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COVID-19 Update: Senate Unanimously Passes Emergency Stimulus Package

The United States Senate has passed a $2 trillion phase three emergency package, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).  The Senate approved the CARES Act on a unanimous vote of 96-0, with three Senators in self-quarantine and another returning home out of an abundance of caution.  The CARES Act, assuming it … Continue reading

COVID-19 Update: New Model for Allocating Hospital Resources Released/Payors Strengthening COVID-19 Coverage

The spread of COVID-19 in the United States is requiring providers to consider difficult questions regarding resource allocation.   On March 26, 2020 Dr. Douglas White of the University of Pittsburgh Department of Critical Care Medicine and Dr. Scott Halpern of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine released Allocation of Scarce Critical Resources During … Continue reading

COVID-19 Update: CDC publishes criteria for when healthcare professionals with confirmed and suspected COVID-19 can return to work

On Tuesday, March 24, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued interim guidance on criteria that can be used to determine whether a healthcare professional with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 should return to work. The CDC states that this criteria can be further “adapted by state and local health … Continue reading

COVID-19 Update: President Trump Issues Executive Order on Hoarding

On March 23, 2020 President Trump signed an Executive Order directing the Secretary of HHS, under the authority of the Defense Production Act, to “prevent hoarding of health and medical resources necessary to respond to the spread of COVID-19 within the United States.”  It also delegates to the Secretary of HHS the: [A]uthority to prescribe … Continue reading

Update to Prior CMS Action: CMS Approves 11 New Medicaid Section 1135 Waivers; 13 States Total

On March 13, 2020, following President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, CMS announced its approval of the first Section 1135 Waiver aimed at addressing the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Florida. On March 19, CMS granted a Section 1135 Waiver to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak in Washington … Continue reading

Senate COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Stimulus Legislation Stalls, House Democrats Introduce Competing Bill

On Monday evening, March 23, the Senate COVID-19 (coronavirus) stimulus package remained stalled.  A procedural vote to advance the Senate bill Monday afternoon failed and negotiations remain ongoing. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a Democratic coronavirus stimulus plan in response to the Senate bill including more robust relief for individuals and providers and more targeted … Continue reading

COVID-19 Update: HHS Declaration Provides Liability Immunity Related to Certain COVID-19 Countermeasures

The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act provides the Secretary of HHS authority to issue a declaration providing immunity to certain individuals and entities during a public health emergency.  On March 17, 2020, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services published a Declaration Under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act for Medical Countermeasures … Continue reading

COVID-19 Update: Phase Three Stimulus Legislation Stalls on Sunday Afternoon

The Phase Three Senate Republican stimulus legislation released Sunday afternoon (March 22), H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”), would provide aid for small businesses, industries and families impacted by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, including direct cash payments for Americans, as well as $75 billion for coronavirus response payments to … Continue reading

COVID-19 Update: CMS Approves First Section 1135 Waiver

Following President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on March 13, 2020, CMS approved the first Section 1135 waiver related to Medicaid on Monday.  The State of Florida received permission to eliminate the limits on instances of care furnished and how many participants receive care from an out-of-state provider for the duration of the 1135 … Continue reading

COVID-19 Update: CDC says Spread of Coronavirus Virus “Inevitable”

On Tuesday February 25, 2020, Nancy Messonnier, director of the U.S. Center for Disease Control’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease warned in a call with reporters that “[u]ltimately we expect we will see community spread in the United States. It’s not a question of if this will happen, but when this will happen, … Continue reading

CMS releases proposed rule on extension and changes to the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement Model

On Thursday, February 20, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule (February 24 Federal Register publication) to extend the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) Model for an additional three years in order to better evaluate the program. CMS states in the proposed rule that participating hospitals in the … Continue reading

Administration Budget Proposes to Cut U.S. Department of HHS Funding

On February 10, 2020, the Trump Administration released its budget proposal for fiscal year 2021.  While the total budget would amount to $4.8 trillion, the administration proposes to cut $9.4 billion in funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and provide for $96.4 billion in discretionary spending.   The budget contains several notable … Continue reading

Coronavirus Update: More Than 40,000 Cases Confirmed

As of Monday morning, the Chinese National Health Commission announced a total of 40,171 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus with 908 related deaths, surpassing the totals of the SARS epidemic of 2002.  There have now been more than 300 cases confirmed outside of China, including 12 in the United States.  On Saturday, it was announced … Continue reading

CMS Releases Block Grant Guidance to States

In a State Medicaid Director Letter issued on January 30, 2020, CMS released its long anticipated guidance to states on implementing block grants as a mechanism of Medicaid financing.  State Medicaid Director Letter 20-001 announced the “Healthy Adult Opportunity” initiative (“HAO”) that will allow states to receive block grant funding for non-disabled adults under the … Continue reading

U.S. Declares Coronavirus a Public Health Emergency

As of Monday February 3, the death toll of the Coronavirus had risen to 362 and there were over 17,300 known cases around the world.  The number of coronavirus deaths in China has now exceeded the severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic in 2003.  There have been eight confirmed cases in the United States, with Massachusetts … Continue reading

WHO Deems Coronavirus Global Health Emergency and White House Announces Task Force

On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO)  declared the coronavirus a global health emergency.  The coronavirus has now been identified in 18 countries and has infected 9,709 people. 213 people have died from the coronavirus.  Countries are beginning to evacuate citizens from China and the United Kingdom, Australia, South Korea, Singapore and New … Continue reading

ONC Releases Draft 2020-2025 Federal Health IT Strategic Plan for Public Comment

On January 15, 2020 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the draft 2020-2025 Federal Health IT Strategic Plan (“strategic plan”) for public comments.  Developed by the HHS Office for the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) in collaboration with more than 25 federal organizations, the strategic plan outlines health IT … Continue reading

Public Health Officials Try to Contain Coronavirus

Governments around the world are continuing to take steps to contain the spread of the coronavirus.  As of Monday morning, 2,744 people worldwide have become infected with the coronavirus and 80 people have died.  There have been five confirmed cases in the United States, with one case in Washington, Arizona, and Illinois, and two cases … Continue reading

U.S. Prepares for Deadly Coronavirus

Earlier this week the CDC confirmed the United States had its first case of a deadly new strain of coronavirus “2019-nCoV.”  The patient is from Washington state and was returning to the United States from Wuhan, China.  At least seventeen people in China have died from the coronavirus.   In a press release, the CDC stated … Continue reading

AHA Requests 60-Day Extension to Comment Period for CMS’s proposed rule Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Regulation

On December 16, 2019, the American Hospital Association requested a 60-day extension to the comment period for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ proposed rule Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Regulation. The proposed rule was published in the November 18 Federal Register and the comment period closes January 17, 2020. The AHA requested an extension in … Continue reading

HHS Memorandum Addresses Implications of Allina Decision

On November 21, an internal HHS memorandum addressed to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Principal Deputy Administrator Demetrios Kouzoukas entitled “Impact of Allina on Medicare Payment Rules” became publicly available.  The memorandum addresses the HHS Office of the General Counsel’s (OGC) “views on the impact of Azar v. Allina Health Services, 139 S. … Continue reading

CMS Publishes CY 2020 OPPS & ASC Price Transparency Requirements Final Rule and Transparency in Coverage Proposed Rule

On November 15, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published the Calendar Year (CY) 2020 Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) & Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) Price Transparency Requirements for Hospitals to Make Standard Changes Public final rule and the Transparency in Coverage proposed rule. CMS intends through this rulemaking to increase price transparency … Continue reading

CMS Proposes Major Changes in Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Rule

On November 12, 2019, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published a proposed rule for public inspection entitled Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Regulation. CMS states that the intent of the proposed rule is to ensure that state supplemental payments and financing arrangements under the Medicaid program are consistent with federal statutory requirements. In a … Continue reading

CMS Releases Final Rule on CY 2020 Physician Fee Schedule Updates and Implements Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Programs

On November 1, 2019, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule that updates the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) rates and policies for calendar year (CY) 2020 and expands Medicare coverage to opioid treatment programs (OTPs) that treat beneficiaries with opioid use disorder (OUD). In a fact sheet accompanying the … Continue reading
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