HHS Renews COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra renewed, effective July 20, 2021, the public health emergency declaration originally declared January 31, 2020. The renewal remains in effect for 90 days and the Secretary may extend the declaration for subsequent 90-day periods for as long as the emergency continues. HHS previously indicated the declaration will be extended through at least the end of the calendar year. The available temporary 6.2 percentage point increase in the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act expires at the end of the quarter in which the public health emergency ends. When a decision is made to terminate the declaration or let it expire, HHS plans to provide states with 60 days’ notice prior to termination.
CMS Proposed Rule on Medicare Rates Also Addresses Hospital Price Transparency, Access to Care, and Health Equity
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the 2022 Medicare Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System and Ambulatory Surgical Center Payment System proposed rule that also addresses administration priorities including hospital price transparency, access to emergency care in rural areas, health disparities, and the COVID-19 public health emergency. CMS proposes to increase the penalty for some hospitals that do not comply with the Hospital Price Transparency final rule that took effect January 1, 2021. Comments on the proposed rule are due September 17. The final rule with comment period will be issued in early November. A fact sheet is available here.
HRSA Awards $143.8 Million for Response Efforts in Underserved Communities
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded $143.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to 102 Health Center Program look-alikes to respond to and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and enhance health care services and infrastructure in underserved communities. These are providers that provide essential primary health care services to vulnerable populations but do not otherwise receive HRSA Health Center Program funding.
HHS Announces $103 Million to Support Health Workforce and Address Burnout
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the availability of an estimated $103 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding over three years to reduce burnout and promote mental health among the health workforce. The funding is split across three funding opportunities: promoting resilience and mental health; resiliency training program; and resiliency technical assistance center. Applications are due August 30.
CMS Releases Program Integrity Toolkit
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a new toolkit to support states with evaluating potential program integrity risks related to COVID-19 flexibilities and waivers, and to strategically target resources to resume normal operations and mitigate new or existing risks.
Implementation of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act in Medicaid and CHIP
This issue brief by the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) examines Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act implementation in Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The brief provides a background on federal parity laws, describes Medicaid and CHIP requirements, and includes findings from interviews with state Medicaid officials, managed care organizations and beneficiary advocates in three states, as well as officials from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and representatives from other national organizations.
House Committee Approves Medicaid Funding Bill for the Territories
The House Energy and Commerce Committee advanced 16 bills including Supporting Medicaid in the U.S. Territories Act (H.R. 4406). This bill would provide five years of enhanced Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico, and eight years of enhanced Medicaid funding for the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam. The bill would also make certain programmatic improvements to the Puerto Rico Medicaid program, including requiring increased provider payment rates, strengthening program integrity, and improving contracting practices. Other bills advanced by the Committee address opioid and substance use, social determinants of health, and maternal health.