The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government for September 8-14.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

  • CMS has posted a guide providing details about how it calculates scores for its Merit-Based Incentive Payment System in the 2023 performance year.  Find the guide by going here, scrolling down to “Full Resource Library,” and clicking “2023 Traditional MIPS Scoring Guide” for a direct download of the guide.
  • CMS has posted a notice about a data breach at a CMS contractor, Maximus Federal Services, Inc. (Maximus), that provides appeals services in support of Medicare on CMS’s behalf.  The data breach, which occurred between May 27 and May 31, affected approximately 645,000 people, all of whom were notified by mail; some of those notification letters, however, were returned as undeliverable.  Learn more from this CMS notice.

Department of Health and Human Services

  • HHS’s Provider Relief Fund Reporting Portal is now open for Reporting Period 5.  Providers that received a Provider Relief Fund (general or targeted) and/or American Rescue Plan Rural payment(s) exceeding $10,000 in the aggregate between January 1 and June 30 of 2022 are required to report on their use of funds during Reporting Period 5.  The deadline to submit a report is September 30.  Learn more here.
  • Medicare improperly paid acute-care hospitals for inpatient claims subject to the post-acute-care transfer policy over a four-year period, according to an audit by HHS’s Office of the Inspector General.  While CMS’s system edits were generally effective in reducing improper payments by the end of the review period, the OIG recommended that HHS seek recovery of $41 million in overpayments it identified.  Learn more from this OIG audit report and this summary of that report.
  • HHS has updated its Security Risk Assessment Tool, which seeks to help health care organizations identify and assess risks to electronic protected health information.  Go here to learn more about the tool and find its latest version.
  • HHS’s Health Sector Cybersecurity Coordination Center has issued a sector alert about Akira, a ransomware-as-a-service group that started operations in March of this year.  While typically focusing on small- and medium-sized businesses, Akira has included health care among the sectors it has targeted.  Learn more about Akira, how to identify it, and how to guard against it from this sector alert.

HHS Newsletters

Food and Drug Administration

The FDA has approved and authorized for emergency use updated COVID-19 vaccines formulated to target current variants and to provide better protection against serious consequences of COVID-19 and offered recommendations on who should receive these vaccines.  Learn more from this FDA news release.  After the FDA approved the updated vaccines, the CDC issued a news release recommending vaccines for everyone six months of age and older.

Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC)

Stakeholder Events

CMS – AHEAD Model Webinar – September 18

CMS will hold a webinar to provide an overview of its States Advancing All-Payer Health Equity Approaches and Development Model (AHEAD) on Monday, September 18 at 3:00 (eastern).  During the webinar the AHEAD Model team will discuss design, goals, and key components of the model and provide additional details on the Notice of Funding Opportunity application process.  A Q&A session will follow.  Go here to register to participate.

CDC – Webinar for Clinicians on Flu, COVID-19, and RSV Vaccines for Older Adults – September 19

The CDC will hold a webinar for clinicians offering its recommendations for flu, COVID-19, and RSV vaccines for older adults during the upcoming fall/winter season on Tuesday, September 19 at 2:00 (eastern).  Learn more about the webinar, including how to participate, from this CDC notice.  Continuing education credits are offered for participation.

NIH – Webinar on Reducing Mental Health Inequities in the Hispanic Community – September 21

The NIH will hold a webinar on engaging community stakeholders to reduce mental health inequities in the Hispanic community on Tuesday, September 21 at 12:30 (eastern).  This webinar will explore the impact and significance of engaging community stakeholders in developing culturally responsive interventions, the need for implementation science to improve health and mental health care uptake in the Hispanic community, and the importance of bridging the gap between implementation science and health disparities research to diminish health inequities prevalent in racial and ethnic communities historically marginalized in health care.  Go here to register to participate.

MACPAC – Commissioners’ Public Meeting – September 21-22

Members of the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) will hold their next public meeting on Thursday, September 21 and Friday, September 22.  Go here to register to participate.

CMS – Medicaid and CHIP – September 27 (and future dates)

HHS and CMS are holding a series of monthly webinars on Medicaid and CHIP renewals to educate partners.  Topic covered vary each month.  Go here to register for upcoming webinars.

  • September 27 at 12:00 pm (eastern)
  • October 25 at 12:00 pm (eastern)
  • December 6 at 12:00 pm (eastern)

Recordings, transcripts, and slides from past webinars can be found on the CMS National Stakeholder Calls webpage.

MedPAC Commissioners Meeting – October 5-6

MedPAC will hold its next public meeting on Thursday, October 5 and Friday, October 6.  Information about the agenda and the location of the meeting and how to participate virtually is not yet available but when it is it will be posted here.

CMS – Patient-Focused Listening Sessions on Medicare Drug Price Negotiations – October 30-November 15

CMS will host a series of patient-focused listening sessions this fall as part of the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Program.  The virtual public listening sessions will provide an opportunity for patients, beneficiaries, caregivers, consumer and patient organizations, and other interested parties to share input relevant to drugs selected for the first round of negotiations.  Learn more about the listening sessions, the schedule for these sessions, the individual drugs to be discussed at each, and how to participate from the CMS drug listening session web page.

CMS – Burden Reduction Conference – November 15

CMS will convene leadership from the federal government, health provider organizations, and the patient advocacy community to focus on opportunities across the health care enterprise to reduce administrative burden, strengthen access to quality care, and make it easier for clinicians to provide that care during a day-long virtual conference it will hold on Wednesday, November 15 beginning at 9:00 (eastern).  Go here to learn more about the conference and find a link for registration.