The following is the latest COVID-19 information from the federal government as 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday, December 16.
Provider Relief Fund
- HHS announced that it has completed its review of Phase 3 applications from the Provider Relief Fund program and will distribute $24.5 billion to more than 70,000 providers. HHS said this distribution will satisfy up to 88 percent of each applicant’s reported net lost revenues and net change in expenses caused by COVID-19 in the first half of 2020. See HHS’s announcement here.
- Phase 3 was originally announced as a $20 billion distribution. According to HHS, “As HHS began analyzing applications, it realized the submissions for lost revenues and net changes in expenses would exceed the $20 billion budgeted for the Phase 3 allocation. In an effort to meet the demand, HHS worked to add another $4 billion to the allocation bringing the new total to over $24 billion.”
- More than 35,000 applicants for Phase 3 grants will not receive additional payments either because they experienced no change in revenues or net expenses attributable to COVID-19 or because they have already received funds that equal or exceed reimbursement for 88 percent of reported losses.
- Payments to Phase 3 applicants begin today and will continue as application quality reviews and recipient payment set up are completed before payment can be made. A state-by-state breakdown of the first batch of Phase 3 payments can be found here.
COVID-19 Relief Legislation
Work continues at this hour on what is being called the Bipartisan Emergency COVID Relief Act of 2020. As of this writing the bill is expected to include the following health care provisions:
- $35 billion for the Provider Relief Fund, including $7 billion for rural providers.
- more than $16 billion for testing, contact tracing, and vaccine development and distribution
- $5 billion in emergency funding for substance abuse prevention and treatment and mental health services.
The bill does not include liability protections for health care providers and businesses or the $152 billion in aid to states and local governments that had been proposed by a bipartisan working group. Instead, negotiators are looking for ways to include around $90 billion for other emergency fund programs that could help direct financial support to states.
Funding for the federal government expires at midnight this Friday, December 18. Lawmakers are hoping to wrap up details of this bill and possible legislation to address surprise billing before that deadline.
CMS COVID-19 Stakeholder Calls
CMS hosts recurring stakeholder engagement sessions to share information about the agency’s response to COVID-19. These sessions are open to members of the health care community and are intended to provide updates, share best practices among peers, and offer participants an opportunity to ask questions of CMS and other subject matter experts.
COVID-19 Office Hours Call
Tuesday, December 22 at 5:00 (eastern)
Toll Free Dial In: 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 3968359
Audio Webcast link: go here.
Conference lines are limited so CMS encourages interested parties to join via audio webcast.
To listen to the audio files and read the transcripts for past stakeholder calls, go here.
Department of Health and Human Services
- HHS’s Office of the Inspector General has updated its work plan for COVID-19-related audits, evaluations, and inspections.
ood and Drug Administration
- The FDA has issued emergency use authorization for the first over-the-counter COVID-19 antigen test that can be performed entirely at home by consumers.
- The FDA has approved an abbreviated new drug application for midazolam injection, indicated for preoperative sedation/anxiolysis (anxiety)/amnesia; as an agent for sedation/anxiolysis/amnesia prior to or during diagnostic, therapeutic or endoscopic procedures; for induction of general anesthesia; and as a continuous intravenous infusion for sedation of intubated and mechanically ventilated patients (such as those being treated for COVID-19) as a component of anesthesia or during treatment in a critical care setting.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- The CDC has updated its infection prevention and control recommendations for health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The CDC has updated its guidance for risk assessment and work restrictions for health care workers who may have been exposed to COVID-19.
- The CDC has updated its guidance on testing health care workers for COVID-19.
- The CDC has updated its background information about the importance of COVID-19 vaccination for health care workers.
- The CDC has updated its strategies for mitigating health care personnel staffing shortages as a result of COVID-19.
- HHS announced that the CDC will award $140 million for COVID-19 vaccine preparedness and almost $87 million for tracking and testing to 64 jurisdictions, including all 50 states and the U.S. territories.
- The CDC has updated its list of publications about COVID-19 for laboratories.