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Health Policy Update for Friday, April 16

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

COVID-19

  • 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

COVID-19

  • 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

COVID-19

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:

News

Compliance

Events

Multimedia

Department of Health and Human Services

COVID-19

  • 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

COVID-19