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Health Policy Update for Thursday, April 8

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 2:45 p.m. on Thursday, April 8.

Provider Relief Fund

  • The Provider Relief Fund web page has been updated to announce a webinar next Tuesday, April 13 about the HRSA COVID-19 uninsured program under which participating providers are reimbursed at Medicare rates for testing, treating, and administering COVID-19 vaccines to uninsured individuals.  Go here for further information (in the shaded box labeled “update”).

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

COVID-19

  • CMS has added 24 new audiology and speech language pathology services to its list of telehealth services covered during the COVID-19 emergency.  Go here to find the updated list of telehealth services authorized during the pandemic.

Proposed Rules

  • CMS has published its proposed FY 2022 skilled nursing facility prospective payment system rule.  Learn more about the proposed rule from this CMS fact sheet and from the proposed rule itself.
  • CMS has published its proposed FY 2022 hospice wage index and payment update, hospice conditions of participation updates, and hospice and home health quality reporting program requirements.  Learn more the CMS fact sheet from this Federal Register notice.

Health Policy News

  • CMS will hold a webinar titled “Building Capacity in the Direct Service Workforce:  Moving Forward from the Summit” on Wednesday, April 28, 2021.  The purpose of the webinar is to advance learning and recommendations from the “Quality Jobs Equal Quality Care: Building Capacity in the Direct Care Workforce” event that was held at Advancing States’ HCBS Conference on December 3, 2020.  The webinar will highlight capacity-building strategies shared by states during the HCBS conference, is open to the public, and will focus on strategies for state Medicaid agencies, state agency partners, managed care plans, and home and community based services providers.  Go here for more information and here to register.

Department of Health and Human Services

Federal Funding Opportunity

  • HHS’s Administration for Community Living has published a notice about a funding opportunity.  The notice is titled “Aging and Disability Resource Center/No Wrong Door System COVID–19 Vaccine Access Supplemental Funding” and it states that “This funding opportunity is to support a new effort to get the nation’s most vulnerable and at-risk seniors and people with disabilities vaccinated.”  The notice was published today (April 8) and applications are due at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, April 9.  The notice also states that “Eligible Applicants for this award are existing ADRC/NWD COVID–19 CARES Act grantees that received funding on April 1, 2020.”  Learn more from the Federal Register notice.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

COVID-19

Health Policy News

  • The CDC and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced that federal funding may now be used to purchase rapid fentanyl test strips in an effort to help curb the dramatic spike in drug overdose deaths largely driven by the use of strong synthetic opioids, including illicitly manufactured fentanyl.  Learn more about the new policy and the federal grantees to which it applies in this CDC news release.

Congressional Research Service

  • The Congressional Research Service has published a new report titled “State and Federal Authority to Mandate COVID-19 Vaccination.”  Find it here.

Health Policy Update for Wednesday, April 7

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday, April 7.

The White House

Health Policy News

  • President Biden’s first budget proposal is expected to be released this Friday, April 9.  It could have important policy implications for health care providers of all types.

COVID-19

Federal Emergency Management Agency

  • FEMA has published a notice titled “Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic:  Safe Opening and Operation Work Eligible for Public Assistance;” the announcement “…defines the framework, policy details, and requirements for determining the eligibility of safe opening and operation work and costs under the PA [Public Assistance] Program.”  Authorized by the declaration of a national emergency, FEMA will reimburse selected entities for “…the safe opening and operation of eligible facilities” under its public assistance program.  Generally, such facilities are owned and operated by state and local governments, but in some cases those entities may contract for such operations with private, non-profit organizations, which would be eligible for such assistance.  FEMA payments under this program are made only to state and local governments, which then reimburse any private, non-profit organizations with which they have contracted for eligible work performed between January 21, 2021 and September 30, 2021.  For further information see this FEMA notice, which addresses in greater detail how the program works, including eligibility, eligible expenses, and more.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Proposed Rules

Health Policy News

CMS has posted the latest edition of its weekly online publication MLN Connects.  The following is its table of contents (with links to the individual items).

News

Compliance

Claims, Pricers, & Codes

Events

MLN Matters® Articles

Publications

Multimedia

Department of Health and Human Services

COVID-19

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

COVID-19

Food and Drug Administration

COVID-19

  • The FDA has issued emergency use authorization for the first antibody test authorized for use with home-collected dried blood spot samples.  Samples collected at home are then sent to the laboratory of the product’s creator for analysis.  The test is available only by prescription.  See the FDA announcement and its emergency use authorization letter.

National Institutes of Health

COVID-19

The NIH has launched a clinical trial to determine whether people who are highly allergic or have a mast cell disorder are at increased risk for an immediate, systemic allergic reaction to the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines.  Learn more about the trial and its objectives here.

 

Health Policy Update for Monday, April 5

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 2:30 p.m. on Monday, April 5.

The White House

COVID-19

Provider Relief Fund

Are there any restrictions on how hospitals that receive Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments can use Provider Relief Fund General and Targeted Distribution payments? (Added 2/24/2021)

Yes. Providers may not use PRF payments to reimburse expenses or losses that have been reimbursed from other sources or that other sources are obligated to reimburse. Therefore, if a hospital has received Medicaid DSH payments for the uncompensated costs of furnishing inpatient and/or outpatient hospital services to Medicaid beneficiaries and to individuals with no source of third party coverage for the services, these expenses would be considered reimbursed by the Medicaid program and would not be eligible to be covered by money received from a General or Targeted Distribution payment.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

COVID-19

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

COVID-19

Food and Drug Administration

COVID-19

National Institutes of Health