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Government Launches Site to Order Free COVID Tests; Insurers Required to Cover At-Home Tests

Government Launches Site to Order Free COVID Tests; Insurers Required to Cover At-Home Tests

BETHESDA, MD – A new website from the Federal Government allows Americans to order free COVID-19 tests.

COVIDTests.gov opened January 18 in what White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called a “beta phase,” with the formal launch set for January 19. The site will allow every household to order up to four free at-home COVID-19 tests.

“We can’t guarantee there won’t be a bug or two, but the best tech teams across the administration and the Postal Service are working hard to make this a success,” Psaki said.

The tests are part of the Biden administration’s purchase of 500 million tests last month to help tackle a record surge in infections. The site’s launch comes on the heals of changes to incentivize insurers and group health plans to allow people to easily obtain at-home tests.

Beginning January 15, insurance companies and group health plans are required to cover the cost of over-the-counter, at-home COVID-19 tests. The new coverage requirement means most consumers with private health coverage can but a test online or at pharmacy or store and either get it paid for upfront by their health plan or get reimbursed for the cost by submitting a claim to their plan.

This new requirement allows individuals to purchase up to eight tests per month.

“Under President Biden’s leadership, we are requiring insurers and group health plans to make tests free for millions of Americans. This is all part of our overall strategy to ramp-up access to easy-to-use, at-home tests at no cost,” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said. “Since we took office, we have more than tripled the number of sites where people can get COVID-19 tests for free, and we’re also purchasing half a billion at-home, rapid tests to send for free to Americans who need them. By requiring private health plans to cover people’s at-home tests, we are further expanding Americans’ ability to get tests for free when they need them.”

PCR tests and rapid tests ordered or administered by a health provider will continue to be fully covered by insurance with no limit. Tests purchased through COVIDTests.gov will begin shipping toward the end of January.

About Econometrica

Founded in 1998, Econometrica is a research and management organization in Bethesda, MD, established to provide public- and private-sector clients with customized program support services. Econometrica works with multiple agencies to provide high-quality, cost-effective analyses, modeling, and economic evaluations. The company consistently receives exceptional scores from its clients and believes in three principles: technical capabilities, happy customers, and business development.

The tests are part of the Biden administration’s purchase of 500 million tests last month to help tackle a record surge in infections.

Press Contact

Jonathan Fusfield

CMS Releases Job Aids for PAC Providers

CMS Releases Job Aids for PAC Providers

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released new job aids for post-acute care (PAC) providers to aid in the assessment and coding of GG0130. Self-Care Items. T

Econometrica developed these aids under contract with CMS to “provide clinically relevant information to assist providers in understanding specific guidelines and clinical considerations that should be applied to coding GG0130. Self-Care items,” according to a CMS release.

“These job aids are a product of our collaboration with PAC providers to ensure they have resources that are useful and readily available while assessing patients,” said Kristie McNealy, Director of Health for Econometrica.

The training materials apply to four PAC settings: Home Health Agencies, Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities, Long-Term Care Hospitals, and Skilled Nursing Facilities.

CDC Foundation Launches Digital Media Course Developed by Econometrica

CDC Foundation Launches Digital Media Course Developed by Econometrica

Social media has become a major source of news for much of the world. To increase the amount of reliable information on social media, Econometrica has supported the CDC Foundation in launching a course to teach public health professionals how to create and promote social media messages that make an impact.

The course, Evidence-Based Strategies for Digital Media Messaging, is part of the Global Tobacco Surveillance System’s (GTSS) Academy. Many of the social media examples and practice scenarios in the course are specific to global tobacco information; however, the information in the course is applicable to any public health professional looking to better leverage social media.

The highlight of the course is the Digital Media Workshop: Developing a Social Media Post module, which is a practical, step-by-step, hands-on tutorial that takes the learner through the full process of creating an effective social media message, including free resources to use such as software, data, and images.

Econometrica’s instructional designers, led by Creative Lead Ephraim Ross, worked closely with tobacco prevention and digital media subject matter experts to develop the eight-module course. In addition, Econometrica’s team designed and built visually engaging and interactive content to enhance learners’ understanding, including animated video tutorials, custom-designed images, infographics, and GIF animations.

Econometrica also provided expert learning design solutions and technical development on various aspects of the project, such as incorporating social polls throughout the course to give asynchronous learners a sense of community.

In addition, our team recommended and developed creative solutions for gathering data and feedback directly from the course, including developing a final course evaluation survey, writing custom code for an auto-generated personalized completion certificate for learners, and incorporating Google Analytics tracking.

The course, which is free and open to the public, includes a bonus module, Guide for New Social Media Users, which helps organizations open and manage their professional social media accounts, including creating company social media policies, brand strategy, and content calendars.

The course is completely self-paced and can be completed in approximately 90 minutes. It contains the following modules:

  1. Data Dissemination Strategies
  2. Infographics: Using Data for Visual Storytelling
  3. Introduction to Social Media
  4. Evidence-Based Strategies for Social Media
  5. Digital Media Workshop
  6. Evaluating the Reach of Your Social Media Message
  7. Guide for New Social Media Users
  8. Digital Media Messaging Toolkit and Course Summary

Funding for the course was provided to the CDC Foundation by a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies as part of the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use.

Econometrica Announces New Health Director

Econometrica Announces New Health Director

BETHESDA, MD – Econometrica is pleased to announce the promotion of Kristie McNealy to Health Director. Dr. McNealy joined Econometrica in 2013 and has exceled as a qualitative research and evaluation expert, project manager, and business development lead. She has 20 years of experience in research, clinical medicine, quality measure development, program evaluation and monitoring, and project management in a variety of healthcare fields.

As a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ), Dr. McNealy has worked on multiple programs related to improving and measuring the quality of care, including directing the development and testing of quality measures for the Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), and has worked on contracts related to several Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) models, including Bundled Payments for Care Improvement (BPCI) Advanced, BPCI Model I, the Community-based Care Transitions Program (CCTP), Million Hearts, and Partnership for Patients (PfP), in roles including program evaluation, monitoring, and quality measurement strategy. She also has expertise in a variety of qualitative research techniques, including conducting structured telephone interviews and site visits and coding and content analysis.

Dr. McNealy takes over for Monique Sheppard, who has guided the Health Group for the last 10 years. Dr. Sheppard is moving into a company-wide business development role, where she will oversee several cross-group development projects, including promoting our joint venture, TAG Research LLC, and meeting with our clients and partners to market our ever-growing technical capabilities.

Dr. Sheppard is an epidemiologist and biostatistician with more than 28 years of experience in quantitative evaluation, data collection and analysis, national survey and evaluation projects, measure development, policy analysis, learning solutions, technical assistance and training, and rapid-cycle evaluation. She provides subject matter expertise and leadership guidance on projects for a variety of Federal and non-Federal clients. Her research has appeared in numerous publications, including the Journal of Gerontological Nursing, American Journal of Health Education, and the Journal of Safety Research.

About Econometrica

Founded in 1998, Econometrica is a research and management organization in Bethesda, MD, established to provide public- and private-sector clients with customized program support services. Econometrica works with multiple agencies to provide high-quality, cost-effective analyses, modeling, and economic evaluations. The company consistently receives exceptional scores from its clients and believes in three principles: technical capabilities, happy customers, and business development.

As a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ), Dr. McNealy has worked on multiple programs related to improving and measuring the quality of care. She also has expertise in a variety of qualitative research techniques, including conducting structured telephone interviews and site visits and coding and content analysis.

Press Contact

Jonathan Fusfield

CMS Releases New Course for SNF Providers

CMS Releases New Course for SNF Providers

CMS SNF CourseBETHESDA, MD – The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a new web-based training course that provides an overview of the assessment and coding the items in Section K related to height, weight, and nutritional approaches for skilled nursing facility residents. The on-demand, 30-minute course includes interactive exercises to test skilled nursing facility providers’ knowledge related to the assessment and coding of K0200: Height and Weight and K0510: Nutritional Approaches.

The new training was developed as part of the Post-Acute Care (PAC) Training contract, which assesses training needs, develops training materials, delivers training to providers and stakeholders, and evaluates the outcome of the trainings for changes and clarification needed due to the passing of the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014 (IMPACT Act). The primary goal of the project is to deliver relevant, accurate, and engaging training to assist providers in complying with coding and data submission requirements associated with quality reporting programs (QRPs) for the skilled nursing facility, long-term care hospital, inpatient rehabilitation facility, home health agency, and hospice care settings..

The latest training can be found through the CMS’ skilled nursing facility QRP training web page.

If you have questions about accessing the course or feedback regarding the training, please email the PAC Training mailbox at PACTraining@EconometricaInc.com. Content-related questions should be submitted to the SNF QRP Help Desk at SNFQualityQuestions@cms.hhs.gov.

About Econometrica

Founded in 1998, Econometrica is a research and management organization in Bethesda, MD, established to provide public- and private-sector clients with customized program support services. Econometrica works with multiple agencies to provide high-quality, cost-effective analyses, modeling, and economic evaluations. The company consistently receives exceptional scores from its clients and believes in three principles: technical capabilities, happy customers, and business development.

The new training was developed as part of the Post-Acute Care (PAC) Training contract, which assesses training needs, develops training materials, delivers training to providers and stakeholders, and evaluates the outcome of the trainings for changes and clarification needed due to the passing of the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014 (IMPACT Act).

Press Contact

Jonathan Fusfield

Econometrica’s Health Group Expands Clinical Expertise

Econometrica’s Health Group Expands Clinical Expertise

BETHESDA, MD – Econometrica’s Health Group has further expanded its knowledge base and team of clinical experts. Through our recruiting and continuing education initiatives, our team stands ready to offer a wide range of expertise to organizations and agencies in the public and private sectors.

Health Group staff members understand medical coding related to Current Procedural Technology (CPT); the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-10-CM); and the Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS), Level II, which are the three main code sets used to bill Medicare claims. Our staff members can identify the purpose and applicability of these code sets and explain how to use each one when assigning diagnoses and coding procedures across a wide variety of patient services in various settings.

Accurately coding patient services is critical to ensuring the best quality and efficacy of care for all Medicare beneficiaries. Econometrica staff members can support the understanding and accurate application of ICD-10-CM coding guidelines. We can describe the major features of the codes that are part of Level II HCPCS and identify and explain the information contained in the appendixes of the CPT code set. Econometrica has further experience with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Evaluation and Management (E/M) Services Guide, and our staff members can clarify the determination of E/M services levels. We are experienced in the practical application of coding operative reports and E/M services.

For example, Econometrica staff works to inform our Bundled Payments for Care Improvement (BPCI) Advanced project participants about how codes work for the quality measure documentation, ensuring we are comprehensive in our methodology and instructions to registries.

Our Health Group is well equipped to assist organizations supporting Medicare beneficiaries with a wide range of expertise among our staff members. To learn more about the Health Group and our services, clients, and capabilities, visit the Health Group page on the Econometrica website.

About Econometrica

Founded in 1998, Econometrica is a research and management organization in Bethesda, MD, established to provide public- and private-sector clients with customized program support services. Econometrica works with multiple agencies to provide high-quality, cost-effective analyses, modeling, and economic evaluations. The company consistently receives exceptional scores from its clients and believes in three principles: technical capabilities, happy customers, and business development.

Our Health Group is well equipped to assist organizations supporting Medicare beneficiaries with a wide range of expertise among our staff members.

Press Contact

Jonathan Fusfield