HHS Standing Committee Newsletter | Feb. 4 Edition


HHS Newsletter

From Congress

Hearing on COVID-19 Vaccinations in the States | Feb. 2, 2021

The House and Energy Commerce Committee held a hearing with state officials to hear about, current efforts, supply status, the federal role and related needs regarding rolling out COVID-19 vaccination programs in states.

House Holds Hearing on Vaccines, Testing and Medical Supply Chain | Feb. 4, 2021

The hearing will review response efforts  to mitigate or reduce COVID-19 transmission in the U.S. The focus of the hearing will look at U.S. challenges regarding availability and access to reliable tests, continued access to personal protective equipment and medical supplies and the equitable distribution of vaccines. Former Food and Drug Administration and Health and Human Services (HHS) officials and health stakeholder experts will testify.

From the Administration

HHS Awards $8 Million for Rural Telehealth Pilot | Jan. 11, 2021

The Health Resources and Services Administration awarded funds for the Telehealth Broadband Pilot program. The program will assess the broadband capacity available to rural health care providers and patient communities to improve access to telehealth services.

Executive Order on U.S. Government Response to Combat COVID-19 Published | Jan. 20, 2021

The order creates a position of coordinator of the COVID-19 response and counselor to the president, and takes other steps organizing the White House and the activities of the federal government to combat COVID-19 to prepare for future biological and pandemic threats. The coordinator and the position of deputy coordinator of the COVID-19 response will report directly to the president to advise and assist the president, executive departments and agencies in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Duties will include coordinating a government-wide effort to reduce disparities in the response, and care and treatment of COVID-19, including racial and ethnic disparities. Read more.

EO on Improving Access to Care for COVID-19 | Jan. 21, 2021

The order is asking to accelerate the development of novel therapies to treat COVID-19 and improve all Americans’ access to quality and affordable healthcare. This will include having the secretary of HHS in consultation with the director of the National Institutes of Health to develop a plan supporting a range of studies, develop a plan with non-governmental partners to support research in rural hospitals and other rural locations and consider steps to ensure that clinical trials include populations that have been historically underrepresented in such trials.

EO Released on Medicaid and the ACA | Jan. 28, 2021

The order will allow the secretary of HHS to consider establishing a special enrollment period for uninsured and under-insured Americans to seek health care coverage through the federally facilitated marketplace. A factsheet on the order can be found here.

Memo on Protecting Women’s Health at Home and Abroad Released | Jan. 28, 2021

The memo requests that the secretary of HHS review the Title X rule from the previous administration. Any other regulations governing the Title X program that impose undue restrictions on the use of federal funds or women’s access to complete medical information and shall consider whether to suspend, revise or rescind or publish for notice and comment proposed rules suspending, and revising or rescinding those regulations.

Office for Civil Rights (OCR) Seeks Information on Addressing Disability Discrimination | Jan. 15, 2021

The OCR at the HHS announced a Request for Information on disability discrimination in health care and child welfare contexts. The office became aware that significant discrimination on the basis of disability may still exist in these systems, and have received reports of discriminatory practices from researchers, organizations of persons with disabilities and the agency’s own enforcement, monitoring and technical assistance activities. The office is soliciting public comment on the key issues that any future updates to related regulations would or should address.

Administration for Community Living (ACL) Determines Distribution for Funds | Jan. 29, 2021

The funds come from the recent COVID-19 response and relief appropriations act of 2021 that provided the ACL $275 million to be allotted for: nutrition services under the Older Americans Act, funds for the Native American Nutrition and Supportive Services under the Older Americans Act and first-time direct funding for Elder Justice Activities/Adult Protective Services under the Elder Justice Act.

Memo on Redressing Our Nation’s and the Federal Government’s History of Discriminatory Housing Practices and Policies | Jan. 26, 2021  

The memorandum acknowledges the role the federal government has historically played in implementing housing policies that have had racially discriminatory impacts. The memorandum also states that while the Fair Housing Act was passed by Congress more than 50 years ago, that the creation of wealth through homeownership has remained unequal in the United States and that it is the policy of this administration to work with communities to end housing discrimination. Read more

Spotlight on

  • At the end of 2020, both chambers of Congress came together and passed coronavirus relief and appropriations funding. Between the two bills, there were 5,600 pages containing many health and human services provisions and funding allocations. A more detailed breakdown of health and human services funding and legislative provisions included in this legislative package can be found here.

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