Archive for February, 2022



The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 2:30 p.m. on Friday, February 25.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.

Provider Relief Fund

  • HHS made more than $560 million in Provider Relief Fund (PRF) Phase 4 General Distribution payments to more than 4100 providers across the country this week.  According to HHS, approximately 86 percent of all Phase 4 applications have now been processed and the remaining applications will continue to be processed throughout early 2022.  To date, HHS has distributed $11.5 billion of the $17 billion allocated for Provider Relief Fund Phase 4 payments.  Learn more about this distribution and find links to state-by-state breakdowns of Provider Relief Fund and American Rescue Plan rural hospital distributions from this HHS news release.

The Courts

  • A federal court in Texas has rejected a major aspect of HHS’s implementation of the No Surprises Act, the 2020 law intended to protect consumers from surprise medical bills for out-of-network services.  In the independent dispute resolution process established by the act and implemented in the regulation, HHS calls for arbiters in dispute resolution proceedings to weigh a defined “qualifying payment amount” more

Federal Health Policy Update for Friday, February 18

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 3:00 p.m. on Friday, February 18.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.

White House

The White House has posted a transcript of the February 16 press briefing given by its COVID-19 response team and public officials.  Go here to see the slides presented during the briefing.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Health Policy Update

  • CMS has issued a request for information (RFI) seeking feedback on topics related to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), such as enrolling in and maintaining coverage, gaining access to health care services and supports, and ensuring adequate provider payment rates to encourage provider availability and quality.  CMS writes that

Feedback obtained from the RFI announced today will aid in CMS’ understanding of enrollees’ barriers to enrolling in and maintaining coverage and accessing needed health care services and support through Medicaid and CHIP.  This information will help inform future polices, monitoring, and regulatory actions, helping ensure beneficiaries have equitable access to high-quality and appropriate care across all Medicaid and CHIP payment and delivery systems, including fee-for-service, managed care, and alternative payment models. 

Administration Pursues New COVID Aid Request

The Biden administration plans to ask Congress for another $30 billion in COVID-19 aid.

Its wish list reportedly includes:

  • $4.9 billion for testing
  • $3 billion to pay for care for the uninsured
  • $17.9 billion for vaccines and treatments
  • $3.7 billion to pay for new vaccine development
  • $500 million for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID surveillance and operations


The wish list reportedly does not include additional money for the Provider Relief Fund.

Learn more about what the administration seeks and what happens next in this Washington Post report.…

Congress May Tackle Hospital Staffing Challenges

Members of Congress are talking about looking into the staffing challenges hospitals currently face.

Those challenges include staff – especially but not exclusively nurses – leaving their jobs, citing burnout or difficult working conditions; staff shortages caused by illnesses, often COVID-related; and the fast-rising costs of temporary or travel nurses needed to replace missing staff and the financial burden that is placing on some hospitals.

Some members of Congress are considering acting on these challenges; others want the administration to do so.

Learn more about the staffing challenges facing hospitals today and possible public policy tools for addressing those challenges in the Healthcare Dive article “Hospital leaders, Congress mull fixes to current staffing woes.”

CMS Will Eliminate Medicaid Premiums

The federal government intends to eliminate the premiums it has permitted some states to charge Medicaid beneficiaries in recent years.

While the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services originally permitted states to charge Medicaid premiums as an inducement to persuade those states to expand their Medicaid programs, studies have found that the premiums mostly discouraged people from enrolling or reenrolling in Medicaid.

CMS will compel Arkansas and Montana to phase out their Medicaid premiums by the end of the year and reportedly intends to impose similar requirements on the six other states that impose such fees.

Learn more about Medicaid premiums, their impact, and the administration’s plan to eliminate them in the NPR article “Biden administration will reverse Medicaid changes that Trump had OK’d in some states.”