April 10 (afternoon) Pennsylvania COVID-19 Update

CIVIL IMMUNITY:
PA-ACP is seeking limited liability for health care practitioners from civil lawsuits for actions taken for patients during the COVID-19 crisis.  The Chapter has advised legislative leadership and the Wolf Administration that this action is critical to allow those fighting this pandemic to succeed.  While the federal PREP act and proposed state amendments look cover manufacturers of PPE, ventilators and equipment, they have not covered providers.  
 
Look for additional information on the website here as this issue develops.
 
Governor announces Hospital Emergency Loan Program (HELP)
The combination of increased costs and loss of revenue has hurt PA hospitals.  On Friday, Governor Wolf proposed a $450 million Hospital Emergency Loan Program a low interest loan program to help hospitals losing money in the COVID19 pandemic get the PPE and equipment that is essential without facing financial ruin.  It will allow us to fully mobilize our health system now, to continue to care for all hospitalized patients and keep our frontline medical staff safer, from the doctors and nurses to the maintenance and cleaning staff. 
 
DETAILS OF THE PLAN HAVE NOT YET BEEN RELEASED
 
PA COVID-19 DATA UPDATE
On Friday, the Department of Health reported that Pennsylvania had found another 1,751 new positive cases in the previous 24 hours, for a total of 19,979 in all 67 counties. The death total rose to 416, with 78 on Thursday, all in adult patients. There were 93,040 negative tests in PA as of midnight Wednesday night.

The Secretary noted that of the positive cases, 955 cases have been health care workers (a 12.4 percent increase of 105 cases – over Thursday’s totals), and another 1,209 of the positive cases facilities (a 27.3-percent increase over Thursday’s reported total) are in 181 of the state’s licensed long-term care (up from the 168 facilities reported on Thursday).

Percentages of those testing positive did not change significantly from Friday afternoon.  Approximately 2,069 patients are currently hospitalized. At this time, 609 are using ventilators or ECMO.

As of noon, 45% of beds, 38% of ICU beds are available, and 1444 of 5036 are in use (nearly 70% of ventilators are still available.) 

Of the patients who tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows: less than 1% are aged 0-4; less than 1% are aged 5-12; 1% are aged 13-18; 7% are aged 19-24; 41% are aged 25-49; 29% are aged 50-64; and 21% are aged 65 or older. 

51% of the patients hospitalized are aged 65 or older, and 28% are aged 50-64.  19% are ages 25-49.  Most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date.

To date, PA has supplied 1.8 million N-95 masks,  136,000 gowns 912,000 hospital masks 730,000 pairs of gloves, 990 goggles and 147,000 face shields to hospitals, senior facilities and emergency services workers.
 
General Assembly in Recess
The House and Senate have recessed at the 12 hour calls of their presiding officers.  No legislation impacting the state’s COVID-19 response passed both chambers this week, although each passed legislation that was sent to the other.  The House had been scheduled to return next Tuesday, April 14, but it appears they will not be in session based on discussions Friday morning.  The Senate was not slated to return until May 4.

Highmark advancing $30 million to primary care physicians
Highmark this week is advancing more than $30 million in payments to primary care physicians through its True Performance reimbursement program.  The insurer began reimbursing primary care physicians through its True Performance reimbursement program, an initiative that rewards providers for meeting specific quality measures and for focusing on prevention and wellness for Highmark members.

Reimbursements through the program were originally planned for June, but Highmark said it would expedite the payments to aid physician practices affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

​The advanced payments are expected to reach 1,700 practices in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Delaware.
 
First round of CARES Act Funding Coming Next Week
US Sen. Pat Toomey said Friday that Pennsylvania’s hospitals and healthcare providers will receive $1.25 billion in the $30 billion first wave of assistance under the CARES Act.  The Act authorized $100 billion in spending on what’s known as the Providers Relief Fund. The first $30 billion in that assistance is being delivered this week. The first wave of funding will benefit 12,661 Pennsylvania health care providers, according to Toomey’s office.