The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government for March 24-30. Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
- CMS’s Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) has extended its Medicare Advantage Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID) Model for calendar years 2025 through 2030 and will introduce changes intended to address more fully the health-related social needs of patients, advance health equity, and improve care for patients with serious illness. Learn more from this CMS announcement, which includes a link to additional information about the program.
- CMS has published an update to its 2023 CMS quality reporting document architecture category I implementation guide and its schematron for hospital quality reporting. This is an update to the implementation guide version 1.1 published in January and it outlines requirements for eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals to report electronic clinical quality measures (eCQMs) for the calendar year 2023 reporting period for its Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting Program, Medicare Promoting Interoperability Program, and Outpatient Quality Reporting Program. Find the updated guide here and go here for the schematron (the schematron link opens to a zip file download).
- CMS has issued a technical correction of a coding issue in the Medicare ambulatory surgical center payment system. Find the CMS notice here.
- Another CMS technical correction addresses coding for expanded coverage of cochlear implantation. Find it here.
- CMS has assembled a compendium of resources to support state implementation of Medicaid renewal mitigation strategies. Find it here.
Department of Health and Human Services
- The National Health Service Corps, part of HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), is accepting applications for financial assistance for qualified health care providers under its NHSC Loan Repayment Program until April 25. Go here to learn about the types of health care professionals eligible to apply, the nature of the assistance, and how to apply and find a schedule of upcoming webinars during which National Health Service Corps staff will answer applicants’ questions.
- HHS and its Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) have announced two funding opportunities worth $123.6 million for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) expansion. CCBHC Planning, Development, and Implementation grants seek to help clinics establish and implement new CCBHC programs and CCBHC Improvement and Advancement grants seek to enhance and support existing CCBHCs that currently meet CCBHC certification criteria. Learn more about the grants and CCBHCs and find links to formal notices of these funding opportunities from this HHS news release. The deadline for applications for both grant programs is May 23.
- HHS’s Health Sector Cybersecurity Coordination Center (HC3) has posted “HPH Mobile Device Security Checklist,” a basic checklist of recommended items for health sector mobile devices to maintain security, including data in motion and at rest, as well as the capabilities of the device itself. Find the bulletin here.
- HC3 also has posted an alert about “Black Basta,” the product of a Russian-speaking group that executes ransomware and exfiltrates sensitive data, operating a cybercrime marketplace to publicly release that data should a victim fail to pay a ransom. The group targeted a number of health care organizations last year. Learn more from this notice.
- HHS’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has published the technical brief “Healthcare Systems Level Strategies to Address Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health and Healthcare: An Evidence Map.” The purpose of the brief is to provide an evidence map to inform researchers and research funding agencies about the gaps in knowledge and/or research needs for future systematic reviews and to identify existing health care system-level interventions to be considered for implementation by health system leaders and policymakers. Find a link to the brief here. The deadline for stakeholder comments is April 20.
- Another AHRQ technical brief, “Patient and Clinician Level Strategies to Address Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health and Healthcare: An Evidence Map,” seeks to provide an evidence map to inform researchers and research funding agencies on the gaps in knowledge and research needs for future systematic reviews and to identify existing patient-level and clinician-level interventions that could be considered for implementation by health system leaders and policymakers. Find a link to this brief here. The deadline for stakeholder comments is April 20.
- AHRQ seeks individuals to serve on its National Advisory Council for Healthcare Research and Quality, which advises HHS and AHRQ on activities proposed or undertaken to carry out AHRQ’s statutory mission of making health care safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable, and affordable. Learn more about the background AHRQ seeks in nominees and how to submit nominations from this announcement, which includes a link to a Federal Register notice. The deadline for nominations is May 25.
- AHRQ has posted the latest edition of its AHRQ News Now online newsletter. The new issue includes features on treating heart disease and COVID-19, statistics on groups most and least likely to have health insurance, and more. Find it here.
Provider Relief Fund
The Provider Relief Fund reporting portal is now open for reporting period 4. Providers that received a Provider Relief Fund general or targeted and/or American Rescue Plan Rural payment(s) exceeding $10,000 in the aggregate between July 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021 are required to report on their use of those funds during reporting period 4. The deadline to submit a report is March 31. Go here to learn more.
Food and Drug Administration
The FDA has approved Narcan, a naloxone hydrochloride nasal spray, for over-the-counter non-prescription use – the first naloxone product approved for use without a prescription. Naloxone is a medication that rapidly reverses the effects of opioid overdose and is the standard treatment for opioid overdose. Learn more about Narcan and the FDA’s decision to approve it for over-the-counter sale from this FDA news release and this White House news release.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- The expanded availability of opioid use disorder-related telehealth services and medications during the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with a reduced likelihood of fatal drug overdose among Medicare beneficiaries, according to a new study, the CDC reports. Learn more from this CDC news release and from this JAMA Psychiatry summary of findings that includes a link to the complete report.
- The CDC has issued final guidance on its transition plan for medical devices that were issued emergency use authorization for their use in addressing COVID-19. Learn more from this announcement, which includes a link to a Federal Register notice, and this CDC news release. While the guidance is final, the CDC welcomes questions and comments at any time. HHS intends to publish advance notice of termination of each emergency use authorization declaration pertaining to devices in the Federal Register 180 days before the day on which that authorization is terminated.
Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC)
In a letter to CMS, MACPAC has commented on a proposed rule requiring disclosure of nursing facility ownership information. MACPAC recently completed a review of Medicaid nursing facility payment policies and one of its recommendations was for CMS to collect and report such data. Find the MACPAC letter here.
CMS’s Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) will hold a webinar to discuss its approach to person-centered care on Friday, March 31 at 2:30 (eastern). Go here to register to participate.
CMS – Physicians, Nurses, and Allied Health Professionals Open-Door Forum – April 12
CMS will hold an open-door forum via conference call for physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals on Wednesday, April 12 at 2:00 (eastern). To view the meeting agenda and find information about how to participate in the call, go here.
CMS – Skilled Nursing /Long-Term-Care Facility Open Door Forum – April 13
CMS will hold an open-door forum via conference call for skilled nursing and long-term-care facilities on Thursday, April 13 at 2:00 (eastern). To see the meeting agenda and learn how to participate in the call, go here.
MedPAC – Commissioners’ Meeting – April 13-14
MedPAC’s commissioners will hold their next public meeting on Thursday, April 13 and Friday, April 14. An agenda for the meeting and information about participation are not yet posted, but when they are they will be here.
MACPAC – Commissioners’ Meeting – April 13-14
MACPAC’s commissioners will hold their next public meeting on Thursday, April 13 and Friday, April 14. An agenda for the meeting and information about participation are not yet posted, but when they are they will be here.
CMS – Medicaid and CHIP Continuous Enrollment Unwinding Webinar – April 26
CMS will hold a webinar on the unwinding of Medicaid and CHIP continuous enrollment and what providers need to know and how to prepare for that unwinding on Wednesday, March 22 at noon (eastern). During the webinar, CMS officials will review recently released CMS unwinding resources to help partners with their outreach efforts and respond to questions about Medicaid renewals and terminations, Medicaid to marketplace transitions, Medicaid to Medicare transitions, communication and outreach strategies, and more. Go here to register to participate. CMS will offer the same webinar on May 24 and June 28. Go here and scroll down for materials from previous webinars on Medicaid unwinding.
CMS Quality Conference – May 1-3
The 2023 CMS Quality Conference, “Building Resilient Communities: Having an Equitable Foundation for Quality Health Care,” will be held virtually on Monday, May 1 through Wednesday, May 3. The conference will feature expert speakers who will address improving quality, equity, and innovation and discuss how advocates, providers, researchers, and champions in health care quality improvement can develop and spread solutions to address America’s most pervasive health system challenges. Go here to learn more about the conference and how to register to participate.