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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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I entered the practice of law in late 1991, amid what turned out to be one of the most consequential policy debates of the last half-century for essential hospitals. America’s Essential Hospitals, then and since, has been at the heart of every major Medicaid national debate.

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The Department of Homeland Security released an advance notice of proposed rulemaking to gather data and feedback on the public charge ground of inadmissibility. Public comments are due Oct. 22; DHS will host public listening sessions on Sept. 14 and Oct. 5.

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FDA approves the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. HHS plans to promote a booster shot of the mRNA vaccines beginning in September. CMS and CDC work to develop an emergency regulation requiring COVID-19 vaccination for nursing home staff.

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Several state Medicaid programs have begun reimbursing for vaccine counseling services amid efforts across the country to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates. Vaccine counseling services can provide reassurance, education, and clarity to those experiencing vaccine hesitancy.

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The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology will host a series of webinars to discuss information sharing requirements finalized in a 2020 rule. The first webinar, focused on clinicians, will be Sept. 14, from 1–2 pm ET. 

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America's Essential Hospitals sent CMS recommendations for implementing the new Medicaid supplemental payment reporting system under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020. The association noted the importance of accuracy and avoiding duplicate data collection.

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The House pauses its August break to work on the bipartisan physical infrastructure package and $3.5 trillion fiscal year 2022 budget resolution. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) aims to pass both measures by Oct. 1 but faces some opposition from moderate House Democrats.

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America's Essential Hospitals outlines concerns with the timeline for implementation and the scope of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's emergency temporary standard (ETS) for occupational exposure to COVID-19.

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The rule includes numerous policy and payment changes for Medicare’s Inpatient Prospective Payment System for fiscal year 2022, including a 2.5 percent increase in inpatient payment rates.

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The illustrated guide details quality, population health, and COVID-19 projects recognized for excellence and innovation in the annual Gage Awards program.

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This guide documents the exceptional work by essential hospitals to improve the health and well-being of the people and communities they serve, including programs to reduce maternal stress, overcome housing instability, prevent workplace violence, help immigrants navigate care, and battle COVID-19.

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FDA and CDC recommend a third mRNA COVID-19 vaccine dose for immunocompromised people; CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant and breastfeeding people.

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In an Aug. 13 letter to state health officials, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services updates its guidance regarding the resumption of normal state Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Basic Health Program operations when the COVID-19 public health emergency ends.

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Arkansas governor holds town halls after state lawmakers deny exceptions to a law prohibiting government agencies from mandating mask use. California will require school staff to be fully vaccinated or tested weekly. Texas asks hospitals to voluntarily postpone elective medical procedures.

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The Senate passed a $3.5 trillion fiscal year 2022 budget resolution with no Republican support; House leaders called members back to Capitol Hill for a brief legislative session Aug. 23. Moderate House Democrats are urging leadership to call a vote on the bipartisan physical infrastructure bill.

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The White House COVID-19 Response Team will host an Aug. 23 virtual conversation on increasing vaccination in an equitable way. The event is open to health system leaders and health care providers.

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When contacting your delegation, emphasize the need to consider essential hospitals when crafting legislation related to infrastructure, emergency preparedness, COVID-19 relief, and the 340B Drug Pricing Program.

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The Senate voted 69–30 to advance a bipartisan physical infrastructure bill. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats released a $3.5 trillion budget resolution, the precursor to a partisan reconciliation bill on “human infrastructure” priorities. Notably, the resolution does not contain a debt limit increase.

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Two CDC studies highlight the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines in preventing reinfection and hospitalization; CDC extends the eviction moratorium.

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CMS proposes to rescind the Trump administration’s Most Favored Nation model interim final rule, which aimed to reduce payment for 50 Medicare Part B drugs. America’s Essential Hospitals previously urged the agency to withdraw the model due to substantive and procedural issues.

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CMS on Aug. 2 released its fiscal year 2022 Inpatient Prospective Payment System final rule, which includes payment and quality reporting provisions. The rule does not finalize provisions related to new residency slots, organ acquisition costs, or Section 1115 waiver days. 

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Medicaid Summit

Registration is open for Medicaid Summit, our two-day virtual summit through Medicaid public policy and finance sessions—a balance between the political and operational aspects of Medicaid in 2021. Register now!

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Equity Commitment

Nearly 70 health systems, representing 177 member hospitals, have signed an America’s Essential Hospitals pledge to fight racial and ethnic health care disparities by ensuring equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

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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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