVID-19 relief package “is particularly important as we are managing a second surge in COVID-19 cases and many practices have yet to fully recover from the historic drops in patient visits this past spring. Without this assistance, patients in our states may find increasing difficulties in accessing care from their physicians due to practice closures and staffing shortages that could cause physicians to have to limit the patients they can treat.” 


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NYS DFS: Health Plans Required to Cover Medically Necessary COVID Testing
From the NYS Department of Financial Services: Health plans are required to cover medically necessary COVID-19 testing with no cost share.  If the patient was exposed and/or experiencing symptoms and their PCP prescribed the test, it should be covered.  Non-diagnostic tests that are required for employment purposes or other similar scenarios do not have to be covered.  If this falls within the applicable parameters, persons should file a complaint with DFS and they will look into this.

For free COVID testing, individuals should find a NYS-run testing site near them.  Please use the following link.

MSSNY in the News

Spectrum News Albany – 12/01/20
Vast Majority of NY Doctors to Take COVID Vaccine
(MSSNY President Dr. Bonnie Litvack quoted) 

WNET Albany (ABC affiliate) -12/01/20
Governor Cuomo outlines challenges with vaccine distribution
(MSSNY President Dr. Bonnie Litvack quoted) 
Also ran in; Rochester First; LocalSYR 

Crain’s Health Pulse – 12/02/20
Physician Vaccination
(MSSNY Mentioned)  

Politico – 12/03/20
New York City to receive 500,000 Covid-19 doses but faces the battle of buy-in
(MSSNY Mentioned)

News 12 Long Island – 12/03/20
Nassau Executive Curran describes COVID-19 vaccine distribution as ‘military-style campaign’
(MSSNY President Dr. Bonnie Litvack quoted)

Spectrum News Albany – 12/03/20
What Role Will Doctors Play in Vaccine Distribution?
(MSSNY President Dr. Bonnie Litvack quoted) 

CNY Central – 12/03/20
Doctors say COVID-19 vaccine is worth it, despite possible side-effects
(MSSNY President Dr. Bonnie Litvack interviewed) 

Steps to Physician Wellness and Resiliency 
A recent physician suicide in New York State has again led us to contemplate how stressed physicians, residents, and students are in performing their duties–especially during the second wave of COVID-19. 

The Medical Society of the State of New York will present an educational webinar entitled, “Steps to Physician Wellness and Resiliency” in December. Presented by Frank Dowling, MD, the webinar will be held on December 10th from 7:30-8:30am. The program will focus on aspects of physician wellness and discusses depression, suicide, anxiety, and substance use warning signs and to know when to ask for professional assistance.

Register by clicking here.  

The educational objectives are:

  • Review the warning signs that stress, depression, anxiety or substance use may impact work or personal life 
  • Identify strategies to increase personal empowerment toward making positive change, including self-assessment tools 
  • Recognize self-monitoring strategies for stress related problems and know when to seek professional assistance 

Please click here to view the flyer for this program.

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 this live activity 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.

Any questions please reach out to Cayla Lauder at or Melissa Hoffman at

Department of Health Survey on Telehealth During COVID-19 State of Emergency
The New York State (NYS) Department of Health (The Department) is conducting a survey of All Health Care Providers to gain knowledge of providers’ experiences using telehealth during the COVID-19 State of Emergency. The Department will use the results of this survey to inform post-pandemic telehealth policy development. 

The information gathered from this survey will be shared with, and help inform the work of, the Reimagine New York Commission. More information on the Reimagine New York Commission can be found here.

The survey should take approximately 20 minutes to complete and can be found at the following link. All clinicians are encouraged to respond; however, please limit to one survey response per individual clinician. The Department is interested in gathering perspectives from clinicians from the same organization, especially if they have different perspectives. Please submit your survey responses as soon as possible; the survey will close on December 15th

With the rapid transition to telehealth during the State of Emergency, providers may have received surveys from multiple state agencies. Surveys administered over the summer by the Department’s Office of Quality and Patient Safety (OQPS) had a focus on provider well-being and the Office of Mental Health (OMH) survey had a focus on consumer experience with behavioral health services. For providers who are exclusively an OMH-licensed provider and who previously participated in the comprehensive OMH survey, we welcome your responses but understand if you do not have the resources to complete another survey at this time.

Below are COVID-19 telehealth guidance resources issued by New York State and referenced in the survey:

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COVID-19 From a Physician-Patient Perspective
Registration Now Open 

December 16, 2020 @ 7:30am Medical Matters CME Webinar 

COVID-19 from a Physician-Patient Perspective

Learn more about the COVID-19 pandemic from the perspective of physicians who have had COVID-19.  Register now for: “COVID-19 from a Physician-Patient Perspectiveon Wednesday, December 16, 2020 at 7:30 a.m.  Lorraine Giordano, vice chair of MSSNY Committee on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster/Terrorism Response and Parag Mehta, MD, MSSNY Vice President will serve as faculty for this program. Registration is now open for this webinar here.  

Educational objectives are: 

  • Describe COVID-19 from the perspective of both patient and physician
  • Examine insights gained from experiencing SARS CoV-2 firsthand
  • Identify chronic and acute symptoms that are prominent as a result of experiencing COVID-19 as a patient

Additional information or assistance with registration may be obtained by contacting Melissa Hoffman at

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 this live activity 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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