Archive for January, 2021


Coronavirus Update for Tuesday, January 26

The following is the latest COVID-19 information from the federal government as of 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 26.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services


Department of Health and Human Services

MedPAC Meets

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission met in Washington, D.C. recently to discuss various Medicare payment issues.

Among the issues discussed at MedPAC’s January meeting were:

  • hospital inpatient and outpatient payments
  • physician and health professionals payments
  • the possible expansion of the post-acute transfer policy to hospice
  • ambulatory surgical center, outpatient dialysis, and hospice payments
  • Medicare payments for skilled nursing facilities, long-term hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, and home health services
  • the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation’s development and implementation of alternative payment models
  • the future of telehealth after the COVID-19 public health emergency ends
  • a status report on the Medicare Part D prescription drug program
  • a report on the skilled nursing facility value-based purchasing program and a proposed replacement for that program
  • Medicare’s vaccine coverage and payment policies

MedPAC is an independent congressional agency that advises Congress on issues involving Medicare.  While its recommendations are not binding on either Congress or the administration, MedPAC is highly influential in governing circles and its recommendations often find their way into legislation, regulations, and new public policy.  Because so many patients of private safety-net hospitals are insured by Medicare, MedPAC’s deliberations are especially important to those hospitals.

Go here for links to the policy …

Coronavirus Update for Thursday, January 21

The following is the latest COVID-19 information from the federal government as of 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 21.

President Signs Executive Orders

Late this afternoon President Biden signed a series of executive orders and actions to implement his administration’s approach to addressing COVID-19.  The following is a look at the orders and what they say.

Coronavirus Update for Friday, January 15

The following is the latest COVID-19 information from the federal government as of 2:45 p.m. on Friday, January 15.  We also present a summary of selected aspects of the “American Rescue Plan” that President-elect Biden presented on Thursday night and an introduction to the newest members of his COVID-19 response team.

Provider Relief Fund

  • HHS has amended the reporting timeline for the Provider Relief Fund in response to passage of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.  Starting today, recipients may begin registering for gateway access to the reporting portal where they ultimately will submit their information in compliance with new reporting requirements HHS is issuing.  There is no deadline for registering.  While reporting was supposed to begin today, it has been delayed and will begin at a later date to be announced.  See HHS’s news release explaining its revisions.
  • HHS has updated its Provider Relief Fund web page to reflect these changes.
  • The reporting requirements and auditing page has been updated to list the types of providers to which the new reporting requirements do not apply.  Find that information here.
  • That page also announces the opening of the new reporting portal and directs readers to that

Feds Give States Direction for Addressing Social Determinants of Health

Federal laws, regulations, and programs offer numerous tools to states seeking to address social determinants of health through their Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  Now, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has written to state Medicaid directors outlining those tools.

In the 51-page letter, CMS notes that

Many Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries may face challenges related to SDOH [social determinants of health], including but not limited to access to nutritious food, affordable and accessible housing, convenient and efficient transportation, safe neighborhoods, strong social connections, quality education, and opportunities for meaningful employment.  There is a growing body of evidence that indicates that these challenges can lead to poorer health outcomes for beneficiaries and higher health costs for Medicaid and CHIP programs and can exacerbate health disparities for a broad range of populations…

In the letter, CMS describes:

  • Overarching principles CMS expects states to adhere to in their Medicaid and CHIP programs when offering services and supports that address social determinants of health.
  • Services and supports that are commonly covered in Medicaid and CHIP programs to address social determinants of health.
  • Federal authorities and other opportunities under Medicaid and CHIP that states can use to address social determinants of health.