COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit
This toolkit from IPHCA and IPHA was created to provide ongoing resources that address vaccine hesitancy, as well as provide resources to help build confidence in the COVID-19 Vaccine. The resources are broken into categories that target vulnerable populations.
View the Toolkit
Biden-Harris Administration Requires Insurance Companies, Group Health Plans to Cover Cost of At-Home COVID-19 Tests, Increasing Access to Free Tests
As part of its ongoing efforts across many channels to expand Americans’ access to free testing, the Biden-Harris Administration is requiring insurance companies and group health plans to cover the cost of over-the-counter, at-home COVID-19 tests, so people with private health coverage can get them for free starting January 15th. The new coverage requirement means that most consumers with private health coverage can go online or to a pharmacy or store, buy a test, and either get it paid for up front by their health plan, or get reimbursed for the cost by submitting a claim to their plan. Insurance companies and health plans are required to cover 8 free over-the-counter at-home tests per covered individual per month.
State Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) programs are currently required to cover FDA-authorized at-home COVID-19 tests without cost-sharing. Medicare pays for COVID-19 diagnostic tests performed by a laboratory. People enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan should check with their plan to see if their plan offers coverage and payment for at-home over-the-counter COVID-19 tests.
CDC Updates Quarantine Guidelines
Given what we currently know about COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, CDC is shortening the recommended time for isolation from 10 days for people with COVID-19 to 5 days, if asymptomatic, followed by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others. The change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after. Additionally, CDC is updating the recommended quarantine period for those exposed to COVID-19. For people who are unvaccinated or are more than six months out from their second mRNA dose (or more than 2 months after the J&J vaccine) and not yet boosted, CDC now recommends quarantine for 5 days followed by strict mask use for an additional 5 days. Read the full bulletin.
Pfizer Pill Becomes First Approved for COVID-19 Treatment
U.S. health regulators on Wednesday authorized the first pill against COVID-19, a Pfizer drug that Americans will be able to take at home to head off the worst effects of the virus. Molnupiravir, made by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, also became the second antiviral, at-home pill to be approved by the FDA.
Illinois Department of Public Health Adopts CDC Recommendations for School Outbreak Definition
IDPH is following recommendations from the CDC to adopt the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists’ (CSTE) guidance for PreK-12 school-associated outbreaks. Previously, CDC recommended that two cases associated with a school would constitute an outbreak. The new national recommendation that Illinois is adopting defines a school outbreak as either (1) multiple cases comprising at least 10% of students, teachers, or staff within a core group or (2) at least three cases within a specified core group. A core group means only those individuals who were together during an exposure period. For example, this could be limited to a classroom, a sports team, before/after school care, performing arts, or other groups and likely does not apply to the entire school population. Full Notice
Opportunities to Partner on Vaccination with State of Illinois Family and Community Resource Centers (FCRCs)
Leslie Cully with DHS would like to offer an opportunity to partner with each of the FCRC local offices (public aid offices) to host mobile or pop up vaccine events. This document has contact information for each office. Please note that the Woodlawn location is not presently staffed in-person and is not eligible for this opportunity at this time. If you are interested or need additional assistance, please reach out to Leslie Cully.
Vaccination Trials for Children Under 5 Years of Age
Pfizer said Monday that a clinical trial showed its COVID-19 vaccine was safe for children ages 5 to 11 and generated a “robust” antibody response, reports CNN. Pfizer’s CEO said September 14 that the company expects to release clinical trial data on how well its COVID-19 vaccine works in 6-month to 5-year-old children as early as the end of October, reports CNBC.
NACHC Vaccine Mandate FAQ
This spreadsheet is considered a living document and intended to be a resource to CHCs. It will be continuously updated as additional information on the federal vaccine mandate for healthcare workers becomes available. Please check back for new information.
Addressing Misinformation Around Treatments of COVID-19
From DHS 9/3 COVID-19 Ambassador Update: “As COVID-19 cases continue to be high throughout the country, many people are seeking different treatment options to reduce COVID-related symptoms. In some instances, people are taking medication that is not approved or received emergency use authorization for the treatment of COVID-19. People should avoid using Ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, interferons, and lopinavir-ritonavir to prevent severe illness caused by the virus. There is no scientific evidence on the efficacy of these medications, and they can be harmful if ingested. Everyone with a recent COVID-19 diagnosis should seek their provider for guidance in selecting the best treatment option for them. To see the list of FDA-approved or Emergency Use Authorization for COVID-19 therapeutic medication, visit FDA Know Your Treatment Options for COVID-19. Vaccines continue to be the best prevention tool for COVID-19.”
IDPH Launches Online ‘Vax Verify’ System
IDPH is launching a new immunization portal, Vax Verify, that will allow Illinois residents 18 years and older to check their COVID-19 vaccination record and more easily present proof of vaccination at businesses, events and organizations that require it, said IDPH Director, Dr. Ngozi Ezike. Read the press release.
FDA Updates COVID-19 Test Policies
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is taking several important actions to support ongoing nationwide COVID-19 testing efforts. These actions are aimed at further increasing access to accurate and reliable COVID-19 tests, particularly diagnostic tests that can be performed at home or in places like doctor’s offices, hospitals, urgent care centers, and emergency rooms without having to be sent to a central lab for testing. Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services withdrew a policy that directed FDA not to enforce premarket review requirements for laboratory developed tests (LDTs). This action will help ensure that COVID-19 tests are accurate and reliable. The FDA also updated its policies regarding tests, including LDTs, currently being offered prior to or without authorization, as well as policies regarding the types of tests on which the FDA intends to focus its review. Read more.
IDPH COVID-19 Testing Guidance (updated 10/20/2020)
IDPH COVID-19 Testing Site Locations How-To Guide
IDPH Online Supply Ordering and Updated Testing Information
Provider Relief Fund Reporting Portal Now Open
From HRSA: “The Provider Relief Fund (PRF) Reporting Portal is now open for providers who need to report on the use of funds in Reporting Period 1. HRSA is committed to supporting the providers who have received PRF payments in completing their reporting requirements successfully.
In addition, there are resources specifically for providers:
HRSA will host a recorded webcast on July 8, 2021 at 3:00 p.m. (Eastern) to provide technical assistance on reporting requirements for PRF recipients and interested stakeholders. Interested parties can register to attend here.”
HRSA COVID-19 Reimbursements for Treating the Uninsured
The Uninsured Program has stopped accepting claims for testing and treatment due to lack of sufficient funds. Confirmation of receipt of your claim submission does not mean the claim will be paid. No claims submitted after March 22, 2022 at 11:59 pm ET for testing or treatment will be processed for adjudication/payment. Read more
Sample Telehealth Consent Form and Guidance Available from AHRQ
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has released guidance and sample forms for obtaining patient consent during telehealth visits. Healthcare providers can now access a sample telehealth consent form along with guidance on how to obtain consent for telehealth and why consent forms should be easy to understand. AHRQ notes that easy-to-understand consent forms should be used even when providers are obtaining consent from the patient verbally.
Teledentistry Billing for HFS
HFS released a provider notice clarifying the COVID-19 dental services eligible for reimbursement and the billing processes. During the COVID response reimbursement is allowed for dental evaluations that occur virtually through a combination of audio and video means. To be eligible for reimbursement of teledentistry services:
- A communication system where information exchanged between the dental provider and the patient during the course of the synchronous telehealth service is of an amount and nature that would be sufficient to meet the key components and requirements of the same service when rendered via face-to-face interaction.
Payment made by HFS for allowable encounter services will be made at the all-inclusive rate established by HFS for each encounter. HFS will allow billing an encounter rate with new or existing patients as long as the encounter is of a nature that would be sufficient to meet the key components of a face-to-face encounter. A face-to-face dental encounter is defined as face-to-face visit with a dentist or dental hygienist.
The encounter clinic must add D0999 to the first line of the claim with Place of Service of 02. See the provider notice for additional details.
HFS Virtual Billing Code Updates
HFS updated the virtual billing code listing December 29, 2021.
Biden Announces At-Home Testing Initiative, New Testing Sites during Recent Speech
During his speech, Biden announced the purchase of a half-billion at-home rapid COVID-19 tests, one of a series of new steps he unveiled as the country faces a potentially crippling wintertime surge of infections. The 500 million new tests will be made available next month and will reach Americans through the mail, according to the White House. The administration is still working to determine how many tests each household may request. Senior administration officials were unable to provide any new details about exactly when the website to request the tests will launch and how quickly tests will be shipped out. Psaki said Tuesday that the expectation is that the website will be able to sustain a surge of incoming web traffic. The federal government also plans to set up new testing sites nationwide in addition to the 20,000 already operational, with the first one opening in New York City before Christmas, an official said.
Governor Pritzker Announces Increased Community Testing and Surge Staffing
In delivering his first COVID-19 update since the omicron variant was first detected in Illinois, Governor J.B. Pritzker on December 27 said the state is taking new measures to address surging cases and hospitalizations and a heightened demand for testing after the Christmas holiday and ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations. Pritzker announced that the state will soon increase access to both testing and booster shots in an effort to combat the increased spread across the state, as well as providing staffing assistance to hospitals in need.
NEW Round 2 of Rental Assistance Now Available
A new round of the Illinois Rental Payment Program is now available. IDHS created a state-funded network of 16 non-profit organizations providing free legal aid, mediation services and connections to other resources – including rental assistance – to increase housing stability. Mediation is an opportunity for landlords and tenants to resolve issues with the help of a knowledgeable and neutral party. Learn more here or for assistance, call (855) 631-0811.
Biden-Harris Administration Begins Distributing American Rescue Plan Rural Funding to Support Providers Impacted by Pandemic
Last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), began distributing $7.5 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) Rural payments to providers and suppliers who serve rural Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Medicare beneficiaries. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to providing much-needed relief to rural providers who historically operate on thin margins and have had their financial challenges further exacerbated during the pandemic. The average payment being announced today is approximately $170,700, with payments ranging from $500 to approximately $43 million. More than 40,000 providers in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and six territories will receive ARP Rural payments.
Illinois providers serving rural Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program and Medicare beneficiaries will receive $245.9 million this month from the federal government.
American Rescue Plan Act Funding to Health Centers Announced
Last week, the White House announced plans for HHS, through HRSA, to invest more than $6 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act into HRSA-funded health centers nationwide. Read last week’s bulletin for more information about this historic investment. Visit the H8F technical assistance (TA) page for the award submission guidance, information about upcoming question and answer sessions for recipients, and more.
Chicago COVID-19 Resource Page for FQHCs
The City of Chicago has compiled COVID-19 resources for FQHCs on a single webpage here. While these resources and information are not new, they are now more conveniently located in one place.
HFS Issues FAQ on Protections Against Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity
Following the Trump Administration’s recent repeal of anti-discrimination health care protections, Governor Pritzker’s Administration is re-iterating protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity codified in state law. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) has issued this notice as a reminder that per the Illinois Human Rights Act medical providers are required to provide health care services and supplies to individuals regardless of sexual orientation, actual or perceived, or gender identity.
How to Talk about COVID-19 Vaccines with Friends and Family
For tips on how to talk to vaccine hesitant loved ones, check out this CDC webpage.
Latest Illinois COVID-19 Ambassador Program Resources
All in Illinois: Vaccine social media toolkit with content in both English and Spanish available here.
Facts About COVID-19 Vaccines: Vaccines are one of the tools we have to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccines work with your body’s natural defenses so your body will be ready to fight the virus. A printable 2-page document is available here in English and other languages including Arabic, Spanish, Korean, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Tagalog, Traditional Chinese, and Vietnamese.
CDC Patient Education Updates
For the latest CDC updates regarding Patient Education, click here.
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
IDPH Releases Guidance on the Use of Masks by the General Public
Shriver Center COVID-19 Resources for Individuals and Families
IDPH COVID-19 Social Distancing graphic
City of Chicago Launches New Mental Health Resource, Support Website
On August 31, City of Chicago announced the launch of a new website with mental health resources and support. As demand for mental health supports continues to increase amid the ongoing stresses of the pandemic, see this new resource.
SAMHSA Updated Training and TA Guide
Updated August 16, 2021 Learn More