CMS Expands Vaccination Requirements in Health Care Settings
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that emergency regulations requiring vaccinations for nursing home workers will be expanded to include hospitals, dialysis facilities, ambulatory surgical settings, and home health agencies, among others, as a condition for participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The decision was based on the continued and growing spread of the virus in health care settings, especially in parts of the U.S. with higher incidence of COVID-19. CMS is developing an Interim Final Rule that will be issued in October to implement the change. This requirement is part of the President’s six-pronged, comprehensive national strategy to combat COVID-19 that includes a vaccine mandate for all federal workers and contractors and a requirement that large companies mandate vaccines or have regular testing for employees.
HHS Announces the Availability of $25.5 Billion in COVID-19 Provider Funding
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is making $25.5 billion in additional funding available for health care providers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding includes $8.5 billion in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) resources for providers who serve rural Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or Medicare patients, and an additional $17 billion for Provider Relief Fund (PRF) Phase 4 for a broad range of providers who can document revenue loss and expenses associated with the pandemic. HHS also announced a 60-day grace period for the first PRF reporting time period. Applications open September 29 and include a single application for both programs.
CMS Releases April 2021 Medicaid and CHIP Data and Enrollment Trends and Final 2021 Special Enrollment Marketplace Report
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the April 2021 enrollment trends snapshot report showing enrollment trends from February 2020 to April 2021 for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In April 2021, 82.3 million individuals were enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP with enrollment increasing by 11.6 million or 16.4 percent since February 2020. Medicaid enrollment increased by 11.4 million or 17.8 percent and CHIP enrollment grew by 194,046 or 2.9 percent. The Medicaid enrollment increases are likely driven by the maintenance-of-effort requirement in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, according to CMS. Additionally, CMS released the final 2021 special enrollment report showing that 2.8 million Americans gained health coverage through HealthCare.gov and state-based marketplaces during the special enrollment period to reach 12.2 million people enrolled.
HHS Amends COVID-19 PREP Act Declaration
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) added a ninth amendment to the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act Declaration that expands the pool of professionals now covered under the Act. Specifically, the recent amendment includes coverage of licensed pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and pharmacy interns when administering COVID-19 monoclonal antibody therapeutics.
SAMHSA Awards Grants to Combat the Overdose Epidemic and Address Mental Health
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is awarding more than $123 million in funding through six grant programs to provide multifaceted support to communities and health care providers to combat the overdose epidemic. SAMHSA also awarded $17.8 million to 145 recipients, including state and local governments, for mental health awareness training.
AmeriCorps and CDC Launch Public Health AmeriCorps
AmeriCorps, the federal agency for volunteering and national service, launched Public Health AmeriCorps, a new partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The new venture will support the recruitment, training, and development of a new generation of public health leaders to respond to the nation’s public health needs. Supported by a $400 million investment from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the program is anticipated to fund up to 5,000 AmeriCorps positions over the next five years and is part of a $7 billion investment in the public health workforce previously announced by the administration.
CMS Awarding $20 Million to State-Based Marketplaces
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is awarding $20 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant funding to state-based marketplaces (SBMs) to increase consumer access to health insurance coverage. The grants will be used by 21 SBMs to modernize IT systems and/or conduct targeted consumer outreach activities.