BOSTON – Today, the Baker Polito Administration announced new COVID-19 public health emergency measures, issuing new guidelines on travel and transportation, and offering further assistance to health professionals and patients.
Governor Charlie Baker, Vice Governor Karyn Polito, Senate President Karen Spilka and House Representative Robert DeLeo also announced today an agreement to extend the deadline for filing and paying income tax for 2019 from April 15 to July 15, which the The July 15 deadline corresponds to filing state income taxes. More details are available here.
Travel advice: Starting March 27, all travelers arriving in Massachusetts will be instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days. These instructions will be displayed as a poster at service stations along 1-90 to the east, distributed as a flyer at important traffic junctions and published on motorway message boards. Visitors are advised not to travel to Massachusetts if they experience symptoms. Healthcare workers, public health workers, public security personnel, transportation personnel, and designated essential workers are exempt from this requirement.
Graduation from the medical faculty: Marylou Sudders, Minister of Health and Human Services, and DPH Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel have been coordinating with Massachusetts medical schools to provide their qualified fourth year students with early graduation so that graduates can assist healthcare staff during the COVID-19 response. These coordinated efforts include the Boston University School of Medicine, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Tufts University School of Medicine, and Harvard Medical School.
Limited Emergency Medical Licenses: The Board of Registration in Medicine will provide medical school graduates who have received a 90-day emergency license to practice medicine as an intern, resident, or fellow at a board-approved health facility or educational program in Massachusetts to ensure that our employees in healthcare is being prepared during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
To qualify, medical residents must complete an application for admission through the program or institution. Once approved, residents will receive the emergency license and can start at the beginning of their program. This emergency limited license enables healthcare professionals to provide assistance during regular screening and is not a substitute for the regular restricted license process.
Buoy Health Care Tool: The Baker Polito Administration announced the launch of Buoy Health’s new online resource that will allow residents to review their symptoms and connect to the nearest appropriate healthcare resource. This tool is not a substitute for emergency medical care, but can be used to assist residents during the COVID-19 outbreak to connect them to appropriate health resources if they experience symptoms of coronavirus.
Buoy Health’s online tool is free 24/7 for Massachusetts residents and uses the latest COVID-19 guidelines from the CDC and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. visit Buoy.com/mass to learn more and use the tool.
Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs): The administration has enacted a public health regulation to allow APRNs with more flexibility in their prescribing practice. This order contains the following updates:
- Certified midwives can continue to prescribe as previously authorized.
- Authorizes APRNs who have at least two years of experience in supervised practice without prescribing medical supervision.
- Authorizes APRNs with less than two years of supervised practice to prescribe under medical supervision, but without the written guidelines normally required.
Read order here.
MassHealth waiver: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have partial approval from the Baker Polito Administration 1135 waiver to accelerate enrollment with MassHealth, streamline administrative requirements for providers, and better deliver much-needed healthcare services during the COVID-19 public health emergency. CMS has approved the following items in the waiver:
- Registering providers abroad and facilitating other provider requirements when registering with MassHealth.
- Enabling reimbursement of care services by providers in alternative, unlicensed facilities.
- Suspension of the pre-authorization requirement and extension of existing pre-authorizations in an emergency.
Healthcare Volunteers: In support of the ongoing COVID-19 emergency response, the Baker-Polito Administration has partnered with the Massachusetts Medical Society to match volunteers with our communities and health care providers based on their skills and needs. There is an immediate need for respiratory therapists and public health nurses, and the administration is encouraging health professionals who wish to volunteer to join MAResponds.org.