Current Report Articles
Federal Focus
Federal Focus (Aug. 14, 2020) – CDC Campaign Aims to Reduce Maternal Mortality

This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched Hear Her, a new campaign to raise awareness of pregnancy-related complications, risks and death. Information developed by the Council on Patient Safety in Women’s Health Care is available in both English and Spanish for pregnant and postpartum women, partners, families and friends, and health care providers to enable them to better understand the symptoms women should seek medical attention for — both during pregnancy and in the year after delivery — such as vision changes, fever and chest pain.

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:

SNF Provider Preview Reports Available
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services posted the updated Skilled Nursing Facility Provider Preview Reports. The data included within the reports are based on quality data submitted by SNFs between Q1 2019 – Q4 2019 for assessment-based measures and Q4 2017 and Q3 2019 for claims-based measures. The data reflect what will be published on Nursing Home Compare during the October 2020 website refresh. Providers have until Sunday, Aug. 30, to review their performance data. For more information visit the SNF Quality Reporting website.

FDA Issues New Guidance on In-Use Times
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued guidance to health care providers on "in-use times" for medications being used in the treatment of COVID-19 patients. The FDA stated they have learned of challenges from providers in being able to administer certain medications in specific timeframes, and given some drug shortages, the problem has been compounded. This prompted the new guidance to minimize the likelihood of physicochemical degradation or microbial proliferation during use in situations where a provider is considering use beyond the labeled in-use time for the listed products.

CMS Releases Report Encouraging Telehealth for Pediatric SUD Treatment
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued its final report reducing barriers in the use of telehealth to provide substance use disorder treatment to Medicaid-eligible children. The report is the latest effort by the agency to increase access and effectiveness of Medicaid telehealth services, while providing states with the flexibility needed to combat the opioid crisis. The report to Congress is directed by Section 1009(d) of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act.

CMS Revises Coverage Standards for Artificial Hearts and Ventricular Technology
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced a proposed change to its Medicare coverage standards for artificial hearts. Rather than be based on a national coverage standard requiring participation in a clinical study, coverage decisions would be made by regional Medicare Administrative Contractors. CMS invites public comments regarding the proposal, which also updates coverage criteria for ventricular assist devices to "better align with current medical practice and provide additional flexibility."

CMS Schedules Additional Plan Finder Workshop Webinar
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has scheduled an additional National Training Program Plan Finder Workshop webinar for Wednesday, Aug. 26. Sessions will begin at 11 a.m., CST, with the live presentations starting at noon. Sessions will be recorded and posted within a week for later viewing. Registration is required. Please email NTPHelp@cms.hhs.gov if you need help with your account or registration.

CMS Announces HRRP Program Review and Correction Period
The Hospital-Specific Report for the fiscal year 2021 Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program is available on the QualityNet Secure Portal. The HSR includes information about payment adjustment factors effective Thursday, Oct. 1, based on the FY 2021 performance period, which is July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2019. The FY 2021 Review and Correction period is now open and ends Wednesday, Sept. 9. Additional information is available.

USDA Offering Grants on Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering grants for organizations to provide planning and implementation technical assistance to rural communities to foster placemaking, which is the process of creating quality places where people want to live, work and play. The program goal is to create greater social and cultural vitality in rural communities aimed at improving people's social, physical and economic well-being. The application deadline is Thursday, Sept. 10.

New Tools Compare Severe Pregnancy Complications Across Hospitals
Researchers have developed an expanded system for classifying serious maternal complications during hospitalization for childbirth, which can be used to compare severe maternal morbidity rates across hospitals and other patient populations, according to a study reported in the September issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology. "These scores can be applied in any maternity patient discharge data set with ICD-10-CM diagnosis and procedure codes and may be a useful tool for maternal health research and quality improvement efforts," the authors said. The National Institutes of Health provided funding for the study.

Research Shows Rural-Urban, Racial Health Disparities Persist for Mortality Rates
Xtelligent Healthcare Media published an overview of research demonstrating that, even though mortality rates are improving, there are still disparities in outcomes for black men living in rural areas. The research discusses how understanding the intersectional factors of health disparities can help to inform public health policy that is tailored to benefit underserved demographics and improve health equity.

UM Publishes Research on Rural Insurance Premiums and Plan Choices
The University of Minnesota published a research brief that provides an overview of a study that found rural areas have the fewest health insurance options and pay the highest premiums. Analysis reveals that local markets experiencing higher volatility and vulnerability are more rural, have a higher percentage of nonwhite residents, and have residents who are more likely to experience poor health and lower wages.

CMS Announces Improvements to Chart Abstracted IQR and OQR Submissions
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' ongoing effort to improve data collection has given way to a new method to submit XML files for population and sampling as well as chart abstracted data. Beginning Tuesday, Aug. 18, Secure File Transfer (Axway) no longer will be available for data submissions. Hospitals will be required to submit XML files directly within Hospital Quality Reporting using the File Upload tool in the new QualityNet Secure Portal. Additional information is available.

340B Drug Pricing Program Recertification Period Begins Aug. 17
Hospitals are required by the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration to attest to their entity account information in the 340B database to remain in the program. The 340B recertification period for hospital entities begins Monday, Aug. 17, and continues through Monday, Sept. 14.

CMS Releases Tools for FY 2021 IPFQR Program Reporting
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services introduced several major changes to the data submission process for the Inpatient Psychiatric Facility Quality Reporting Program starting with the summer 2020 submission period. Details of these changes and tools for successful reporting are available.

RHIB and NORC Offer Webinar on SDOH Toolkit for Rural Communities
The Rural Health Information Hub and the NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis will offer a webinar on the Social Determinants of Health in Rural Communities Toolkit. The webinar will provide an overview of SDOHs and identify strategies to overcome challenges specific to rural communities. It also will highlight evidence-based practice and promising models to help rural communities address SDOHs, as well as lessons learned related to establishing and sustaining rural programs. The webinar is scheduled Wednesday, Aug. 19, at noon CST, and registration is required.