The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 2:45 p.m. on Friday, April 16.
The White House
- The White House announced $1.7 billion in new federal spending from the American Rescue Plan to help states and other jurisdictions improve their detection, monitoring, and mitigation of COVID-19 variants. This $1.7 billion includes $1 billion to expand genomic sequencing; $400 million to support innovation initiatives, including the launch of new innovative Centers of Excellence in Genomic Epidemiology; and $300 million to build and support a National Bioinformatics Infrastructure.The first pool of funding will be distributed in early May and second pool will be invested over the next several years. For further information, including the allocation of the first pool of funding by state, see the White House announcement.
- The White House announced another $4 billion in spending from the American Rescue Plan “…to combat COVID-19 in Indian Country.” The funding consists of $600 million to increase COVID-19 vaccinations in Indian country; $1 billion to detect, diagnose, trace, monitor, and mitigate COVID-19 infections; and $2 billion for tribal health systems due to lost reimbursements for care during the pandemic. Learn more from the White House announcement.
- The White House has posted a transcript of the April 16 press briefing provided by its COVID-19 response team and public health officials.
Health Policy News
- Last week the White House’s COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force held its second meeting to discuss the administration’s whole-of-society approach to mitigating the health inequities caused or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and for preventing such inequities in the future. Learn more from this news release describing the meeting and view the meeting in two parts, here and here.
Federal Communications Commission
- The FCC will begin accepting applications for Round 2 of its COVID-19 Telehealth Program on Thursday, April 29. The program, which will provide another $250 million in grants, supports the efforts of health care providers to continue serving their patients by providing reimbursement for telecommunications services, information services, and connected devices necessary to enable telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic. Go here for links to the FCC’s news release and public notice, and for additional information on eligibility and the application process, review the application process guidance available here, on the Universal Service Administrative Company’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program webpage.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
- CMS has revised its monoclonal antibody web page with new information on the use of these treatments and on coding and billing Medicare for administering them.
Health Policy News
- CMS has published the latest edition of its online Medicare publication MLN Connects. The following is a table of the contents of this week’s issue with links to the individual articles:
- Medicare FFS Claims: 2% Payment Adjustment (Sequestration) Suspended Through December
- COVID-19 Vaccine: Check Medicare Eligibility Starting April 16
- Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine: Information for Long Term Care Facilities
- Medicare Telehealth Services: Updated List
- Medicare Pays to Help Patients Plan
- Sexual Health: Medicare Covers Preventive Services
- IRF Providers: Assessment of Cognitive Function Web-Based Training
- Diagnosis Coding: Using the ICD-10-CM Web-Based Training — Revised
- Procedure Coding: Using the ICD-10-PCS Web-Based Training — Revised
Department of Health and Human Services
- HHS’s Office of the Inspector General has posted a notice reminding vaccine providers and the public that COVID-19 vaccines are being provided by the federal government and must be administered at no cost to recipients. Providers participating in the CDC’s COVID-19 vaccination program are obligated to comply with the terms of that program. See the OIG’s message here.
- HHS has posted a guide to implementing programs offering acute hospital care at home that presents tips on operating such programs and links to resources for assisting with such undertakings.
- HHS has posted “COVID-19 Healthcare Delivery Impacts,” a document that outlines the major challenges that face the health care system during a pandemic like COVID-19 and offers mitigation strategies for addressing those challenges.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- The CDC hosted a call on Thursday presenting the latest evidence on cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) with thrombocytopenia associated with the administration of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. Speakers discussed what is known about CVST, the importance of early detection, and updated vaccine recommendations. View a recording of the call here and find the slide set used during the call on the same page under “call materials.”
- The CDC has updated its information about its decision to recommend suspending use of the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine.
- The CDC has posted information with key operational considerations for jurisdictions planning to operate COVID-19 vaccination clinics.
- The CDC has updated its guidance for wearing masks to slow the spread of COVID-19.
- The CDC has updated its guidance on safety precautions when using electrostatic sprayers, foggers, misters, or vaporizers for surface disinfection during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The CDC has published five new research reports on COVID-19. These reports examine:
- COVID-19 and influenza discharge diagnoses as a percentage of emergency department visits by year, June 2018 through March 2021.
- Update on excess deaths associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, January 26, 2020 to February 27, 2021.
- COVID-19 pandemic-associated changes in emergency department visits from December 2020 through January 2021.
- Emergency department visits for COVID-19 by race and ethnicity in 13 states from October through December of 2020.
- Trends in racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 hospitalizations by region, March through December of 2020.