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Michelle Rosenfeld

Senior Writer/Editor

Michelle Rosenfeld is senior writer/editor at America's Essential Hospitals.

The waiver makes Illinois the first state to provide continuity of full Medicaid benefit coverage for mothers by extending eligibility during the entire first year after delivery.

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CDC and FDA recommend pausing Janssen COVID-19 vaccine administration after six U.S. reports of blood clots; HHS expands the Health Center Vaccine Program.

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An upcoming members-only learning collaborative will offer expert insight, technical guidance, and peer support to improve Black maternal health outcomes. 

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CDC Director Rochelle Walensky declared racism a serious public health threat and outlined agency efforts to mitigate the impact of racism on public health. The association applauds Walensky's clear statement on systemic racism.

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The House will vote as early as tonight to extend the moratorium on the 2 percent Medicare sequester cut; CMS has held provider claims in anticipation of this bill passing. Meanwhile, lawmakers continue conversations on infrastructure funding and workplace violence prevention.

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HHS and CDC launch a nationwide grassroots vaccine promotion network; CDC issues new guidance on travel, cleaning, and disinfection.

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At least 29 bills in 17 states involve health services for patients who are transgender, and many of these efforts specifically focus on youth populations. Several states proposed restricting access to transgender health care, by prohibiting or criminalizing gender-affirming care.

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The Office of National Drug Control Policy outlines the Biden administration's drug policy priorities for 2021, including expanding access to evidence-based treatment and prevention services, advancing racial equity, reducing supply of illicit substances, and advancing recovery-ready workplaces.

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In a newly issued report and order, the Federal Communications Commission provided more information on the application and evaluation process for the second round of the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. The application window will open within 30 days of the order.

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The Senate advanced legislation extending the moratorium on a 2 percent Medicare sequester cut; however, it is unlikely the House will take up the measure before April 1, when the cut is scheduled to take effect. The association submitted a letter of support for the LIFT America Act.

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In light of the COVID-19 public health emergency, CMS updated its guidance document to expand on best practices, lessons, and planning considerations for emerging infectious diseases. 

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In recent weeks, several states passed legislation related to the COVID-19 public health crisis, including bills establishing vaccination authority, patient rights, and data reporting requirements. Utah on April 10 will lift its statewide mask mandate.

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In a new HHS Office of Inspector General report, hospitals highlight challenges associated with the public health emergency — including barriers to care delivery and vaccination, staff burnout, supply shortages, and declining revenue — that have strained the nation's health care delivery system.

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is extending until Aug. 15 the special enrollment period for 36 states using the federal health insurance marketplace, giving consumers more time to view new options under the American Rescue Plan, including lower premiums and plan upgrades.

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The House voted to extend the moratorium on a 2 percent Medicare sequester cut, but the bill lacks support from Senate Republicans. The Senate confirms Xavier Becerra. A reintroduced bipartisan bill would ensure 340B hospitals can maintain program eligibility while responding to COVID-19.

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FDA alerts providers about monoclonal antibody–resistant SARS-CoV-2 variants; a new study examines vaccine rates in counties where residents experience a high number of social risk factors.

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In an annual report to Congress, the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission finds an increase from 2018 to 2019 in the number of uninsured and in charity care and bad debt. The report includes state-specific projections of the Medicaid disproportionate share hospital allotment.

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In its March report to Congress, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission recommends payment updates in fee-for-service payment systems, including for hospital inpatient and outpatient services. The panel also outlines Medicare coverage of telehealth services during the pandemic and beyond.

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In response to an executive order, a new issue brief reviews four policy areas under Section 1115 demonstrations and their impact on Medicaid coverage and access to care. The brief notes all examined areas create barriers to enrollment and reduce coverage, leading to adverse health effects.

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration updated its COVID-19 enforcement plan; CDC updates infection control guidance for vaccinated people in health care facilities.

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The House this week will vote on legislation to extend the moratorium on a 2 percent Medicare sequester cut. House Democrats unveil an infrastructure package that prioritizes funding for construction and modernization activities to bolster public health preparedness and cyberattack prevention.

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People experiencing homelessness face barriers to vaccination, including lack of transportation, limited availability of technology, and no established connection to a health care provider. More than 30 states have specifically prioritized vaccinations for homeless populations.

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The association will convene its virtual spring Policy Assembly March 16. Whether or not you join us, these resources are available to encourage your legislators to protect access to care.

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In accordance with the presidential regulatory freeze, HHS proposes to further delay until July 20 a 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. 

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A new White House Gender Policy Council, established via executive order, will coordinate efforts to advance gender equity and equality across executive departments and agencies.

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A federal court vacated several policies in the Trump Administration’s 2019 health insurance marketplace rule for violating federal law, including provisions related to review of network adequacy, standardized options, income verification requirements, and reducing medical loss ratio rebates.

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The 340B Drug Pricing Program is key to the patchwork of federal support essential hospitals rely on to fulfill their safety net mission but current and future threats to the program could hinder hospital's ability to provide lifesaving services.

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Essential hospitals rely heavily on a patchwork of federal financial support and resources to meet their mission. Congress must bolster the individual components that form the fabric of the health care safety net.

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Essential hospitals lead the nation in the battle against COVID-19 but new challenges—including COVID variants, vaccination distribution management, and long-term hospitalizations—show more help is needed to ensure providers on the front lines can maintain access to care.

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In a March 9 letter, America's Essential Hospitals asked the administration to ensure adequate vaccine supplies reach essential hospitals, emphasizing the critical role they play in vaccinating the health care workforce and the broader population.

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With a 50–50 party split in the Senate, Democrats must remain united and rely on Vice President Kamala Harris' vote to confirm the nomination of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as secretary of health and human services.

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