Archive for Congress

 

Federal Health Policy Update for December 22

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government for the week of December 19-22.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.

Congress

As of this writing, Congress continues to work on an FY 2023 omnibus spending bill:  the Senate has passed it but the House has not yet addressed it.  Highlights of what negotiators have agreed to – but that have not yet been adopted – include:

  • Preventing the additional four percent Medicare sequester for two years.
  • Reducing by more than half the 4.5 percent cut in Medicare payments to physicians that was scheduled to take effect on January 1.  The agreement calls for reducing that 4.5 percent cut to just two percent in 2023 and then imposing a 3.5 percent cut in 2024.
  • Extending COVID-19 public health emergency Medicare telehealth policies for two years, through 2024.
  • Ending the maintenance-of-effort requirement from the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that prohibited states from removing ineligible individuals from their Medicaid rolls.  Under that law, states were prohibited from reviewing the eligibility of Medicaid beneficiaries for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency in exchange for a 6.2 percentage point increase in FMAP. 

Federal Health Policy Update for December 15

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government for the week of December 12-15.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.

White House

  • The White House has unveiled its “COVID-19 Winter Preparedness Plan,” the major components of which are expanding easy access to free COVID-19 testing options in the winter; making vaccinations and treatments readily available as cases rise; preparing personnel and resources; and focusing on protecting the highest-risk Americans.  Learn more about the plan from this White House fact sheet and go here for a transcript of the White House press briefing about the plan.

Congress

  • Yesterday the House passed a one-week continuing resolution (CR) that will prevent the federal government from shutting down when the current CR ends tomorrow, December 16; the Senate will take up that bill although some senators have expressed their objection to a short-term CR.  Appropriators have agreed on the spending limits for FY 2023 spending bills and hope to pass an omnibus spending bill encompassing all 12 appropriations bills before next Friday, December 23.  House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, backed by other House Republicans, objects to passing an omnibus spending bill before the end of

MedPAC Considers 2023 Medicare Rates at December Meeting

The government agency that advises Congress on Medicare payment matters met publicly in Washington, D.C. last week.

During the virtual meeting, members of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission discussed and debated:

  • Assessing payment adequacy and updating payments: hospital inpatient and outpatient services and supporting Medicare safety-net hospitals – commissioners discussed a proposal to increase FY 2024 rates one percentage point more than current law prescribes.  Commissioners also discussed additional steps they might take to provide better support to safety-net hospitals, which they described as “…hospitals with high shares of low-income Medicare patients.”
  • Status report: ambulatory surgical center services.
  • Assessing payment adequacy and updating payments: physician and other health professional services; and supporting Medicare safety-net clinicians – commissioners discussed increasing physician and health professional provider rates in general and increasing them even more for those who care for larger numbers of low-income Medicare patients.
  • Assessing payment adequacy and updating payments: outpatient dialysis services – commissioners discussed increasing these payments 1.5 percentage points.
  • Assessing payment adequacy and updating payments: hospice services.
  • Assessing payment adequacy and updating payments: skilled nursing facility services – commissioners discussed reducing these payments three percentage points.
  • Assessing payment adequacy and updating payments: home health care services – commissioners

Before Recess, Congress Contemplates Medicaid

Before the current session of Congress comes to a close, lawmakers may consider a number of Medicaid issues.

Among them:

  • The future of Medicaid eligibility for those who enrolled in the program as a result of special provisions introduced in response to COVID-19.
  • The process for reviewing the future eligibility of those currently enrolled in Medicaid.
  • A movement to extend the current, temporary 12 months of postpartum Medicaid eligibility for new mothers and their newborns beyond the end of the current public health emergency.
  • A gradual phasing out of the enhanced federal Medicaid matching funds states currently receive.

Learn more about these and other Medicaid issues Congress is expected to consider in the coming weeks from the Washington Post article “Medicaid maneuvering in the lame duck.”…

FEDERAL HEALTH POLICY UPDATE FOR December 1

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government for the week of November 28 to December 1.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.

340B

  • HHS and its Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) have proposed revising the current 340B administrative dispute resolution process.  Since the current process was introduced in 2020 HRSA has encountered policy and operational challenges with its implementation and now proposes revising it and is soliciting comment on its proposed new approach.  Changes include changing the nature of the dispute resolution process, using different kinds of professionals to adjudicate disputes, moving the process closer to certain legislative requirements, and creating a process for reconsideration for those unhappy with decisions.  Learn more about how the proposed rule would change the administrative dispute resolution process from this HHS notice, which also includes a link to a more detailed Federal Register notice.  Comments are due by January 30.

Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder Patient Records

  • HHS and its Office for Civil Rights and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) have proposed changes in the Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder Patient Records under 42 CFR part 2,