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 Beware the Big Red Flags of N95-Related PPE Scams

New information from the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) warns long term care providers to be on high alert for possible scams involving personal protective equipment (PPE) at a time of shortages of such supplies as masks and gowns during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“Shortages of PPE such as N95 respirators persist,” the association said. “However, there is no shortage of nonmedical suppliers and distributors that claim to have N95 and KN95 masks and other PPE for sale.”

Many of the sales calls come from third-party representatives claiming to have ready access to PPE, but AHCA/NCAL said providers should “be cautious and ask yourself, ‘Why does this nonmedical distributor have access to PPE when the major medical distributors and suppliers that I have used in the past do not?’”  

Providers should be on the lookout for these red flags when contacted by these salespersons: 

--Emails that come from personal email accounts such as Gmail or Yahoo accounts. 

--No last name from the sender or company contact information in the email, including a website that you independently can verify through a web search engine.  

--Pressure tactics such as, “You must place your order and pay today/now if you want to get your order in the next shipment.” 

--A requirement that you must pay up front to place your order usually through wire transfers, direct transfers from your bank accounts, PayPal, or Venmo. 

When working with a new supplier, ask for references of other long term care providers that have ordered from the company and had the PPE delivered. Then, independently check those references, AHCA/NCAL said.

Read more complete guidance on avoiding scams. “We continue to recommend working with existing suppliers or contacting your state agency for PPE,” AHCA/NCAL added. 

In a separate development, the Veterans Administration (VA) recently announced that its transition to HealthShare Referral Manager (HSRM) and Electronic Claims Administration Management System (eCAMS) for the Community Nursing Home (CNH) program has been suspended until further notice due to COVID-19. As a result of this suspension, the following actions are required:  

1.      Non-Community Care Network (CCN) CNH authorizations should continue to be issued through VistA. Any authorizations for non-CCN CNH made through HSRM need to be reissued through VistA, according to the guidance provided by the Office of Geriatrics and Extended Care dated April 2, 2020.  

2.      CNH providers need to be notified to continue to send CNH claims via paper directly to VA medical centers (VAMC) under previously established processes. CNH claims should not be sent via electronic data interchange (EDI) to VA at this time.  

Additional training and guidance are being developed for VA staff and CNH providers, and will be announced once the transition to HSRM and eCAMS restarts, AHCA/NCAL said.

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