The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 2:30 p.m. on Friday, June 3.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.

White House

The White House COVID-19 response coordinator and press secretary have held a briefing on the latest in the federal response to COVID-19.  Find a transcript of that briefing here.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

  • HHS and CMS are notifying states that they now have an additional year – through March 31, 2025 – to use funding made available by the American Rescue Plan to enhance, expand, and strengthen home- and community-based services for people with Medicaid who need long-term services and supports.  Learn more from this HHS news release.
  • CMS has posted a notice outlining modifications of place-of-service codes for telehealth.
  • CMS has introduced a new “Renew Your Medicaid or CHIP Coverage” web page to help current Medicaid and CHIP participants prepare for the review of their eligibility for those programs that will begin when the formal public health emergency ends.
  • CMS has released a new tool states can use to prepare for the eventual end of the COVID-19 public health emergency and return to normal Medicaid and CHIP eligibility and enrollment operations.  This tool highlights the ten fundamental actions states need to complete to prepare for unwinding when the Medicaid continuous enrollment requirement ends.  Find it here.
  • CMS has issued a letter to state Medicaid programs updating its 2022 SSI and spousal impoverishment standards.  These measures affect financial eligibility rules (the “spousal impoverishment rules”) that apply when married individuals seek coverage of certain long-term services and supports.  Find the letter and the new standards here.
  • CMS is offering virtual training programs to review the updated guidance for the IRF Patient Assessment Instrument (IRF-PAI) 4.0 and the LTCH CARE Data Set (LCDS 5.0).  For more information go here (and scroll down about halfway to “updates”).
  • CMS’s Office of Minority Health has announced that through its Minority Research Grant Program it will award three grants of up to $333,000 each to researchers at minority-serving institutions who are investigating or addressing health care disparities affecting the office’s target populations of racial and ethnic minorities, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) persons; persons with disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality.  Learn more about the program here and go here to see the formal grant opportunity notice.  Applications are due July 28.
  • CMS has published new editions of MLN Connects, its online newsletter with information about Medicare reimbursement issues.  For information about a new administrative code for the Pfizer COVID-19 pediatric booster vaccine, interchangeability among certain biosimilar products, and more go here.  For information about ICD-10 procedure codes for FY 2023, the deadline for applying for a January 1 start date for the Medicare Shared Savings Program, and an IRF and LTCH training program, go here.
  • CMS has announced that Medicare Part B premiums will be adjusted in 2023 to reflect reduced anticipated spending for the drug Aduhelm but that no adjustment will be made to 2022 premiums.  Learn more from this CMS news release.
  • CMS has announced that it has approved requests from California, Florida, Kentucky, and Oregon to expand their Medicaid and CHIP coverage to 12 months postpartum.  This brings to 11 the number of states that have extended this coverage from 60 days to 12 months, as authorized by the American Rescue Plan.  Learn more about what the extension means from this CMS news release.
  • CMS has published its proposed Basic Health Program federal funding methodology for program year 2023.  This provides the methodology and data sources necessary to determine federal payment amounts for program year 2023 for states that elect to establish a Basic Health Program to offer health benefits coverage to low-income individuals otherwise eligible to purchase coverage through insurance exchanges.  Only New York and Minnesota have such programs.  Learn more from the proposed regulation as published in this Federal Register notice.  Stakeholder comments are due by June 24.
  • CMS has hired a contractor to develop episode-based cost measures for potential use in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) to meet the requirements of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA).  The project’s overall objective is to develop episode-based cost measures suitable for potential use in the Quality Payment Program.  The contractor convenes groups of experts and other interested parties to contribute direction and input during cost measure development and maintenance.  The project now seeks to create kidney transplant management, prostate cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis workgroups and seeks experts to serve on these panels (known as “MACRA Episode-Based Cost Measures – Wave 5 Clinician Expert Workgroups”).  Learn more about the project and the qualities sought in work group members in this CMS notice.  The deadline for nominations is July 1.

Department of Health and Human Services

  • HHS has published a summary of what is known about monkeypox and a list of resources for further information.  To find it go here.
  • HHS has updated its web page that summarizes telehealth changes implemented in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, including information on which changes are permanent and which are being phased out.  Find it here.
  • Last month HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) held a national telehealth conference.  Go here to find session materials, including documents and videos of presentations.
  • HHS has established a web site to help families find baby formula.
  • HHS has withdrawn a rule adopted on January 19, 2021 that would have resulted in the expiration of most of the agency’s regulations and necessitated the review and reauthorization of those HHS still found necessary, with the same process to be required periodically thereafter.  Commonly referred to as the “sunset rule,” implementation of the requirement was suspended pending litigation and now HHS has withdrawn it.  See the agency’s formal withdrawal of the requirement in this Federal Register notice.
  • HHS has announced the formal creation of the Advanced Research Project Agency for Health (ARPA-H) as an independent entity within the National Institutes of Health and the appointment of Adam H. Russell, D.Phil., as acting deputy director.  Learn more about the new agency and its mission from this HHS news release.  Find a more detailed description of the agency’s objectives and area of endeavor in this Federal Register notice.
  • HHS and HRSA have released “The Blueprint for Change:  A National Framework for a System of Services for Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs” through a special supplement in the journal Pediatrics.  The document presents a national framework to improve care for the nearly one in five children in the U.S. who currently has a special health care need.  Learn more about the document from this HHS news release and this HRSA summary and find links to the document itself here.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • The CDC has issued an advisory to inform health care providers, public health departments, and the public about the potential for recurrence of COVID-19 or “COVID-19 rebound” even after treatment with Paxlovid.  Limited information currently available from case reports suggests that persons treated with Paxlovid who experience COVID-19 rebound have had mild illness; there are no reports of severe disease and there currently is no evidence that additional treatment is needed with Paxlovid or other drugs when COVID-19 rebound is suspected.  Learn more from the CDC health advisory.
  • The CDC has announced the availability of grants to develop multi-sector action plans to address social determinants of health.  The purpose of this funding is to accelerate action in state, local, territorial, and tribal jurisdictions that lead to improved chronic disease outcomes among persons experiencing health disparities and inequities.  Approximately 40 applicants will be funded to collaborate with multi-sector partners to develop implementation-ready social determinants of health accelerator plans to reduce disparities in health outcomes related to chronic disease within a state, local, territorial, and tribal jurisdiction, community, or catchment areas.  Awards will be up to $125,000 each.  Learn more from this CDC announcement and the CDC’s notice of the funding opportunity.  In addition, the CDC will host an informational call for interested parties on June 9 at 3:30 (eastern).  Go here for information on how to register for the call; prior registration is required.
  • The CDC has updated its clinical information on the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19.  Separate updates cover the following subjects:
  • The CDC has updated its COVID-19 vaccination recommendations for children and teens.
  • The CDC has updated its web pages on the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.
  • The CDC has posted research on post-COVID-19 health conditions among adult COVID-19 survivors between the ages of 18 and 64 and those 65 and older.
  • The CDC has published information about the pre-exposure administration of monkeypox vaccine for persons at risk of occupational exposure to the disease, typically through work in research laboratories.  Find the CDC report here.
  • Public Health Reports, a peer-reviewed journal of public health research and practice and the official journal of the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General and the U.S. Public Health Service, invites submissions for a supplement on practice-based research on promising and effective strategies for advancing health equity by improving minority health and reducing health disparities. The supplement, organized by the CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity, gives state, tribal, local, and territorial public health practitioners the opportunity to discuss health equity-related insights and highlight their efforts to advance health equity.  Learn more from this call for papers.  Abstracts are due by June 21.
  • The CDC is seeking nominations for membership on the CDC/HRSA Advisory Committee on HIV, Viral Hepatitis and STD Prevention and Treatment.  The committee consists of 18 experts in fields associated with public health, epidemiology, laboratory practice, immunology, infectious diseases, drug abuse, behavioral science, health education, health care delivery, state health programs, clinical care, preventive health, medical education, health services and clinical research, and health care financing.  Nominations are due October 1.  Learn more about the council and its work and the nomination process from this Federal Register notice.

Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC)

Stakeholder Events

CMS – Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System Public Meetings – June 7-June 10

CMS will hold virtual Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System public meetings on June 7 through June 10 from 9:00-5:00 (eastern) each day to discuss its preliminary coding, Medicare benefit category, and payment determinations for new revisions to the HCPCS Level II code set and to discuss preliminary Medicare benefit category and payment determinations for codes effective January 1, 2020 to April 1, 2022; continuous glucose monitor and related supplies and accessories coding and payment determinations; and additional items added by CMS to address Medicare benefit category or payment determinations.  Learn more about the meetings, how to register to speak, and how to join the meetings from this Federal Register notice.

CDC – Community Preventive Services Task Force – June 8-9

The CDC’s Community Preventive Services Task Force will meet virtually on Wednesday, June 8 and Thursday, June 9 beginning at 10:00 (eastern) on both days.  The task force works to identify community preventive programs, services, and policies that increase health, longevity, save lives and dollars, and improve Americans’ quality of life, and during its meetings it considers the findings of systematic reviews of existing research and practice-based evidence and issues recommendations.  Individuals interested in participating must register to do so and then will receive information about how to join the meeting.  Find the meeting’s agenda and registration information in this Federal Register notice.

HHS – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Advisory Committee for Women’s Services – June 14

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Advisory Committee for Women’s Services will meet virtually on Tuesday, June 14 at 12:30 (eastern).  The meeting will include discussions on assessing SAMHSA’s current strategies, including the mental health and substance use needs of women and girls.  In addition, the committee will be addressing priorities regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the behavioral health needs of women and children and directions around behavioral health services and access for women and children.  Interested persons may present data, information, or views, orally or in writing, on issues pending before the committee.  Learn more about the meeting agenda, how to submit comments, and how to join the meeting from this Federal Register notice.

NIH – National Advisory Child Health and Human Development Council – June 14 and 15

The NIH’s National Advisory Child Health and Human Development Council will hold public meetings that also will be available virtually on Tuesday, June 14 and Wednesday, June 15 at noon on both days.  To see the meeting agenda and learn where the meeting will be held and how to join it virtually, see this Federal Register notice.

HHS – Advisory Committee on Infant and Maternal Mortality – June 14-15

The Advisory Committee on Infant and Maternal Mortality, which advises HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), will hold a virtual public meeting on Tuesday, June 14 and Wednesday, 15 at 11:00 (eastern) both days.  Learn about the committee’s work and find the agenda in this Federal Register notice.  Log-in information for the meeting is not yet available but will eventually be posted here.

CMS – The Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility and Long-Term Care Hospital Updated Guidance Virtual Training Program – June 15-16

CMS will present virtual training to review the updated guidance for the Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility – Patient Assessment Instrument (IRF-PAI) 4.0 and the LTCH Continuity Assessment Record and Evaluation (CARE) Data Set (LCDS) 5.0 for providers in the IRF and LTCH settings.  This training is part of the agency’s effort to ensure that IRF and LTCH providers understand and can comply with changes in reporting requirements associated with the IRF and LTCH quality reporting programs that go into effect on October 1, 2022.  A major focus of this training will be on the cross-setting implementation of the standardized patient assessment data elements being introduced in 2022 to ensure more consistent reporting and evaluation across post-acute-care settings.  The training will consist of two parts.

  • Beginning May 9, CMS will offer recorded training videos that deliver foundational knowledge necessary to understand the new items and guidance.  These videos are intended to be reviewed in advance of the live event.
  • On June 15–16, CMS will conduct live, virtual workshops to provide coding practice on the items covered in the Part 1 videos.  These live sessions will take place each day between 1:00 and 5:00 (eastern).

This event is now at capacity and is closed to new participants.  All training materials and videos will be made available on the CMS website.

HHS – National Vaccine Advisory Committee – June 15-16

The National Vaccine Advisory Committee will meet in person on Wednesday, June 15 and Thursday June 16 at 9:00.  The meeting will be open to the public and public comment will be heard during the meeting.  Once available, meeting times, agendas, and registration information will be posted here.  Learn more about the committee and the meeting from this Federal Register notice.

NIH – Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council – June 23

The NIH’s Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council will meet virtually at noon (eastern) on Thursday, June 23.  The meeting’s agenda includes a report from the director of the Office of AIDS Research; an update from that office’s clinical guidelines working groups; updates from the NIH’s HIV-related advisory councils; presentations and discussions on data science and NIH-wide programs and initiatives; and public comment.  Learn more about how to submit comments and participate in this meeting from this Federal Register notice.

National Advisory Council for Healthcare Research and Quality – July 21

The National Advisory Council for Healthcare Research and Quality, which advises the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Director of Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) on matters involving to AHRQ’s mission, will meet on Thursday, July 21 at 12:30 p.m. (eastern).  Council members will meet in person but the public is invited only virtually.  Learn more about the council, the agenda for the meeting, and how to participate in the meeting from this Federal Register notice.