CMS Announces Withdrawal of Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Rule
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma announced on September 14 that CMS is withdrawing the Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Rule (MFAR) proposed rule from the regulatory agenda. CMS Administrator Seema Verma tweeted, “We’ve listened closely to concerns that have been raised by our state and provider partners about potential unintended consequences of the proposed rule, which require further study. Therefore, CMS is withdrawing the rule from the regulatory agenda.” The proposal represented a major shift in the Medicaid state-federal partnership by giving CMS greater authority to determine how states fund their share of the program. States’ concerns about the proposed rule included the impact on intergovernmental transfers, provider taxes, certified public expenditures, supplemental payments, and other financing arrangements. States also were concerned about the budget uncertainty this rule would create and the lack of clarity about federal approvals for financing methods, the overall budget impact, increase in federal reporting requirements, and loss of dollars for health care services.
Administration Releases COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Strategy
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Defense (DoD) released two documents outlining the Administration’s detailed strategy to deliver COVID-19 vaccine doses. The documents, developed by HHS in coordination with DoD and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), provide a strategic distribution overview along with an interim playbook for state, tribal, territorial, and local public health programs and their partners on how to plan and operationalize a vaccination response to COVID-19 within their respective jurisdictions.
Executive Order on Lowering Drug Prices
The President issued an Executive Order on lowering drug prices in Medicare. The Executive Order directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to take appropriate steps to test a payment model in which Medicare would pay no more than the most-favored-nation price for certain high-cost prescription drugs and biological products covered by Medicare Part B. The model would test whether, for patients who require pharmaceutical treatment, paying no more than the most-favored-nation price would mitigate poor clinical outcomes and increased expenditures associated with high drug costs.
CMS Releases Guidance on Value-Based Care
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released new guidance to states encouraging them to advance value-based care across their healthcare systems, with a particular emphasis on Medicaid populations. Value-based care seeks to hold providers accountable for providing high quality care and can also be a part of the solution to reduce health disparities in the healthcare system, to maximize benefits to patients, and to eliminate unnecessary procedures, according to CMS. The guidance discusses pathways, including increased flexibility available under the state plan, towards the adoption of value-based payment models in Medicaid.
HHS Awards $79 Million to Health Centers for Emergency Response
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded over $79 million in construction and other capital support for 165 health centers impacted by natural disasters including hurricanes, typhoons, wildfires, and earthquakes occurring in calendar year 2018 and tornadoes and floods occurring in calendar year 2019. The funding was made available by the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019 and will help ensure access to health care services for communities impacted by disasters and increase health center capacity to respond to and recover from future emergencies.
HHS Invests Nearly $115 Million to Combat the Opioid Crisis in Rural Communities
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), awarded approximately $25 million to 80 award recipients across 36 states and two territories as part of the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program to reduce morbidity and mortality of substance use disorder and opioid use disorder in high-risk rural communities. The announcement builds upon awards made this August, reflecting a total fiscal year 2020 investment of nearly $115 million.