Current Report Articles
Federal Focus

Federal Focus (June 26, 2020) – New Podcast Series for Mid-Level Managers on Value-Based Care
A new leadership podcast series for mid-level managers has been developed through the Small Rural Hospital Transition Project. The series, funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration federal Office of Rural Health Policy, provides education on the 'why' and 'how' of value-based care and population health, as well as tools and strategies to help MLMs lead others in this time of change. For more information visit the National Rural Health Resource Center's podcast page.

Federal Guidance Restricts Insurance Coverage of COVID-19 Testing
New guidance from the Donald Trump administration limits the obligation of health insurers to cover the costs of COVID-19 testing. The response to question five of the FAQs says "testing conducted to screen for general workplace health and safety (such as employee "return to work" programs), for public health surveillance for SARS CoV-2, or for any other purpose not primarily intended for individualized diagnosis or treatment of COVID-19 or another health condition is beyond the scope of Section 6001 of the [Families First Coronavirus Response Act]." The law requires health insurers to cover the costs of COVID-19 testing without cost-sharing, prior authorization or medical management requirements.

CMS Announces Creation of the Office of Burden Reduction and Health Informatics
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced the creation of the Office of Burden Reduction and Health Informatics. The new office was created in response to the agency's "Patients over Paperwork" initiative. The office will work to "eliminate duplicative, unnecessary, and excessively costly requirements and regulations."

CMS Releases HSRs for 2020 DRA HAC Measures
The 2020 Hospital-Specific Reports for the Publicly Reported Deficit Reduction Act Hospital-Acquired Condition measures now are available on the QualityNet Secure Portal for hospitals participating in the Inpatient PPS program. The 30-day preview period is now open and ends Thursday, July 23. Additional information is available.

Executive Order Blocks New Employment-Based Visas
President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order suspending the issuance of a variety of new employment-based visas for foreign workers. The order expands a previous one that is expiring and applies to H-1B, H2-B, J and L visas, with some exceptions. It will be effective for the remainder of 2020. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Association of Medical Colleges were among those issuing statements of concern.

National Council of State Boards Provides Complimentary NLC Webinars
A number of complimentary Nurse Licensure Compact educational webinars are being offered. These webinars will provide an overview of the Nurse Licensure Compact, along with an update of pending legislation, and will explain Nursys and E-Notify, discuss the requirements when changing primary state of residence, and more.

Webinar Promotes "Touchless" Naloxone Delivery in Rural Communities
As communities continue to address the COVID-19 pandemic, rural health providers are facing daunting challenges. Current circumstances are creating new risk for those with opioid use disorder. Distribution of naloxone, often known by the brand-name Narcan, is a vital strategy for combating overdoses, including those involving synthetic opioids. The UR Medicine Recovery Center of Excellence will host a webinar 10 a.m. Monday, July 13, to discuss targeted naloxone distribution, with a focus on a "touchless" approach. Registration is available online.

Proposed Rule Allows Commercial Plans and States to Negotiate Payment for Innovative New Therapies
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released a proposed rule that would "empower commercial plans and states to negotiate payment for innovative new therapies based on patient outcomes." Many new therapies are coming to the market that fight diseases in an entirely new way with costs that are unprecedented. The proposal allows for new approaches to payment that are needed for the market to adopt the new therapies while ensuring that public programs remain sustainable. CMS Administrator Seema Verma stated "CMS's rules for ensuring that Medicaid receives the lowest price available for prescription drugs have not been updated in 30 years and are blocking the opportunity for markets to create innovative payment models. By modernizing our rules, we are creating opportunities for drug manufacturers to have skin in the game through payment arrangements that challenge them to put their money where their mouth is." Comments will be accepted through 4 p.m. Monday, July 20.

MLN Connects Provider eNews Available
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issues updates to MLN Connects Provider eNews. eNews includes information about national provider calls, meetings, events, announcements and other MLN educational product updates. The latest issue provides updates and summaries of the following:

  • Hospitals: submit Medicare GME affiliation agreements by Oct. 1 during the COVID-19 PHE
  • COVID-19 diagnostic laboratory tests: billing for clinician services
  • Value-based insurance design model – implementation of the hospice benefit component - revised
CDC Report Demonstrates Value of Linking Data to Study Opioid-Involved ED Visits, Hospitalizations and Deaths
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics demonstrates the utility of linking the restricted-use 2014 National Hospital Care Survey, 2014–2015 National Death Index and 2014–2015 Drug-Involved Mortality data to study opioid-involved emergency department visits, hospitalizations and mortality within one-year post-discharge. While results are not nationally representative, these unlinked and linked NCHS data allow for exploratory analyses of ED visits, hospitalizations and associated mortality outcomes.