Budget Blog

July 30, 2020 - Health Care Issues Update

By Stacey Mazer posted 07-30-2020 04:47 PM

  

HHS Secretary Extends Public Health Emergency Determination

The Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) renewed the determination that a public health emergency exists as a result of the continued consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. The previous public health emergency was scheduled to expire on July 25 and this renewal is effective as of that date. A determination remains in effect for 90 days or until the Secretary determines that the emergency no longer exists, whichever occurs first. The 6.2 percentage point increase to each qualifying state and territory’s Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) is in place through the last day of the calendar quarter in which the public health emergency terminates. Assuming the Secretary does not determine the emergency no longer exists, the 6.2 percentage-point increase in the FMAP will remain in effect at least through December 31, 2020. Other flexibilities tied to the emergency include Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) waivers and the new Medicaid option to cover testing and testing-related services for uninsured individuals. Frequently asked questions on the increased FMAP can be found here.

 

President Signs Executive Orders on Drug Pricing

The President signed four Executive Orders on drug pricing directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to take several steps to lower costs on prescription drugs. The Executive Orders include provisions for the Medicare program to pay no more for the costliest Medicare Part B drugs than any economically comparable OECD country. Other provisions would finalize a rule allowing states to develop safe importation plans for certain prescription drugs, would make changes to the way discounts negotiated by pharmacy benefit managers are passed on to Medicare patients, and require federally qualified health centers who purchase insulins and epinephrine in the 340B program to pass on savings from discounted drug prices to medically underserved patients. 

 

CMS Releases April 2020 Medicaid and CHIP Data

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the April 2020 monthly report on state Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) eligibility and enrollment data. This data reflects a range of indicators related to key application, eligibility, and enrollment processes within the state Medicaid and CHIP agencies. In April 2020, 72.3 million individuals were enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. Of that total, 65.6 million were enrolled in Medicaid and 6.7 million were enrolled in CHIP. The April totals represent a 1.2 percent increase over March 2020. 

 

Medicaid Payment and Access Commission Resources on Medicaid and COVID-19

The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) added a new section on its website describing how Medicaid is using different legal authorities to respond to COVID-19. MACPAC also published an issue brief explaining Medicaid’s  countercyclical role in responding to this current crisis as well as past economic and public health emergencies. The brief also discusses a range of potential enrollment scenarios to show the extent to which the current Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) increase will offset the costs of additional Medicaid enrollment and what additional federal support might be needed to provide a larger countercyclical effect.

 

CMS Publishes 2019 Open Payments Data

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published Open Payments Program Year 2019 data, along with newly submitted and updated payment records for previous program years. The transparency program publishes information about financial relationships between the health care industry and providers. Payments are reported in three payment categories: general payments, research payments, and ownership or investment interests.