NEMSAC | Draft Letters Regarding DOT Efforts in Post-Crash Care

EMS News

Provide Input: Draft NEMSAC Letters Regarding DOT Efforts in Post-Crash Care

EMS and 911 professionals can provide feedback on proposed 

suggestions or offer additional recommendations

The National EMS Advisory Council (NEMSAC) has drafted responses to questions posed to the EMS and 911 community by NHTSA. The attached drafts are open for public comment and input prior to formal submission to NHTSA. Please review the attached draft letters which address:

How to Participate: Please provide feedback regarding the responses drafted by the NEMSAC in the two letters attached to this email. Comments and questions must be submitted to NHTSA.NEMSAC@dot.gov by October 21, 2022, at 5 pm ET.

Read more about the National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS).

Submit Written Comment

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CMS Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP Enrollment

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the latest enrollment figures for Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). These programs serve as key connectors to care for more millions of Americans.

Medicare

As of May 2022, 64,553,288 people are enrolled in Medicare. This is an increase of 103,837 since the last report.

34,893,853 are enrolled in Original Medicare.

29,659,435 enrolled in Medicare Advantage or other health plans. This includes enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans with and without prescription drug coverage.

50,086,253 are enrolled in Medicare Part D. This includes enrollment in stand-alone prescription drug plans as well as Medicare Advantage plans that offer prescription drug coverage.

About 12 million individuals are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, so are counted in the enrollment figures for both programs.

Detailed enrollment data can be viewed here: https://data.cms.gov/summary-statistics-on-beneficiary-enrollment/medicare-and-medicaid-reports/medicare-monthly-enrollment

Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

As of May 2022, 88,978,791 of people are enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. This is an increase of 677,711 since the last report.

81,904,569 are enrolled in Medicaid

7,074,222 are enrolled in CHIP

For more information on Medicaid/CHIP enrollment, including enrollment trends, visit https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/program-information/medicaid-chip-enrollment-data/medicaid-and-chip-enrollment-trend-snapshot/index.html

Every day, CMS ensures that people across the U.S. have coverage that works. See the latest coverage totals across all CMS programs at https://www.cms.gov/pillar/expand-access. This information is updated on a monthly basis. Enrollment data for CMS programs are compiled on different timelines owing to the unique nature of each program.

CMS Ambulance Open Door Forum scheduled for Thursday, August 18

CMS Open Door Forum
The next CMS Ambulance Open Door Forum scheduled for:

Date:  Thursday, August 18, 2022

Start Time:  2:00pm-3:00pm PM Eastern Time (ET);

Please dial-in at least 15 minutes before call start time.

Conference Leaders: Jill Darling, Maria Durham

**This Agenda is Subject to Change**

  1. Opening Remarks

Chair- Maria Durham, Director, Division of Data Analysis and Market Based Pricing

Moderator – Jill Darling (Office of Communications)

  1. Announcements & Updates
  1. Medicare Ground Ambulance Data Collection System: Proposed Changes in the CY 2023 Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) Proposed Rule

Slide presentation is available at: https://www.cms.gov/Center/Provider-Type/Ambulances-Services-Center, under Spotlights, Upcoming Events

2. CY 2023 Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) and Ambulatory Surgical  Center (ASC) Payment System Proposed Rule: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/07/26/2022-15372/medicare-program-hospital-outpatient-prospective-payment-and-ambulatory-surgical-center-payment

Proposals Regarding Rural Emergency Hospitals Ambulance Services

III. Open Q&A

**DATE IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE**

Next Ambulance Open Door Forum: TBA

ODF email: AMBULANCEODF@cms.hhs.gov

———————————————————————

This Open Door Forum is open to everyone, but if you are a member of the Press, you may listen in but please refrain from asking questions during the Q & A portion of the call. If you have inquiries, please contact CMS at Press@cms.hhs.gov. Thank you.

Open Door Participation Instructions:

This call will be Conference Call Only.

To participate by phone:

Dial: 1-888-455-1397 & Reference Conference Passcode: 5109694

Persons participating by phone do not need to RSVP. TTY Communications Relay Services are available for the Hearing Impaired.  For TTY services dial 7-1-1 or 1-800-855-2880. A Relay Communications Assistant will help.

Instant Replay: 1- 866-469-7806; Conference Passcode: No Passcode needed

Instant Replay is an audio recording of this call that can be accessed by dialing 1-866-469-7806 and entering the Conference Passcode beginning 1 hours after the call has ended. The recording is available until August 20, 2022, 11:59PM ET.

For ODF schedule updates and E-Mailing List registration, visit our website at http://www.cms.gov/OpenDoorForums/.

Were you unable to attend the recent Ambulance ODF call? We encourage you to visit our CMS Podcasts and Transcript webpage where you can listen and view the most recent Ambulance ODF call. The audio and transcript will be posted to: https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Outreach/OpenDoorForums/PodcastAndTranscripts.html.

CMS provides free auxiliary aids and services including information in accessible formats. Click here for more information. This will point partners to our CMS.gov version of the “Accessibility & Nondiscrimination notice” page. Thank you.

Webinar 7/21 | How 988, Crisis Response, and EMS Can Improve Community Care

EMS Focus
WEBINAR

Working Together: How 988, Crisis Response, and EMS Can Improve Community Care

Hosted by NHTSA’s Office of EMS on July 21, 2022, at 3 pm ET / 12 pm PT


Hosted by NHTSA’s Office of EMS in collaboration with the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), this webinar will discuss opportunities for collaboration between the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (988), crisis response, and EMS communities. Launched in July, 988 will be a new three-digit number for the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This system, in collaboration with 911 centers and first responders, is designed to support nationwide improvements in behavioral and mental health emergency responses.

EMS clinicians will hear from their peers engaging with 988 and crisis response teams about challenges and successes, and how to navigate interoperability between 911, 988, EMS, and other response agencies. Hear from both urban and rural agencies about how their collaboration with crisis response partners has made a meaningful difference in their communities.

Tune in for lessons learned in addressing barriers between these critical players in emergency response and providing improved resources in behavioral health incidents.

Register Now

Panelists Include:

NHTSA Office of EMS: Kate Elkins

International Association of EMS Chiefs: Daniel Gerard

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Richard McKeon

National EMS Management Association: Sean Caffrey

Gunnison Regional 911 Authority: Jodie Chinn

Gunnison Valley Health: Kimberly Behounek

Attendees will be encouraged to submit questions during any point of the discussion. The webinar and Q&A will last approximately one hour. Sign up to get email updates about this webinar series, new projects and more.


About EMS Focus

EMS Focus provides a venue to discuss crucial initiatives, issues and challenges for EMS stakeholders and leaders nationwide. Be sure to visit ems.gov for information about upcoming webinars and to view past recordings.

We are committed to providing equal access to this webinar for all participants. Persons with disabilities in need of an accommodation should contact nhtsa.ems@dot.gov to request an accommodation no later than Tuesday, July 19.

Sign up to receive the latest news from the Office of EMS, including webinars, newsletters and industry updates.

Contact Us

1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
nhtsa.ems@dot.gov

NEMSIS 2021 Public Dataset Now Available for Research

EMS News

Data from Nearly 49 Million EMS Activations in 2021 Now Available for Research

Additionally, National EMS Database reaches important milestone as 50 states, D.C. and 3 U.S. territories are now submitting patient care data

The National Emergency Medical Services Information System Technical Assistance Center (NEMSIS TAC) announced the release of the 2021 Public-Release Research Dataset, the largest publicly available data of emergency medical services (EMS) activations in the U.S.

The dataset includes information from patient care reports from nearly 49 million EMS activations submitted by almost 14,000 EMS agencies serving communities across the country. Collected at the local level by individual EMS clinicians responding to calls and caring for patients, this data provides EMS agencies, states and the nation with critical insights for quality improvement, resource deployment, public health surveillance and more.

Since the NEMSIS data standard and National EMS Database were created with support from the NHTSA Office of EMS, researchers have used the data to study numerous important clinical and operational issues. This year alone, National EMS data has been used in articles addressing airway management, socioeconomic disparities, cardiac arrest, stroke and overdoses, just to name a few.

To learn more about the NEMSIS 2021 Public-Release Research Dataset, including how to request a copy of the dataset for research, visit nemsis.org, where you’ll find access to tutorials as well as online and pdf forms to request the data.

Learn More About the Dataset

NHTSA and the NEMSIS Technical Assistance Center also recently celebrated the addition of Delaware to the list of states and territories submitting EMS data to the National EMS Database–meaning information from EMS activations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and three additional U.S. territories are now being collected. This means an even more robust, complete picture of EMS across the country will be available to policymakers and researchers in the future.

New Dataset Image

Sign up to receive the latest news from the Office of EMS, including webinars, newsletters and industry updates.

Contact Us

1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
nhtsa.ems@dot.gov

988 Lifeline Transition – Partner Toolkit and Jobs Web Page

June 8 | FICEMS Virtual Meeting

 

 

2022 SESSION

 

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

1:00 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.

Virtual Meeting

Washington, DC

 

General Meeting

1:00-1:05    Welcome, Introductions, Opening Remarks      
 

Jonathan Greene, Deputy Asst. Secretary for Preparedness & Response

Director, Office of Emergency Management & Medical Operations

FICEMS Chairperson
1:05-1:10    Approve:  Meeting Summary [December 8, 2021]
 

Gam Wijetunge, Director, NHTSA OEMS

Director of the Office of EMS, NHTSA
1:10-1:15    Department of Defense Update
1:10     Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs

Elizabeth Fudge

Supervisory Program Analyst, Health Readiness Policy & Oversight
1:15-1:35    Department of Health & Human Services Update
1:15     Health Resources & Services Administration

Theresa “Tee” Morrison-Quinata

EMS for Children Branch Chief, Maternal & Child Health Bureau

Division of Child, Adolescent, & Family Health

1:20     Assistant Secretary for Preparedness & Response

Jonathan Greene

Deputy Assistant Secretary & Director,

Office of Emergency Management & Medical Operations

 

1:25     Indian Health Services

Darrell LaRoche

Director, Office of Clinical & Preventive Services

 

1:30     Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

Christine “Chris” Kosmos

Director, Division of State & Local Readiness

Center for Emergency Preparedness & Response

 

1:35     Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

CAPT. Skip Payne

Director, Emergency Preparedness & Response Operations
1:40-1:50    Department of Homeland Security Update 
 

1:40     Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office

Pritesh Gandhi, M.D.

Chief Medical Officer, EMS Program

 

1:45     United States Fire Administration

Richard Patrick

Director, National Fire Programs Directorate
>1:50-1:55    Department of Transportation Update
 

1:50     National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Nanda Srinivasan

Associate Administrator, Research & Program Development
1:55-2:00    Federal Communications Commission Update 
 

1:55     Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau

David Furth, J.D.

Deputy Chief, Office of the Bureau Chief
2:00-2:05    State EMS Directors Update
 

                        2:00     State EMS Directors Update

Steve McCoy

EMS Bureau

Florida Department of Public Health
2:05-2:45    NHTSA Office of EMS Projects Updates
2:05     COVID-19 Healthcare Resilience Working Group Update; 988 Update;                                         Mental Health & Suicide Prevention for EMS

Kate Elkins

EMS Specialist, NHTSA OEMS

2:10     COVID-19 First Responder Deaths

Dave Bryson

EMS Specialist, NHTSA OEMS

2:15     National 911 Program Update

Brian Tegtmeyer

National 911 Program Coordinator

2:20     NEMSIS Update

Eric Chaney

EMS Specialist, NHTSA OEMS

2:25     National Roadway Safety Strategy – Post Crash Care

Gam Wijetunge

Director, NHTSA OEMS

 

 

 
2:30-2:55    Technical Working Group Subgroup Updates
2:30     Evidence-based Practice & Quality Subgroup

Diane Pilkey, DHHS HRSA | Max Sevareid, NHTSA OEMS

 

2:35     EMS Data Standards & Exchange Subgroup

Rachel Abbey, DHHS ONC | David Millstein, DHS USFA

2:40     EMS Systems Integration & Preparedness Subgroup

Tee Morrison-Quinata, DHHS HRSA | Gam Wijetunge, NHTSA OEMS

2:45     Workforce & Safety Subgroup

Greg Williams, DHS USFA | Dave Bryson, NHTSA OEMS

2:50     Education & Training Subgroup

                                    Michael Stern, DHS USFA | Clary Mole, NHTSA OEMS
3:05-3:15    Break – 10 minutes
3:15-3:20    National EMS Advisory Council Update
                                    Jonathan Washko, Vice Chair, NEMSAC
3:20-3:25    FICEMS COVID-19 Response White Paper Project Update
                                    Mark Sigrist, Energetics (NHTSA OEMS)               

 

3:25-3:30    Public Comment
3:30-3:45    Committee Round Table Discussions
 
3:45             Adjournment

NEMSAC | Webcast May 11-12

The National EMS Advisory Council (NEMSAC) will host a virtual meeting on Wednesday and Thursday, May 11-12, 2022. Members of the public can register for the webcast here.

The NEMSAC meets several times each year to discuss issues facing the EMS community. Members of NEMSAC provide counsel and recommendations regarding EMS to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Interagency Committee on EMS (FICEMS).

Daily agendas include time for NEMSAC subcommittee deliberations in the morning and the publicly webcasted portion of the meetings begin at 1:00 pm ET, Wednesday, May 11, 2022, and 12:00 pm ET on Thursday, May 12, 2022. Items on the agenda include:

  • Updates from Federal Emergency Services Liaisons
  • Discussion about FICEMS & NHTSA Initiatives
  • Subcommittee Reports
  • Public comment

Individuals registered for the meeting who wish to address the council during the public comment periods can review the current draft and interim advisories and submit comments in writing to NHTSA.NEMSAC@dot.gov by 5:00 pm ET on May 3, 2022.

Draft advisories:

Interim advisory:

This meeting will be open to the public. NHTSA is committed to providing equal access to this meeting for all program participants. Persons with disabilities in need of accommodation should send their request to Clary Mole by phone at (202) 868-3275 or by email at Clary.Mole@dot.gov no later than May 3, 2022. A sign language interpreter will be provided and closed captioning services will be provided for this meeting through the WebEx virtual meeting platform.

Register Now

Notice of Public Meeting: This notice announces a meeting of the National Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council (NEMSAC).

www.federalregister.gov

CMS | Ambulance Ground Transport: Comparative Billing Report in April

From CMS on April 21, 2022

In late April, CMS will issue a Comparative Billing Report (CBR) on Medicare Part B claims for ambulance ground transport. Use the data-driven report to compare your billing practices with those of peers in your state and across the nation.

CBRs aren’t publicly available. Look for an email from cbrpepper.noreply@religroupinc.com to access your report. Update your email address in the Provider Enrollment, Chain, and Ownership System to ensure delivery.

For More Information:

CAAS | GVS V3.0 Draft for Public Comment #2

CAAS_Logo_Final_for_Avectra_200by200.jpg
Driven to a Higher Standard
CAAS Releases GVS V3.0 Draft for Public Comment #2
CAAS GVS Announcement
GVS-LOGO-V3-1BD-FINAL-200by2200px(1)_2106244.jpg

The Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services (CAAS) formed a Ground Vehicle Standard Revision Committee to develop V3.0 of the GVS document.  Based on industry collaboration, this Committee has developed a list of proposed changes to V2.0.

Based on the feedback received during Public Comment Period #1, CAAS has now opened Public Comment Period #2, which starts April 1, 2022 and concludes May 31, 2022. In accordance with ANSI protocol, only items that have been changed through the Public Comment #1 period are open for additional comment and review during this second period. Those items are highlighted in yellow on the attached proposal document. Comments on other provisions are not accepted during this process. Interested parties who care to comment on the changes should complete the online feedback form and submit their input during this public comment period. The GVS Committee will review all submissions received during the Public Comment Period #2 and will consider each of the comments received. The CAAS GVS V3.0 document has a scheduled effective date of July 1, 2022.

If you have any questions, please contact Mark Van Arnam, Administrator, CAAS GVS.

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Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services (CAAS)

1926 Waukegan Road Phone: (847) 657-6828
Suite 300 Fax: (847) 657-6825
Glenview, Illinois E-mail: CAAS Staff
60025-1770 Website: www.caas.org

NACIDD & NACSD | Public Meetings 4/1 & 4/6

From ASPR on March 31, 2022

The National Advisory Committee on Seniors and Disasters (NACSD) and the National Advisory Committee on Individuals with Disabilities and Disasters (NACIDD) will soon host public meetings of these two advisory committees.

The next NACIDD meeting takes place on Friday, April 1 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. ET and the next NACSD meeting is on Wednesday, April 6 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET.

Join board members, distinguished guests, federal leaders, and other experts to discuss the challenges, opportunities, and priorities in meeting the unique health needs of older adult populations and people with disabilities during and after disasters and public health emergencies.

Advanced registration for these meetings is required and can be accessed, along with additional meeting agendas and public information, through the online event pages for the NACIDD and NACSD.

The agendas for each of the next meetings include time to hear from the public. The floor will be open to hear as many relevant comments as possible. To learn how to request a speaking time, please visit each committee’s event page. You can send questions about the NACSD to NACSD@hhs.gov and questions about the NACIDD to NACIDD@hhs.gov.

HHS PRF | EMS Funding Letter to Secretary Becerra

Download PDF Letter

March 24, 2022

The Honorable Xavier Becerra
Secretary of Health and Human Services
Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20201

Dear Secretary Becerra:

Ground ambulance service organizations and fire departments continue to struggle financially from the enduring economic effects of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE). Our respective members face sharp increases in the costs of fuel, equipment, medical supplies, and staffing as we deal with a severe shortage of paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) which has been an issue for years but exacerbated by the pandemic. We implore you to help ensure communities around the country have access to 9-1-1 emergency and non-emergency ground ambulance services through the remainder of the PHE and beyond with an infusion of $350 million from returned and/or unspent money in the Provider Relief Fund (PRF).

We greatly appreciate the funding that ground ambulance service organizations and fire departments have already received from the PRF. The funds have been a lifeline for many of our respective members and their ability to continue to serve their communities. However, as the Phase 4 distribution of funds demonstrated, more funding is needed for ground ambulance services. Our members indicate the funds they received in Phase 4 covered approximately 50% of their lost reimbursement and increased costs from July 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021, whereas previous distributions were closer to 88%. We therefore respectfully request an immediate distribution of $350 million or 10% of the annual Medicare expenditure on ground ambulance services.

We request that the funds be distributed in a similar manner as the Tranche 1 distribution from the PRF. The automatic, across-the-board deposit of funding was especially helpful for small and rural ground ambulance service organizations. These rural organizations provide care in underserved areas and are often daunted even by an abbreviated application process. To ensure equity for all communities, we support universal direct deposit.

Additionally, we encourage HHS to make these payments based on the National Provider Identification (NPI) number of the ground ambulance service organization or fire department rather than Tax ID Number (TIN). In the case of moderate and large cities, many municipal departments may share a TIN while maintaining distinct NPIs. Providing these payments according to TIN may unintentionally comingle funds intended for different departments such as fire departments, public health departments, and local government-run hospitals or clinics.

The American Ambulance Association (AAA), International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT), and National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) represent the providers of vital emergency and non-emergency ground ambulance services and the paramedics, EMTs and firefighters who deliver the direct medical care and transport for every community across the United States.

Our members take on substantial risk every day to treat, transport, and test potential COVID-19 patients, and play a vital role in providing vaccinations to individuals in their homes. Ground ambulance service organizations and fire departments, however, urgently need the additional

$350 million to help offset the increased costs and lower reimbursement resulting from our vital response to the pandemic.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

American Ambulance Association

International Association of Fire Chiefs

International Association of Fire Fighters

National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians

National Volunteer Fire Council

NASEMSO | Model EMS Clinical Guidelines v3

From NASEMSO on March 23, 2022

The NASEMSO Model EMS Clinical Guidelines project team is delighted to unveil Version 3 of the National Model EMS Clinical Guidelines. In completing Version 3, the project team has reviewed and updated all existing guidelines, as well as added four new guidelines. Version 3 of the Guidelines, similar to the original version released in 2014, was completed by a team of EMS and specialty physicians comprised of members of the NASEMSO Medical Directors Council and representatives from six EMS medical director stakeholder organizations. In addition, all guidelines were reviewed by a team of pediatric emergency medicine physicians, pharmacologists and other technical reviewers.

Overview

The National Model EMS Clinical Guidelines Project was first initiated by NASEMSO in 2012 and has produced three versions of model clinical guidelines for EMS: the first in 2014, a revision 2017, and now this third version in 2022. The guidelines were created as a resource to be used or adapted for use on a state, regional or local level to enhance prehospital patient care and can be viewed here. These model protocols are offered to any EMS entity that wishes to use them, in full or in part. The model guidelines project has been led by the NASEMSO Medical Directors Council in collaboration with six national EMS physician organizations, including: American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), National Association of EMS Physicians (NAEMSP), American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM), American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Pediatric Emergency Medicine (AAP-COPEM), American College of Surgeons, Committee on Trauma (ACS-COT) and Air Medical Physician Association (AMPA). Co-Principal Investigators, Dr. Carol Cunningham and Dr. Richard Kamin, led the development of all three versions. Countless hours of review and edits are contributed by subject matter experts and EMS stakeholders who responded with comments and recommendations during the public comment period.

NASEMSO gratefully acknowledges the Technical Expert Panel, the Technical Reviewers, and many others who volunteered their time and talents to ensure the success of this project.

The comprehensive review and revision of these guidelines was made possible by funding support from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Office of EMS and the Health Resources and Services Administration Maternal and Child Health Bureau EMS for Children Program.

For More Information

Andy Gienapp, MS, NRP
Deputy Executive Director
andy@nasemso.org

HHS IEA | COVID-19 Update for March 21, 2022

HHS Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs COVID-19 Update for
March 21, 2022  
CASE UPDATE
New Cases (based on 7-day rolling average)

  • 79,571,321 U.S. cases
  • 17.3% decrease in new cases (7-day average), as of March 18, 2022

Testing

  • 837,949,940 tests completed (3/21)
  • 2.3% positive test rate as of the week of 3/11 – 3/17/22 (was 2.7 % last week)

Hospitalizations

  • 4,581,254 total COVID hospital admissions (3/18)
  • The 7-day average (3/12 – 3/18) number of new confirmed COVID-19 admissions decreased from 2,642 to 2,010 admissions per day

Deaths

  • 969,114 total U.S. deaths
  • The 7-day average (3/12 – 3/18) number of reported deaths decreased from 1,199 to 973 deaths per day

Vaccines

  • 558,678,770 vaccine doses administered (3/21/22)
  • 76.8% (255 million people) of the population has received 1 or more doses and 65.4% (217.1 million people) of the population have been fully vaccinated
  • 81.6% of people five years and older have received at least 1 dose and 69.5% have been fully vaccinated
VACCINE UPDATES
COVID-19 Vaccines Continue to Protect Against Hospitalization and Death Among Adults: CDC released a statement that COVID-19 vaccination continues to help protect adults against severe illness with COVID-19, including hospitalizations and death, according to two reports released in last week’s MMWR . During Omicron, COVID-19-associated hospitalization rates increased for all adults, regardless of vaccination status, but rates were 12 times higher among adults who were unvaccinated compared to adults who received a booster or additional doses. Hospitalization rates were also highest among non-Hispanic Black adults and nearly 4 times as high among Black adults than White adults during the peak of Omicron. CDC continues to recommend that everyone 5 years and older stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines, including a booster dose for those who are eligible. We also must work to ensure everyone has equitable access to vaccines and treatments by focusing efforts on reaching people who have been disproportionately affected, so that they can be protected from the effects of the virus, including severe illness, hospitalization, and death.

FDA to Hold Advisory Committee Meeting on COVID-19 Vaccines to Discuss Future Boosters: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a virtual meeting of its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) on Wednesday, April 6, to discuss considerations for future COVID-19 vaccine booster doses and the process for selecting specific strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus for COVID-19 vaccines to address current and emerging variants. Along with the independent experts of the advisory committee, representatives from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health will participate in the meeting.

One-Year Anniversary of Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program: Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recognized the one-year anniversary of the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA)  Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program , which received funding from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan and has provided COVID-19 vaccines directly to thousands of HRSA-supported health center sites nationwide. To date, health centers have administered more than 20 million vaccines in underserved communities across the country through the HRSA program and partnerships with states.

TESTING AND TREATMENT
FDA Safety Communication on At-Home COVID-19 Tests: The FDA  issued a safety communication  to alert people of the potential for harm if FDA-authorized at-home COVID-19 tests are not used according to the manufacturer’s test instructions. The FDA is also reminding people to keep the tests out of reach from children and pets. The FDA has received reports of injuries caused by the incorrect use of at-home COVID-19 tests, such as people putting the test chemicals in their eyes, due to the small vials of test solution were mistaken for eye drops. The FDA is also aware of children putting small plastic vials in their mouth and swallowing test solution. This safety communication provides:

  • Recommendations for people using FDA-authorized at-home COVID-19 diagnostic tests
  • Background on the issue and the FDA’s actions
  • Instructions for reporting problems with at-home COVID-19 testing to the FDA

EUA for At-Home Test: The FDA issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for PHASE Scientific International, Ltd.’s INDICAID COVID-19 Rapid Antigen At-Home Test, an OTC #COVID19 antigen diagnostic on March 16. The FDA is committed to increase the availability of appropriately accurate and reliable at-home COVID19 diagnostic tests, and to facilitate consumer access to these tests.

RESEARCH
COVID-19-Associated Hospitalizations Among Adults During SARS-CoV-2 Delta and Omicron Variant Predominance: CDC released an MMWR on COVID-19-associated hospitalizations among adults during SARS-CoV-2 Delta and Omicron variant predominance by race/ethnicity and vaccination status from fourteen states between July 2021 – January 2022. SARS-CoV-2 infections can result in COVID-19–associated hospitalizations, even among vaccinated persons. In January 2022, unvaccinated adults and those vaccinated with a primary series, but no booster or additional dose, were 12 and three times as likely to be hospitalized, respectively, as were adults who received booster or additional doses. Hospitalization rates among non-Hispanic Black adults increased more than rates in other racial/ethnic groups. All adults should stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccination to reduce their risk for COVID-19–associated hospitalization. Implementing strategies that result in the equitable receipt of COVID-19 vaccinations among persons with disproportionately higher hospitalizations rates, including non-Hispanic Black adults, is an urgent public health priority.

Effectiveness of mRNA Vaccination in Preventing COVID-19-Associated Invasive Mechanical Ventilation and Death: CDC released an MMWR on the effectiveness of mRNA vaccination in preventing COVID-19-associated invasive mechanical ventilation and death in the United States from March 2021 – January 2022. COVID-19 mRNA vaccines provide protection against COVID-19 hospitalization among adults. However, how well mRNA vaccines protect against the most severe outcomes of COVID-19–related illness, including use of invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV) or death, is uncertain. Receiving 2 or 3 doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine was associated with a 90% reduction in risk for COVID-19–associated IMV or death. Protection of 3 mRNA vaccine doses during the period of Omicron predominance was 94%. COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are highly effective in preventing the most severe forms of COVID-19. CDC recommends that all persons eligible for vaccination get vaccinated and stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccination.

Marvin B. Figueroa, Director
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Intergovernmental and External Affairs
200 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201

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HHS OIG Report on Telehealth for Medicare Beneficiaries in COVID-19

From HHS Office of Inspector General on March 15, 2022

Telehealth Was Critical for Providing Services to Medicare Beneficiaries During the First Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic

WHY WE DID THIS STUDY

The COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented challenges for how Medicare beneficiaries accessed health care. In response, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) took a number of actions to temporarily expand access to telehealth for Medicare beneficiaries. CMS allowed beneficiaries to use telehealth for a wide range of services; it also allowed beneficiaries to use telehealth in different locations, including in urban areas and from the beneficiary’s home.

This data brief provides insight into the use of telehealth in both Medicare fee-for-service and Medicare Advantage during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, from March 2020 through February 2021. It is a companion to a report that examines the characteristics of beneficiaries who used telehealth during the pandemic. Another report in this series identifies program integrity concerns related to telehealth during the pandemic. Understanding the use of telehealth during the first year of the pandemic can shed light on how the temporary expansion of telehealth affected where and how beneficiaries accessed their health care. This information can help CMS, Congress, and other stakeholders make decisions about how telehealth can be best used to meet the needs of beneficiaries in the future.

HOW WE DID THIS STUDY

We based this analysis on Medicare fee-for-service claims data and Medicare Advantage encounter data from March 1, 2020, to February 28, 2021, and from the prior year, March 1, 2019, to February 29, 2020. We used these data to determine the total number of services used via telehealth and in-person, as well as the types of services used. We also compared the number of services used via telehealth and in-person during the first year of the pandemic to those used in the prior year.

WHAT WE FOUND

Over 28 million Medicare beneficiaries used telehealth during the first year of the pandemic. This was more than 2 in 5 Medicare beneficiaries. In total, beneficiaries used 88 times more telehealth services during the first year of the pandemic than they used in the prior year. Beneficiaries’ use of telehealth peaked in April 2020 and remained high through early 2021. Overall, beneficiaries used telehealth to receive 12 percent of their services during the first year of the pandemic. Beneficiaries most commonly used telehealth for office visits, which accounted for just under half of all telehealth services used during the first year of the pandemic. However, beneficiaries’ use of telehealth for behavioral health services stands out. Beneficiaries used telehealth for a larger share of their behavioral health services compared to their use of telehealth for other services. Specifically, beneficiaries used telehealth for 43 percent of behavioral health services, whereas they used telehealth for 13 percent of office visits.

WHAT WE CONCLUDE

Telehealth was critical for providing services to Medicare beneficiaries during the first year of the pandemic. Beneficiaries’ use of telehealth during the pandemic also demonstrates the long-term potential of telehealth to increase access to health care for beneficiaries. Further, it shows that beneficiaries particularly benefited from the ability to use telehealth for certain services, such as behavioral health services. These findings are important for CMS, Congress, and other stakeholders to take into account as they consider making changes to telehealth in Medicare. For example, CMS could use these findings to inform changes to the services that are allowed via telehealth on a permanent basis.

 

HRSA eNews | Expanding Health Care Access and Resources in Underserved Populations,

HRSA eNews March 3, 2022

March 3, 2022

Administrator Carole Johnson on HRSA’s Commitment to President Biden’s National Mental Health Strategy

douglas-emhoff-carole-johnson-nationwide-childrens-hospitalIn his State of the Union address, President Biden announced an ambitious strategy to address our national mental health crisis. At the Health Resources and Services Administration, we stand with the President in his call for unity in our national response and know that for the millions of Americans living with a mental health condition or caring for a loved one with a mental health condition, the time for action is now.

Yesterday, Administrator Johnson and HRSA Chief of Staff Jordan Grossman joined the Second Gentleman Mr. Emhoff and Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Levine in Columbus, Ohio, to visit HRSA grantees addressing youth mental health care needs and providing mental health supports for the health care workforce.

Read Administrator Johnson’s full statement on the President’s National Mental Health Strategy.


HRSA Works to Expand Health Care Access and Resources in Underserved Populations

physicianIn February, HRSA announced the winners of the Promoting Pediatric Primary Prevention Challenge, $66.5 million to support community-based vaccine outreach efforts, more than $560 million in pandemic relief payments to health care providers, funding to increase virtual care quality and access, and new funding to support primary care residency programs.

Read our announcements.


HHS Distributing $560 Million in Provider Relief Fund Payments to Health Care Providers Affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic

Clipart of health professionalsWith this funding, nearly $19 billion will have been distributed from the Provider Relief Fund and the American Rescue Plan Rural provider funding since November 2021 

February 24 – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), is making more than $560 million in Provider Relief Fund (PRF) Phase 4 General Distribution payments to more than 4,100 providers across the country this week.

“Provider Relief Funds have been living up to its name, providing much-needed relief to our nation’s health care providers,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “From expanding life-saving services to tackling workforce challenges, these funds will continue to help weather the pandemic’s continued impact. The Biden-Harris Administration remain committed to ensuring our providers with the necessary support and tools to keep our families safer and healthier.”

Read the press release.


National Health Service Corps: 50 Years of Commitment, Compassion and Community

nhsc anniversary social media cardOur National Health Service Corps (NHSC) is gearing up to celebrate its 50th anniversary, and you’re invited to join in. Established with the Emergency Health Personnel Act of 1970, the NHSC placed its first clinicians – which included physicians, dentists and nurses – in 20 communities in 13 states. Learn how you can engage with, promote, and celebrate this historic milestone with our largest class of participants yet!


New Report on Children’s Mental Health Features Key Data from National Survey of Children’s Health

children lined upnew report featuring data from HRSA’s 2016-2019 National Survey of Children’s Health, shows that children’s mental health was a substantial public health concern even before the COVID-19 pandemic started.

This report is an update to one first published in 2013 in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The 2013 report was the first ever cross-agency children’s mental health surveillance report, and includes input from HRSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the National Institute of Mental Health. HRSA’s Reem Ghandour and Jesse Lichstein are co-authors.

The current report found that attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and anxiety among children of all ages, and symptoms related to depression among adolescents, are the most common concerns. It also features data on behavioral problems, autism, Tourette syndrome, as well as treatment received and signs that children are doing well. The report concludes that we need further research on positive indicators of mental health such as emotional well-being and resilience to provide the fullest picture of children’s mental health.


Climate Change and Health: The Risks to Community Health and Health Care Utilization

climate change Climate change influences human health and diseases in numerous ways. Underserved communities stand to bear the brunt of these climate-induced risks (e.g., extreme heat, poor air quality, flooding, extreme weather events). HRSA and CDC’s Climate and Health Program invite you to consider the impacts of climate change on the U.S. health care system. CDC will share its work to build resilience to these public health effects.

Webinar Date: Thursday, March 17, 1-2 p.m. ET. 

Register.


Patient Safety Awareness Week Event: Harnessing Individual Power to Effect Positive Change

webcast iconPatient Safety Awareness Week is March 13-19. We are hosting an event in partnership with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Indian Health Service (IHS), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Amelia Brooks from Safe and Reliable Healthcare will provide strategies that health care organizations can implement immediately to improve the safety culture in their organizations. She will share:

  • How to focus on safety in the context of global health and staffing crises
  • How to reduce burdens on frontline providers
  • Implementing practical strategies to support staff

There will also be a virtual exhibit hall at the end of the session.

Webinar Date: Thursday, March 17, 2-3:30 p.m. ET. 

Register.


States Take Action to Address Children’s Mental Health in Schools

teens against locker in schoolChildren’s mental health continues to be a top priority for state leaders across both legislative and executive branches of state government. With COVID-19 exacerbating the challenges children are facing, there is much more work to be done.

This National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) blog post summarizes the actions many states have taken from March 2020 through December 2021 to support school mental health systems, while many more states continue to consider legislation during the 2022 session.

HRSA’s National Organizations of State and Local Officials Cooperative Agreement provided support for this blog post.


image of a calendar

March

  • National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
  • National Poison Prevention Week (20-26)
  • National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (10)
  • National Native American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (20)
  • National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (21-27)

Funding Opportunities

 

Health Workforce


Dental Faculty Loan Repayment Program – apply by March 22

Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) Program – apply by March 31

Area Health Education Centers Program – apply by April 6

State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) – apply by April 8

Health Workforce Research Center Cooperative Agreement Program – apply by April 14

HIV/AIDS Bureau


Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Part F Dental Reimbursement Program – apply by March 11

Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Part D Coordinated HIV Services and Access to Research for Women, Infants, Children, and Youth (WICY) Limited Existing Geographic Service Areas – apply by March 31

Telehealth Strategies to Maximize HIV Care – apply by April 8

Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Part B States/Territories Supplemental Grant Program – apply by May 9

Maternal and Child Health


Enhancing Systems of Care for Children with Medical Complexity (Coordinating Center) – apply by March 7

Enhancing Systems of Care for Children with Medical Complexity (Demonstration Projects) – apply by March 7

Maternal and Child Environmental Health Network (MCEHN) – apply by March 28

MCH Adolescent and Young Adult Health Research Network (AYAH-RN) – apply by March 29

Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs Research Network – apply by April 4

Autism Single Investigator Innovation Program (Autism-SIIP) – Autism Transitions Research Project (ATRP) – apply by April 4

Autism Single Investigator Innovation Program (Autism-SIIP) – Autism Longitudinal Data Project (ALDP) – apply by April 4

American Rescue Plan Act – Pediatric Mental Health Care Access – New Area Expansion – apply by April 5

Home Visiting Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network 3.0 (HV CoIIN 3.0) – apply by April 6

Autism CARES Act National Interdisciplinary Training Resource Center – apply by April 7

Catalyst for Infant Health Equity – apply by April 19

Infant-Toddler Court Program – National Resource Center – apply by May 4

Infant-Toddler Court Program – State Awards – apply by May 4

Early Childhood Developmental Health Systems: Evidence to Impact – apply by May 10

Federal Office of Rural Health Policy


Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program- Emergency Medical Services Competing Supplement – apply by March 4

Rural Health and Economic Development Analysis – apply by March 8

Rural Communities Opioid Response Program-Behavioral Health Care Technical Assistance – apply by March 9

Rural Public Health Workforce Training Network Program – apply by March 18

Small Health Care Provider Quality Improvement Program – apply by March 21

Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies Program – apply by April 5

Rural Communities Opioid Response Program – Behavioral Health Care Support – apply by April 19


View All Funding Opportunities