Archive for May, 2022

 

Federal Health Policy Update for Friday, May 20

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 2:15 p.m. on Friday, May 20.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.

White House

  • The White House has announced that U.S. households may now order an additional eight free home COVID-19 tests at COVIDTests.gov.  Learn more from this White House fact sheet.
  • White House COVID-19 and public health officials have held a COVID-19 briefing.  Find a transcript of the briefing here and the slides presented during the briefing here.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

States Not Spending COVID Disparity Money

The $2.25 billion distributed to the states and 58 large city and county health departments by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in May of 2021 was intended for use in addressing COVID-related disparities and helping underserved communities that had been hit hard by the pandemic.

But a year later relatively little of that money has been spent.

State and local officials cite lack of staff, slow local appropriations processes, lack of ties to community-based non-profits, and inadequate public health infrastructure among the reasons for their failure to spend more of the money.

As a result, Missouri has not spent any of its allocation; Idaho, Illinois, and Wisconsin less than five percent; Pennsylvania six percent; and California 10 percent.

Learn more about what this distribution of COVID money was intended to do and the obstacles that have hindered progress toward achieving those goals in the Kaiser Health News article “States Have Yet to Spend Hundreds of Millions of Federal Dollars to Tackle Covid Health Disparities.”

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Federal Health Policy Update for Thursday, May 12

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 12.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.

Provider Relief Fund

HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has released $450 million in American Rescue Plan grants to rural health care providers.  Go here to find the updated database of rural grant recipients.

Department of Health and Human Services

  • HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure have written to the nation’s governors about some of the challenges states will face when the COVID-19 public health emergency ends, including the redetermination of eligibility for current participants in Medicaid, CHIP, and Basic Health Programs and the need to address the flexibilities states have adopted to facilitate the delivery of care under the unusual conditions the pandemic has posed.  In addition to reminding governors of the president’s pledge to give them “…at least 60-days’ notice before any expiration or termination of the PHE,” the letter also includes links to tools that HHS and CMS have developed to help states with the work ahead.  Go here to see the letter from the HHS officials to governors.
  • HHS has announced

Demand for Agency Nurses Drops

The demand for agency nurses has dropped by a third recently, nurse staffing agencies report.

The decline is generally attributed to a combination of the stabilization in the number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations and the phasing out of federal aid for hospitals and government reimbursement for care for uninsured COVID patients.

Learn more about how the demand for agency nurses waxed and then waned and how much they were costing hospitals at their peak in the Kaiser Health News article “Travel Nurses See Swift Change of Fortunes as Covid Money Runs Dry.”

Relatively Few Docs Treating Medicaid Patients

Just a small portion of the providers theoretically available to serve individuals enrolled in Medicaid managed care plans are actually caring for such patients, a new study has found.

According to a report in Health Affairs, 25 percent of the primary care physicians serving patients in selected managed care plans are providing 86 percent of the primary care to those plans’ members while 16 percent of those plans’ listed primary care providers have gone more than a year without filing a single claim.

Similarly, 25 percent of the medical specialists participating in the plans provided 75 percent of the plans’ specialty services while one-third of the plans’ primary care physicians and specialists saw fewer than 10 Medicaid patients in a given year.

As the Health Affairs study concluded, “Our findings suggest that current network adequacy standards might not reflect actual access; new methods are needed that account for beneficiaries’ preferences and physicians’ willingness to serve Medicaid patients.”  Healthcare Dive reviewed the same numbers and took its conclusion a step further, suggesting “… that private insurers may be ‘padding’ the Medicaid managed care networks with physicians, some of whom may be unwilling to treat program beneficiaries.”

Learn more about the …