The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 2:15 p.m. on Monday, May 10. Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.
The White House
- The White House has posted a transcript of the May 7 press briefing by its COVID-19 response team and public health officials.
Department of Health and Human Services
- HHS and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have announced a joint-agency effort to increase access to COVID-19 prevention and treatment services, including testing and vaccinations, among disproportionately affected communities, including among HUD-assisted households and people experiencing homelessness. This program will seek to leverage the Health Center COVID-19 Health Vaccine Program, which currently provides a direct supply of vaccines to nearly 800 health centers across the country. HHS and HUD expects this effort to reach more than 6,000 multi-family housing properties, 6,700 homeless shelters, and approximately 7,500 public housing properties. Learn more from the departments’ announcement of their joint initiative.
- HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will hold an informational webinar on the agency’s new COVID-19 Coverage Assistance Fund program under which participating providers are reimbursed at Medicare rates for administering COVID-19 vaccines to underinsured individuals. Presenters will provide an overview and orient health care providers to the program by covering information such as enrolling as a provider participant, submitting patient information, submitting claims, and receiving payments via direct deposit. The webinar will be held on Wednesday, May 12 at 2:00 p.m. (eastern). Go here to register.
Health Policy News
- HHS announced that its Office for Civil Rights will interpret and enforce Section 1557 and Title IX’s prohibitions on discrimination based on sex to include: (1) discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; and (2) discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Section 1557 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in covered health programs or activities. Go here to see HHS’s announcement of this policy and its rationale for it and go here to see the notice HHS intends to publish in the Federal Register.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
- CMS has increased Medicare payments for administering monoclonal antibodies to beneficiaries with COVID-19. Effective immediately, the national average payment rises from $310 to $450 for most health care settings and to $750 when monoclonal antibodies are administered in the beneficiary’s home, including the beneficiary’s permanent residence or temporary lodging (e.g., hotel/motel, cruise ship, hostel, or homeless shelter). Beneficiaries pay nothing out of pocket, regardless of where the service is furnished. Learn more from the following resources:
- The CMS announcement of the new policy.
- An updated CMS web page on monoclonal antibody treatment that reflects the Medicare payment increase.
- An updated CMS web page on coding for monoclonal antibody treatments and the administration of COVID-19 vaccines.
- An updated CMS infographic on Medicare coverage of monoclonal antibodies to treat COVID-19.
- An article in the online publication MLN Matters about the payment change.
- An updated CMS “COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Medicare Fee-for-Service (FFS) Billing” document that reflects this rate increase with revised questions and answers that can be found between pages 132-145.
Health Policy News
CMS has posted the latest edition of its online publication MLN Connects. Among items of interest in this new edition are:
- New Program: HRSA COVID-19 Coverage Assistance Fund
- COVID-19: Work of Hospital Allied & Supportive Care Providers
- IRF, LTCH, & SNF: Report Quality Data by May 17
- Building COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence Webinar — May 13
- New Waived Tests
Go here for links to these and other items.
- The Treasury Department has posted an interim final rule, not yet published in the Federal Register, implementing the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund and the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund established under the American Rescue Plan Act. The interim final rule addresses uses of the $350 billion from the American Rescue Plan, including for public health expenditures, addressing the negative effects of the public health emergency, replacing lost public-sector revenue, providing premium pay for essential workers, and more. Learn more from the following resources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- The CDC has updated its scientific brief on the transmission of COVID-19 to make clearer that COVID-19 can be transmitted through the air.
- The CDC has updated its published case for essential workers to receive COVID-19 vaccines.
- The CDC has updated its reporting on COVID-19 variants with updated weighted estimates of variant proportions for the most recent two-week interval.
- The CDC has updated its biosafety guidelines for handling COVID-19 specimens.
Food and Drug Administration
- The FDA will convene a virtual meeting of its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee on June 10 to provide a status update on its approach to emergency use authorization (EUA) for COVID-19 vaccines intended for use in individuals 12 through 17 years of age. The committee also will discuss the data needed to support an EUA and a biologics license application for a COVID-19 vaccine intended for use in children less than 12 years of age. The committee will not discuss any specific products. See the FDA announcement of this meeting here.
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)
CISA 2021 Hurricane Webinar
Wednesday, May 12 at 10:30 am – 12:00pm ET. Click here for registration.
This webinar will focus on providing awareness of CISA’s role and resources in hurricane preparedness and response activities associated with systems that make landfall on the continental U.S. or U.S. territories while in a COVID-19 environment. It will also feature presentations from the NOAA Liaison to the National Operations Center and FEMA’s National Business Emergency Operations Center.
HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response – Vaccine Promotion
Wednesday, May 12 at 1:30 pm ET. Click here for further information and registration.
Speakers will discuss a New York City initiative dedicated to building confidence in COVID-19 vaccines; provide information about the current FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines and their safety and effectiveness; and share effective communication strategies to encourage friends, family, colleagues, and the community to get vaccinated. The webinar will share additional educational resources and tools developed by local health care partners and there will be time for participant Q&A.
CMS and the CDC – Nursing Homes
Thursday, May 13 at 4:00 p.m. (eastern)
CMS and the CDC will host a national nursing home stakeholder call. Register here.