I want to thank everyone who has reached out to my office with questions during this time. We are here to be a resource to you, and hearing your priorities and concerns helps us to better serve you. 

Here is a round-up of the top health care related questions we've received. Please continue to keep in touch on this and other topics, and we will do our best to find answers to your questions.

To receive email updates, sign up for my e-newsletter here.

Healthcare

  • The Idaho Department of Health & Welfare (IDHW) has launched a toll free information line at 888-330-3010, called the “Idaho COVID-19 Hotline,” that includes a mix of information: instructions for those experiencing possible symptoms of COVID-19, details on the stay at home order, questions regarding "essential" or "non-essential" businesses, information on mental health and suicide prevention services, etc.

Will I need to pay for a Coronavirus test?

  • No. Legislation was passed to allow for free testing and doctor’s visit for COVID-19. It is still recommended to try and stay within your network if you seek to receive testing. 

  • Many health providers have asked that patients who suspect COVID-19 symptoms first call in advance of the visit to prevent overwhelmed clinics and hospitals. 

  • In Idaho, please refer to your regional district for contact information, clinic location, etc. This information is on my website here.

If I get sick with Coronavirus, will my insurance pay for it?

  • While you should check your individual policy, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has created a code for coronavirus treatment, and private insurances are now able to bill for these related services

Are Health Savings Account (HSA) and Flexible Spending Arrangement (FSA) funds eligible to be used on supplies regarding Coronavirus symptoms?

  • Yes. You can use your HSA  and FSA accounts for over-the-counter drugs to deal with COVID-19.  

I am on Medicare or Medicaid, are treatments for Coronavirus covered under Medicare?

  • Yes.

What changes have been made for telemedicine?

  • Additional funds have been provided for telemedicine, including technology upgrades and funds for rural broadband improvement. Deductibles have also been waived for people receiving care through telemedicine.

  • For providers, there is still the requirement that telemedicine patients visits via telemedicine channels be both audio and visual, and that it be synchronous (live) in order to qualify for reimbursement.

  • The Trump Administration has allowed out of state, licensed physicians to be able to conduct visits with patients and be paid the same as if they were in-state licensed physicians.

  • The third coronavirus relief bill provides record funding and liability protections for rural healthcare providers.

  • Funds will also be available for small private hospitals and clinics.

Healthcare Providers

When will additional masks, ventilators, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) be made available to Idaho hospitals?

  • With shortages being reported in Idaho, we are working with Senators Crapo and Risch, Rep. Mike Simpson, Governor Little, and private businesses in Idaho to address this serious issue. 

  • Through legislative action in Washington, D.C., billions of dollars have been designated directly for PPE to increase the supply, in addition to the many private companies ramping up, or sharing costs, of PPE production.

  • President Trump announced use of the Defense Production Act for the first time to secure 60,000 test kits and adding language for 500M N95 masks over the next 18 months.

What resources are available for providers having difficulties obtaining supplies for COVID-19 testing?

  • Local health departments in need of testing supplies or other materials should call the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hotline (1-888-INFO-FDA) which is available 24 hours a day; they can also work with state officials to make requests of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR).

What resources are available for providers experiencing a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?

  • FEMA is requesting that entities requiring supplies including PPE first seek additional supplies through commercial channels. If supplies are not available, entities should work through their State Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs), as they would in any FEMA response effort. Requests for assistance from local entities must go through the state for fulfillment. Through the state EOCs and FEMA Regional Offices, FEMA is receiving requests for masks, swabs, test site supports, ventilators, and more. Providers, such as hospitals, should contact local and state officials for assistance.

  • Additionally if a constituent or health care provider has questions or is experiencing spot shortages of personal protective equipment or other supplies, they should call the FDA’s toll-free line at 1-888-463-6332 (1-888-INFO-FDA), then choose option (*). The line is available 24 hours a day to help address difficulties obtaining supplies. Please note, however, that FDA does not control the production volume or distribution of medical devices.

What resources are available for providers with concerns or questions regarding a drug shortage related to COVID-19?

  •  Contact the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) Division of Drug Information (DDI) at 855-543-3784, 301-796-3400, or druginfo@fda.hhs.gov. Also, FDA's Drug Shortage web page has information related to current shortages.


During these uncertain times, navigating federal programs can be difficult. If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to contact any of our offices below.