Current Report Articles
Federal Focus

Federal Focus (Oct. 16, 2020) – CMS Extends Deadlines for Medicaid HCBS Input
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released a request for information seeking public input on a draft set of recommended measures for Medicaid home and community-based services. This RFI requests feedback on potential benefits and challenges that could result from a nationally available set of recommended quality measures for voluntary use by states, managed care organizations, and other entities engaged in the administration and/or delivery of HCBS. CMS also requests stakeholder comment on the purpose and organization of the recommended measure set, the criteria used to select measures, and a preliminary draft set of measures for assessing the quality and outcomes of Medicaid-funded HCBS. Comments should be electronically submitted to by Wednesday, Nov. 18.

FMT Publishes Paper on Implementation of EMS Supplemental Funding Grant
The Flex Monitoring Team published a briefing paper examining first-year implementation efforts of the grantees who received supplemental funding grants to conduct a multiyear evaluation of emergency medical services. The report highlights the impact of COVID-19 on the projects, challenges encountered, and factors that helped them address these challenges and facilitate implementation. Also included is the role of the State Flex Program, as well as recommendations to support the evaluation of project activities throughout the remainder of the funding cycle.

U.S. Senators Voice Concern About Provider Relief Repayment Standards
U.S. Senator Jerry Moran and 30 other Senators sent Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar a joint letter about HHS' new standards for using and repaying COVID-19 Provider Relief Funds. It expresses "grave concerns" that the standards will "create uncertainty and financial hardship for hospitals in our states, particularly in rural areas." Later, an additional 22 Senators wrote to Secretary Azar in opposition of the June standards. The Kansas Hospital Association appreciates the Senators' responsiveness to advocacy by reacting to the agency's abrupt and unconventional revisions of its June standards.

MA and Medicare Part D Receive Plan Star Ratings
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released quality ratings for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D drug plans. Most Medicare beneficiaries who enrolled in MA plans with drug coverage will be in plans that achieved a star rating of four or more. The average star rating for all MA plans with prescription drug coverage improved to 4.06 in 2021, up from 4.02 in 2017. CMS Administrator Seema Verma stated, "The historically low premiums for Medicare Advantage plans this year would mean little if they didn't come paired with high-quality care. With nearly half of Medicare Advantage plans with drug coverage rated at four stars or higher, and more than three-quarters of beneficiaries in Medicare Advantage plans with drug coverage enrolled in such four-star plans, seniors are coming out on top in 2021."

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: