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Latest Top (4) News


HHS Announces Over $4 Billion in Additional Relief Payments to Healthcare Providers Impacted by the Coronavirus Pandemic

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), is announcing approximately $3 billion in funding to hospitals serving a large percentage of vulnerable populations on thin margins and approximately $1 billion to specialty rural hospitals, urban hospitals with certain rural Medicare designations, and hospitals in small metropolitan areas. HHS is also opening the provider portal to allow dentists to apply for relief.  HHS recognizes the urgent need these vital funds play in supporting safety net providers and those serving large rural populations facing financial devastation catalyzed by the pandemic.

"We've been distributing the Provider Relief Funds as quickly as possible to those providers who have been hardest hit by the pandemic," said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. "President Trump is supporting hospitals in continuing to provide COVID-19 care and returning to everyday procedures, especially hospitals that serve vulnerable and minority populations. Close work with stakeholders informed how we targeted this new round of funds to hard-hit safety-net and rural providers."

As COVID-19 continues to disrupt daily lives, HHS is providing support to healthcare providers fighting the pandemic through the bipartisan CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, which allocated $175 billion in relief funds to hospitals and other healthcare providers, including those disproportionately impacted by this pandemic.

Additional $3 Billion to Safety Net Hospitals

On June 9, HHS announced plans to distribute $10 billion in Provider Relief Fund payments to safety net hospitals serving our most vulnerable citizens. Throughout this pandemic, HHS has continued to maintain an open line of communication with Members of Congress, state and local officials, providers and stakeholders to inform our response to this public health emergency. Accordingly, we learned some acute care hospitals did not qualify for funding from this initial announcement. HHS is now expanding the criterion for payment qualification so that certain acute care hospitals meeting the revised profitability threshold of less than of 3 percent averaged consecutively over two or more of the last five cost reporting periods, as reported to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in its Cost Report filings, will now be eligible for payment. HHS expects to distribute over $3 billion across 215 acute care facilities, bringing the total payments for safety net hospitals from the Provider Relief Fund to $12.8 billion to 959 facilities.

State-by-state breakdown

$1 Billion to Certain Rural Providers and Other Providers from Small Metropolitan Areas

In May, HHS announced $10 billion in funding to almost 4,000 rural health care providers including hospitals, health clinics, and health centers. HHS is expanding the existing payment formula to include certain special rural Medicare designation hospitals in urban areas as well as others who provide care in smaller non-rural communities. These may include some suburban hospitals that are not considered rural but serve rural populations and operate with smaller profit margins and limited resources than larger hospitals. They too, have suffered in this pandemic, which is why HHS is responding. HHS estimates the funding announced today will provide relief of over $1 billion to 500 of these hospitals with payments ranging from $100,000 to $4,500,000 for rural designated providers and $100,000 to $2,000,000 for the other providers.

State-by-state breakdown

Enhanced Provider Relief Fund Payment Portal and Dentists

In June, HHS announced the launch of the Enhanced Provider Relief Fund Payment Portal where eligible Medicaid, Medicaid managed care and CHIP providers were the first to begin reporting their annual patient revenue information for funding. Today, HHS is announcing this portal and an application process is now open to dentists who may not have previously been eligible to receive funding through the Provider Relief Fund. Eligible dentists will receive a reimbursement of two percent of their annual reported patient revenue and will have until July 24, 2020 to apply for funding through the Enhanced Provider Relief Fund Payment Portal. This second phase of General Distribution will continue to expand to include other providers submitting applications for future relief funding opportunities or as directed by HHS.



Fri, 10 Jul 2020 14:30:00 -0400


HHS Releases May and June COVID-19 State Testing Plans

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made May and June COVID-19 Testing Plans from all states, territories, and localities publicly available on HHS.gov. The State Testing Plans serve as a roadmap for each state's 2019 testing strategy for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The plans include details on response to surge cases and how to reach vulnerable populations including minorities, immunocompromised individuals and older adults.

"Overall, the plans submitted by the states were very good to excellent; and all will be improved by the ongoing collaboration of states with federal experts. Testing is not just about numbers – it is about targeting testing to the right people at the right time, and incorporation of testing into a comprehensive state plan for COVID-19," said Assistant Secretary for Health ADM Brett P. Giroir, M.D. "We are pleased at what nearly every state has achieved to date, and look forward to continuing to expand SARS-CoV-2 testing capacity in the U.S."

View Testing Plans by state and jurisdiction online.

Each plan was required to include details of these and other critical parameters, including target numbers of tests per month, as outlined in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Prevention and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases guidance document.

Since early April, teams designated by the governor in each state have worked with subject matter experts from HHS and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to develop testing plans that set specific targets for SARS-CoV-2 testing in each state. The plans build on these early discussions, including additional detail and specificity. The plans were submitted to CDC, and were individually reviewed by a multidisciplinary team from CDC and the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH).

Feedback was provided to each state, and that feedback will be incorporated for the July – December plans due to CDC on July 10.To meet the numeric testing targets of each state, the federal government will procure and distribute certain testing supplies that are in short supply – namely, swabs and transport media - to each state and territory. The federal government will also assist in matching laboratory reagents with the specific needs of each state, and is advising commercial suppliers on their allocation -- organizing and galvanizing the industry on an unprecedented scale. Finally, CDC staff in each state will provide technical assistance on all aspects of plan implementation, including flexible testing strategies and contact tracing. States are requested to detail how a minimum of 2% of the state's population will be tested each month beginning immediately; as well as plans to increase that number by the fall of 2020. States are requested to include a list of laboratories that will be testing in their state, along with each laboratory's available platforms and throughput. The overall goals for each state were determined in a federal state collaboration considering multiple factors, including the current rate of new cases, plans for mitigation, percent positivity, and other factors.

In May, CDC awarded a total of $10.25 billion to states, territories, and localities to be used to implement the goals of each jurisdiction's testing plan. States, territories, and localities will be expected to use these funds to purchase tests and related supplies, as necessary.

Background

Each state plan must establish a robust testing program that ensures adequacy of SARS-CoV-2 testing, including tests for contact tracing, and surveillance of asymptomatic persons to determine community spread. In general, state participants included a representative from the Office of the Governor, the state public health laboratory, the state health official, and the state epidemiologist – or their equivalents.

In each month's state plans, states must assure provisions are in place to meet future surge capacity testing needs including point-of-care (POC) or other rapid result testing for local outbreaks. States should also include plans for testing at non-traditional sites (e.g., retail sites, community centers, residential medical facilities, or pharmacies); testing of at-risk and vulnerable populations including older adults, the disabled, those in congregate living facilities such as prisons, and racial and ethnic minorities and other groups at-risk due to high frequency of occupational or non-occupational contacts; testing of individuals engaged in critical infrastructure sectors, such as food and agriculture and healthcare workers, and will address any essential partnerships with academic, commercial, and hospital laboratories to successfully meet testing demand.

Once submitted, a multidisciplinary team of experts from HHS thoroughly review each state's plan to ensure that the testing plan is sufficient to mitigate the spread of the virus, protect vulnerable groups, and account for enough testing supplies and reagents to cover all groups including underserved populations.

The review panel, chaired by the HHS Assistant Secretary for Health, includes subject matter experts that span the required disciplines, including membership from the Laboratory and Diagnostics Task Force within the OASH, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), CDC, and other subject matter experts. The panel also reviews state testing progress, needs assessment, and plans on a monthly basis to determine if modifications to the plan are required, or additional assistance is needed. Modifications to the state plans may be necessary if patterns of virus transmission change or are projected to change, increased case rates are observed, and/or additional types of testing and inventory become available through the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) program at NIH or other sources.



Fri, 10 Jul 2020 10:45:00 -0400


HHS Marks One-Year Anniversary of Advancing American Kidney Health Initiative

On July 10, 2019, President Trump signed an Executive Order launching the Advancing American Kidney Health initiative, led by the Department of Health and Human Services. HHS Secretary Alex Azar issued the following statement:

“We have brought more change to American kidney policy in the last year than we saw in the past several decades. President Trump fights for forgotten Americans, and America’s kidney patients were forgotten for far too long—but no more. Since the President signed his executive order, HHS has launched models to improve kidney payments, proposed new ways to increase transplants and support organ donors, changed guidelines to expand the supply of organs, and launched a historic public awareness campaign to promote kidney health. Because of the hard work of the HHS team and kidney patients and advocates, American kidney care will change and improve dramatically in the years to come.”

Since the signing of the executive order, HHS has taken numerous actions to advance American kidney health, including the following:

  • The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services launched the Kidney Care Choices payment model, a voluntary model to provide new incentives for delaying the need for dialysis in patients with chronic kidney disease, which is expected to enroll more than 200,000 Medicare beneficiaries.
  • CMS proposed the ESRD Treatment Choices model, a mandatory model that aims to increase rates of home dialysis and transplants, and is currently considering comments on it.
  • CMS proposed a rule to change the way organ procurement organizations (OPOs) are held accountable for their performance, estimating that the number of annual transplants would increase from about 32,000 to 37,000 by 2026, for a total of almost 15,000 additional transplants in that time.
  • CMS finalized a change to increase the new technology add-on payment in Medicare and expand the eligibility for it, with the goal of supporting new technologies, including for kidney care.
  • The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) issued a proposed rule to remove financial barriers to living organ donation by expanding support for living donors.
  • HRSA issued a request for information to begin exploring more effective ways in which modern IT systems may be able to manage allocating organs and handling patient and donor data on a national scale.
  • HHS announced new guidelines for the donation of organs such as kidneys from patients with HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C, using scientific advances to allow donations that previously would not have been possible.
  • HHS launched a nationwide kidney risk awareness campaign with the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) and the American Society of Nephrology (ASN).
  • KidneyX, a public private partnership between HHS and ASN, made awards in the first-ever Patient Innovator Challenge. The KidneyX Summit 2020 on July 22 will award $3 million in prizes to six winners of the Phase 2 Redesign Dialysis Prize. KidneyX also issued a request for information to help shape a moonshot Artificial Kidney Prize, soon to be announced.
  • HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response deployed a new form of portable dialysis machines in March 2020 to New York City to help patients suffering kidney injury from COVID-19.
  • The FDA awarded a contract to the Kidney Health Initiative, a public-private partnership between FDA and ASN, for a three-year project that will measure patient preferences and risk tolerance for novel treatments for kidney failure, allowing the FDA to better incorporate patient input into the development and review of new technologies.
  • The NIH-funded Kidney Precision Medicine Project (KPMP) has been conducting research that will help improve identification of populations at risk and those in early stages of kidney disease. Since the summer of 2019, KPMP has collected renal biopsies from over 30 patients, and recent KPMP publications have demonstrated the utility of kidney tissue in optimizing research tools and defining discrete, disease state-specific cell types based on molecular profiles.

Read more about the administration’s bold vision for kidney health: https://aspe.hhs.gov/pdf-report/advancing-american-kidney-health



Fri, 10 Jul 2020 09:00:00 -0400


HHS Awards More Than $21 Million to Support Health Centers’ COVID-19 Response

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), awarded more than $21 million to support health centers' COVID-19 response efforts. The majority of this investment—$17 million—supports 78 Health Center Program look-alikes (LALs) with funding to expand capacity for COVID-19 testing.

Due to the urgent need across the country to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, funding to expand capacity for COVID-19 testing is being made available to LALs through the Health Center Program. These LALs operate and provide services consistent with HRSA Health Center Program requirements; however, unlike HRSA-funded health centers, LAL operations are funded through mechanisms outside of the HRSA Health Center Program.

"As part of the Trump Administration's focus on underserved communities during the pandemic, we're sending funds to a broader set of care delivery sites associated with health centers for the first time," said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. "These funds build on the more than $2 billion we've awarded to HRSA-funded health centers to combat COVID-19 and will help even more Americans have access to COVID-19 testing in their communities."

Currently, nearly 88 percent of LALs report conducting COVID-19 testing in their communities, and 56 percent offer walk-up or drive-up testing. With this funding, LALs will expand the range of testing and testing-related activities to best address the needs of their communities, including the purchase of personal protective equipment; training for staff; outreach, procurement and administration of tests; laboratory services; notifying identified contacts of infected health center patients of their exposure to COVID-19; and the expansion of walk-up or drive-up testing capabilities.

"Overall, HRSA-funded health centers and look-alikes are currently providing more than 190,000 weekly COVID-19 tests in their local communities," said HRSA Administrator Tom Engels. "This funding builds on the Trump Administration's health center investments by expanding the availability of testing and testing-related activities in communities across the country."

HRSA also awarded over $4.5 million to support the COVID-19 response of Health Center Controlled Networks (HCCNs). HCCNs support health centers to improve quality of care and patient safety by using health information technology to reduce costs and improve care coordination. The funding will strengthen health IT support necessary for participating health centers to effectively prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19.

For a list of FY 2020 Health Center Program Look-Alikes: Expanding Capacity for Coronavirus Testing award recipients, visit: https://bphc.hrsa.gov/program-opportunities/expanding-capacity-coronavirus-testing-look-alikes-fy2020-awards.

For a list of Health Center Controlled Networks COVID-19 Supplemental Funding award recipients, visit: https://bphc.hrsa.gov/program-opportunities/hccn/fy2020-awards.

To learn more about health center capacity and the impact of COVID-19 on health center operations, patients and staff, visit https://bphc.hrsa.gov/emergency-response/coronavirus-health-center-data.

For more information about Health Center Program look-alikes, visit https://bphc.hrsa.gov/programopportunities/lookalike/index.html.

For more information about Health Center Controlled Networks, visit https://bphc.hrsa.gov/program-opportunities/hccn

For more information about COVID-19, visit https://coronavirus.gov/.



Thu, 09 Jul 2020 11:00:00 -0400