Budget Blog

July 16, 2020 - Health Care Issues Update

By Stacey Mazer posted 07-16-2020 12:00 AM


State and Local Associations Request FMAP Increase

Associations representing states, territories, counties, cities, and towns, sent a letter asking Congress to provide an additional Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) increase of at least 5.8 percentage points retroactive to January 1 and remaining until September 30, 2021. After September 30, 2021, the letter requests the 12 percent FMAP increase not be reduced until the national unemployment rate falls below 5 percent. NASBO joined the letter, which reiterates our position in a March letter to the President and Congressional leadership. The letter also calls for the rescission of the Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Rule (MFAR).


HHS Announces $4 Billion from Provider Relief Fund for Safety Net and Rural Hospitals

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced approximately $3 billion in funding to hospitals serving a large percentage of vulnerable populations and approximately $1 billion to specialty rural hospitals, urban hospitals with certain rural Medicare designations, and hospitals in small metropolitan areas. Further, HHS is opening the provider portal to allow dentists to apply for relief funding, with an application deadline of July 24. The funds are available from the $175 billion Provider Relief Fund. On June 9, HHS announced plans to distribute $10 billion to safety net hospitals but learned some acute care hospitals did not qualify for funding; HHS is now expanding the criterion for payment and expects to distribute $3 billion across 215 acute care facilities. A state-by-state breakdown can be found here. A state-by-state breakdown of the expanded rural distribution can be found here.


CMS Extends Deadline for Home and Community-Based Settings Regulation

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance to state Medicaid agencies extending the deadline for compliance with the Home and Community-Based Settings Regulation, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic response, states have been granted an additional year to demonstrate compliance until March 17, 2023. The guidance includes frequently asked questions pertaining to the changes.


HHS Releases May and June COVID-19 State Testing Plans

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made May and June COVID-19 testing plans from all states, territories, and localities publicly available. The plans include details on response to surge cases and how to reach vulnerable populations including minorities, immunocompromised individuals, and older adults.


Altarum Institute Report on National Health Care Spending

National health spending in May 2020 was 16.5 percent lower than in May 2019, according to a brief by Altarum. May is the third consecutive month with a year-over-year decline in health care spending, with all categories showing a decline over the prior year except for prescription drugs. Altarum notes that health care spending data in May indicates a rebound in spending compared to April 2020 for most categories. Altarum is a nonprofit health care research and consulting organization.