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

White House

The White House has announced two new actions to address the youth mental health crisis:  it will award nearly $300 million from the FY 2022 bipartisan omnibus agreement to expand access to mental health services in schools and it will encourage governors to invest more in school-based mental health services.  Learn more about this effort, including the individual funding components of the $300 million in new spending, from this White House fact sheet.

Medicare Payment Regulations

  • CMS has issued its final Medicare inpatient prospective payment system and long-term care prospective payment system regulation for FY 2023.  Highlights of the final rule include a 4.3 percent increase in Medicare hospital inpatient rates and a 2.3 percent increase in LTCH rates; a reduction of $318 million in the Medicare DSH uncompensated care payment pool; introduction of a new “birthing-friendly hospital” designation for hospitals that meet certain criteria; the introduction of three new health equity measures; a permanent five percent cap on year-to-year wage index reductions; and more.  Find additional information about the final regulation from the following resources:
  • CMS has issued a final rule that updates Medicare payment policies and rates for skilled nursing facilities under its skilled nursing facility prospective payment system for FY 2023.  CMS has announced a payment increase of 5.1 percent for skilled nursing facilities that will be offset by a 2.3 percent decrease for budget neutrality, leaving CMS to characterize the estimated combined effect of the final policy as a 2.7 percent increase in payments.  The final rule also includes a two-year phase-in of an adjustment to skilled nursing facility payment rates due to the transition to the Patient Driven Payment Model (PDPM), a skilled nursing facility payment classification model.  Learn more about CMS’s Medicare skilled nursing facility payment rule from this CMS news release, a CMS fact sheet, and the final rule itself, which will officially be published on August 3.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

  • CMS has released guidance on “Health Homes for Children with Medically Complex Conditions,” a new Medicaid health home benefit for children with medically complex conditions.  This new optional benefit seeks to help state Medicaid programs provide Medicaid-eligible children who have medically complex conditions with person-centered care management, care coordination, and patient and family support.  Under the program, states will have the option of offering the new health home services benefit for children with medically complex conditions beginning on October 1.  The services provided under the new benefit include providing access to the full range of pediatric specialty and subspecialty medical services, including services from out-of-state providers, as medically necessary.  Learn more about this initiative from this CMS news release and from the letter CMS has sent to state Medicaid agencies to provide more information about the program.
  • In mid-July CMS held a national stakeholder call during which agency Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure and her leadership team offered updates on CMS’s recent actions and how CMS initiatives are improving quality of care and expanding access to health coverage.  CMS has now posted a transcript and a recording of that call.
  • CMS has published a Request for Information seeking public comment on the Medicare Advantage program.  CMS is asking for input “…on ways to achieve the agency’s vision so that all parts of Medicare are working towards a future where people with Medicare receive more equitable, high quality, and person-centered care that is affordable and sustainable.”  The agency seeks comments from the public, plans, providers, beneficiary advocates, states, employers and unions, and other partners.  Learn more about CMS’s request from this CMS news release and from this Federal Register notice.  Comments are due by August 31.
  • CMS has announced that the average basic monthly premium for standard Medicare Part D coverage is projected to be approximately $31.50 in 2023.  This expected amount is a decrease of 1.8 percent from $32.08 in 2022.  CMS also released additional information, such as the Part D national average monthly bid amount, to help Part D plan sponsors finalize their premiums and prepare for Medicare open enrollment.  Learn more about CMS’s announcement about 2023 Medicare Part D rates in this CMS news release.
  • CMS has recovered only about half of the overpayments it made to providers during an audit period that ran from October 1, 2014 through December 31, 2016, the agency’s Office of the Inspector General concluded after a recent investigation.  Go here for a summary of the investigation and the OIG’s recommendations and learn more from the full OIG report “CMS Reported Collecting Just Over Half of the $498 million in Medicare Overpayments Identified by OIG Audits.”
  • CMS has updated the Electronic Clinical Quality Measure (eCQM) Tools, Resources, & Collaboration (InfoTRAC) webpage of its Electronic Clinical Quality Improvement (eCQI) Resource Center.  This interactive page merges the previous InfoTRAC graphic with the eCQM Tools Library to provide an in-depth overview of the tools, standards, and resources used in the various stages of the eCQM lifecycle.  Stakeholders can filter based on category and role and find references specific to their areas of interest.  All of the FAQ pages and Questions & Answers pages on the eCQI Resource Center have been combined on a single web page and all are now FAQs.

Department of Health and Human Services

  • A new HHS report finds that the national uninsured rate reached an all-time low of eight percent in early 2022.  Learn more from this HHS news release and the report itself.
  • HHS and the Department of Defense have announced an agreement to purchase 66 million doses of Moderna’s bivalent COVID-19 vaccine booster candidate for potential use in the fall and winter.  This transaction follows a recommendation by the FDA last month that vaccine manufacturers update their existing COVID-19 vaccines to create a bivalent booster that can target BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants.  This purchase supplements the 105 million bivalent COVID-19 vaccine booster doses the federal government purchased recently from Pfizer for potential use later this year, pending FDA authorization and a recommendation by CDC.  Assuming those FDA and CDC actions, HHS would receive the first deliveries of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine booster doses in early fall.  Learn more from this HHS news release.
  • HHS, the Department of Labor, and the Treasury Department have issued guidance regarding birth control coverage.  The guidance clarifies that contraceptive coverage is guaranteed at no additional cost under the Affordable Care Act no matter where someone lives or works.  Learn more about the guidance and the types of birth control it covers from this HHS news release and from the guidance itself.
  • HHS and the Justice Department have published guidance on protections in federal non-discrimination laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Section 1557 of Affordable Care Act, requiring that telehealth be accessible to people with disabilities and limited English-proficient persons.  These laws seek to prohibit discrimination and protect access to health care.  Learn more about this action from this HHS news release and the new guidance itself.
  • HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has made one modification of its Provider Relief Fund FAQ.  That change, on page 37 and marked “Modified 7/28/2022,” is a response to the question “What if a Reporting Entity missed the reporting deadline and subsequently returned funds, as requested by HRSA, but would now like to receive the funds and report on the use of funds due to extenuating circumstances?”  Find the revised FAQ here.
  • HHS has released “Disaster Available Supplies in Hospitals” (DASH), an interactive tool to help hospital emergency planners and supply chain staff estimate the supplies hospitals may need available immediately during various mass casualty incidents and infectious disease emergencies based on hospital characteristics.  DASH recommends average par levels for specific supplies that acute-care hospitals may need to have on hand to respond to a disaster in their community until resupplied.  Learn more from HHS’s DASH web page.
  • In support of the introduction of DASH, HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response will hold a webinar on Monday, August 15 at 11:30 (eastern) to talk to hospitals about DASH.  Speakers will provide an overview and demonstration of DASH and share information about how it may be used from both the hospital and supply chain perspective.  Go here to learn more about the webinar and the speakers and how to register to participate; registration is limited to 1000 participants, although the event will be recorded and made available at a later date.
  • HHS’s Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information (ONC) has opened its annual comment period for the Interoperability Standards Advisory, which is a catalog of the standards and implementation specifications that ONC has curated over the past eight years with the goal of providing the health care industry with a single list of standards and implementation specifications that can be used to address specific health information technology interoperability needs.  Learn more about this undertaking from this ONC post and go here to submit comments.  Comments are due by September 30.
  • HHS’s Office of the Inspector General audited nursing homes cited for infection prevention and control program deficiencies that did not submit corrective action plans to the federal government.  It found that many were still out of compliance with prevention and control requirements and with emergency preparedness requirements related to all-hazards risk assessments and strategies to address emerging infectious diseases.  The study was undertaken because of the especially high death rate among nursing home residents during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Learn more about why the OIG conducted this audit and what it found in the OIG report “Certain Nursing Homes May Not Have Complied with Federal Requirements for Infection Prevention and Control and Emergency Preparedness” and a summary of that report.
  • HHS is soliciting nominations of individuals who are interested in serving as a voting member or non-voting liaison member of the Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria.  Learn more about the council and the specific backgrounds HHS seeks in prospective members from this Federal Register notice.  Nominations are due by September 19.


  • The White House has announced the appointment of Robert Fenton, a FEMA regional administrator, as the White House National Monkeypox Response Coordinator, and Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, currently Director of the CDC’s Division of HIV Prevention, as the White House National Monkeypox Response Deputy Coordinator.  They will lead the administration’s strategy and operations to combat the current monkeypox outbreak.  Learn more about the two monkeypox response leaders and the work they will undertake from this White House announcement.
  • HHS has announced plans to allocate an additional 786,000 doses of monkeypox vaccine, increasing the supply of monkeypox vaccine doses to states and jurisdictions.  The additional vaccine allocation adds to the more than 340,000 doses of the vaccine already distributed.  The plan for allocating the doses takes into account two factors:  the total population of at-risk people and the number of new cases in each jurisdiction.  Learn more from this HHS news release.
  • The CDC has updated much of its monkeypox web page, including sections on signs and symptoms, prevention, vaccination, how the disease spreads, duration of isolation procedures, preparation and collection of specimens, and more.  Find the updated web page here; revised sections are labeled “Updated July 29, 2022.”
  • The CDC has posted an update for clinicians on testing and treatment for monkeypox.  The update addresses diagnostic testing, specimen types and collection, specimen shipment, reporting of test results, test interpretation, treatment, and acquisition of drugs for treatment.  Find the update here.
  • The CDC has issued an update for clinicians on monkeypox in people with HIV, children and adolescents, and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.  Find the health alert here.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Stakeholder Events

CMS – Medicare Ground Ambulance Data Collection System Webinar – August 4

Starting on January 1, 2023, selected ground ambulance organizations are required to report cost, utilization, revenue, and other information to CMS.  Organizations that fail to report may be subject to a 10 percent payment reduction.  With this in mind, CMS is holding a webinar on Thursday, August 4 at 2:00 (eastern) to present templates providers may use to import facility and vehicle costs in the Medicare Ground Ambulance Data Collection System.  Find the webinar presentation here and register for the webinar here.

CDC – Becoming Comfortable with Health Equity Concepts and Language – August 8

On Monday, August 8 at 2:00 (eastern) the CDC will hold the webinar “Becoming Comfortable With Health Equity Concepts and Languages” to help audiences understand the place of health communications in removing social obstacles that lead to poor health outcomes and health disparities. Participants will hear about the importance of ensuring that communication products and strategies adapt to the specific cultural, linguistic, environmental, and historical situation of each population or audience of focus.  For more information about the webinar and how to participate, go here.

CMS Long-Term Services and Supports Open Door Forum – August 9

CMS will hold a long-term services and supports open door forum on Tuesday, August 9 at 1:00 (eastern).  For the meeting agenda and information about how to join the event, which will be held by conference call, see this CMS announcement.

CMS – Digital Quality Measurement – August 10 and 11

CMS will hold a webinar titled “Strategic Roadmap for Advancing Digital Quality Measurement” to highlight its multi-pronged strategy to provide better access to usable, timely data to improve quality measurement and patient care.  The webinar will be offered twice:  on Wednesday, August 10 at 3:00 (eastern) and Thursday, August 11 at noon (eastern).  To register for the August 10 session, go here; to register for the August 11 session, go here.  Space is limited so CMS encourages early registration.

HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response – Disaster Available Supplies in Hospitals Tool – August 15

HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response will hold a webinar on Monday, August 15 at 11:30 (eastern) to talk to hospitals about its Disaster Available Supplies in Hospitals Tool (DASH), an online, interactive tool for hospital emergency planners and supply chain staff to estimate supplies that may be needed immediately during various emergencies based on their hospital’s characteristics.  Speakers will provide an overview and demonstration of DASH and share information on how it may be used from both the hospital and supply chain perspective.  Go here to learn more about the webinar and the speakers and how to register to participate; registration is limited to 1000 participants, although the event will be recorded and made available at a later date.

CMS – Advisory Panel on Hospital Outpatient Payment – August 22 and 23

CMS’s Advisory Panel on Hospital Outpatient Payment will meet virtually on Monday, August 22 at 9:30 a.m. (eastern) and Tuesday, August 23, also at 9:30 a.m. (eastern).  The purpose of the panel is to advise the Secretary of HHS and the Administrator of CMS about the clinical integrity of the Ambulatory Payment Classification groups and their associated weights, which are important components of Medicare’s outpatient prospective payment system.  Stakeholders are invited to submit presentations and comment letters.  Learn more about the panel and its work, the meeting agenda, how to submit materials, and how to join the meeting from this Federal Register notice.