Coronavirus update for April 22 as of 4:30 p.m.
Distribution of Additional CARES Act Funding
Today the Department of Health and Human Services announced how it will distribute the remaining $70 billion of the $100 billion designated in the CARES Act for health care providers. See a news release describing that plan here.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
- CMS has posted a new toolkit to help state and local health care decision-makers maximize workforce flexibilities when confronting COVID-19 in their communities. The toolkit is a curated set of previously released resources and tools for decision-makers managing health care workforce challenges in response to the COVID-19 emergency.
- CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT have announced a policy of enforcement discretion to allow compliance flexibilities regarding the implementation of the operability rules announced in March in response to the COVID-19 crisis. See the CMS announcement here and the National Coordinator for Health IT statement here.
- CMS has issued guidance permitting independent freestanding emergency departments to provide care to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries during the COVID-19 emergency.
- CMS has issued its first COVID-19-specific section 1115 Medicaid waiver to the state of Washington. The waiver permits self-attestation or alternative verification of individuals’ eligibility (income/assets) and level of care to qualify for Medicaid-covered long-term services and supports (LTSS) and for selected aspects of payments for LTSS.
- CMS has issued new blanket waivers addressing care for patients in long-term care hospitals (LTCHs), temporary expansion locations of Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), staffing and training modifications in Intermediate Care Facilities for individuals with Intellectual disabilities, and the limit for substitute billing arrangements. They are included in CMS’s updated compendium of COVID-19 emergency declaration blanket waivers for health care providers.
- CMS is easing the burden on Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) during the COVID-19 crisis by directing plans that are eligible to report for the Quality Rating System and the Quality Improvement Strategy programs to discontinue collecting clinical quality measure data. Eligible QHPs can discontinue reporting in June 2020 for display on exchange websites for the 2021 open enrollment period.
Department of Health and Human Services
- HHS has launched a new web site to serve as a telehealth resource for health care providers and patients. The site offers information about telemedicine, including an overview of telehealth, technology issues, COVID-19-related policy changes, and links to tools and resources for practitioners.
- HHS and its Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) have awarded nearly $165 million to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in rural communities. These investments will support 1779 small rural hospitals and provide additional funding to 14 HRSA-funded Telehealth Resource Centers to provide technical assistance on telehealth to help rural and underserved areas combat COVID-19.
Food and Drug Administration
- The FDA will participate in a webinar that addresses the current landscape of COVID-19 treatment trial designs and best practices for quickly launching trials that ensure both patient safety and reliable results. The webinar will be held on Thursday, April 23 at 9:30 a.m. (eastern).
- The FDA has approved an abbreviated new drug application for Albuterol sulfate inhalation solution for the relief of bronchospasm in patients two to 12 years of age with asthma in recognition of the increased demand for Albuterol products during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The FDA has issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the use of a specific commercial device for use in decontaminating compatible N95 or N95-equivalent respirators for single-user reuse when there are insufficient supplies of face-filtering respirators.
- The FDA has authorized the first diagnostic test with a home collection option for COVID-19 by re-issuing the EUA for the LabCorp COVID-19 RT-PCR test to permit testing of samples self-collected by patients at home using LabCorp’s Pixel by LabCorp COVID-19 Test home collection kit.
- The FDA has issued two MUAs for specific commercial laboratory tests for COVID-19. See them here and here.
- The FDA has published guidance about its temporary policy on repackaging or combining propofol drug products during the COVID-19 emergency.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- The CDC has developed a spreadsheet-based tool to estimate the surge in demand for hospital-based services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
National Institutes of Health
- Working under the aegis of the NIH, a panel of U.S. physicians, statisticians, and other experts has developed treatment guidelines for COVID-19 based on published and preliminary data and the clinical expertise of the panelists.
Federal Funding Opportunities for Hospitals
- NASH has prepared a document that collects and presents in one place the various new federal funding opportunities for hospitals resulting from legislation addressing the COVID-19 public health emergency. Find that document here.
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