Current Report Articles
Federal Focus

Federal Focus(Sept. 11, 2020) – HHS Amends PREP Act to Expand Access to COVID-19 Vaccines When Available
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued guidance under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act to expand access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines when they are made available. This guidance authorizes state-licensed pharmacists to order and administer, and state-licensed or registered pharmacy interns acting under the supervision of the qualified pharmacist to administer COVID-19 vaccinations to persons ages three or older, subject to certain requirements.

New CPT Codes Related to COVID-19
This week, the American Medical Association announced updates to the Current Procedural Terminology codes. The update includes two codes for reporting medical services necessitated during the COVID-19 pandemic public health response.

  • CPT code 99072, which describes additional supplies and clinical staff time to perform safety protocols for the provision of evaluation, treatment or procedural services during a public health emergency in a setting where extra precautions are taken to ensure the safety of patients as well as health care professionals; and
  • CPT code 86413, which accounts for laboratory tests that can measure antibodies to investigate a person’s adaptive immune response to the virus and help access the effectiveness of treatments used against the infection.

Descriptors for both codes can be accessed on the AMA website, along with several other recent modifications to the CPT code set.

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 Releases OQR Specifications Manuals
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released Hospital Outpatient Quality Reporting Specifications Manual version 13.0b, effective with encounters dated Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, 2020. Included in the manual are updates to ICD-10 codes in Appendix A. Also released was version 14.01a, effective with dates of service Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2020. The manuals and associated release notes are available on QualityNet

CMS Announces Upcoming Change in HQR Reports Format
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is changing the format of the reports available for Hospital Quality Reporting programs in Fall 2020. HQR reports previously available as a PDF only will be available in a CSV file format. CMS strongly encourages hospitals to download reports preferred in a PDF format before this change takes effect. CMS will release additional information once the transition is complete.

HHS Releases Rural Action Plan
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a Rural Action Plan. Developed by the HHS Rural Task Force, it "provides a roadmap for HHS to strengthen departmental coordination" to better serve rural residents. The plan has a "four-point strategy to transform rural health and human services," involving: building a sustainable model for rural communities, leveraging technology and innovation, preventing disease and mortality, and increasing rural access to care.

CMS Releases Guidance on Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released an Informational Bulletin that provides information about ways to improve the care of infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome and their families. The guidance addresses best practices and provides information for states regarding models that focus on prevention, screening, treatment, plans of safe care, and post-discharge services for mothers and fathers with substance use disorders, and babies with NAS. The bulletin also discusses available financing options under the Medicaid program and the Children's Health Insurance Program, and several other topics.

Peer Recovery Coach Training Available to Serve Pregnant Women and Parenting Families
The Mid-America Addiction Technology Transfer Center and the Opioid Response Network in Region 7 are proud to sponsor a two-part training series for peer specialists/recovery coaches and supervisors of peer specialists. This training is available for those who want to expand their knowledge and expertise in serving pregnant women and parenting families impacted by substance use and/or opioid dependence. There is no cost to attend the training.

The virtual training includes the following:

  • Two, full-day training sessions Sept. 22-23
  • Six, 1.5-hour peer-to-peer learning collaborative sessions
    • sessions occur October through December

See the application for further details and the dates for the peer-to-peer collaborative sessions. 

USDA, HHS, FCC Team Up for Rural Health Initiative
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the Federal Communication Commission announced a joint statement to work together on the rural telehealth initiative. This initiative is aimed at keeping rural Americans connected to vital health care services and providers via telehealth by increasing collaboration and information sharing among federal agencies to address health disparities, resolve service provider challenges, and promote broadband services and technology to rural areas in America.