Federal Health Policy Update for Thursday, August 5

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 2:45 p.m. on Thursday, August 5.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.

Final Medicare Inpatient Prospective Payment System Regulation for FY 2022

CMS has published its final Medicare inpatient prospective payment system regulation for FY 2022.  Highlights include:

  • An increase in hospital inpatient rates of 2.5 percent and an increase in long-term hospital rates averaging 0.9 percent.
  • The Medicare disproportionate share (Medicare DSH) payments uncompensated care allocation has been cut $1.1 billion, to $7.2 billion, with distribution to be based on hospitals’ FY 2018 Medicare cost reports.
  • A reduction of the labor-related share of Medicare payments from 68.3 percent to 67.6 percent.
  • Repeal of the requirement that hospitals report median payer-specific negotiated charges with Medicare Advantage plans on their Medicare cost reports.
  • Extension of the COVID-19 treatment add-on payment through the end of the fiscal year in which the public health emergency ends.
  • A new requirement that hospitals include in their Medicare quality program reporting information about the vaccination status of their staffs.

CMS noted that this regulation is not comprehensive and that it will issue an additional regulation or regulations about the FY 2022 Medicare inpatient prospective payment system in the future.  Among other subjects, this regulation does not address graduate medical education, organ acquisition payment policies, and health equity.  To learn more about this final rule, see the following resources:

CMS’s news release

CMS’s fact sheet

the final rule itself

The White House

Provider Relief Fund

  • HHS has updated the “Reporting Requirements and Auditing” section of its Provider Relief Fund web page.  Find the updated web page here.

Department of Health and Human Services

COVID-19

  • HHS has invoked a provision in the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act to authorize pharmacy technicians and interns to administer adult flu vaccines.  See the Federal Register notice announcing this policy.
  • HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response has developed a “COVID-19 Monoclonal Antibody Therapeutics Calculator for Infusion Sites” (mAbs Calculator).  The mAbs Calculator is a free, data-informed decision support tool that is based on a comprehensive simulation framework.  The mAbs Calculator can be used to inform staffing decisions and resource investments needed for COVID-19 monoclonal antibody therapeutic infusion sites.  Learn more about this tool here.
  • HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response has published a guide to resources on the role of medical support services in the response to COVID-19.
  • HHS’s COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force met recently to consider interim recommendations addressing future pandemic preparedness.  Go here to find a summary of the meeting and links to video of the proceedings.

Health Policy News

  • HHS announced that it is providing nearly $90 million to help rural communities combat opioid use disorders and other forms of substance use disorders and to improve access to maternal and obstetric care.  HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration distributed this money through four programs:  the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program, the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program-Psychostimulant Support Program, the Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies Program, and the Rural Northern Border Region Planning Program.  Learn more from this HHS announcement.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Health Policy News

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

COVID-19

  • The CDC has updated its guidance on how families can protect themselves from COVID-19 when they include members who have not been vaccinated or who have compromised immune systems.  Find this updated guidance here.

Food and Drug Administration

COVID-19

  • The FDA has revised its emergency use authorization for REGEN-COV (casirivimab and imdevimab, administered together) to add an authorization of REGEN-COV for emergency use as post-exposure prophylaxis (prevention) for COVID-19 in adults and pediatric individuals (12 years of age and older weighing at least 40 kilograms) who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death.  Learn more here.
  • The FDA has revised its emergency use authorization for baricitinib (sold under the brand name Olumiant), now authorizing baricitinib alone for the treatment of COVID-19 in hospitalized adults and pediatric patients two years of age or older requiring supplemental oxygen, non-invasive or invasive mechanical ventilation, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). Under the revised EUA, baricitinib is no longer required to be administered with remdesivir (Veklury).  Baricitinib is not FDA-approved as a treatment for COVID-19.  Learn more here.
  • The FDA has authorized an extension for the shelf life of the refrigerated Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine, allowing the product to be stored at 2-8 degrees Celsius for six months.  Learn more here.

National Institutes of Health

Stakeholder Events

Wednesday, August 11 – CMS

Price Transparency Stakeholder Webinar

Wednesday, August 11 at 2:00 p.m. (eastern)

This webinar will focus on how to meet the requirements of the Hospital Price Transparency Final Rule for posting standard charge information in a comprehensive machine-readable file.  For further information about the webinar go here and to register for the webinar go here.

Thursday, August 12 – CMS

Ambulance Open Door Forum

Thursday, August 12 at 2:00 p.m. (eastern)
The subject of this forum is the Medicare Ground Ambulance Data Collection System.  Learn about the Medicare Ground Ambulance Data Collection System, including current status and activities, information sampled that organizations need to collect and report, and proposed revisions and clarifications in the 2022 physician fee schedule proposed rule.  Go here for further information about the forum and how to participate.

Monday, August 23 – CMS

Advisory Panel on Hospital Outpatient Payment

Monday, August 23 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (eastern)

CMS’s Advisory Panel on Hospital Outpatient Payment will meet virtually to advise the agency about the clinical integrity of the Ambulatory Payment Classification groups and their associated weights and about supervision of hospital outpatient therapeutic services.  The advice provided by the panel will be considered as CMS prepares its annual updates for the hospital outpatient prospective payment system.

The public may participate in this meeting by webinar or teleconference.  Teleconference dial-in and webinar information will appear on the final meeting agenda, which will be posted here when available.