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Federal Focus
Federal Focus (Aug. 28, 2020) – 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:

CMS Announces Availability of CART Inpatient Version 4.25.1
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Abstraction and Reporting Tool Inpatient Version 4.25.1 is now available on the QualityNet website. This version adds additional ICD-10-PSC codes in response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency related to the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting Program, effective with Aug. 1 discharges.

Updated eCQM Educational Resources Available
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced the availability of new electronic clinical quality measures educational resources on the eCQI Resource Center, a summary of the eCQM Strategy project and enhancements to the Measure Collaboration Workspace. Additional details are available.

HRSA Releases Funding Opportunity for Rural Health Network Development Planning Program
The Health Resources and Services Administration's Federal Office of Rural Health Policy released a Notice of Funding Opportunity for the Rural Health Network Development Planning Program. HRSA plans to award 20 grants to rural communities to (i) achieve efficiencies; (ii) expand access to, coordinate, and improve the quality of basic health care services; and (iii) strengthen the rural health care system. This program brings together key parts of a rural health care delivery system, particularly those entities that may not have collaborated in the past, to work together to establish or improve local capacity and coordination of care. Successful Network Planning award recipients will receive up to $100,000 for a one-year period of performance to promote the development of integrated health care networks. Applications are due Monday, Nov. 16.

HHS Awards $35 Million to Support Rural Health Initiatives
The Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced $35 million in grant awards to support various rural initiatives. The initiatives address systems development in the Delta Region, rural health research centers, rural HIV/AIDS planning, rural residency development, training for rural telementoring, rural telehealth research and telehealth network grants.

CDC Releases Flu Vaccination Recommendations
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices released its recommendations for the 2020-2021 flu season. The recommendations remain consistent in advising yearly flu vaccination for all people six months of age and older. There is renewed importance of flu vaccination this year, given the potential spread of influenza and COVID-19 during the same time this fall and winter. According to the CDC, robust flu vaccination is a key strategy in reducing the amount of flu disease and symptoms that may be confused with COVID-19, and decreasing stress on the U.S. health care system.

HHS Expands Access to Childhood Vaccines During Pandemic
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services amended the declaration under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act to authorize state-licensed pharmacists, and pharmacy interns under their supervision, to order and administer vaccines to children, subject to certain requirements. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in May reported a notable drop in routine childhood vaccines ordered and administered through the federal Vaccines for Children program during the public health emergency.