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Federal Health Policy Update for Wednesday, March 30

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

Provider Relief Fund

  • The Provider Relief Fund last week distributed more than $413 million to more than 3600 providers across the country, the fourth round of Phase 4 payments since those payments began last November.  This is in addition to nearly $7.5 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) Rural payments over the past four months.  HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which administers the Provider Relief Fund, has now processed 89 percent of the applications it received for Phase 4 grants and HHS reports that “Remaining applications require additional manual review and HRSA is working to process them as quickly as possible.”  Learn more about this latest round of Phase 4 Provider Relief Fund grants and find links to a state-by-state breakdown of payments and a list of all recipients in this HHS news release.
  • The Provider Relief Fund Uninsured Program, which has reimbursed providers at Medicare rates for testing uninsured individuals for COVID-19 and treating those diagnosed with the virus, has stopped accepting such claims

Medicaid as a Tool for Addressing Racial Health Inequities

Medicaid can be an important tool for addressing racial health inequities, the Kaiser Family Foundation suggests in a new issue brief.

Among the measures involving Medicaid that might be undertaken to address racial health inequities and addressing social determinants of health, the brief suggests (in words taken directly from the issue brief):

  • One significant action that would help close coverage disparities for people of color is adoption of the ACA Medicaid expansion in the 12 non-expansion states.
  • Other expansions of Medicaid eligibility could also address racial disparities in coverage and access to care.
  • Making it easier for eligible people to enroll in and maintain Medicaid coverage may also help close coverage gaps for people of color.
  • The Biden Administration and states may pursue equity-related initiatives through Section 115 waivers.
  • States can leverage managed care contracts to help address racial disparities and social determinants of health.
  • States can also adopt health plan and provider payment options to incentivize reductions in racial health disparities.
  • Expansions of Medicaid benefits and telehealth may increase access to care for all enrollees, including the disproportionate share of people of color covered by Medicaid.
  • It will be important to help prevent the end of the COVID-19 public

Federal Health Policy Update for Thursday, March 10

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 10.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.

White House

340B Eligibility Protection and Telehealth Extensions in the Omnibus Spending Bill

Providers that feared they might lose their eligibility to continue participating in the 340B prescription drug discount program because they have fallen below that program’s Medicare disproportionate share (Medicare DSH) threshold will remain eligible for the program at least through their next reporting period.

The following is a summary of the telehealth flexibilities extensions included in this bill, which passed in the House yesterday and is expected to pass in the Senate this weekend.

  • Patients will be permitted to continue receiving telehealth services at any site at which they are located, including their homes, for 151 days beginning on the first day after the public health emergency (PHE) formally ends.
  • This applies to all services that are considered payable under the Medicare physician fee schedule at the

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.…

Federal Health Policy Update for Friday, January 28

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 3:45 p.m. on Friday, January 28.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.

Provider Relief Fund

  • HHS and its Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced that this week they made more than $2 billion in Provider Relief Fund Phase 4 General Distribution payments to more than 7,600 providers.  Nearly $11 billion of the $17 billion allocated for Provider Relief Fund Phase 4 payments have now been distributed.  Phase 4 payments have an increased focus on equity, including reimbursing a higher percentage of losses for smaller providers and incorporating bonus payments for providers that serve Medicaid, CHIP, and Medicare beneficiaries.  Approximately 82 percent of all Phase 4 applications have now been processed.  Learn more from this HHS news release.
  • HRSA has updated the Provider Relief Fund FAQ with 11 new questions and answers.  The new information, found on pages 29, 30 (three questions), 31 (three questions), 38 (three questions), and 39 primarily address financial reporting requirements.
  • The reconsideration window for Provider Relief Fund Phase 4 payments and American Rescue Plan rural hospital payments will open on February 1, 2022,