News & Events

Seven CCO’s respond to COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

March 16, 2020


This advisory represents combined efforts of all seven Care Coordination Organizations in New York State and our continued hard work with the New York state government, the Department of Health and OPWDD in planning and coordinating our efforts responding to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency and to keep our members and workforce safe.

We will pass along all updates as soon as they are available.

– Lewis Grossman, CEO, Advanced Care Alliance NY

As you are aware, there is guidance and recommendations from various sources regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Public Health Emergency that the nation, and particularly New York state is faced with. Specific guidance that has been reviewed and taken into consideration is from WHO, CDC, DOH, and local and state offices. At this time, specific reference is given to:

  1. CDC website on March 10, 2020 indicated that the severity of the outbreak may result in public health officials recommending community actions to reduce people’s risk of being exposed to COVID-19. These actions can slow the spread and reduce the impact of the disease. Additional guidance from CDC states:
    • If COVID-19 is spreading in your community, take extra measures to put distance between yourself and other people to further reduce your risk of being exposed to this new virus. Stay home as much as possible.
    • Community preparedness planning for COVID-19 should include older adults and people with disabilities, and the organizations that support them in their communities, to ensure their needs are taken into consideration. Many of these individuals live in the community, and many depend on services and supports provided in their homes or in the community to maintain their health and independence. Long-term care facilities should be vigilant to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19.
  2. The Department of Health recommends several precautions as well, most recently posted on March 11, 2020 indicating that telecommuting should be considered.
  3. On March 8, Mayor Bill De Blasio issued guidance regarding COVID-19 and urged employers to assist in efforts to reduce overcrowding by considering telecommuting.
  4. OPWDD has sent guidance this week regarding visitors to residential and nonresidential facilities certified or operated by OPWDD in response to the COVID-19 outbreak
  5. On March 11, 2020, WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic and urged affected countries to implement a strategic combination of both containment and mitigation measures. Mitigation involves community-level steps like social distancing.
  6. On March 11, 2020 Governor Cuomo publicly requested that businesses “reduce density” by allowing employees to telecommute and work staggered shifts in order to help reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.
  7. All SUNY and CUNY colleges and universities (along with some private universities) are following the recommended guidance of social distancing by utilizing on-line and other technology platforms to continue education. There are also school districts that are closing due to this outbreak.
  8. On March 13, 2020 The CDC has recommended 30 days of mitigation strategies in Westchester County based on current situation with widespread COVD-19 transmission and affected health care facilities. Given the widespread community transmission, substantial interventions at the community level should be implemented at this time, based on the urgency of protecting the health care system with expected rise in cases by slowing the spread within the community. The guidance specifies that within assisted living facilities and adult day programs that visitor access should be suspended and arrange for alternative means for family members to communicate such as staff assistance with phone calls or videoconferences. In addition, social distancing should be implemented within community organizations and workplaces including canceling gatherings of more than 10 people.

Employees and individuals supported by the CCO/HH are living and working within impacted areas of the COVID-19 outbreak. As of this writing, there are both state operated and voluntary providers across the state that have put into place quarantines and/or additional protocols putting social distancing practices into place by restricting visitors, including Care Managers, to their programs to reduce exposure and continued spread of this virus, as recommended and encouraged by health and governmental offices. This same social distancing practice and visitor restrictions are in place at many hospitals, rehab facilities, nursing homes, and other similar institutions. In addition, there are individuals and families that we support that are requesting no in-person face-to-face contact from Care Managers due to COVID-19. This directly impacts the Care Manager’s ability to provide service delivery under normal operating procedures and regulations, particularly around face-to-face requirements with assessments, Life Plans, monthly and quarterly visits, and other face-to-face supports.

February 2019’s NYS Medicaid Update for telehealth NYS Medicaid outlines guidance for covered telehealth for remote patient monitoring and Medicaid covered services provided via telehealth to include assessment and care management of a Medicaid member.

The Executive Order Number 202, declaring a state disaster emergency for the entire state of New York gives reference to suspension and modification of laws and regulations during a state disaster emergency. Specifically, it references regulations from oversight entities including DOH and OPWDD to the extent necessary to allow additional telehealth provider categories and modalities, to permit other types of practitioners to deliver services within their scopes of practice and to authorize the use of certain technologies for the delivery of health care services to established patients.

Based on directive and guidance as stated above and the fact that this is a state-wide pandemic and Public Health Emergency, the CCO/HHs will be implementing the alternative operating and service delivery strategies consistent with WHO, CDC, DOH and NYS guidance and with the primary goal of the health of the workforce, members, and families ultimately assisting the overall communities and state during this Public Health Pandemic.


Alternative Strategies, effective March 13, 2020:

  1. The majority of employees will be working via tele-commute and will not report to their official work site. It is expected that members will continue to receive quality service delivery. Employees are expected to meet their responsibilities to our members and all expectations of their position.
  2. All in-person meetings and visits relating to assessments, life plans, monthly/quarterly visits, and other face-to-face contact will be conducted via a secure video-conferencing or teleconferencing method to satisfy the regulatory and billing requirements.
  3. Exceptions will be made to individuals supported when there is an emergency situation requiring the direct support and presence of a Care Manager.
  4. CCOs are currently working on identifying and prioritizing high risk individuals and additional strategies may be put into place, as needed, to ensure they are receiving increased monitoring and any other supports they may need.
  5. Care Design NY has had initial communication with the Willowbrook Consumer Advisory Board regarding alternative strategies for Class Members during this time and will includes increased contact (through non in-person means outlined above) with Willowbrook Class Members and/or caregivers. Other CCOs have or will be engaging in communication with Willowbrook Consumer Advisory Board.
  6. Other operational meetings, trainings, supervision with CCO/HH staff will be conducted through secure video/telephone conferencing.
  7. CCO/HH Leadership will continue to work with providers and local and state offices.

The above strategies will be in effect until further notice. CCO/HH leadership will continue to monitor and adhere to recommended actions that become available during the coming weeks and determine if strategies should be continued or modified. The commitment to our missions and the health and safety of over 100,000 individuals/families we collectively support, including our workforce, providers and the communities is our paramount concern and responsibility.

Sincerely,

Lewis Grossman, CEO, Advanced Care Alliance NY
Jim Moran, CEO, Care Design NY
Nick Cappoletti, CEO, LIFEPlan CCO NY
Bridget Bartolone, President & CEO, Person Centered Services
Meghann Andrews-Whitaker, Executive Director, Southern Tier Connect
Yoel Bernath, CEO, Tri-County Care

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