January 3, 2023
This Week in Health Policy for December 24
Last week (Dec. 26-30)
Congress was out of session last week. The 118th Congress will convene on January 3 to kick off a new legislative session. The next This Week in Health Policy will be Friday, January 6.
Prior week (Dec. 19-23)
Health Care Highlights
Congress passes FY 2023 Omnibus bill. Congress has approved the $1.7 trillion omnibus appropriations bill, which includes several major health care provisions. The House passed the bill 225-201 (with one member voting present) December 23 and sent it to President Biden, after it was approved 68-29 in the Senate's last vote of the 117th Congress on December 22. The omnibus includes a two-year extension of Medicare telehealth policies tied to the public health emergency (PHE) and the CARES Act provision allowing high-deductible health plans with health savings accounts (HDHP-HSAs) to offer telehealth before the deductible, a partial offset to Medicare physician payment cuts for 2023 and 2024, and policies to address Medicaid redeterminations, mental health and substance use disorder (SUD), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) modernization, and more. The bill also includes the SECURE 2.0 ACT retirement package, $40.6 billion in emergency natural disaster relief for the United States, $44.9 billion in additional aid for Ukraine, and provisions to change the way presidential elections are certified by Congress.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issues public charge final rule. On Monday (Dec. 19), DHS released policy guidance for the Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility final rule, which excluded noncash benefits, such as the Children's Health Insurance Program and most Medicaid benefits, from consideration when determining a noncitizens requesting admission to the United States or permanent residency.
CMS updates forms for Independent Dispute Resolution process. On Thursday (Dec. 22), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published an updated Selection Response form on the federal Independent Dispute Resolution (IDR) portal. The updated form requires any entity that was named in a payment dispute through the IDR portal and attests that the IDR process does not apply to the dispute to submit additional information, and in some cases, supporting documentation.
CMS releases ownership data for Medicare hospitals. On Tuesday (Dec. 20), CMS released ownership data for all Medicare-certified hospitals. CMS said it intends to release the data, which contains ownership information on more than 7,000 hospitals, on a monthly basis.
HHS to award $130M in 988 grants. On Friday (Dec. 16), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it will award more than $130 million in 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline grants to address the nation's ongoing mental health and substance use crises.
Reports, Studies, and Journals
The Commonwealth Fund. State Telemedicine Coverage Requirements Continue to Evolve. The report, which looks at states' approach to telehealth policy, found that some states have begun to require audio-only telephone visits be covered and exempt behavioral health care from limits on telephone visits.
Government Accountability Office: Medicare: CMS Needs to Address Risks Posed by Provider Enrollment Waivers and Flexibilities." In the report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified 47 waivers and flexibilities that CMS issued during the COVID-19 pandemic to bolster the Medicare provider workforce capacity and recommended actions the agency could take to better prepare for future emergencies.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Data from the National Vital Statistics System. New data from the CDC show a baby born in the United States in 2021 has a life expectancy of 76.4 years, down from 77 years in 2020. The data show the decline largely stems from increases in deaths from COVID-19 and drug overdoses.