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.

Congress

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 the possibility that Medicaid might pay for such travel; to ensure that providers comply with federal non-discrimination laws; and to promote research and data collection on maternal health outcomes.  Learn more from this White House fact sheet and the executive order itself.

Department of Health and Human Services

  • HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has updated its list of grant opportunities for which applications are currently being accepted; they include programs in the areas of primary care, maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS, and health care workforce.  Find that list here.
  • HHS and HRSA have awarded nearly $90 million to nearly 1400 community health centers to advance health equity through better data collection and reporting.  Funding supports a data modernization effort aimed at better identifying and responding to the specific needs of patients and communities through improved data quality; advancing COVID-19 response, mitigation, and recovery efforts; and helping prepare for future public health emergencies.  Learn more from this HHS news release.
  • HHS and HRSA have announced investments of nearly $60 million to grow the health workforce and increase access to quality health care in rural communities.  The funding consists of three components:  $46 million to support 31 recipients to expand health care capacity in rural and tribal communities through health care job development, training, and placement; nearly $10 million to support 13 organizations through the Rural Residency Planning and Development Program to establish new medical residency programs in rural communities; and nearly $4 million to support 18 awards to improve patient health outcomes and quality and delivery of care throughout rural counties and improve access to care for rural veterans.  Learn more from this HHS news release.
  • In the spring HRSA sponsored a national telehealth conference as “… as an opportunity to bring together public and private sector leaders in telehealth to share best practices and lessons learned, examine the current and future landscape of telehealth and its role in health care, and provide opportunities for participants to connect and interact with federal partners.”  HRSA has now posted a summary report of the proceedings and made available video recordings of more than a dozen sessions from the event.  Find the report here and the videos here.
  • In response to a President Biden’s April 2022 Memorandum on Addressing the Long-Term Effects of COVID-19, HHS has released two reports on Long COVID:  the “National Research Action Plan on Long COVID” details advances in current research and charts a course for future study to better understand prevention and treatment of Long COVID and the “Services and Supports for Longer-Term Impacts of COVID-19” report highlights resources for health care workers and those affected by broader effects of COVID-19, including not only Long COVID but also effects on mental health and substance use and loss of caregivers and loved ones.  Learn more about the reports and what they address in this HHS news release and from the reports themselves:  “National Research Action Plan on Long COVID” and “Services and Supports for Longer-Term Impacts of COVID-19.”
  • HHS has launched a campaign to encourage blood and plasma donations.  The campaign, called Giving = Living,” seeks to increase awareness of the importance of donating blood and plasma and to encourage Americans to create new, regular donation habits.  Learn more from this HHS news release.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

  • CMS has posted a new edition of MLN Connects, its online newsletter with information about Medicare payment issues.  This week’s issue includes information about the ICD-10 MS-DRG version 40 grouper, a link to an updated 2023 ICD-10-CM web page for code files for patients encounters and discharges on or after October 1, 2022, and more.  Find the latest edition of MLN Connects here.
  • CMS has posted information about changes in how providers will bill Medicare for care provided to Medicare patients in inpatient psychiatric facilities in FY 2023.  Find the notice here.
  • CMS has posted information for providers billing Medicare for Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) waived laboratory tests they provide to Medicare patients.  The notice explains that there are eight newly waived tests.  Learn more here.
  • Following the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency, states will need to process an unprecedented volume of Medicaid renewals and application determinations on a timely basis.  This substantial volume of eligibility caseload work, coupled with significant staffing shortages, could create substantial operational and system challenges for some states.  CMS has posted a list of the strategies for which it has granted states waivers so they can undertake this work in a timely manner.  The CMS post also includes a chart that shows the various aspects of the unwinding process and the status of state waivers for each of those aspects.  Find the CMS post here.
  • CMS has contracted for the development of an enrollee satisfaction survey system for use in the health insurance exchange.  To support this endeavor, the agency is creating a technical expert panel to contribute direction and input on the contractor’s work and analysis.  The panel will be an advisory body of approximately 16 individuals who represent a broad range of technical experts and stakeholders, including exchange administrators, health plan representatives, consumers, consumer advocates, quality measurement experts, state officials, and federal agencies.  Now, CMS is seeking volunteers to participate in this endeavor.  Learn more about the panel, the work it will do, the time commitment involved, the skills and experiences sought from panel members, and how to submit nominations from this CMS notice.  Nominations are due by September 2.
  • The latest edition of the CMS blog features an entry titled “Lessons from Five Years of CMS’ Accountable Health Communities Model.”

Monkeypox

  • The CDC has posted an updated map showing the distribution of 7510 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the U.S. as of August 5.
  • HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra has declared monkeypox a public health emergency.  Find that declaration here.  Learn more about the implications of the declaration from this HHS news release.
  • The CDC has posted interim guidance for the prevention and treatment of monkeypox in persons with HIV infection.  Find the guidance here.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • The CDC has published the interim recommendations of its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for use of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 18 years of age and older.  Find those recommendations here.
  • The CDC has updated its information about the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The CDC has posted research on post-COVID-19 symptoms and conditions among children and adolescents in the U.S. between March 1, 2020 and January 31, 2022.  Find the report here.
  • The CDC is seeking nominations for membership on its Safety and Occupational Health Study Section.  The group consists of 20 experts in fields associated with occupational medicine and nursing, industrial hygiene, occupational safety and engineering, toxicology, chemistry, safety and health education, ergonomics, epidemiology, economic science, psychology, pulmonary pathology/physiology, and social science.  Learn more about the work of the committee and how to submit nominations from this Federal Register notice.  Nominations are due by September 1.

National Institutes of Health

The NIH’s Office of Research on Women’s Health is updating its strategic plan for research on the health of women and has published a request for information seeking input from basic, clinical, and translational scientists; from advocacy and patient communities; and from the public on topics under consideration for the next strategic plan.  Learn more about the scope of the office’s interests, the input it seeks, and how to submit comments from this Federal Register notice.  Comments are due by September 29.

Stakeholder Events

CMS Long-Term Services and Supports Open Door Forum – August 9

CMS will hold a long-term services and supports open door forum on Tuesday, August 9 at 1:00 (eastern).  For the meeting agenda and information about how to join the event, which will be held by conference call, see this CMS announcement.

CMS – Digital Quality Measurement – August 10 and 11

CMS will hold a webinar titled “Strategic Roadmap for Advancing Digital Quality Measurement” to highlight its multi-pronged strategy to provide better access to usable, timely data to improve quality measurement and patient care.  The webinar will be offered twice:  on Wednesday, August 10 at 3:00 (eastern) and Thursday, August 11 at noon (eastern).  To register for the August 10 session, go here; to register for the August 11 session, go here.  Space is limited so CMS encourages early registration.

HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response – Disaster Available Supplies in Hospitals Tool – August 15

HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response will hold a webinar on Monday, August 15 at 11:30 (eastern) to talk to hospitals about its Disaster Available Supplies in Hospitals Tool (DASH), an online, interactive tool for hospital emergency planners and supply chain staff to estimate supplies that may be needed immediately during various emergencies based on their hospital’s characteristics.  Speakers will provide an overview and demonstration of DASH and share information on how it may be used from both the hospital and supply chain perspective.  Go here to learn more about the webinar and the speakers and how to register to participate; registration is limited to 1000 participants, although the event will be recorded and made available at a later date.

CMS – Advisory Panel on Hospital Outpatient Payment – August 22 and 23

CMS’s Advisory Panel on Hospital Outpatient Payment will meet virtually on Monday, August 22 at 9:30 a.m. (eastern) and Tuesday, August 23, also at 9:30 a.m. (eastern).  The purpose of the panel is to advise the Secretary of HHS and the Administrator of CMS about the clinical integrity of the Ambulatory Payment Classification groups and their associated weights, which are important components of Medicare’s outpatient prospective payment system.  Stakeholders are invited to submit presentations and comment letters.  Learn more about the panel and its work, the meeting agenda, how to submit materials, and how to join the meeting from this Federal Register notice.

CDC – Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee – August 23

The CDC’s Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee will meet via webinar on Tuesday, August 23 at 12:00 p.m. (eastern).  Participation is limited to 300 individuals and registration is required.  Learn more about the role of the committee, the meeting agenda, and how to register from this Federal Register notice.

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