The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government for February 17-23.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

  • CMS has issued an informational bulletin to states reiterating certain federal requirements that pertain to health care-related taxes.  Recently, CMS became aware that some health care-related tax programs appear to involve agreements among providers to redistribute their Medicaid payments to hold taxpayers harmless for the cost of the tax.  The bulletin reminds states that such arrangements are prohibited.  Find the CMS bulletin here.
  • CMS has posted a presentation on accessibility requirements in Medicaid and CHIP.  Find it here.
  • As required by law, HHS has published a semi-annual list of rule-making actions under development throughout the department.  Find that list here, along with a link to a formal Federal Register notice.
  • Writing in the journal Health Affairs, CMS officials report that in a limited review of hospital compliance with the agency’s hospital price transparency rule, the proportion of hospitals in compliance with both parts of the rule rose from 27 percent in 2021 to 70 percent in 2022 and more than 80 percent currently meet at least one of the rule’s requirements.  Learn more, including about future agency efforts to monitor and enforce compliance with the rule, from the Health Affairs article “Hospital Price Transparency: Progress And Commitment To Achieving Its Potential.”
  • CMS is inviting applications from providers, suppliers, and Medicare accountable care organizations (ACOs) to participate in the final two years of its Bundled Payments for Care Improve Advanced BPCI Advanced Model beginning in 2024.  Learn more from the BPCI Advanced Model web page; this CMS fact sheet; and this CMS video.  Interested parties also can learn more about the program and how to apply by joining a CMS webinar on Thursday, March 9 at 2:00 (eastern); go here to register to participate.  The deadline for applying is May 31.
  • CMS is seeking comment on proposed refinements to the QRS and QHP enrollee survey included in its “Draft 2023 Call Letter for the Quality Rating System and the Qualified Health Plan Enrollee Experience Survey.”  The draft letter communicates proposed changes to the QRS and QHP enrollee survey and requests comments on these proposed changes.  Find that letter here.  Comments are due by March 22 and should be submitted to with the reference “Marketplace Quality Initiatives (MQI) – Draft 2023 QRS Call Letter” in the subject line.
  • CMS has issued a statement that it is not reconsidering the national coverage determination for FDA-approved monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, maintaining that there is not yet sufficient evidence to merit reconsideration.  Read the CMS statement here.
  • CMS has posted a new edition of MLN Connects, its weekly newsletter about Medicare reimbursement matters.  The latest issue includes an update on CMS’s monitoring of hospital price transparency efforts, an FAQ for HCPCS Level II coding for single source drugs and biologicals, and more.  Find it here.
  • On January 24, CMS administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure and her leadership team held a national stakeholder call to deliver updates on the agency’s recent accomplishments.  Go here for a link to a transcript, webinar recording, and summary of this stakeholder call.

Department of Health and Human Services

  • HHS has updated its web page describing telehealth policy changes after the COVID-19 public health emergency.  Find it here.
  • HHS’s Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has posted a social determinants of health information exchange toolkit.  Find it here.
  • HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has updated its list of funding opportunities.  Find the updated list here, in the most recent edition of the agency’s HRSA eNews.
  • HRSA has announced the availability of $30 million for HRSA-funded health centers to expand early childhood development care through increased screenings and follow-up services.  Learn more from this HRSA news release and this HRSA grant opportunity notice.  The deadline for applications is March 17.
  • HHS’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has updated its web page with grant and other funding opportunities.  Find it here.
  • HHS’s Office of the Inspector General found that in the third quarter of 2022, 15 drug codes met CMS’s price substitution criteria by exceeding the five percent threshold for two consecutive quarters or three of the previous four quarters.  By law, if the OIG finds that the average sales price (ASP) for a drug exceeds the average manufacturer prices (AMPs) by a certain percentage – currently five percent – the Social Security Act directs HHS to substitute the ASP-based payment amount with a lower calculated rate.  As a result, the OIG concluded that CMS should determine whether to pursue price substitutions that would limit excessive payments for the 15 Part B drugs it identified.  Learn more from this OIG memorandum.

Congressional Research Service

  • The Congressional Research Service has published the new report “Federal Telehealth Flexibilities in Private Health Insurance During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency:  In Brief.”  Find it here.

Stakeholder Events

CDC – Epidemiology, Testing, and Management of Extensively Drug-Resistant Shigellosis Webinar – February 28

The CDC will hold a webinar on the epidemiology, testing, and management of extensively drug-resistant shigellosis on Tuesday, February 28 at 2:00 (eastern).  This strain of shigellosis is resistant to all generally recommended antibiotics in the U.S., making it difficult to treat, and it is easily transmissible and can spread antimicrobial-resistant genes to other enteric bacteria.  The webinar will address how to diagnose and treat this problem.  For further information about the webinar and how to participate, see this CDC notice.  Continuing education credits are offered for participation.

MedPAC – Commissioners’ Meeting – March 2-3

MedPAC’s commissioners will hold their next public meeting on Thursday, March 2 and Friday, March 3.  An agenda for the meeting and information about participation are not yet posted, but when they are they will be here.

MACPAC – Commissioners’ Meeting – March 2-3

MACPAC’s commissioners will hold their next public meeting on Thursday, March 2 and Friday, March 3.  Register here to participate in the meeting.

CDC – ICD-10 Coordination and Maintenance Committee – March 7-8

The CDC’s ICD-10 Coordination and Maintenance Committee will meet virtually on Tuesday, March 7 and Wednesday, March 8 at 9:00 (eastern) on both days.  The tentative agenda includes discussions about a variety of ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS topics.  For further information about the specific topics currently on the agenda and how to participate in the meeting, see this agency notice.

FDA – Workshop on Fatal Overdoses, Product Development, and Public Health Interventions – March 8-9

The FDA, in partnership with the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the FDA, will hold a two-day virtual public meeting entitled “Understanding Fatal Overdoses to Inform Product Development and Public Health Interventions to Manage Overdose.”  The event, to be held on Wednesday, March 8 and Thursday, March 9 at 1:00 (eastern) both days, is for stakeholders, including people who use drugs, their families, harm reduction programs, clinicians, academic researchers, and federal partners.  Go here to learn more about the event and how to register to participate.

CMS – Medicare Home Health Prospective Payment System CY 2023 Webinar – March 29

CMS will hold a webinar on Medicare’s calendar year 2023 home health prospective payment system on Wednesday, March 29 at 1:30 (eastern).  During this webinar CMS will provide an overview of several provisions from the CY 2023 home health prospective payment system final rule related to behavior changes, the construction of 60-day episodes, and payment rate development.  Learn more about the webinar here and go here to register to participate.

CMS – Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID) Model and its Hospice Benefit Component – April 11

CMS will host an office hours session on Tuesday, April 11 at 3:00 (eastern) to discuss the Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID) Model and its hospice benefit component.  Participants will receive an overview of the model and the CY 2024 application process and have an opportunity to ask questions of CMS officials about the model.  Go here to register to participate.