Health Update (June 15)
House Returns Early to Address Policing, Vote on ACA Changes
On Tuesday (Jun. 9), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced the House will come back June 25 and 26, pending committee action on the Justice in Policing Act of 2020. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) is leading the Senate’s efforts on police reform.
Following the passage of policing legislation, Hoyer has indicated the House will vote on a bill intended to improve the Affordable Care Act the week of June 29. While specific details of the legislation are unclear, the measure will address high premiums, co-pays, and deductibles. It is unlikely the bill will move in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Additionally, the House will bring an infrastructure package to the floor the first week of July. The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure will likely markup the package in the near future.
In the Senate, lawmakers will begin appropriations markups starting June 22.
HHS Announces Additional Relief Fund Distributions, Technical Assistance
An additional $25 billion will be distributed to Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) providers and safety net hospitals, HHS announced Tuesday (Jun. 9). The department launched an enhanced Provider Relief Fund Payment Portal on Wednesday (Jun. 10) to allow Medicaid and CHIP providers to report their annual patient revenue.
On Monday (Jun. 8), HHS asked all hospitals to update their COVID-19 positive inpatient admissions from January 1 to June 1 to determine eligibility for a second round of funding. Hospitals have until June 15 at 9:00 pm EST to submit their updated information.
To view the enhanced portal, click here.
To view the HHS announcement, click here.
Separately, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded $8 million to expand training and technical assistance (T/TA) to health centers.
To view the HHS announcement on T/TA, click here.
Medicaid and CHIP: HHS will distribute $15 billion to the eligible 38 percent of Medicaid and CHIP providers who have not received funds through the Provider Relief Fund General Allocation. Each provider will receive at least two percent of their reported gross revenue from patient care.
Safety Net Hospitals: The remaining $10 billion will be distributed to safety net hospitals in recognition of the thin margins these hospitals operate on. Qualifying hospitals will have: a Medicare Disproportionate Payment Percentage (DPP) of 20.2 percent or greater, an average Uncompensated Care per bed of $25,000 or more, and profitability of 3 percent or less as reported to CMS in its most recently filed Cost Report. Eligible hospitals will receive between $5 million and $50 million in relief.
Training and Technical Assistance: This week, HRSA distributed $8 million to organizations that provide COVID-19 T/TA to HRSA-funded health centers. $6 million was awarded to Primary Care Associations (PCA), and nearly $2.5 million was awarded to National Training and Technical Assistance (NTTA) Programs. 73 organizations received funds.
To view PCA recipients, click here.
To view NTTA recipients, click here.
CDC Telehealth Guidance
This week, the CDC released updated guidance on telehealth services in light of increased utilization due to the coronavirus. The guidance covers telehealth modalities, benefits, reimbursements, safeguards, and limitations.
To view the guidance, click here.
Grassley, Wyden Call for PRF Transparency
On Thursday (Jun. 11), Senate Finance Committee leaders Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) sent a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar requesting the department create a database to track funds distributed to healthcare providers to combat COVID-19.
Grassley and Wyden criticized the data that has been released on funding distributions thus far being incomplete and requested additional information on the reporting requirements for providers that have received aid.
“We write to you today regarding the need for increased transparency of funds distributed to health care providers during the COVID-19 emergency. Congress has dedicated significant resources needed to help providers deal with the dire consequences of this unprecedented situation,” Grassley and Wyden wrote.
“We urge you to expeditiously establish a single, comprehensive and publicly available data source that easily shows the amount of funding received by each provider,” they continued.
To view the letter, click here.
E&C GOP Provide Update on Surprise Billing
On Friday (Jun. 12), House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR) issued a press release outlining the committee’s work over the past year to combat surprise medical billing and reaffirming Walden’s commitment to resolving this problem even in the midst of the pandemic.
To view the press release, click here.
J&J Pushes Ahead with Coronavirus Vaccine Trial
Johnson & Johnson announced on Wednesday (Jun. 10) that it will begin the first series of human trials in late-July, almost two months ahead of schedule. The company has received more than $450 million from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) as a part of Operation Warp Speed. The trial will enroll 1,045 people between ages 18 and 55 with additional participants aged 65 and older.
Sullivan, Peter “Hoyer: House will vote soon on bill to improve ObamaCare” The Hill, 11 Jun. 2020.
Owermohle, Sarah “J&J speeds up coronavirus vaccine timeline” Politico Pro, 10 Jun. 2020.