U.S. Renews Public Health Emergency Again

On October 15, Secretary of Health & Human Services (HHS) Xavier Becerra renewed the Public Health Emergency (PHE) that has been in effect since January 27, 2020 due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. As a result of the continued consequences of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, on this date and after consultation with…

COVID-19 Vaccine and Testing Tracker

As mandates emerge, providers need a way to easily record COVID-19 Vaccine and Testing information. CellTrak is holding a webinar to describe a possible solution for COVID-19 vaccination and test tracking.

The webinar will explore:

  • Vaccine mandates across the U.S. and how they’re affecting Personal care
  • What states have vaccine mandates in place and the nuances between states
  • CellTrak’s solution for COVID-19 vaccine and testing tracking
  • What happens if you choose not to comply?

Register here!

Updated Immunization Resources for Health Care Organizations

Resources on immunization from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine The Critical Public Health Value of Vaccines Tackling Issues of Access and Hesitancy This publication presents expert perspectives on vaccine access and vaccine confidence with a particular focus on vaccine access and vaccine confidence and gave particular consideration to health systems, research opportunities, communication…

Essential Workers of COVID Pandemic to be Inducted in Dept. of Labor’s Hall of Honor

Please GO HERE to honor a home care or hospice worker you know New digital campaign asks people to share stories of essential workers in their lives To recognize their sacrifices and ceaseless efforts to protect our health and keep our country moving forward amid the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the induction of…

CMS Releases Details of Two New Hospice Quality Reporting Measures

Register for the October 19 Hospice Quality Reporting Program Forum (See details below) Hospices have been anxiously awaiting additional information on two new Hospice Quality Reporting Program (HQRP) measures: Hospice Visits in Last Days of Life Hospice Care Index. These are claims-based measures that CMS has indicated will be publicly posted on Care Compare no…

OCR Issues Guidance on HIPAA, COVID-19 Vaccinations, and the Workplace

On Thursday, September 30, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued guidance to help the public understand when the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy Rule applies to disclosures and requests for information about whether a person has received a COVID-19 vaccine. The…

HHS Announces New Provider Fund Distribution & Grace Period for Reporting Obligations

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) announced it will accept applications from providers for new relief funds this week, as well education for providers to help navigate the application portal.

In addition, there will be a grace period for the reporting deadline of September 30, 2021 for Period 1 recipients of Provider Relief Funds (PRF).

New Distributions

On September 29, 2021, health care providers will be able to apply for $25.5 billion in relief funds, including $8.5 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) resources for providers who serve rural patients covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and $17 billion for Provider Relief Fund (PRF) Phase 4 for a broad range of providers with changes in operating revenues and expenses. The application will be open for a period of four weeks. Providers must submit their completed application by the final deadline of October 26 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Providers who have previously created an account in the Provider Relief Fund Application and Attestation Portal and have not logged in for more than 90 days will need to first reset their password before starting a new application.

In order to streamline the application process and minimize administrative burdens, providers will apply for both programs in a single application and HRSA will use existing Medicaid, CHIP, and Medicare claims data in calculating portions of these payments.

  • Phase 4 General Distribution — $17 billion based on providers’ changes in operating revenues and expenses from July 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021.
    • To promote equity and to support providers with the most need, HRSA will:
      • Reimburse smaller providers for changes in operating revenues and expenditures at a higher percentage compared to larger providers.
      • Provide “bonus” payments based on the amount of services they provide to Medicaid, CHIP, and Medicare patients, priced at the generally higher Medicare rates.
  • American Rescue Plan (ARP) Rural — $8.5 billion based on the amount of services providers furnish to Medicaid/CHIP and Medicare beneficiaries living in Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP)-defined rural areas.
    • To promote equity, HRSA will price payments at the generally higher Medicare rates for Medicaid/CHIP patients.

PRF Period 1 Reporting Grace Period

HRSA also recently announced a 60-day grace period for PRF recipients that are unable to meet the September 30, 2021, reporting deadline, allowing providers to remain in compliance by fulfilling the obligations of the reporting deadline prior to November 30, 2021. These providers will not face collection activities or similar enforcement actions during the grace period. The deadline to use Period 1 PRF funds remains June 30, 2021. HRSA also notes that providers must return unused funds as soon as possible after submitting their report, and no later than December 30, 2021.

Phase 4 and ARP Rural Technical Assistance Webcasts

HRSA will be hosting webinar sessions for Phase 4 and ARP Rural applicants, featuring guidance on how to navigate the application portal.

  • Thursday, September 30, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. ET – register to attend
  • Tuesday, October 5, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. ET – register to attend
  • Two additional webinars during the weeks of October 11th and 18th (dates, times, and registration details forthcoming)

HHS recently hosted a briefing session to provide information about these upcoming funding opportunities – view the video.

What is ARP Rural?

ARP Rural funding is intended to help address the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on rural communities and rural health care providers, and funding will be available to providers who serve patients in these communities. ARP Rural payments are administered jointly with the Provider Relief Fund, and eligible applicants can apply through the same Application and Attestation Portal that will be available to apply for the Phase 4 General Distribution to be considered for both opportunities simultaneously.

ARP Rural payments will be determined based on the location of the patients, not the provider. Applicants do not need to verify whether their patients live in an area that meets the definition of rural, and can select whether their organization (including any included subsidiaries) would like to be considered for ARP rural payments during the application process. HRSA will base payments on data already available to it on the amount and type of Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP services provided to rural patients. HRSA will use the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy definition of rural.

OIG Reports on Home Health Agency Infection Control Audit

An audit of eight home health agencies (HHAs) by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that most had infection control policies and procedures that met the stndards set by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and followed CMS COVID-19 guidance to safeguard Medicare beneficiaries, caregivers, and staff during the coronavirus pandemic, according…

HHS Announces New Provider Fund Distribution & Grace Period for Reporting Obligations

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) announced it will accept applications from providers for new relief funds this week, as well education for providers to help navigate the application portal. In addition, there will be a grace period for the reporting deadline of September…

What Clinicians Need to Know About Latest CDC Recommendations for Pfizer COVID Boosters

Tuesday, September 28, 2021, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM ET No registration required A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) call will give clinicians an overview of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster vaccination. Clinicians will learn about the vaccine booster recommendations, safety of booster dose, and clinical guidance for using the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster…