The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 1.
Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payments Program
- In the latest edition of its online publication MLN Connects, CMS has published information about repayment of money health care providers received under its COVID-19 Accelerated and Advance Payments Program. Those repayments began on March 30. For further information, see the MLN Matters article “Repayment of COVID-19 Accelerated and Advance Payments Began on March 30, 2021.”
The White House
- The White House has posted a transcript of the March 31 press briefing provided by its COVID-19 response team and public health officials.
Health Policy News
- The Biden administration has unveiled its proposed “American Jobs Plan.” A portion of that plan addresses health care provided in the home. Learn more from the administration’s fact sheet on the plan and the section in it titled “Solidify the Infrastructure of our Care Economy by Creating Jobs and Raising Wages and Benefits for Essential Home Care Workers.”
Provider Relief Fund
- CMS has updated its Provider Relief Fund FAQ with 11 modified answers to questions about recoupment of Provider Relief Fund payments, distribution of those payments within recipient organizations, accounting for costs associated with services funded by Provider Relief Fund grants, and the ability of providers to receive COVID-19-related financial assistance from more than one federal source. Find these questions on pages 8, 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, and 44.
- CMS has updated its list of providers that have been reimbursed from the Provider Relief Fund for claims submitted for testing, treating, and vaccinating uninsured COVID-19 patients.
- CMS has updated its list of skilled nursing facilities that have received incentive payments under its Provider Relief Fund COVID-19 Nursing Home Quality Incentive Program. Find that updated list here.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
- CMS has updated its FAQ on Medicare fee-for-service billing on COVID-19 matters with a new question on page 109 about the need for ACOs to post beneficiary notices in their offices and a reminder on pages 109 and 110 that certain Medicare cost reporting deadlines have been extended.
Health Policy News
- CMS has posted the latest edition of its online publication MLN Connects, which features information about Medicare policy and reimbursement matters. The following is its table of contents (with links):
- Repayment of COVID-19 Accelerated and Advance Payments Began on March 30, 2021
- COVID-19 Vaccine Administration – No Out-of-Pocket Cost to Patients
- Alcohol Misuse: Medicare Covers Screening & Counseling
Claims, Pricers, & Codes
MLN Matters® Articles
- New Provider Enrollment Administrative Action Authorities
- April 2021 Quarterly Update to HCPCS Codes Used for Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) Consolidated Billing (CB) Enforcement
- Changes to the Laboratory National Coverage Determination (NCD) Edit Software for July 2021
- Claims Processing Instructions for National Coverage Determination (NCD) 20.4 Implantable Cardiac Defibrillators (ICDs)
- Update to the Manual for Telephone Services, Physician Assistant (PA) Supervision, and Medical Record Documentation for Part B Services
Department of Health and Human Services
- HHS has posted a technical report addressing what long-term-care facilities should be evaluating to include in their COVID-19 After Action Reports.
Health Policy News
- HHS has posted a presentation from a webinar on lessons learned from recent cybersecurity incidents involving health care providers. Go here to find the presentation and go here to view the webinar.
- HHS announced that additional savings and lower health care costs are available for consumers on HealthCare.gov through increased tax credits for health insurance made available through the American Rescue Plan. See the announcement here and find a link to additional information about newly reduced health insurance premiums here.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- The CDC has published interim estimates of the effectiveness of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in preventing COVID-19 infections among health care workers, first responders, and other essential frontline workers in eight locations between December of 2020 and March of 2021.
- The CDC has updated its background information about the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine. The update consists of general information but includes links to more technical information.
- The CDC has updated its information on adverse events following the administration of COVID-19 vaccines.
- The CDC has organized its data on COVID-19 variants to show the evolution of the proportions in which those variants are being found.
- The CDC has published a study on the symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder and the use of mental health care among adults during the COVID-19 pandemic from August of 2020 through February of 2021.
- The CDC has posted two documents on maximizing the use of Sharps containers during the COVID-19 emergency; find them here and here.
- The CDC has updated its guidance on how administrators and staff of adult day services centers can prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- The CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH)’s National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory has updated its International Respirator Assessments to Support the COVID-19 Response. NIOSH also has updated its list of counterfeit respirators and/or respirators misrepresenting NIOSH approval.
Food and Drug Administration
- The FDA has approved an abbreviated new drug application for succinylcholine chloride injection USP 200 mg/10 mL, which is indicated, in addition to general anesthesia, to facilitate tracheal intubation and to provide skeletal muscle relaxation during surgery or mechanical ventilation, such as for COVID-19. See the FDA’s notice of this approval here.
Federal Communications Commission – Grants
- The FCC has launched round two of its COVID-19 telehealth program, which was established by the CARES Act “to support efforts of health care providers to address coronavirus by providing telecommunications services, information services, and devices necessary to enable the provision of telehealth services” during the COVID-19 pandemic. Round two is funded with $250 million from the American Rescue Plan. Some aspects of the program have changed. The application window, which should be announced soon, will be brief. Learn more from this FCC notice.
Government Accountability Office
- The GAO has published a new report: “COVID-19: Sustained Federal Action Is Crucial as Pandemic Enters Its Second Year.”