President Signs Executive Order on Telehealth and Rural Health
President Trump signed an Executive Order on telehealth, which includes extending the availability of certain telehealth services after the current public health emergency ends. The order directs the Department of Health and Human Services to announce a new payment model for rural hospitals, and directs the federal government to improve the health care communication infrastructure and to expand rural healthcare services. Additionally, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is proposing changes to expand telehealth permanently, consistent with the President’s Executive Order on telehealth and improving rural health.
HHS Announces Deadline Extension for Provider Relief Fund
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced an application deadline extension for the Phase 2 general distribution to Medicaid, Medicaid managed care, Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and dental providers. HHS also plans to allow certain Medicare providers who experienced challenges in the Phase 1 Medicare General Distribution application period a second opportunity to receive funding. Both groups will have until Friday, August 28, 2020 to apply. Starting the week of August 10, providers who experienced change in ownership challenges may submit their revenue information, along with documentation proving a change in ownership, by August 28 for consideration for Provider Relief Fund payment. HHS is currently working to address relief payments to new providers in 2020 along with those that have yet to receive any funding for a variety of reasons. Possible reasons include that they may only bill commercially, or that they do not directly bill for the services they provide under the Medicare and Medicaid programs and thus did not receive any funding yet. Information on the Provider Relief Fund can be found here.
Analysis of Recent National Trends in Medicaid and CHIP Enrollment
This analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation looks at national and state-by-state Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) enrollment data through April 2020, as states were beginning to experience the health and economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. After declines in enrollment from December 2017 through December 2019, total enrollment grew to 72.3 million in April, an increase of 0.8 million or 1.2 percent from March 2020 and by 1.2 million or 1.7 percent from December 2019. Increases in March and April could reflect new enrollment related to changes in the economy and job loss, but also eligibility and enrollment requirements included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that require states to ensure continuous coverage for those enrolled as of March 18, 2020 in order to be eligible for enhanced federal Medicaid matching funds.
Medicaid Directors Request a Pause on CMS Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Rule
The National Association of Medicaid Directors (NAMD) sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma requesting a pause on the agency’s work to finalize the Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Rule (MFAR). While NAMD supports efforts to increase transparency and accountability in the Medicaid program, the proposals in MFAR would have far-reaching impacts on state Medicaid financing mechanisms, which states simply will not have the capacity to implement while managing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.