I feel sick and have COVID-19 symptoms. What should I do?
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) recommends that everyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the second coronavirus response bill passed by Congress, guarantees that all Americans, regardless of insurance status, can get tested free of charge.
How do I get tested?
If you have symptoms, testing is available at drive-up sites located throughout the state, a walk-up site in Providence, at private health care providers and clinics, and at CVS’s new Rapid Results Clinic. Please check with the Rhode Island Department of Health for the most up-to-date information on how to get tested.
To further boost its testing capacity, Rhode Island will receive $17.5 million from the recently passed interim legislative package, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. This funding stems from the $25 billion set aside for testing capabilities, including a national testing strategy, which the Administration will formulate within 30 days of enactment.
What should I do if I feel worried, stressed, or anxious?
Mental health is an important part of your overall health. As COVID-19 continues to impact and change our daily lives and routines, it is important to take care of your mental health needs just as you would your personal safety and physical well-being.
RIDOH offers several confidential support phone lines. Adults seeking mental or behavioral health support should call BH Link at (401) 414-5465. For services for children, call Kids Link at (855) 543-5465. The CDC also provides advice, contacts, and resources online at a dedicated webpage.
If you are experiencing any immediate mental health, family, domestic, or dating violence emergency, call 9-1-1 immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.
Are there any medications to prevent COVID-19?
Currently, there are no medical products available to prevent COVID-19. Medical research and clinical trials for potential drugs and vaccines are under way, though this process will take time.
However, there are many steps you can take to prevent infection and transmission, particularly social distancing, hand-washing, and other good hygiene practices. You can find the state’s guidance HERE. In addition, the CDC has also updated its guidance on face coverings, recommending that face coverings be worn in public settings. It has also provided guidelines on how to wear and make face coverings.
Are there any medications to treat COVID-19?
No. Research and clinical trials are ongoing, but presently there is no proven treatment for COVID-19. All medication should only be used at the direction of a medical professional.
While certain media reports have pointed to the use of the anti-malarial medications hydroxychloroquine sulfate and chloroquine phosphate for certain hospitalized patients with COVID-19, there is no clinical evidence to support the effectiveness of these medications on treating COVID-19.
Additionally, while I understand the desire to get potential treatments to critically ill patients of COVID-19, there are also concerns about potential shortages of these products for patients currently using them for treatments unrelated to COVID-19.
If I have private insurance, how does the CARES Act affect the cost of a vaccine when one becomes available?
The Affordable Care Act required that preventive services and vaccines be covered by private insurance without cost-sharing. Normally, these services and vaccines are covered starting on the first day of the plan year beginning after they get a favorable rating or recommendation from the United States Preventive Services Task Force or the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
To address the current crisis, Congress included in the CARES Act a requirement that coverage without cost-sharing begin fifteen days after a favorable rating or recommendation is given.
Will there be a special enrollment period to acquire or change health insurance in light of COVID-19?
Though Rhode Island’s COVID-19 special enrollment period has ended, if you have lost your job or health coverage in the last 60 days, you may still qualify to sign up for coverage through Healthsource RI. For more information, visit HealthSourceRI.com, call customer support at 1-855-840-4774, or chat online between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Monday – Friday.
While Rhode Island took swift action to extend the opportunity to sign up for coverage through HealthSource RI, those in other states that are on the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) federal exchanges have not been afforded this same opportunity. The Trump Administration is refusing to reopen enrollment in the federal exchanges. I strongly oppose this shortsighted decision. Millions of Americans find themselves unemployed because of COVID-19, and we should give them all the option to get health insurance.
How does the CARES Act increase access to telehealth services for seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries?
The CARES Act gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) broad authority to allow more health care providers to offer telehealth services to Medicare beneficiaries, including in the beneficiaries’ homes. It also provides more flexibility in terms of how those telehealth services can be provided.
Recently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the ways that beneficiaries can communicate with their doctors over the phone without going to the doctor’s office in person. This includes:
- Newly added audio-only telephone use for physicians and certain non-physician practitioners who are eligible to bill independently for evaluation and management services;
- Practitioners such as physical therapists (PTs), occupational therapists (OTs), speech-language pathologists (SLPs), clinical psychologists, clinical social workers and certain other clinicians billing for telephone-only assessment and management services;
- E-visits for new and established patients by physicians and certain non-physician practitioners who bill for evaluation and management services; and
- Virtual check-in and remote evaluation of recorded video or images for use for new and established patients, and for use by other practitioners, such as PTs, OTs, SLPs, clinical psychologists, and clinical social workers.
More information on this change can be viewed HERE.
In the past, Medicare drug plans only let beneficiaries receive a 30 day supply of their prescription. How will seniors access the medications they need while also being told it’s better to stay at home?
During the COVID-19 public health emergency, a senior on Medicare can get up to 90 days of a prescription, if that is what the doctor prescribed and there are no safety concerns. Medicare drug plans will also allow beneficiaries to refill prescriptions early by up to 90 days, depending on the prescription.
If I have COVID-19 and have to enter the hospital, can my regular personal care attendant from home still help while I am in the hospital?
Under the CARES Act, state Medicaid programs now have the ability, should they choose to deploy the option, to allow direct support professionals to continue to provide care and services for patients they are supporting when they enter a hospital, including seniors and individuals with disabilities.
Where can I find further health-related resources on COVID-19?
The following local and federal websites serve as further resources on COVID-19:
- Governor Gina Raimondo’s COVID-19 Executive Orders
- RIDOH: What You Need to Know About Coronavirus
- RIDOH: 10 Tips for At-Home Quarantining or Self-Monitoring
- CDC Central COVID-19 Website
- CDC: Frequently Asked Questions
- CDC: How COVID-19 Spreads