WTC Health Program: Coronavirus Update

April 2, 2020
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The World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program has been working on ways to meet your health care needs during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency. Our priority is to make sure that all members are taking steps to protect their health. In addition, our clinics have had to shift how they operate to ensure that they are still able to meet the WTC-related needs of members while limiting face-to-face interactions.

 Latest Program Updates

  • There are no processing delays for WTC Health Program enrollments, certifications, or claims at this time. (Updated 3/31/20)
  • Members should keep upcoming monitoring and treatment appointments unless otherwise advised by your clinic. Clinics are continuing to provide care through telehealth services (phone or video) when possible. Contact your clinic for more details. (Updated 3/31/20)
  • The WTC Health Program is not able to provide disinfectant supplies or protective equipment. If you are in need of these supplies, please contact your provider or local COVID-19 resource helpline. (Updated 3/23/20)
  • Members should continue following CDC’s guidelines for COVID-19 prevention(Updated 3/23/20)

Looking for information on how COVID-19 is impacting the September 11th Compensation Fund (VCF)? The VCF is a separate program from the WTC Health Program. The latest updates from the VCF are available on the VCF COVID-19  page.

Protect yourself and those around you

All WTC Health Program members are encouraged to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s guidelines to protect against COVID-19.

This includes:

  • Washing your hands frequently
  • Avoiding close contact with those who are sick
  • Practicing social distancing
  • Staying home if you do get sick

More prevention tips are available on the CDC’s COVID-19 Prevention page.

Additionally, some WTC Health Program members with certain health conditions, WTC-related or not, may be at a higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19. The CDC recommends additional preventive steps be taken for these higher risk individuals. This information is available on CDC’s higher risk page.

What we’ve done in response to COVID-19

We have taken several steps to ensure that Program members continue to receive monitoring, treatment, and other authorized services for their certified WTC-related conditions during this challenging time.

Expanded use of telehealth

We have approved the use of telehealth services (either telephone or video) so that members can continue to receive care without coming into a clinic. Telehealth services may vary from clinic to clinic but will help ensure continued care for certified WTC-related conditions.

Implemented in-person safeguards

Each clinic is following the preparedness plan outlined by their parent institution. Non-essential appointments are being rescheduled and several safety measures are in place for any essential in-person visits.

Filling prescriptions

All members with prescriptions for their certified WTC-related conditions are strongly encouraged to sign up for Optum Home Delivery which allows for 90-day prescription fills and delivers directly to members by mail. For more information, please call Optum at (855) 640–0005, Option 2.

For members who prefer to pick up prescriptions at retail pharmacies, we are waiving early medication refill limits on 30-day prescription maintenance medications. Please call Optum at 855-640–0005, Option 3 for more information.

COVID-19 testing and treatment

We cover limited COVID-19 testing for members with certain certified WTC-related conditions that may put them at higher risk of illness from COVID-19. Treatment for COVID-19 is covered when certain criteria are met, including that the member was eligible for COVID-19 testing, the treatment is authorized by the Program, and the treatment is not experimental.

We are able to provide COVID-19 testing and care to members who are at high risk due to certified WTC-related conditions while ensuring that the Program adheres to its WTC-related care mission, Program requirements, and the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. All COVID-19 testing and treatment available through the WTC Health Program will align with CDC testing guidance.

Your Clinical Centers of Excellence or the Nationwide Provider Network can inform you about whether the Program will cover the cost of COVID-19 diagnostic testing. Coverage of COVID-19 treatment cost requires approval by the Program Administrator, on a case-by-case basis.

When to seek care for COVID-19 symptoms

If you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop COVID-19 symptoms such as a fever or cough, call your health care provider. If contacting the WTC Health Program’s Clinical Centers of Excellence or the Nationwide Provider Network, you may be referred to alternative locations for COVID-19 testing and treatment based on local public health directives.

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include, but are not limited to*:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

Learn more about COVID-19 symptoms on the CDC’s COVID-19 Symptoms page.