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Federal Health Policy Update for Thursday, September 23

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 23.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.

Provider Relief Fund

  • HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration has posted new information about planned distributions of additional COVID-19 supplemental funding for health care providers through the Provider Relief Fund and for qualified rural hospitals through funding made available through the American Rescue Plan.  Included in the new posting is information about:
    • Web events to explain what the agency is doing and what providers must do to pursue funding, to be held on Thursday, September 30 and Tuesday, October 5.
    • An application deadline of October 26.
    • What providers are eligible for funding.
    • Documentation grant applicants will need to submit.

Learn more from the updated Provider Relief Fund web page.

Department of Health and Human Services

COVID-19

Health Policy News

  • HHS’s Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has awarded $73 million in cooperative agreement grants as part of its Public Health Informatics & Technology Workforce Development Program to strengthen U.S. public health information technology (IT) efforts, improve COVID-19 data collection, and increase representation of underrepresented communities within the public health IT workforce.  Learn more about how the money will be used and find a list of the grant recipients in this HHS news release.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Health Policy News

  • CMS has granted exceptions for certain Medicare quality reporting and value-based purchasing programs located in areas affected by Hurricane Ida.  These exceptions apply to acute-care hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, prospective payment system-exempt cancer hospitals, inpatient psychiatric facilities, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, long-term-care hospitals, and skilled nursing facilities in parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, and New Jersey.  Learn more about the exceptions and the specific geographic areas to which they apply in this CMS notice.
  • CMS has published the latest edition of MLN Matters, its online newsletter.  The new edition includes articles about various Medicare billing issues, an update of the ambulatory surgical center payment system, and more.  Find it all here.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Food and Drug Administration

  • The FDA has amended its emergency use authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to allow for use of a single booster dose to be administered at least six months after completion of the primary series in individuals 65 years of age and older; individuals 18 through 64 at high risk of severe COVID-19; and individuals 18 through 64 years whose frequent institutional or occupational exposure to COVID-19 puts them at high risk of serious complications from COVID-19.  See the FDA announcement and an explanation of the decision here.

Stakeholder Events

MACPAC – September meetings – September 24

The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) is holdings its scheduled September meeting of commissioners on Thursday, September 23 and Friday, 24 to discuss federal Medicaid and CHIP policies.  The meetings are being be held virtually.  Find the meeting agenda here and go here to register to view the sessions.

CDC – Latest CDC Recommendations for Pfizer COVID-19 Booster Vaccination – September 28

The CDC will hold a webinar on Tuesday, September 28 to give clinicians an overview of the Pfizer COVID-19 booster vaccination.  Clinicians will learn about the vaccine booster recommendations, the safety of booster dose, and clinical guidance for using the Pfizer booster vaccine.  Go here for more information about the event and to register to participate.

HRSA – New Provider Relief Fund and Rural Hospital Grants – September 30 and October 5

The Health Resources and Services Administration will hold web events on Thursday, September 30 and Tuesday, October 5 for providers interested in pursuing Provider Relief Fund grants and funding for rural hospitals provided through the American Rescue Plan.  The purpose of the event is to provide guidance on how to navigate the application portal for seeking these grants.  Learn more here and find a link to register to participate.

CDC – Evaluating and Supporting Patients Presenting With Fatigue Following COVID-19 – September 30

The CDC will hold a webinar on evaluating and supporting patients who present with fatigue following treatment for COVID-19.  The webinar will be held on Thursday, September 30.  For further information on the subjects the webinar will cover, those who will be participating in the event, and how to join the webinar, go here.

FDA – Workshop Addressing Response to the Opioid Crisis – October 13

The FDA will hold a workshop titled “Reconsidering Mandatory Opioid Prescriber Education Through a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS)” to give stakeholders an opportunity to provide input on aspects of the current opioid crisis that could be mitigated in a measurable way by requiring mandatory prescriber education as part of a REMS effort.  The public workshop will be held on October 13 and October 14.  For information about participating in the workshop or submitting comments or materials, see this Federal Register notice.

Health Policy Update for Thursday, April 1

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 1.

Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payments Program

The White House

COVID-19

Health Policy News

  • The Biden administration has unveiled its proposed “American Jobs Plan.”  A portion of that plan addresses health care provided in the home.  Learn more from the administration’s fact sheet on the plan and the section in it titled “Solidify the Infrastructure of our Care Economy by Creating Jobs and Raising Wages and Benefits for Essential Home Care Workers.”

Provider Relief Fund

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

COVID-19

Health Policy News

  • CMS has posted the latest edition of its online publication MLN Connects, which features information about Medicare policy and reimbursement matters.  The following is its table of contents (with links):

News

Compliance

Claims, Pricers, & Codes

Events

MLN Matters® Articles

Multimedia

Department of Health and Human Services

COVID-19

Health Policy News

  • HHS has posted a presentation from a webinar on lessons learned from recent cybersecurity incidents involving health care providers.  Go here to find the presentation and go here to view the webinar.
  • HHS announced that additional savings and lower health care costs are available for consumers on HealthCare.gov through increased tax credits for health insurance made available through the American Rescue Plan.  See the announcement here and find a link to additional information about newly reduced health insurance premiums here.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

COVID-19

Food and Drug Administration

COVID-19

  • The FDA has approved an abbreviated new drug application for succinylcholine chloride injection USP 200 mg/10 mL, which is indicated, in addition to general anesthesia, to facilitate tracheal intubation and to provide skeletal muscle relaxation during surgery or mechanical ventilation, such as for COVID-19.  See the FDA’s notice of this approval here.

Federal Communications Commission – Grants

  • The FCC has launched round two of its COVID-19 telehealth program, which was established by the CARES Act “to support efforts of health care providers to address coronavirus by providing telecommunications services, information services, and devices necessary to enable the provision of telehealth services” during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Round two is funded with $250 million from the American Rescue Plan.  Some aspects of the program have changed.  The application window, which should be announced soon, will be brief.  Learn more from this FCC notice.

Government Accountability Office

COVID-19