The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 27. Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.
CDC Updates Mask Guidance
- The CDC has updated its guidance on the use of masks as a means of protection from COVID-19, encouraging even vaccinated people to wear masks indoors when they are in areas with a high rate of COVID-19 transmission. It also calls on students and staff members of kindergarten–grade 12 schools and institutions of higher education, health care workers, residents and staff members of long-term-care facilities, incarcerated persons, homeless persons, and workers in high-density work sites to wear masks regardless of whether they have been vaccinated. Go here to see the new guidance, which includes metrics for determining whether individual areas have a high rate of COVID-19 transmission.
- The Justice Department has issued an opinion on whether section 564 of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act prohibits entities from requiring the use of a vaccine available only under emergency use authorization. The opinion says the provision does not prohibit private or public entities from requiring EUA-only authorized COVID-19 vaccines of workers and students. See the opinion here.
- The White House has released a package of guidance and resources to support individuals experiencing the long-term symptoms of COVID-19, known commonly as “long COVID.” The announcements from the departments of Health and Human Services, Justice, Education, and Labor state that long COVID can be considered a disability under the law, provide information about where individuals can find resources and accommodations, and clarify the rights for health and educational services and supports. This includes:
- HHS’s Office for Civil Rights and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice have issued guidance explaining that long COVID can be a disability under Titles II (state and local government) and III (public accommodations) of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), and Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Section 1557). Each of these federal laws protects people with disabilities from discrimination. This guidance also provides resources for additional information and best practices. This document focuses solely on long COVID and does not address when COVID-19 may meet the legal definition of disability.
- The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and Office of Special Education have issued guidance that addresses the needs of children with long COVID who also have disabilities.
- HHS’s Administration for Community Living has issued a guide on community-based resources that can help people if they now need assistance to live in their own home, go to work or school, or participate in the community
- The Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy has established a new web page about requesting and providing workplace accommodations for individuals with long COVID and a blog discussing the impact of long COVID on workers with disabilities.
Department of Health and Human Services
- HHS has awarded $121 million in grants to support community-based efforts to increase vaccinations in underserved communities. These awards were made to community-based organizations that are working to build vaccine confidence, share factual information about vaccines, and answer people’s questions about getting vaccinated. Go here to learn more about the awards and find a link to a list of recipients.
Health Policy News
- HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health’s Office on Women’s Health is launching the second phase of its “HPV VAX NOW” campaign to address a situation in which only 40 percent of young adults in the United States have received one or more doses of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine and only 22 percent have completed the vaccine series. The second phase of the program, the first phase of which was launched in January in three states (Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas), will target young adults ages 18–26 in the same three states with the long-term goal of empowering all to complete the HPV vaccine series. Learn more from this HHS news release.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- The CDC has updated its guidance on how people who are vaccinated against COVID-19 can protect themselves from the virus.
- The CDC has updated its guidance on how unvaccinated people can protect those around them from COVID-19.
Health Policy News
- The CDC has awarded $117 million to state and local health departments to help rebuild and begin to expand HIV prevention and treatment efforts and to advance innovation and health equity in the federal initiative to end HIV. Go here to learn more about the grants and their purpose and for a link to the jurisdictions that received awards.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
- FEMA has published an advisory on available funding for non-profit entities and others to support activities to encourage people to receive COVID-19 vaccines. That advisory includes information about a webinar on Wednesday, July 28 that will offer additional information about this funding available through FEMA’s public assistance program.
Food and Drug Administration
- The FDA has updated its list of emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for medical devices related to the COVID-19 public health emergency. For a list of the authorizations issued – most of which are for diagnostic tests to determine the presence of COVID-19 – see this FDA Federal Register notice.
- The FDA has issued an EUA for citrate plasma tubes used to collect, transport, and store blood samples for coagulation testing. The device authorized under this EUA is for use in coagulation testing, performed by authorized laboratories, to aid in the identification and treatment of coagulopathy in patients, including patients with known or suspected COVID-19. The FDA also posted an FAQ about sodium citrate blood specimen collection tubes. For details on the EUA, see the FDA’s letter of authorization.
Wednesday, July 28 – FEMA
Public Assistance Program Funding for Vaccination Advocacy
Wednesday, July 28 at 2:00 p.m. (eastern)
FEMA will hold a webinar to discuss funding for non-profit entities and governments to support COVID-19 vaccine advocacy.
For information about the webinar and to register, go here.
Wednesday, August 4 – CMS
Hospice Quality Reporting Program Forum
Wednesday, August 4 at 2:00 p.m. (eastern)
CMS will host a webinar to share updates on the on the fiscal year 2022 hospice wage index and payment rate update and hospice quality reporting requirements final rule. During this webinar, CMS staff will provide information on the FY 2022 hospice final rule summary and public display of quality measures and other hospice data updates. Go here for additional information about the webinar and to register.
Wednesday, August 4 – Centers for Disease Control
Zoonoses and One Health Update (ZOHU) Call
Wednesday, August 4 at 2:00 – 3:00 pm ET – Click here for more information
ZOHU Calls are one-hour monthly webinars that provide timely education on zoonotic and infectious diseases, One Health, antimicrobial resistance, food safety, vector-borne diseases, recent outbreaks, and related health threats at the animal-human-environment interface.
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.