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Colorado expanded its essential health benefit benchmark plan to enhance coverage for those seeking gender-affirming care, effective January 2023. This expansion is the first of its kind to be approved by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

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The Department of Homeland Security will use the notice-and-comment rulemaking process to codify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

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HHS released a Spanish version of QuestionBuilder, an app that helps patients and caregivers prepare for their in-person or telehealth appointments, along with a report on Latino patients' access to care.

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The Senate voted Oct. 7 to temporarily increase the debt ceiling by $480 billion; the government likely will remain below the new ceiling through year's end.

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The use of Z codes to document social determinants of health in Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries increased slightly from 2017 to 2019 but remains low.

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An HHS report shows the COVID-19 vaccine prevented hospitalization and death in Medicare beneficiaries; Pfizer applies for emergency use authorization for its vaccine in children age 5 to 11.

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After passing a short-term measure to fund the government through Dec. 3, Congress shifts focus to the federal debt ceiling. A Republican filibuster in the Senate prevented passage of legislation to extend the debt limit; lawmakers must resolve the issue by Oct. 18 to avoid default.

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HHS guidance clarifies how HIPAA applies to COVID-19 vaccination status requests; CDC urges pregnant people to get vaccinated amid a surge in hospitalizations.

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The departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Treasury, and Labor and the Office of Personnel Management issued Part II of the No Surprises Act interim final rule with comment period.

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Providers can simultaneously apply for Phase 4 of the Provider Relief Fund and American Rescue Plan rural payments; applications close Oct. 26. The Health Resources and Services Administration will host a series of informational webinars about the funding application portal.

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Susan Ehrlich, MD, MPP, past-chair of the association's board, reflects on her personal health equity journey and what she’s learned from essential hospitals.

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The Senate remains in a stalemate over a continuing resolution to fund the federal government through Dec. 3, leaving congressional leaders little time to avoid an Oct. 1 shutdown. House debate begins on a physical infrastructure bill and work continues on "human infrastructure" legislation.

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FDA on Sept. 22 authorized a third booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for select groups. A CDC panel subsequently recommended the booster shots, and CMS announced coverage for all Medicare beneficiaries and nearly all Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program beneficiaries.

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Due to increasing COVID-19 hospitalizations, Alaska and Idaho this month enacted statewide crisis standards of care. These standards are used when health care systems are unable to operate normally due to an extreme public health event.

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In a Sept. 20 letter, America's Essential Hospitals welcomes the announcement of additional COVID-19 relief funding but notes the methodology falls short of adequate support for safety net providers. The association urges HHS to issue another targeted safety net distribution, among other requests.

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An FDA advisory committee recommends a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster for a limited population; CDC announces $2.1 billion dedicated to infection control and prevention.

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The rule, released by the Department of Health and Human Service and the Department of Treasury, extends open enrollment, adds a new special enrollment period, expands navigator responsibilities, and modifies Section 1332 innovation waivers.

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The calendar year 2022 Physician Fee Schedule proposed rule includes provisions on Medicare payment for telehealth services, the Quality Payment Program, and more. The association also responded to a request for information on improving health equity through data collection.

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States facing a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases are making efforts to support their increasingly burdened health care workforce. Meanwhile, the Federal Emergency Management Agency requested teams to support civilian health care workers treating COVID-19 patients in local state hospitals.

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The House this week is expected to consider a continuing resolution to temporarily extend current funding levels for the federal government. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) intend to suspend the debt limit as part of the resolution.

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In response to the calendar year 2022 Outpatient Prospective Payment System proposed rule, America's Essential Hospitals urged CMS to halt elimination of the inpatient-only list and to restore adequate payment to hospitals in the 340B program and to off-campus provider-based departments.

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In this first white paper of a new series, America's Essential Hospitals discusses the chronic underfunding of Medicaid as a form of structural racism and provides recommendations to ensure the program is an effective tool to improve equity.

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The House is scheduled to return to Capitol Hill next week, but House committees continue to meet and craft their sections of the Build Back Better Act, a "human infrastructure" reconciliation bill. House committees aim to complete markups by Sept. 15, with a full House vote possible before October.

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The comprehensive plan includes potential legislative and administrative actions that could be used to lower drug prices. The plan also notes the importance of the 340B Drug Pricing Program and its role in supporting the health care safety net.

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The president's newly announced "Path out of the Pandemic" plan includes action steps for increasing vaccinations, further protecting those who are vaccinated, keeping schools safely open, testing and mask requirements, and economic recovery. CDC updates its infection control guidance.

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A total of $25.5 billion will be available, including $17 billion through the Provider Relief Fund and $8.5 billion in American Rescue Plan funding for providers serving rural patients. Providers can apply for the new funding Sept. 29.

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We thank the Biden Administration for strongly supporting the 340B Drug Pricing Program in its plan to tackle high drug prices, and we urge policymakers to dismantle barriers to affordable drugs that now threaten the program.

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Hospitals have until Sept. 13 to complete 340B Drug Pricing Program recertification through the Office of Pharmacy Affairs Information System.

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An FDA committee will review Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine booster application; Moderna is applying for booster approval. CDC data show COVID-19 hospitalizations on the rise among children.

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In a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, America's Essential Hospitals commented on the first interim final rule implementing the No Surprises Act. The association urged HHS to delay implementation until after the COVID-19 public health emergency, among other requests.

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House committees begin marking up portions of the forthcoming "human infrastructure" reconciliation package, which is expected to include provisions to expand health coverage and lower prescription drug prices. The association's calls for government relations professionals will resume Sept. 9.

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As hospitals respond to the rising delta variant and struggle with capacity, some states are calling on hospitals to once again postpone elective surgeries. Executive orders in other states expand flexibility to address health care workforce shortages amid COVID-19 surges.

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In a letter to Democratic congressional leadership, the association urges consideration of essential hospital priorities — including funding for critical workforce and hospital infrastructure needs and protecting the 340B Drug Pricing Program — in forthcoming budget reconciliation legislation.

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America’s Essential Hospitals will require all employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment.

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This State Policy Snapshot summarizes how states are working to improve maternal health and equity through Medicaid Section 1115 waivers, provider training, community-based services, and panels to investigate maternal deaths.

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Health systems representing 177 member hospitals have pledged to fight health care disparities by ensuring equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

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The Society of Hospital Medicine study invites association members to participate at no cost and receive mentoring and educational resources, access to data, and collaboration.

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A CDC advisory committee voted Aug. 30 to recommend the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine; the agency warns against using ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19.

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The House passed a procedural rule setting the stage for the chamber's development of a "human infrastructure" package under budget reconciliation. In a concession to moderate Democrats, the rule calls for the House to vote by Sept. 27 on the bipartisan physical infrastructure legislation.

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In a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, America's Essential Hospitals urges the agency to swiftly allocate and target remaining PRF funds, take steps to ensure adequate hospital staffing, expedite full approval of COVID-19 vaccines, and protect the nation's supply chain.

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40 Years Essential

As we celebrate our 40th anniversary, we look back at our history through a new timeline website. We are the nation’s foremost champion for hospitals with a mission to care for underrepresented people. This is our story.

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Fall Policy Assembly

Join us online Oct. 19 and 20 for our Fall Policy Assembly. Gain an in-depth understanding of the current political landscape in health care from presentations by staff experts, member hospital leaders, and nationally known keynote speakers.

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The 2021 Gage Awards

We proudly present Excellence and Innovation in Care: The 2021 Gage Awards, a guide that documents the work of essential hospitals to improve the health and well-being of the people and communities they serve.

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