What’s Ahead: This Week

Hearings and Markups –

  • No notable hearings or markups, Congress is in August recess.

Notable Policy Events –

  • Tuesday, August 15
    • National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), “How can HIEs and FHIR data come together to make change happen today?” Additional Information
    • Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA), Recognized Coordinating Entity (RCE), “Monthly Informational Call.” Additional Information
    • S. News & World Report, “Webinar: Transforming Pediatric Care Delivery Through Value-Based Innovation.” Additional Information
  • Wednesday, August 16 to Thursday, August 17
    • National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, “Unequal Treatment Revisited: A Workshop Series: Part 2.” Additional Information
  • Thursday, August 17
    • CMS, “Promising Practices for Utilizing Motivational Interviewing to Improve Care Coordination and Address Social Determinants of Health (SDOH).” Additional Information
    • ONC, “Health Information Technology Advisory Committee (HITAC) Meeting.” Additional Information
    • The Washington Post, “Chasing Cancer.” Additional Information

Weekly Wrap-Up: Notable Health Care Developments from Last Week

Medicare & Medicaid–

  • On August 5, Senate Special Committee on Aging Chair Casey (D-PA) and Sen. Lankford (R-OK) led a bipartisan letter signed by 49 Senators asking Senate Majority Leader Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Minority Leader McConnell (R-KY) to address impending cuts to the Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program. The program faces $8 billion in cuts on October 1, 2023. Press Release Letter
  • On August 7, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) published a report that provides an overview of data that was released by CMS in December 2022 on the ownership of all U.S. hospitals that are enrolled in Medicare. Report in Brief Report
  • On August 9, CMS sent letters to all 50 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) regarding compliance with federal rules during the Medicaid unwinding. The letters flag several issues including call center wait times, high procedural termination rates, and slow application processing rates. Letters
  • On August 10, CMS released a new toolkit, “Increasing Access, Quality, and Equity in Postpartum Care in Medicaid and CHIP,” providing information to help states maximize the use of existing authorities to increase postpartum care access, quality, and equity. Toolkit
  • On August 11, CMS released a State Medicaid Director Letter (SMDL) that provides guidance to states in developing Medicaid managed care claiming methodologies. Letter

Public Health Prevention, Preparedness, Surveillance & Data – On August 9, House Energy & Commerce Committee Chair McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Health Subcommittee Chair Guthrie (R-KY), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Griffith (R-VA), sent two letters to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a follow up to previous requests for information and documents on NIH’s oversight of research activities involving SARS, MERS, or SARS CoV-2 and investigations into the origins of COVID-19. Press Release Letter on Research Oversight Letter on COVID-19 Investigation

Health IT, Privacy, & Digital Health –

  • On August 7, ONC published a blog on Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR®) API security and identified Broken Object Level Authorization (BOLA) as the top security threat. ONC noted that many of these BOLA vulnerabilities in FHIR APIs arise from improper implementation of authorization and authentication technology. Blog
  • On August 8, Sen. Warner (D-VA) sent a letter to Google’s CEO asking for more clarity into the company’s deployment of Med-PaLM 2, an AI chatbot currently being tested in health care settings. Press Release Letter
  • On August 9, the Biden Administration launched a two-year competition known as the “AI Cyber Challenge” (AIxCC) that will challenge competitors across the U.S. to identify and fix software vulnerabilities using artificial intelligence. Press Release

Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Policy –

  • On August 8, HHS entered into a voluntary resolution agreement with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through its Department of Human Services (PA DHS), protecting the rights of persons with disabilities, including persons in recovery from substance use disorder, based on Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Press Release
  • On August 10, CDC released the latest provisional estimates for suicide deaths in the U.S. in 2022. The provisional estimates indicate that suicide deaths increased in 2022, rising from 48,183 deaths in 2021 to an estimated 49,449 deaths in 2022. Two groups did see a decline in numbers, American Indian and Alaska Native people (down 6.1 percent) and people 10-24 years old (down 8.4 percent). Press Release Data
  • Also on August 10, House Energy & Commerce Committee Chair McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Health Subcommittee Chair Guthrie (R-KY), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Griffith (R-VA) sent a letter to SAMHSA requesting a full account of how the agency spent more than $8 billion that it was allocated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Press Release Letter
  • On August 11, HHS announced the award of more than $88 million towards safeguarding the nation’s behavioral health. The grant programs serve a wide array of needs – ranging from efforts to develop and support school-based mental health programs and services, to multiple grant programs that expand access to substance use disorder (SUD) treatments. Press Release

Prescription Drugs, Medical Devices, Biomedical Research, & Health Innovation –

  • On August 8, FDA announced the availability of draft guidance entitled “Postmarketing Approaches to Obtain Data on Under-Represented Populations in Clinical Trials.” The purpose of this draft guidance is to describe FDA requirements and provide recommendations for obtaining safety and effectiveness information on drug and biological products. Announcement Draft Guidance
  • On August 11, the FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH), Office of Strategic Partnerships and Technology Innovation announced that it has modified its organizational structure from an office with three divisions to an office with five suboffices, each with their own divisions. Announcement

Veterans Health and Military Health  – On August 10, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released a PACT Act Year-In-Review Dashboard showcasing the care and benefits that VA has delivered to Veterans and their survivors since President Biden signed the PACT Act into law on Aug. 10, 2022. Press Release Dashboard White House Fact Sheet

Population Health, Public Health & Health Equity –

  • On August 9, HHS launched an information portal, the Heat-Related Illness EMS Activation Surveillance Dashboard (“EMS HeatTracker”), which maps emergency medical services responses to heat-related illness across the country. Press Release
  • Also on August 9, HHS published a tool to provide public benefit recipients with their estimated effective marginal tax rate on new earnings, estimating how a change in earnings from employment would affect their net income. Report
  • Also on August 9, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded $30 million to 151 HRSA-funded health centers to improve developmental outcomes among children. Press Release

Health Systems & Health Care Workforce –

  • On August 7, Senate HELP Ranking Member Cassidy (R-LA) and Sens. Warren (D-MA), Warnock (D-GA), and Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Werfel and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration Commissioner Killen raising concerns over the tax-exempt status of nonprofit hospitals and asking a series of questions related to oversight. Letter Press Release
  • On August 10, HRSA awarded over $100 million to train more nurses and grow the nursing workforce. The funding will support programs to train registered nurses, nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives and nurse faculty. Press Release

Legislative Activity –

Introduced Legislation –

  • On August 8, Reps. Carter (R-GA) and Dunn (R-FL) introduced the Medicaid Staffing Flexibility and Protection Act (H.R. 5165), which would allow States more flexibility with respect to using contractors to make eligibility determinations and redeterminations on behalf of the State Medicaid plan. Press Release