CMS: (5/25) - CMS announced that the Independence at Home Demonstration performance period is anticipated to end on December 31, 2023. Under this model, CMMI will work with medical practices to test the effectiveness of delivering comprehensive primary care services at home and if doing so improves care for Medicare beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions.
Modern Healthcare: (5/25) – The Senate confirmed Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to serve as the next CMS Administrator. Brooks-LaSure’s nomination was approved by a 55-44 vote, with four Republicans voting alongside Democrats to confirm her nomination.
HHS: (5/25) - HHS, through HRSA, announced that it is dedicating $4.8 billion from the American Rescue Plan to support the HRSA COVID-19 Uninsured Program. This funding will allow the program to continue reimbursing health care providers for testing uninsured individuals for COVID-19. As of May 19, 2021, the program has issued nearly $4 billion in testing reimbursements to providers.
HHS: (5/25) - HHS announced additional Biden Administration appointments to serve across HHS departments. These new appointees will join career officials throughout the agency, and will address the COVID-19 public health crisis, implementing the American Rescue Plan, ensuring Americans have access to quality and affordable health care, strengthening support for seniors and other vulnerable populations, conducting groundbreaking research, and more.
CMS: (5/24) - CMS posted the fourth annual report and associated materials for the Home Health Value-Based Purchasing (HHVBP) Model. The first four years of implementation of the HHVBP model have resulted in cumulative Medicare savings of $604.8 million, a 1.3 percent decline relative to the 41 non-HHVBP states, as well as improvements in quality. These impacts were observed during 2019, the second year for quality based payment adjustments, as well as the initial three years of the model. Findings at a glance
Inside Health Policy: (5/21) - CMS announced it will not extend the Next Generation Accountable Care Organization demonstrations beyond 2021. CMS will, however, allow participants of the model to join the Global and Professional Direct Contracting (GPDC) Model in 2022 despite previous announcements that it would not accept additional direct contracting applications for next year. In a recent announcement shared with NextGen ACOs, CMS said it is continuing to test high-risk financial arrangements and APMs under the direct contracting model, and that there would be value in leveraging the experience and operational capabilities of NextGen ACOs by offering them the opportunity to participate in the GPDC model.
HHS: (5/20) - HHS ASPE issued a report describing methods and findings of a project to identify existing health equity measurement approaches that might fit with Medicare’s value-based purchasing (VBP) programs, quality reporting efforts, and confidential reports. The report defined a “health equity measurement approach” and identified a set of guidelines for health equity measurement.
HHS: (5/20) - HHS announced $14.2 million from the American Rescue Plan to expand pediatric mental health care access by integrating telehealth services into pediatric primary care. The funding will expand Pediatric Mental Health Care Access (PMHCA) projects into new states and geographic areas nationwide, including tribal areas.
US Supreme Court: (5/19) - HHS is asking the Supreme Court to bypass a case brought on by hospital groups challenging site-neutral payment rates for certain outpatient evaluation and management (E/M) services, which the department lowered in 2019 to control “unnecessary” increases in volume. HHS wrote in a brief that the agency justifiably exercised its authority to eliminate a Medicare payment differential that incentivized unnecessary outpatient services.
GAO: (5/19) - The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report of COVID-19 Medicare and Medicaid flexibilities and considerations for their continuation. The report also outlines preliminary observations from ongoing work related to telehealth waivers in both programs. GAO found that CMS issued over 200 Medicare waivers and more than 600 Medicaid waivers or flexibilities.
GAO: (5/17) - GAO issued a report on the Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC) demonstration. HHS's preliminary assessments of the demonstration in eight states, with 66 participating CCBHCs, found that CCBHCs improved access to mental and behavioral health including medication-assisted treatment. GAO also documents cost and quality findings and notes that data limitations complicated HHS’s efforts to assess the effectiveness of the demonstration.