The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 2:15 p.m. on Wednesday, May 19. Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.
- NASH has written to all members of Congress urging them to contact Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra about directing more of its remaining CARES Act Provider Relief Fund money to private safety-net hospitals to help them serve their diverse, predominantly low-income communities during the COVID-19 emergency. Go here to see NASH’s message to Congress.
The White House
- The White House has posted a transcript of the May 18 press briefing by its COVID-19 response team and public health officials.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Health Policy News
- CMS has updated documents in support of a 2016 regulation that seeks to establish consistent emergency preparedness requirements for health care providers participating in Medicare and Medicaid, increase patient safety during emergencies, and establish a more coordinated response to natural and human-caused disasters. These updated documents combine excerpts from the final rule, the interpretive guidelines, and revisions from CMS to provide a consolidated overview document for the facilities that must comply with the rule. Find the updated documents here.
- CMS has posted the latest edition of its online publication MLN Connects. Among items of interest in this edition are:
- Mental Health: Medicare Covers Preventive Services
- Physician Orders: Provider Minute Video
- Medicare Shared Savings Program: Establishing a Repayment Mechanism Webcast — May 27
- LTCH Quality Reporting Program: Achieving a Full APU Webinar — May 27
- Medicare Fee-for-Service (FFS) Coverage of Costs for Kidney Acquisitions in Maryland Waiver (MW) Hospitals for Medicare Advantage (MA) Beneficiaries
- Medical Record Maintenance & Access Requirements
Go here for links to these and other items.
Department of Health and Human Services
- HHS’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is distributing $3 billion in American Rescue Plan funding for its mental health and substance use block grant programs. The Community Mental Health Services Block Grant Program and Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant Program are distributing $1.5 billion each to states and territories to help communities addressing mental health and substance use needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more from HHS’s news release announcing the funding.
- HHS’s Office of the Inspector General has updated its work plan for COVID-19-related audits, evaluations, and inspections scheduled for May.
- In conjunction with the California Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California, HHS’s Office of the Inspector General has issued a news release advising the public that they should not be asked by providers to pay for COVID-19 vaccines and reminding providers that they may not attempt to charge or bill consumers for administering those vaccines. See the news release here.
- HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response has published information about the challenges of providing hospice care amid the COVID-19 pandemic and about providing home care during the public health emergency.
Health Policy News
- HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration will award three grants of up to $1 million a year for four years through its Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies Program to improve maternal and neonatal outcomes within a rural region. The application deadline is June 4. Learn more about the funding opportunity here.
- HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response is now accepting applications for its two new federal advisory committees: the National Advisory Committee on Seniors and Disasters and the National Advisory Committee on Individuals with Disabilities and Disasters.
Senate Finance Committee Hearing
The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing today on COVID-19 flexibilities.
- Go here to read the opening statement of the committee chair, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and go here to read the opening statement of the committee’s ranking minority member, Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID).
- Go here to see the testimony of individuals who appeared at the hearing.
- The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission has submitted a written statement to the committee. The MedPAC statement notes that “While many of these actions have been helpful in addressing the short-term issues presented by the pandemic, continuing those changes indefinitely would have drawbacks. Therefore, policymakers should be cautious about extending them beyond the duration of the public health emergency (PHE) or other scheduled expiration date.” The statement pays particular attention to telehealth and post-acute care. Go here to see the MedPAC submission “Temporary modifications of Medicare policies in response to the coronavirus public health emergency.”
- The Government Accountability Office has submitted a report to the Senate Finance Committee on the same subject. The GAO notes that it undertook this work, titled “Medicare and Medicaid: COVID-19 Program Flexibilities and Considerations for Their Continuation,” because of a CARES Act provision that calls for the agency to “… conduct monitoring and oversight of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.” Find the GAO submission here.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- The CDC has updated its guidance for people who are completely vaccinated against COVID-19.
- The CDC has updated its vaccination toolkit for pediatric health care professionals.
- The CDC has updated its quick reference guide for caring for patients with COVID-19.
- The CDC has updated its information about possible side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine.
- The CDC has updated its information about reported adverse events following receipt of COVID-19 vaccines.
Food and Drug Administration
- The FDA has issued a statement about the monoclonal antibody leronlimab and its uses and efficacy in treating patients with COVID-19.
- The FDA has updated the fact sheet for its emergency use authorization of the monoclonal antibodies bamlanivimab and etesevimab, when used together, to treat patients with COVID-19.
- The FDA has updated the fact sheet for its emergency use authorization for the use of the monoclonal antibody REGEN-COV, which is casirivimab with imdevimab administered together, to treat patients with COVID-19.
- The FDA has issued a safety communication informing the public that results from COVID-19 antibody tests should not be used to evaluate immunity or protection from COVID-19 at any time, and especially after the person received a COVID-19 vaccination. See the notice here.
National Institutes of Health
- The NIH has updated its COVID-19 treatment guidelines.
National Academy of Medicine
- The National Academy of Medicine has released two new papers that will be part of its eventual nine-part “Emerging Stronger After COVID-19: Priorities for Health System Transformation” series: “Clinicians and Professional Societies COVID-19 Impact Assessment: Lessons Learned and Compelling Needs” and “Health Care Payers COVID-19 Impact Assessment: Lessons Learned and Compelling Needs.”
- FEMA has released guidance for emergency managers in the new publication COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance All-Hazards Incident Response and Recovery.
Government Accountability Office
- The GAO has published a new report titled “COVID-19 in Nursing Homes: Most Homes Had Multiple Outbreaks and Weeks of Sustained Transmission from May 2020 Through January 2021.”