The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 12.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.

White House

  • The White House has issued an executive order on protecting access to reproductive health care services. Find that executive order here.
    • In support of that executive order, CMS has published guidance titled “Reinforcement of EMTALA Obligations specific to Patients who are Pregnant or are Experiencing Pregnancy Loss.” Find that guidance here and the agency’s expanded explanation of that guidance in this memo to state survey agencies.  The guidance does not establish new policies.
    • In addition, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra has written to hospital and health care leaders reinforcing their obligations under EMTALA for addressing the emergency needs of patients who are pregnant or experiencing pregnancy loss. The letter explains that providers’ “…legal duty to provide stabilizing medical treatment to a patient who presents to the emergency department and is found to have an emergency medical condition preempts any directly conflicting state law or mandate that might otherwise prohibit such treatment.”  Find the complete HHS letter here.
    • Secretary Becerra also has outlined HHS’s current priorities in the wake of the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and outlined the actions HHS has taken since that decision was announced. Learn more from this HHS news release.
    • Find an overview of the HHS and CMS actions in this HHS news release.
  • The administration has released a fact sheet outlining its strategy for addressing the omicron BA.5 variant. The strategy consists largely of the same steps associated with addressing other COVID-19 threats.  Find the strategy fact sheet here.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Department of Health and Human Services

  • HHS has distributed more than $140 million in new Phase 4 Provider Relief Fund grants to more than 150 recipients. Go here for a table showing the geographic distribution of grants among the latest recipients.
  • HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has announced that complete lists of all geographic areas, population groups, and facilities designated as primary medical care, dental health, and mental health professional shortage areas (HPSAs) are now available on the shortage area topic page on HRSA’s website.  In light of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the health workforce and health care service delivery, HRSA is providing a longer transition time for jurisdictions and facilities to prepare for potential change of HPSA designations.  Learn more from this Federal Register notice.
  • HHS and the Department of Defense have secured 3.2 million doses of Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine. This vaccine will be made available for free to states, jurisdictions, federal pharmacy partners, and federally qualified health centers if it receives FDA emergency use authorization and recommendation from the CDC. Learn more from this HHS news release.
  • HHS has announced that it will make an additional 144,000 doses of the monkeypox vaccine available to states and jurisdictions. These additional doses, which will begin shipping from the Strategic National Stockpile on July 11, are in addition to the 56,000 doses of monkeypox vaccine that HHS made available to states and jurisdictions when it announced its enhanced nationwide vaccine strategy on June 28.  Learn more from this HHS news release.
  • HHS and its Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response is presenting a continuing speaker series focused on how the health care field has incorporated lessons learned to continuously improve patient care and bolster provider and system resilience. Go here for a guide to the materials supporting that series.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • The CDC has issued an alert to inform clinicians and public health departments that parechovirus (PeV) is currently circulating in the U.S. Since May the CDC has received reports from health care providers in multiple states of PeV infections in neonates and young infants.  Parechoviruses are a group of viruses known to cause a spectrum of diseases in humans.  Learn more about PeV, how to diagnose it, and how to treat it from this CDC notice.
  • The CDC has updated its information about Long COVID.
  • The CDC has updated its information about adverse events people have experienced after receiving COVID-19 vaccines.
  • The CDC has posted an updated map showing the distribution of 866 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the U.S. as of July 11.

Food and Drug Administration

The FDA has given full approval to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 12 through 15 years of age.  Until now its approval had been emergency use authorization.  Learn more from this FDA announcement.

Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA seeks nominations for appointment to its Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee.  The committee’s purpose is to provide independent advice to the EPA administrator on a broad range of environmental issues affecting children’s health.  Learn more about the committee, its work, the types of backgrounds the EPA seeks from committee members, and how to submit nominations from this Federal Register notice.  Nominations are due by August 15.

Stakeholder Events

CMS – National Nursing Home Stakeholder Call – July 13

CMS and the CDC will hold a national stakeholder call on Wednesday July 13 at 3:00 (eastern); long-term-care providers, facility staff, and resident advocates are encouraged to attend.  This event is open to the public but registration is required.  Go here to register.

CMS – National Stakeholder Call – July 19

On Tuesday, July 19 at 1:00 (eastern), CMS administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure and her leadership team will provide an update on CMS’s recent accomplishments, how its initiatives seek to advance health equity, and how providers can partner with CMS to implement key initiatives of the agency’s strategic plan.  Go here to register.

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.

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.