FAQ: Your TMLT coverage during the COVID-19 crisis
April 24, 2020
TMLT can assist you in navigating these uncertain times.
It is our commitment to maintain business as usual during this crisis. Whether you have questions about your coverage or about how to prepare your practice for coronavirus, we are available to help.
Your TMLT coverage will continue to protect you through the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.
We anticipate a flurry of announcements from both state and federal authorities in the coming days, and these announcements may affect how you conduct your practice. We will update this FAQ page regularly.
Will TMLT provide coverage for temporary telemedicine services due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Yes. In response to the needs of physicians and adjustments made by various state medical boards, TMLT will expand telemedicine coverage.
The Texas Medical Board (TMB) has released temporary expansion guidelines on how providers can use telemedicine to treat patients during the pandemic. Changes include temporarily allowing the use of telephone-only encounters to establish a physician-patient relationship. Please review these guidelines in their COVID-19 Telemedicine FAQs, and visit their Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Response page for additional information. The Texas Medical Association offers additional information and resources on their Telemedicine in Texas page.
Per the HHS, during the COVID-19 national emergency, “covered health care providers subject to the HIPAA Rules may seek to communicate with patients, and provide telehealth services, through remote communications technologies. Some of these technologies, and the manner in which they are used by HIPAA covered health care providers, may not fully comply with the requirements of the HIPAA Rules.
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) will exercise its enforcement discretion and will not impose penalties for noncompliance with the regulatory requirements under the HIPAA Rules against covered health care providers in connection with the good faith provision of telehealth during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency.”
However, there are limitations on the use of “public facing” platforms, such Facebook Live. See the bulletin for more information.
Physicians who typically do not provide telemedicine services may need to provide such services during this time. We ask that all physicians follow their state medical board guidelines, and the medical board guidelines for each state where care is given. In addition, we ask that physicians have appropriate training in the procedures they perform via telemedicine.
Your policy does not require any changes if:
- you follow the telemedicine guidelines of your state medical board; and
- your new and existing patients reside within the state in which coverage has already been agreed upon by TMLT.
Contact us as soon as possible if you are considering practicing outside the state(s) for which your TMLT coverage currently applies.
Will TMLT provide coverage if I am asked to temporarily provide care outside my current scope of practice in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?
We anticipate many policyholders may be asked to temporarily treat patients for medical conditions outside their routine practice. If this occurs, please follow medical board guidelines and have appropriate training in the procedures you perform. You may also contact TMLT to discuss the situation and determine coverage.
Will my policy cover me for volunteer work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Yes. If policyholders are asked to volunteer medical services, coverage will be provided. Good Samaritan coverage may also be available in certain situations.
What if my group or I need to hire retired or inactive physicians, advanced practice professionals, or staff in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?
If this occurs, we ask those inactive, retired, or advanced practice professionals to (re)apply for coverage. We will review on a case-by-case basis. If a provider was previously issued free retirement tail coverage from TMLT, we will not consider this as a breach of the permanent retirement provision for free tail coverage.
Will my policy provide coverage for a locum tenens physician who may substitute for me, in case I am unable to see patients due to exposure or health concerns related to COVID-19?
If you are unable to work, you can request locum tenens coverage under your TMLT policy. To request this coverage, please provide written notice before the scheduled absence, if possible. An application for the substituting provider may be required.
Will I qualify for a leave of absence (LOA) discount if I choose to suspend my practice (due to personal health concerns, staff exposure concerns, etc.) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Please contact TMLT to discuss whether your circumstances can be considered an LOA qualifying event. Part-time coverage may be an option.
What if my premium payment(s) are delayed due to COVID-19 developments?
If your payment is delayed or expected to be delayed, please contact us as early as possible.
This is a developing issue, and we encourage you to use the following resources to stay informed with the most up-to-date and reliable information:
- Texas Medical Association (TMA) COVID-19 Resource Center
- Texas Medical Board (TMB) COVID-19 page
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 resource page
- Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) COVID-19 webpage
- The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) COVID-19 projections
- Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
- TMLT Resource Hub - Coronavirus updates and resources