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The Department of Health and Human Services July 10 announced additional, targeted allotments from the Provider Relief Fund for hospitals filling a safety-net role, specific rural hospitals, and other serving small metropolitan areas.

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We appreciate the administration’s efforts to correct earlier funding gaps that left many essential hospitals without the support they need; but there is more work to do.

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Senate leaders have indicated they will develop and try to pass a “phase four” COVID-19 bill by the end of this month. Members should contact their senators now and urge them to support key essential hospital priorities in the next COVID-19 relief package.

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As Senate leaders consider a fourth COVID-19 aid package, the president signs legislation to extend the Paycheck Protection Program. A bipartisan bill would ensure 340B hospitals maintain eligibility amid COVID-19, regardless of payer mix changes.

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CMS announces the end of the blanket Extraordinary Circumstances Exception for quality reporting and value-based purchasing programs. HHS issues a remdesivir allocation fact sheet, and FDA approves a third influenza and COVID-19 combination diagnostic test.

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In a July 6 letter, the association urged HHS to use a refined methodology that directs a portion of the remaining dollars in the Provider Relief Fund to hospitals filling a safety-net role that did not receive payment in the initial safety-net allocation.

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In this second report on the topic, the agency describes three findings: there is no systematic or standard collection of social risk data; dual enrollment in Medicare and Medicaid remains a predictor of poor outcomes; and there are limited efforts to identify effective and scalable interventions.

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Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott issues a proclamation to suspend elective surgeries in four counties, making room for another surge in COVID-19. Maine Gov. Janet Mills announces the state approved nearly $9 million in grant funding to support local COVID-19 public health, education, and prevention efforts.

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HHS finalized a rule overhauling the ACA to remove some nondiscrimination protections for transgender individuals and requirements for treating people with limited English proficiency. In a statement, the association said the decision puts the health and safety of vulnerable populations at risk.

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HHS released the second edition of the Million Hearts Hypertension Control Change Package, a compilation of concepts, ideas, and evidence- and practice-based tools and resources used by health centers and clinics to improve hypertension control.

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New chairs begin their tenures on the boards of America’s Essential Hospitals and its research, education, and dissemination arm, Essential Hospitals Institute, which also welcome several first-time member leaders.

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The immediate urgency that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on our delivery system’s infrastructure is both mounting and innately unpredictable. There are innovative operational strategies any hospital can implement to meet these challenges. 

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The proclamation pauses the issuance of new non-immigrant employment-based visas until Dec. 31, 2020. The suspension excludes individuals whose entry is deemed in the national interest, including those providing care to hospitalized COVID-19 patients or conducting research on the pandemic.

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New York will require the state health department to conduct a study on the health impact of COVID-19 on minority populations. A new data and visualization tool released by John Hopkins University provides insight on the effect of state stay-at-home and recovery policies across the U.S.

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The annual 340B Drug Pricing Program recertification period for hospitals will run from Aug. 17 to Sept. 14. Covered entities that fail to recertify will be removed from the program.

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HHS has acquired additional remdesivir to be sold at wholesale allocation price; CDC reports declining emergency department use during the pandemic and updates its list of conditions that increase risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

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The House passed legislation to strengthen the ACA and is expected to pass an infrastructure bill authorizing $10 billion for hospital construction and modernization; the Senate is unlikely to consider the bills. The association responds to a congressional request for lessons learned from COVID-19.

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In Philadelphia, leaders at association member Einstein Healthcare Network opened a dedicated CORE+ unit to provide post-acute care for COVID-19 patients.

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A report highlights hospitalization risk factors for COVID-19, and GAO evaluates the National Disaster Medical System. FDA revokes emergency use authorizations for chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate.

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COVID-19 suddenly made it possible and necessary to quickly ramp up Valleywise Health's telemedicine program—and the overwhelmingly positive reaction from physicians and patients alike means there is no going back.

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In a closely split decision, the Supreme Court ruled the Trump administration unlawfully terminated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The decision allows an opportunity to rescind the program if the administration follows appropriate procedures.

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Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers announced the state will distribute $40 million to hospitals to address lost revenue and expenses as a result of COVID-19. The money comes from the tranche the state received under the the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

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The proposed rule, issued by CMS, aims to advance Medicaid prescription drug value-based purchasing arrangements between states and manufacturers, set standards to promote safe opioid prescribing, and amend regulations related to the Medicaid drug rebate program.

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Hearings are slated this week in several committees to examine the COVID-19 pandemic and response. Meanwhile, House Democratic leaders introduced a $1.5 trillion infrastructure investment package that would dedicate $10 billion over five years to hospital construction and modernization.

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HHS made public the 2018 Medicare cost report data sources used to determine eligibility for the $10 billion targeted safety-net allocation from the Provider Relief Fund. Hospitals had to meet three metrics to be eligible; 761 hospitals received payment.

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Under the Federal Reserve Board proposal, certain hospitals and other nonprofits "of sound financial condition" prior to the public health emergency could be eligible to receive loans to help alleviate financial burden due to COVID-19.

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House and Senate lawmakers are analyzing and reacting to last week's announcement of new Provider Relief Fund allocations for safety-net providers; committees are slated to examine the role of telehealth and disparities as the pandemic has progressed.

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American Indian and Alaska Native populations have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 public health crisis. America’s Essential Hospitals outlines the unprecedented challenges the pandemic has posed to these communities and the efforts Congress and providers have made to mitigate its effect.

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The Department of Health and Human Services finalized a rule overhauling parts of the Affordable Care Act to remove nondiscrimination protections for transgender individuals and certain language access requirements for providing health care services to people with limited English proficiency.

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Illinois is the first state to extend Medicaid coverage to low-income residents ages 65 and older, regardless of immigration status, due to the COVID-19 public health crisis. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania heightened security measures to protect staff and providers against the spread of COVID-19.

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New CDC guidance offers best practices to safely venture outside and begin to resume daily activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as information on using telehealth to expand access. CMS releases recommendations for non-emergent care in areas that are in Phase II of recovery.

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Hospitals in the 340B Drug Pricing Program may begin using 340B drugs for patients seen at off-site locations before the hospitals officially register these clinics in the Office of Pharmacy Affairs Information System. This guidance is intended to last beyond the COVID-19 public health emergency.

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HHS identified hospitals eligible for part of a $10 billion Provider Relief Fund allocation to aid safety-net providers. The agency also made public a list of total payments by state, including the number of hospitals in each state receiving a payment in this distribution.

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In a letter to Senate leaders, America's Essential Hospitals outlines key legislative priorities to assist essential hospitals in the ongoing response to the COVID-19 public health emergency as Congress considers another supplemental bill.

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This policy change sets the nation back in its work to build greater equity in health care. Although no time would be right for this decision, it is especially harmful now, during the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency.

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The Department of Health and Human Services June 9 announced additional, targeted allocations from the Provider Relief Fund for hospitals filling a safety-net role and sole Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program providers.

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Today’s announcement of $10 billion in additional funding for hospitals that provide safety-net care, as well as a future allocation of $10 billion for providers in COVID-19 hot spots, will help ease the financial pain this public health emergency has inflicted on these caregivers.

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New guidance provides details on COVID-19 lab test data reporting and flexible options for states implementing a Medicaid group for testing the uninsured.

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The letter urges HHS to target COVID-19 provider relief funds toward hospitals serving a disproportionate number of vulnerable patients. The timeline for developing and negotiating the next COVID-19 supplemental legislative package has slipped to July.

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The Arkansas governor appointed a steering committee to recommend distribution methods for federal COVID-19 funds across the states. A new National Governors Association memorandum offers planning recommendations for concurrent emergencies during the COVID-19 public health crisis.

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VITAL2020 Is Now Virtual

America’s Essential Hospitals has transformed its annual conference, VITAL2020, to a six-day, online experience Aug. 11–13 and Aug. 18–20. Registration is now open for this dynamic and developing event.

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Coronavirus Resources

America’s Essential Hospitals has established this resource page for its member hospitals and others with an interest in this public health crisis. Visit this page regularly for new and updated information.

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Essential Data

Our annual profile of association membership, Essential Data: Our Hospitals, Our Patients, illustrates the challenges that influence health and weigh heaviest on the people and communities essential hospitals serve.

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