Archive for COVID-19

 

Federal Health Policy Update for Thursday, June 30

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 2:45 p.m. on Thursday, June 30.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.

White House

The White House has unveiled its “White House Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis.”

Monkeypox Update

  • The White House has announced the first phase of its national monkeypox vaccine strategy, a part of its monkeypox outbreak response.  The major components of the strategy include expanded efforts to vaccinate those most at risk, expanded testing supply and availability, and greater engagement with community leaders and stakeholders.  Learn more about the White House’s plan from this fact sheet.
  • HHS has announced an enhanced nationwide vaccination strategy to mitigate the spread of monkeypox.  The strategy includes vaccinating and protecting those at risk of monkeypox, prioritizing vaccines for areas with the highest numbers of cases, and providing guidance to state, territorial, tribal, and local health officials to aid their planning and response efforts.  HHS will provide 296,000 doses of monkeypox vaccine.  Of that amount, 56,000 doses will be made available immediately and an additional 240,000 doses will be made available in the coming weeks.  HHS expects more

COVID Drugs Experiencing Arguably Inequitable Distribution

The distribution of COVID-19 drugs could be exhibit A in the argument that inadequate access to care is a major social determinant of health.

At least that’s a conclusion that might be drawn based on a new CDC study.

According to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis, the rate at which COVID-19 drug therapies are being distributed “…were lowest in high vulnerability zip codes, despite these zip codes having the largest number of dispensing sites.”

The study observes that “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated long-standing inequities in the social determinants of health.”  Despite this, federal efforts to dispense COVID drugs in an equitable manner were not achieving their goals, and as a result, “…dispensing rates in high-vulnerability zip codes were approximately one half the rates in medium- and low-vulnerability zip codes.”

Why the disparity?  The study hypothesizes that

To access oral antiviral therapy, a patient must first receive a positive test result for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), followed by a clinical assessment by a health care provider authorized to prescribe the drug (i.e., physicians, advanced practice registered nurses, and physician assistants). Although 47.5% of dispensing sites are located in high-vulnerability zip codes as

Federal Health Policy Update for Tuesday, June 21

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

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

  • The Supreme Court has ruled that CMS acted inappropriately when it reduced 340B payments to hospitals.  In a unanimous decision, the court found that the law creating the program gives the federal government two ways to set 340B payments for outpatient drugs for qualified providers and that the manner in which CMS cut those payments in 2018 followed neither.  Learn more from the Supreme Court opinion.
  • CMS has approved requests from Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Washington, D.C. to expand from 60 days to 12 months postpartum Medicaid and CHIP coverage, as authorized temporarily by the American Rescue Plan.  This brings to 14 the number of states that have taken advantage of this option.  Learn more from this HHS news release.
  • The latest edition of MLN Connects, CMS’s online newsletter about Medicare reimbursement issues, includes items about FY 2023 ICD-10 diagnosis codes, the July update of the ambulatory surgical center payment system, revised requirements for mental health visits via

Federal Health Policy Update for Monday, June 13

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 2:30 p.m. on Monday, June 13.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.

White House

  • The White House has issued a fact sheet outlining its plan for administering COVID-19 vaccines to children under the age of five.  Find the fact sheet here.  The White House also held a background call with the press to discuss this plan; go here to see a transcript of that call.
  • The White House COVID-19 response team has held a briefing for the press to discuss the latest in the federal response to the virus.  Find a transcript of that briefing here.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

  • CMS has created new HCPCS codes so providers may bill for stand-alone vaccine counseling they provide to Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries; these codes can be used for stand-alone vaccine counseling provided in-person and/or via telehealth.  Go here for a list of the codes and an explanation of what each code covers.
  • CMS has developed and published webinar content from its Performance Period 2022 Eligible Clinician Electronic Clinical Quality Measure (eCQM) Education and Outreach Webinar Series.  PDF

Federal Health Policy Update for Friday, June 3

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 2:30 p.m. on Friday, June 3.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.

White House

The White House COVID-19 response coordinator and press secretary have held a briefing on the latest in the federal response to COVID-19.  Find a transcript of that briefing here.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

  • HHS and CMS are notifying states that they now have an additional year – through March 31, 2025 – to use funding made available by the American Rescue Plan to enhance, expand, and strengthen home- and community-based services for people with Medicaid who need long-term services and supports.  Learn more from this HHS news release.
  • CMS has posted a notice outlining modifications of place-of-service codes for telehealth.
  • CMS has introduced a new “Renew Your Medicaid or CHIP Coverage” web page to help current Medicaid and CHIP participants prepare for the review of their eligibility for those programs that will begin when the formal public health emergency ends.
  • CMS has released a new tool states can use to prepare for the eventual end of the COVID-19 public health emergency