Archive for April, 2022


Federal Health Policy Update for Thursday, April 28

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 28.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.

White House

  • The White House has announced a series of steps designed to increase the availability of oral treatments for COVID-19.  Those steps include nearly doubling the number of places oral antivirals are available in the coming weeks; launching a new effort to establish federally-supported test-to-treat sites; supporting medical providers with more guidance and tools to understand and prescribe treatments; and communicating to the public that safe, effective treatments are widely available.  Learn more from this White House fact sheet and from the transcript of a briefing the White House held for reporters on this initiative.
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki and White House COVID-⁠19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha recently briefed the press on several aspects of the administration’s response to COVID-19.  Find a transcript of that briefing here.
  • The White House has released its “National Drug Control Strategy,” which it says “…proposes bold, targeted, and consequential actions to bend the curve on overdose deaths in the immediate term and reduce drug use and its damaging

Pennsylvania Considers Screening Would-Be Nursing Home Buyers

Even before the federal government announced that it would release data on hospital and nursing home ownership as a means of casting light on the impact of private equity on provider quality and costs, regulators in Pennsylvania were proposing their own approach by seeking to vet those aspiring to purchase nursing homes in their state.

Under nursing home regulations proposed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, regulators would have an opportunity to examine the past performance and financial strength of entities seeking to purchases nursing homes.  As more for-profit entities enter the industry, the department notes, they bring with them more complex financial arrangements, such as separate entities that divide the facility, the real estate on which it stands, and the company that manages the facility.  This is adding a new level of complexity to the challenge of holding operators accountable, understanding their financial performance, and analyzing the adequacy of the state’s Medicaid payments for long-term-care services, which the state’s nursing home industry has long complained are inadequate.

Learn more about Pennsylvania’s attempt to regulate entry into the long-term-care industry in the state in these proposed regulations that would govern nursing homes and their sale and the Philadelphia Inquirer article …

Federal Health Policy Update for Thursday, April 21

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 2:45 p.m. on Thursday, April 21.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.

Proposed FY 2023 Medicare Inpatient Prospective Payment System Regulation

CMS has published its proposed FY 2023 Medicare inpatient prospective payment system regulation outlining how it envisions paying hospitals for the inpatient care they provide to Medicare patients in the coming fiscal year.  Highlights of the proposed regulation include:

  • A proposed 3.2 percent increase in inpatient rates and a 0.7 percent increase in LTCH rates.
  • A $654 million cut in the Medicare DSH uncompensated care pool.
  • A permanent limit of five percent in cuts in individual hospitals’ wage index in any one year.
  • Continued COVID-19-related suspension of some quality measures in the Hospital-Acquired Conditions Program, Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, and Value-Based Purchasing Program.
  • Nearly a dozen requests for stakeholder comment on a variety of issues.

Learn more about the proposed rule in this CMS fact sheet and the proposed rule itselfAnother CMS news release addresses aspects of the proposed rule that seek to advance health equity and maternal health.  Stakeholder comments are due by June 17,


Federal Health Policy Update for Thursday, April 14

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 1:15 p.m. on Thursday, April 14.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.

Public Health Emergency Renewed

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra has extended the COVID-19 public health emergency for another 90 days effective April 16.

White House

  • In response to an executive order President Biden issued on his first day in office titled “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government,” 90 federal agencies and cabinet departments have released equity action plans that lay out more than 300 concrete strategies and commitments to address systemic barriers in federal policies and programs.  A White House fact sheet describes the Department of Health and Human Services initiatives as follows:

The Department of Health and Human Services is increasing outreach to communities of color to encourage enrollment in free and low-cost health care, and is addressing the maternal mortality crisis that disproportionately impacts Black and Native families, including by working with states to extend postpartum coverage in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. 

Descriptions of other agencies’ plans touch on health care interests as well, and among the approaches …


The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission met for two days last week in Washington, D.C.

The following is MACPAC’s own summary of the sessions.

During the April 2022 Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission meeting, the Commission voted to approve a package of recommendations to:

  • create a new approach for monitoring access to care for Medicaid beneficiaries;
  • improve vaccine access for adult Medicaid beneficiaries;
  • improve the oversight and transparency of directed payments in Medicaid managed care; and
  • encourage the adoption of health information technology (IT) in behavioral health.

The recommendations will appear in MACPAC’s June report to Congress.

The meeting began with a review of recommendations and a draft chapter for the June report to Congress on a new approach for monitoring access to care for Medicaid beneficiaries. Staff presented a draft chapter with a package of five recommendations for a new access monitoring system. The chapter discusses the challenges and limitations of the current monitoring approach, the goals and key elements for a new system, and the rationale and implications for Commission recommendations that call on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to develop a robust and ongoing access monitoring system.

Next, the Commission