What’s Ahead: This Week

Hearings and Markups – Congress is in recess.

Notable Policy Events –  

  • Monday, August 7
    • Urban Institute, “Envisioning an Equitable Health System: Reweaving America’s Social Contract.” Additional Information
  • Tuesday, August 8
    • United States of Care, “Virtual Briefing on the Latest Value Based Care Public Opinion Findings.” Additional Information
  • Thursday, August 10

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

Medicare & Medicaid–

  • On July 31, CMS issued a final rule that updates Medicare payment policies and rates for skilled nursing facilities under the Skilled Nursing Facility Prospective Payment System (SNF PPS) for fiscal year (FY) 2024. CMS estimates that finalized policies will increase payments by four percent. Fact Sheet Final Rule
  • Also on July 31, CMS released enrollment figures for Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP. As of April 2023, 65,836,738 people are enrolled in Medicare and 94,151,768 people are enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. Enrollment Figures
  • Also on July 31, CMS announced that the average total monthly premium for Medicare Part D coverage is projected to be $55.50 in 2024, a 1.8 percent decrease from 2023. Press Release
  • On August 1, CMS issued the FY 2024 Medicare hospital inpatient prospective payment system (IPPS) and long-term care hospital prospective payment system (LTCH PPS) final rule. The rule finalizes an increase in operating payment rates for general acute care hospitals that are paid under the IPPS by 3.1 percent. Fact Sheet Press Release Final Rule
  • On August 4, Senate Special Committee on Aging Chair Casey (D-PA) and Sen. Lankford (R-OK) led a letter joined by 49 Members of the Senate urging Senate Major Leader Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Minority Leader McConnell (R-KY) to address impending cuts to the Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program. Press Release Letter

Payment & Delivery System Models –

  • On July 29, Reps. Bera (D-CA), Bucshon (R-IN), Schrier (D-WA), Miller-Meeks (R-IA), Blumenauer (D-OR), and Schneider (D-IL) led almost 100 Members of Congress in a bipartisan letter urging Speaker McCarthy and Leader Jeffries to prioritize reforms to the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). Press Release Letter
  • On July 31, CMS announced the Guiding an Improved Dementia Experience (GUIDE) Model, which aims to support people living with dementia and their unpaid caregivers. CMS is accepting letters of interest through September 15 and will release a Request for Applications (RFA) in Fall 2023. The model will launch on July 1, 2024, and run for eight years. GUIDE Model
  • Also on July 31, CMS published an article in Health Affairs, “Building on CMS’s Accountable Care Vision to Improve Care for Medicare Beneficiaries.” The article describes progress in the CMS accountable care strategy and outlines future efforts to grow the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP), increase alignment between MSSP and accountable care organization (ACO) models, and advance health equity. Article
  • On August 1, CMS released a notice announcing that the Innovation Center has modified its organizational structure, replacing the Division of Health Plan Innovations with the Division of Drug Innovation in the Seamless Care Models Group. Notice

Health IT, Privacy, & Digital Health –

  • On July 31, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) published a blog analyzing data from the 2022 American Hospital Association Information Technology Supplement Survey, finding that 83 percent of non-federal acute care hospitals collected data on patients health-related social needs, 60 percent received data from outside sources, and many reported using the data they collected for various purposes. Blog
  • On August 1, ONC published a blog announcing the availability of new data on clinicians reporting for Promoting Interoperability in 2019, 2020, and 2021 and their use of certified health IT. The data is available on gov/data. Blog
  • On August 4, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced a notice of public listening sessions around the practice of telemedicine with regards to controlled substances. Listening sessions will be held September 12-13, 2023. Registration requests are due August 21, 2023. Registration Notice of Meeting
  • Also on August 4, CDC’s Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics (CFA) announced the release of a new contract opportunity known as CDC CFA Epidemiology Studies. The purpose for this contract is to expand CFA’s data network for investigating trends and monitoring emerging health threats. Applications are due August 24, 2023. CDC CFA Epidemiological Studies
  • Also on August 4, CDC CFA announced the release of a new contract opportunity known as CDC CFA Demographic Social Comorbidities Table. The objective of this contract is to develop a comprehensive table that includes demographic, social, and comorbidity data that can be used to estimate the number of people impacted by a public health emergency. Applications are due September 5, 2023. CDC CFA Demographic Social Comorbidities Table

Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Policy – On August 3, SAMHSA issued a report on cost and financing strategies for coordinated specialty care for first episode psychosis. Press Release Report

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

  • On August 1, FDA and DEA issued a joint letter that provided an update on the ongoing actions being taken to resolve the shortages of prescription stimulant medications. Letter
  • On August 2, FDA published a blog on the agency’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) and its commitment to facilitating medical device innovation. CDRH has received more submissions for novel devices over the past 12 months than during any 12-month period since tracking for this metric began in 2015. Blog

Veterans Health and Military Health – On August 3, the VA announced the deployment of mobile medical units (MMUs) across the country during the next six months to provide health care and support homeless and at-risk Veterans. The MMUs will provide a private space for eligible Veterans to meet with medical providers, including mental health clinicians, telehealth services, among others. Press Release Deployment Schedule

Population Health, Public Health & Health Equity –

  • On August 3, HHS released a report highlighting that the national uninsured rate reached an all-time low of 7.7 percent in early 2023. Report
  • Also on August 3, the White House announced the inaugural cohort of Cancer Moonshot Scholars, a program launched last year to support early-career researchers and build a more diverse cancer research workforce. Press Release
  • Also on August 3, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) announced the steering committee for The Link Center, a resource center supporting state agencies in caring for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities and mental health conditions. Press Release

Misc. –

  • On July 29, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on alternatives to traditional health insurance, including Farm Bureau Health Plans, health care sharing ministry (HCSM) memberships, and fixed indemnity plans. GAO found varied benefits and few consumer protections with these alternative models. Report
  • On July 31, HHS awarded $2.5 million in funding to support the development of produce prescription programs in tribal communities. The purpose of the IHS Produce Prescription Pilot Program is to help reduce food insecurity and improve health care outcomes among American Indian and Alaska Native people by increasing access to produce and other traditional foods within Native communities. Press Release Pilot Program
  • Also on July 31, HHS announced the formation of the Office of Long COVID Research and Practice to lead the Long COVID response and coordination across the federal government and, in addition, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) launch of the Long COVID clinical trials through the RECOVER Initiative. Press Release
  • On August 3, HHS launched a new challenge worth up to $1.8 million to organizations with successful innovative and life-changing approaches to address human trafficking prevention among women and girls in the United States. The competition will award programs that demonstrate effectiveness in preventing human trafficking and/or improving health outcomes related to human trafficking among women and girls, sustainable program practices, and the ability of the program to be expanded and/or replicated. Press Release
  • On August 4, the Biden Administration proclaimed the week of August 6 through August 12, 2023, as National Health Center Week. National Health Center Week celebrates the dedicated staff and recommits to providing the resources needed to continue protecting the well-being of the American people in nearly 1,400 federally funded community health centers providing critical, accessible, and affordable medical, dental, and behavioral health care to over 30 million Americans. Proclamation

Legislative Activity –

Introduced Legislation –

  • On August 1, Reps. Matsui (D-CA), Johnson (R-OH), Davids (D-KS), and Estes (R-KS) introduced the Behavioral Health Information Technology (BHIT) Coordination Act (H.R. 5116), which would extend health information technology assistance eligibility to behavioral health, mental health, and substance abuse professionals and facilities. Bill Text Press Release
  • On August 4, Reps. Courtney (D-CT), Thompson (R-PA), DelBene (D-WA), and Estes (R-KS) introduced the Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act of 2023 (H.R. 5138), which would count a period of receipt of outpatient observation services in a hospital toward satisfying the three-day inpatient hospital stay requirement for coverage of skilled nursing facility services under Medicare. Press Release
  • Also on August 4, Reps. Doggett (D-TX), Smucker (R-PA), and Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced the Vaccine Injury Compensation Modernization Act (H.R. 5142), which would make updates to the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program and Reps. Doggett (D-TX) and Kelley (R-PA) introduced the Vaccine Access Improvement Act (H.R. 5143) which would provide authority to add additional vaccines to the list of taxable vaccines. R. 5142 Bill Text H.R. 5143 Bill Text Press Release