HHS Standing Committee Newsletter | Dec. 8 Edition

12/8/2020

HHS Newsletter

From Congress

Two Substance Use Disorder Bills Pass House | Nov. 17, 2020

The State Opioid Response Grant Authorization Act of 2020 would reauthorize the grant program through FY 2024. The EASY MAT for Opioid Addiction Act would require the Drug Enforcement Administration to revise regulations to allow a medical practitioner to administer up to a three-day supply of medication to help with acute withdrawal symptoms for patients with opioid use disorder. 

Securing America from Epidemics Act Passes in House | Nov. 18, 2020

The legislation would authorize U.S. participation in the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Initiatives, which is seeking to develop, produce and distribute vaccines for emergency infectious disease, including COVID-19.

From the Administration

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) Releases Report on State Initiatives Related to Substance Use and Housing and Homelessness | Nov. 13, 2020

The CMS report that was sent to Congress examines innovative state initiatives and strategies to provide individuals housing-related services and supports through state Medicaid programs.

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Releases Final Rule on Lifesaving Organs | Nov. 20, 2020

The rule is designed to increase the supply of lifesaving organs available for transplant in the United States. It also requires organizations responsible for organ procurement to be transparent in their performance and ability to successfully facilitate transplants.

Stark Law and Anti-Kickback Statue Final Rules Published | Nov. 20, 2020

HHS published two final rules regarding regulatory barriers to delivering coordinated health care. The rules will provide greater flexibility for health care providers participating in value-based arrangements while maintaining strong safeguards protecting patients and programs from fraud and abuse. The rules also clarify and modify existing policies to ease regulatory burdens on physicians and other health care providers while reinforcing laws that prohibit physician self-referral.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Release Principles for Allocating Initial Supplies of COVID-19 Vaccine | Nov. 12, 2020

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) made allocation recommendations in light of a limited COVID-19 vaccine supply in the U.S. The guidelines for initial allocations of the COVID-19 vaccine take into account scientific data, implementation feasibility and four ethical principles. These principles assist the ACIP in making allocation recommendations and will help state, tribal, local and territorial public health authorities in developing their vaccine implementation strategies.

Information Request on Changes Adopted in Response to COVID-19 | Nov. 24, 2020

The HHS has requested information on changes health care systems and health care providers have made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency plans to identify and learn from effective approaches and best practices implemented by non-HHS organizations to inform HHS priorities and programs. Comments are due by Dec. 24.

FDA Announces Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee Meeting | Nov. 30, 2020

Committee members will meet Dec. 17 to discuss a request for emergency use authorization (EUA) for a COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna Inc. The agency will make background materials available to the public no later than two business days before the meeting. The committee members will provide advice on the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness based on data submitted in the EUA request, but any final decisions to authorize the vaccine for emergency use will be made by the Food and Drug Administration.

CMS Proposes Rule on Benefit and Payment Parameters | Dec. 1, 2020

The proposed rule would implement a limited number of regulatory changes to provide states, health insurance issuers and health insurance exchanges, pharmacy benefit managers and direct enrollment entities with a regulatory framework that would facilitate more efficient and competitive health insurance. It would be applicable to health insurance issuers and non-federal governmental health plan sponsors. Public comments can be made until Dec. 30, 2020.

HHS Releases Plan to Reduce Maternal Mortality | Dec. 3, 2020

Along with the newly announced plan to reduce maternal mortality, U.S. Surgeon General, Jerome M. Adams issued a call to action that provides information on the roles everyone can play in improving maternal health.

Newly Released Report on COVID-19 Race and Ethnicity Disparities | November 2020

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation under HHS released a new report that outlines the disparities in COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and death rates by race and ethnicity. The report analyzed both state and county health data and found significant and widespread disparities in COVID-19 cases and deaths for Black, Hispanic and Indigenous populations.

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