Archive for August, 2022


Federal Health Policy Update for Tuesday, August 23

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 2:45 p.m. on Tuesday, August 23.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.

CMS “Roadmap for the End of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency”

While the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) has not ended and HHS Secretary Becerra has committed to giving states and the health care community 60 days’ notice before formally ending it – notice he has not given – the federal government is already planning for life after the PHE and its latest step in this process is a new CMS “roadmap” for the end of the COVID-19 PHE.  As the agency notes, “Throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), CMS has used a combination of emergency authority waivers, regulations, enforcement discretion, and sub-regulatory guidance to ensure access to care and give health care providers the flexibilities needed to respond to COVID-19 and help keep people safer.  Many of these waivers and broad flexibilities will terminate at the eventual end of the PHE, as they were intended to address the acute and extraordinary circumstances of a rapidly evolving pandemic and not replace existing requirements.”

CMS further explains that …

Federal Health Policy Update for Wednesday, August 17

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday, August 17. Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.

White House

  • The White House has released a fact sheet outlining key supports and guidance it is providing for protecting students, teachers, and school communities and for managing the risks of COVID-19 spread for the upcoming school year. These resources and guidance focus on using COVID-19 vaccines and boosters as the first line of defense to protect in-person learning; providing robust access to COVID-19 testing at schools to help detect infection early;  and helping schools plan and implement indoor air quality improvements, including through use of federal funds.  You can find more details in this fact sheet.


Department of Health and Human Services

  • Today the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury (the Departments) released technical assistance (TA) for certified Independent Dispute Resolution (IDR) entities on various aspects of the Federal IDR process, which can be found here. This TA provides more in-depth direction to certified IDR entities on the following topics:
    • Batching and Bundling
    • Eligibility for the Federal IDR Process

Federal Health Policy Update for Monday, August 8`

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 2:30 p.m. on Monday, August 8.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.


On Sunday, the Senate passed the Democrats’ health care, climate, and tax bill, H.R. 5376, The Inflation Reduction Act, by a vote of 51-50, with Vice President Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.  Health care provisions in the reconciliation bill include:

  • allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices
  • limiting out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for Medicare enrollees to $2,000 a year
  • extending for three years enhanced Affordable Care Act subsidies for individuals to buy health insurance on the marketplace.

The bill now heads to the House, which expects to pass it Friday.  Find the Democrats’ summary of the bill’s health care provisions here.

White House

President Biden has issued an “Executive Order on Securing Access to Reproductive and Other Healthcare Services” to build on action the administration has taken to protect access to reproductive health care services.  The executive order coincides with the first meeting of the Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access and includes actions to support patients traveling out of state for medical care, even raising …

On Second Thought, CMS Decides to Share Hospital Performance Data

After originally proposing not to publish certain recent hospital performance data because it feared it might be skewed by COVID-19-related challenges, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has decided to go ahead and publish that data – but not to use it in Medicare payment calculations.

Under Medicare’s hospital-acquired condition program, hospitals are rated on their performance on ten safety indicators.  Regulators, however, feared that doing so based on hospital performance during the pandemic might penalize hospitals whose communities were especially hard hit by the pandemic.  Patient safety groups opposed CMS’s April proposal to withhold the data and the agency ultimately compromised, announcing this week that it would post the data in its star ratings on its Care Compare web site but not use that data to reduce payments to hospitals.

Some hospital groups continue to oppose publication of the data based on their concern that it does not reflect the COVID-related challenges some providers have faced over the past two-and-a-half years.

Learn more about CMS’s decision in the Fierce Healthcare article “Patient safety advocate cheers CMS’ reversal on quality reporting, but hospitals say the data are no good.”


Rural Residents Turning to Urban Hospitals in Growing Numbers

Residents of rural areas are choosing to seek care in urban hospitals in growing numbers, according to a new study.

And while this trend has been accelerated by rural hospital closures, it is occurring even in areas where rural hospitals have not closed.

Among the reasons for this migration from rural to urban hospitals are physician referrals and perceptions about the cost and quality of care.

Learn more from the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health article “Urban hospitals see rising admissions from rural Medicare patients,” which includes a link to additional resources.…