Current Report Articles
Federal Focus

Federal Focus (July 17, 2020) – IRS Extends Deadline for Completing CHNA
Due to the burdens the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on hospitals, the Internal Revenue Service has extended the deadline for conducting and adopting an implementation strategy to meet the community health needs assessment requirements to Thursday, Dec. 31.

HHS Issues Final Rule on Confidentiality of Substance Abuse Records
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a final rule governing confidentiality standards for records of substance abuse treatment, accompanied by a press release and fact sheet.

CDC Begins Preparations for New Swine Flu Viruses
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this month said it is taking steps to prepare for the possible spread of H1N1 swine influenza viruses. The group of viruses, labeled "G4" Eurasian avian-like H1N1 viruses, are believed to be highly adaptable for human infection. CDC said it is taking a number of actions to monitor and prepare against this emerging public health threat, including the following:

  • Coordinating with public health partners in China, including requesting a virus sample
  • Assessing the risk of the virus causing a pandemic using CDC's Influenza Risk Assessment Tool
  • Evaluating whether an existing candidate vaccine virus against a closely related flu virus (called "G5") would protect against this virus
  • If needed, creating a new candidate vaccine virus specific to G4 viruses
  • Studying whether existing flu antiviral drugs offer protection against this group of viruses

CMS Selects Hospitals for eCQM Validation
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services selected the hospitals for validation of electronic clinical quality measures for fiscal year 2022 payment determination. The calendar year 2019 quarters eligible for validation for FY 2022 payment determination are first quarter 2019 through fourth quarter 2019. The list of selected hospitals is available on QualityNet. Additional information is available.

HHS Announces More Than $4 Billion in Relief Payments
Through its Health Resources and Services Administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today announced an additional $4 billion in relief payments to health care providers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals that serve a large percentage of vulnerable populations on thin margins will receive approximately $3 billion in funding, and specialty rural hospitals, urban hospitals with certain rural Medicare designations and hospitals in small metropolitan areas will receive approximately $1 billion. HHS Secretary Alex Azar stated that working closely with stakeholders informed the new round of funds to safety-net and rural providers hard-hit by COVID-19.

NRHA Launches COVID-19 Technical Assistance Center
The National Rural Health Association launched a COVID-19 Technical Assistance Center to support all rural health stakeholders in receiving critical resources and PPE supply chain assistance. The center has been created with the support of CoBank to provide strategic steps that will lend support and address the needs of rural health care providers and organizations.

MLN Connects Provider eNews Available
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued 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:

  • CMS Directs Additional Resources to Nursing Homes in COVID-19 Hotspot Areas
  • Five Things About Nursing Homes During COVID-19
  • PEPPER for Short-term Acute Care Hospitals
  • Lower Extremity Joint Replacement: Comparative Billing Report

HRSA Awards Rural Health Network Development Planning Program Funds
The Health Resources and Services Administration awarded $2 million for a one-year, community-driven program designed to assist in the planning and development of an integrated health care network at the local level. By emphasizing the role of networks, the program provides a platform for medical care providers, social service providers and community organizations to coalesce key elements of a rural health care delivery system to improve local capacity and coordination of care. Administered by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy at HRSA, the Network Planning program will help rural health care and social service providers implement new and innovative approaches to care that may in turn serve as a model for other rural communities.

CMS Announces Hospital Quality Reporting July 2020 System Release
The Hospital Quality Reporting July 2020 system release was announced by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The release consists of all applications, processes and reports necessary to support the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting Program specifications manual version 5.8.

CMS Releases OQR Manual Version 14.0
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released Hospital Outpatient Quality Reporting Specifications Manual version 14.0. This version is effective with encounters dated Jan. 1 – Dec. 31, 2021, and is available on QualityNet.