HHS Standing Committee Newsletter | March 26 Edition


HHS Newsletter

From Congress

House Energy and Commerce Holds Hearing on ACA | March 23, 2021 

The Health Subcommittee hearing reviewed several pieces of legislation, including expanding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage for enrollees, expanding Medicaid programs and additional resources for health navigators that help with marketplace enrollment among other topics. 

 House Passes Anti-Discrimination Bill | March 25, 2021 

The House passed the Equality Act, which would extend civil rights protections by including sexual orientation and gender identity in areas including employment, housing, education and public accommodations. In addition, the bill would prohibit federal funding from going to child welfare providers who discriminate against recipients based on their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.  

From the Administration

Ad Council Rolls Out Education on COVID-19 Vaccines | March 2021 

The Ad Council and the COVID Collaborative are leading national communications efforts to educate the American public and build confidence around COVID-19 vaccines. The council is providing several different toolkits to reach different communities and address questions and concerns they may have around the vaccine. 

 Guidance Released on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Provisions in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) | March 12, 2021  

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released guidance providing additional information on the SNAP provisions in the ARPA. The memo includes information on the SNAP increase, administrative costs, additional assistance for SNAP online purchasing and technology improvements, and more. Read the full memo here. The guidance also provides additional information on the minimum and maximum SNAP allotments and deductions that have been adjusted to reflect the temporary increase that was included in the ARPA. Read full guidance here

 FDA Streamlines COVID-19 Tools for Testing Programs | March 15, 2021 

The agency has provided information and resources to groups establishing COVID-19 testing programs. Testing and screening, including for those who are asymptomatic or do not have known exposure, continues to be a consideration for addressing COVID-19. Testing sites also need to consider ongoing and increased testing as individuals try to determine participation in activities with others, school and work attendance in person and travel.   

Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) Announces Increased Payments | March 15, 2021 

The agency announced an increase in the Medicare payment for administering the COVID-19 vaccine. These new payment rates will support providers that are, increasing the number of vaccines as well as for those establishing new vaccination sites, conducting patient outreach and hiring for additional staff. For vaccines administered on or after March 15, 2021, the national average payment rate for providers, hospitals and other immunizers will be $40 to administer each dose, this is an increase from $28 per single-dose of COVID-19 vaccines. 

COVID-19 Vaccines Information Provided for People who Are Pregnant or Breastfeeding | March 18, 2021 

The information is based on limited data that has been gathered on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for these groups including, the potential risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and clinical trials and studies done on populations that were pregnant or became pregnant when vaccinated. The information is for educational purposes and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend anyone getting vaccinated discuss decisions with their healthcare provider.   

Spotlight on

  • The latest COVID-19 relief package, known as the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, provides $1.9 trillion in mandatory funding, program changes and tax policies aimed at mitigating the continuing effects of the pandemic. Congress passed the measure through reconciliation, a budget process that allows Congress to address shortfalls or gaps. Members are prohibited, however, from including policy changes that are not directly tied to budgetary concerns. NCSL has produced a broad summary of the package as well as a detailed health and human services summary.   

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