The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 2:45 p.m. on Thursday, October 28.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.

The White House

  • The Biden administration has updated its “Build Back Better Framework” to reflect the results of recent negotiations between the White House and congressional Democrats.  Congress’s next steps on the Build Back Better Act, the social spending reconciliation bill, are unclear.  The $1.75 trillion framework is far short of the $3.5 trillion plan embraced by congressional progressives.  The text of the bill, HR 5376, was released this afternoon and is currently being debated in the House Rules Committee.  Support among progressive Democrats is uncertain.  Because this is a Democrat-only bill, Democrats can only lose three votes in the House if the bill is to pass.
  • The White House has posted a transcript of the October 27 press briefing given by its COVID-19 response team and public officials.  Go here to see the slides presented during the briefing.

Provider Relief Fund:  Phase 3 Payment Reconsideration and Phase 4 Applications

  • HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has updated its Provider Relief Fund web page with the following explanation:
  • The deadline to initiate an application for both Provider Relief Fund (PRF) Phase 4 and American Rescue Plan (ARP) Rural payments has passed.  Applicants who submitted their Tax Identification Number (TIN) for validation prior to the deadline now have until November 3, 2021 at 11:59 PM EST to submit a completed application.
  • HRSA is accepting requests for reconsideration from providers that believe their Provider Relief Fund Phase 3 payments were incorrectly calculated.  Providers may not revise or correct their submitted application and the reconsideration will address only the calculation itself and not objections to the calculation methodology.  Go here for further information.  The deadline for submitting requests for reconsideration of Phase 3 is November 12.

Department of Health and Human Services

Health Policy News

  • HHS has announced the availability of up to $256 million in grant funding to support equitable, affordable, client-centered, and high-quality family planning services through the Title X family planning program.  Title X services are delivered through a diverse network of clinics, including state and local health departments, federally qualified health centers, hospital-based sites, and other private non-profit and community-based health centers.  These grants will focus on supporting national efforts to achieve health equity by implementing and expanding access to affordable, client-centered, quality family planning services, with a priority on grants that provide services to low-income clients.  To learn more, see HHS’s news release with this announcement and go here for information about eligibility and applying for grants.  Applications for grants that will range in size from $200,000 to $22 million are due January 11, 2022.
  • HHS has released a new overdose prevention strategy designed to increase access to a full range of care and services for individuals who use substances that cause overdoses and for members of their families.  This new strategy focuses on the multiple substances involved in overdose and the diverse treatment approaches for substance use disorder.  The strategy prioritizes four key target areas – primary prevention, harm reduction, evidence-based treatment, and recovery support – and reflects principles of maximizing health equity for underserved populations, using best available data and evidence to inform policy and actions, integrating substance use disorder services into other types of health care and social services, and reducing stigma.  Learn more from this HHS news release announcing the new strategy and from the new web site HHS has established to explain and support it.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services


Health Policy News

  • CMS has published the latest edition of MLN Connects, its online newsletter on Medicare and Medicare payment matters.  The new edition includes information about the upcoming flu season and flu vaccines, on how CMS is correcting some skilled nursing facility claims, proper billing practices for home health care, and more.  Find these articles and more in the latest edition of MLN Connects.
  • CMS has extended the deadline for home health agencies to request reconsideration of a CMS letter of non-compliance with Home Health Quality Reporting Program requirements for an additional week, to November 17, 2021 at 11:59 pm.  Go here to learn more about that quality reporting program and reporting reconsideration and extensions.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Stakeholder Events

HHS – Monoclonals and More:  Issues and Opportunities with Early COVID-19 Treatment Options – November 12

HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response will hold a webinar on COVID-19 treatment with monoclonal antibodies on Friday, November 12 at 12:30 p.m. during which it will address some of the most current recommendations for use of monoclonal antibodies, upcoming therapies, and the challenges and opportunities that new therapies may pose in conjunction with monoclonal antibodies and other treatments (e.g., prioritization and distribution).  Speakers also will highlight operational principles for a scaled strategy for use of these therapeutics in a scarce resource situation.  For more information about the webinar and to register, go here.