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Abigail Painchaud

Policy Associate

Abigail Painchaud is a policy associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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

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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 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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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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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 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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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 annual 340B Drug Pricing Program recertification period for hospitals will begin Aug. 16. Hospitals will have until Sept. 13 to complete the process.

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Many governors are taking renewed action to combat COVID-19 as the delta variant spreads. Some states have renewed their public health emergency declarations, while others are mandating vaccinations for certain state workers. However, nine states have enacted laws prohibiting vaccine mandates.

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Effective Jan. 1, 2021, hospitals are required to publish standard charges, including negotiated rates, for all services in a machine-readable format. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will host a webinar on Aug. 11 for hospitals to learn about posting standard charge information.

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CMS released an advisory alerting certain qualifying participants in alternative payment models that the agency does not have billing information needed to disburse incentive payments. Participants who anticipated but have not received an incentive payment should submit the necessary form by Nov. 1.

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Effective July 20, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra renewed the public health emergency (PHE) determination related to the continued effects of COVID-19. The PHE determination has been in place since Jan. 31, 2020, and has been renewed every three months since.

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HRSA announced $103 million in American Rescue Plan funding over three years to help reduce burnout and promote mental health among the health care workforce.

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Colorado is requiring medical-grade face coverings for unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated employees in settings that serve vulnerable or at-risk populations, and Mississippi is recommending those 65 and older avoid mass gatherings, regardless of vaccination status.

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The Aug. 11 webinar will complement other federal resources on the annual 340B Drug Pricing Program recertification period for hospitals, which is scheduled to start Aug. 16. Hospitals will have until Sept. 13 to complete the process.

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Notable to essential hospitals, the Biden administration's July 9 executive order includes health care items related to prescription drugs, price transparency, hospital consolidation, and health insurance.

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration extends to Aug. 20 the comment period for the COVID-19 health care emergency temporary standard. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration say fully vaccinated individuals do not need COVID-19 booster shots.

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The Department of Health and Human Services announced $250 million in grant awards to 73 local governments as part of a new initiative to identify and implement best practices for improving health literacy to enhance COVID-19 vaccination among underserved populations.

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On July 1, the Biden administration released part 1 of the No Surprises Act interim final rule. Passed as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, the rule establishes new patient protections from balanced billing and excessive cost-sharing, known as surprise billing.

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The highly contagious COVID-19 delta variant has been found in all 50 states and experts warn unvaccinated individuals and younger populations are highly susceptible. This variant presents a significant threat in states with low vaccination rates, including Arkansas, Missouri, Nevada, and Utah.

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Providers who received Provider Relief Fund dollars and are required to document their use during reporting period 1 (April 10–June 30, 2020) have until Sept. 30 to access the portal and submit the information.

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America's Essential Hospitals commented on several policy proposals of interest to essential hospitals in the Inpatient Prospective Payment System rule and responded to a request for information on closing the health equity gap in hospital quality programs.

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CDC extends to July 31 the eviction moratorium to protect people unable to make rental payments due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Distribution of bamlanivimab and etesevimab is paused after tests find they are ineffective against some COVID-19 variants.

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America's Essential Hospitals urged the agency to ensure essential hospitals receive much-needed relief and are equipped for their central role in the continued response to the pandemic, including allocating remaining Provider Relief Fund dollars and revising guidance on the use of these funds.

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Nevada is the second state to pursue a public option health coverage plan, after Washington implemented a public option in 2019. The law requires the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Insurance, and Silver State Health Insurance Exchange to create a public option by 2026.

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The Biden administration proposes to rescind a Trump-era final rule requiring federally qualified health centers to charge certain low-income patients no more than the 340B Drug Pricing Program price for insulin and injectable epinephrine. Comments on the proposed rule are due July 16.

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The interim guidance covers physical and mental health conditions present four or more weeks after some COVID-19 infections, including by patients who initially had mild or asymptomatic acute infections.

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