FEDERAL HEALTH POLICY UPDATE FOR THE WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 12-16

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government for the week of September 12-16.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.

No Surprises Act

  • The Department of Health and Human Services, the federal Office of Personnel Management, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Labor, and the Employee Benefits Security Administration have issued a request for information (RFI) seeking stakeholder comment on how to implement the No Surprises Act’s requirement that health care providers and payers give explanations of benefits and good-faith estimates of costs for services and items that are scheduled at least three days in advance to individuals who have health insurance.  Previous regulations have focused on the delivery of this information to uninsured and self-pay patients and those obtaining services from out-of-network providers, but providers and payers asked regulators to delay implementation of the law’s requirements for the provision of such information to insured patients so they could address the technical infrastructure needed to transfer data effectively and in a timely manner between and among providers and payers.  Learn more this Federal Register notice.  Comments in response to the RFI are due by November 15.

Department of Health and Human Services

  • HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is inviting public comment on its draft Health Center Program Scope of Project and Telehealth Policy Information Notice.  The purpose of this notice is to establish policy for health centers that provide services via telehealth within the HRSA-approved scope of project.  Learn more about the invitation to comment from this Federal Register notice and find additional information about the draft Health Center Program Scope of Project and Telehealth Policy Information Notice here.  Comments are due by November 14.
  • HHS has released a “HHS Roadmap for Behavioral Health Integration” that details policy solutions that seek to ensure that the full spectrum of behavioral health care will be integrated into the health care, social service, and early childhood systems to ensure all people have equitable access to evidence-based, culturally appropriate, person-centered care.  Learn more from this HHS news release and the Roadmap document itself.
  • HHS’s Office on Women’s Health has awarded more than $3.6 million in competitive grants to seven organizations working to bolster support for individuals experiencing substance use disorder during pregnancy and postpartum.  Five of the recipients also will use the funds to address the intersection of substance use disorder and intimate partner violence.  Learn more about the grant funding, the recipients of the funding, and how they are expected to use these resources from this HHS news release.
  • HHS’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) seeks public comment about comprehensive, longitudinal, person-centered care planning for people who are at risk for or are living with multiple chronic conditions across settings of care.  Learn more about the issues the request for information seeks to address from this Federal Register notice.  Comments are due by November 15.
  • AHRQ is seeking applications for its National Research Service Award Institutional Research Training Program, which supports institutions to provide advanced training to predoctoral and postdoctoral program fellows who are committed to careers in health services research.  Letters of intent are due October 14 and applications are due by December 1.  Learn more from this funding announcement and from a webinar that will be held on October 5.
  • HHS’s Office of the Inspector General has reported that opioid overdoses and the limited treatment of opioid use disorder continue to be concerns for Medicare beneficiaries.  Find its report here and a summary of the report here.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

  • CMS has published data that highlights trends in the use of telehealth services between January 1, 2020 and March 31, 2022.  The data allows for analysis of telehealth utilization by quarter, state, and various demographic characteristics.  Find links to the data and other information about telehealth utilization here.
  • The latest edition of MLN Connects, CMS’s online newsletter addressing Medicare reimbursement matters, includes information about the deadline for applying to participate in its enhancing oncology model, new information on allowed revenue codes when billing for inpatient services, a quarterly update of the clinical laboratory fee schedule, and more.  Find it here.
  • CMS has posted information to help providers understand public reporting for the Hospice Quality Reporting Program in the midst of the COVID-19 public health emergency.  Find this CMS tip sheet here.

Monkeypox

  • Local, state, and territorial health departments and tribal governments and local non-governmental organizations may work together to submit requests to obtain monkeypox vaccine through the new Monkeypox Vaccine Equity Pilot Program.  This new pilot program is intended to reach populations that may face barriers to monkeypox vaccination.  Learn more about the pilot program from this CDC announcement and go here to learn more about the Monkeypox Vaccine Equity Pilot Program and how to participate in the program.  Applications will be accepted until the program’s supply of vaccine has been exhausted.
  • The CDC has posted a series of updates about monkeypox-related issues.
  • The CDC has posted an updated map showing the distribution of 23,499 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the U.S. as of September 16.
  • The White House monkeypox response team has briefed the press on the most recent aspects of the federal response to the monkeypox outbreak.  Find a transcript of that briefing here.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • The CDC has announced that polio viruses found in New York meet the World Health Organization’s criteria for circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV).  As a result, the U.S. now joins about 30 other countries where cVDPVs have been identified.  Learn more from this CDC news release.
  • The CDC has published research on the mortality risk among patients hospitalized primarily for COVID-19 during the omicron and delta variant pandemic periods in the U.S. between April of 2020 and June of this year.  The study reports that in-hospital mortality among patients hospitalized primarily for COVID-19 decreased from 15.1 percent during the delta variation period to 4.9 percent during the later omicron period despite high-risk patient groups representing a larger proportion of hospitalizations.  Find the report here.
  • The CDC has updated its information about possible side effects from COVID-19 vaccines.

Government Accountability Office (GAO)

Congressional Research Service

  • In response to the June decision of the Supreme Court that HHS lacked discretion to cut 340B payments to qualified hospitals, the Congressional Research Service has issued a brief analysis that provides an overview of the 340B program and the rate cut at issue, a summary of the court’s decision, and some considerations for Congress.  Find the report here.

Stakeholder Events

CDC – Long COVID and Cardiovascular Symptoms – September 20

The CDC will hold a webinar on Long COVID during which it will outline the recommended clinical approach to identifying and managing cardiovascular complications in Long COVID patients.  The webinar will be held on Tuesday, September 20 at 2:00 (eastern); continuing education credits will be available.  Learn more about the webinar and how to join it from this CDC notice.

CMMI – Person-Centered Care – September 20

The CMS Innovation Center (CMMI) will host a webinar on Tuesday, September 20 at 3:30 p.m. (eastern) to share information about its approach to testing models and innovations that support person-centered care.  Go here to learn more about the webinar and find a link to register to participate.

HHS/HRSA – Utilizing Telehealth to Address Maternal Health Challenges – September 20

HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will hold a webinar on using telehealth to address maternal health challenges as part of its maternal health webinar series, the goal of which is to highlight innovations and promising practices as well as resources to promote and further maternal health and well-being across the lifespan.  The webinar will be held on Tuesday, September 20 at noon (eastern).  Go here for additional information about the webinar and to register to participate.

NIH – Cancer Care and Telehealth – September 23

The NIH’s National Cancer Institute will hold a webinar to continue its exploration of emergent research gaps and opportunities for the use of telehealth in cancer prevention and control.  The webinar will be held on Friday, September 23 at noon (eastern).  To learn more about the webinar and how to join it, go here.

CMS – CMS Hospice Quality Reporting Program Forum – September 28

CMS will host a webinar to share updates for its Hospice Quality Reporting Program on Wednesday, September 28 at 1:30 (eastern).  Go here for additional information about the webinar and to register to participate.

MedPAC – September 29-30

The next meeting of members of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) will be held on Thursday, September 29 and Friday, September 30.  An agenda and participation information have not yet posted; when they are, they will appear here.

FDA – Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee – October 28

The FDA’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee will meet virtually on Friday, October 28 at 10:00 (eastern).  The general function of this committee is to provide advice and recommendations to the FDA on regulatory issues.  Learn more about the meeting, including about the docket, how to submit comments, and how to participate, from this Federal Register notice.

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