Tag: Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

HHS ASPR Project ECHO COVID-19 Clinical Rounds

HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response

  • Peer to Peer Sharing : HHS ASPR, Project ECHO, and the National Emerging Special Pathogens Training and Education Centers (NETEC) together support the COVID-19 Clinical Rounds, peer to peer real-time knowledge sharing sessions among front line clinicians on challenges and successes encountered treating COVID-19.
  • Audience of Multidisciplinary Clinicians: Physicians, nurses, and EMS clinicians participate in the Rounds, which continue to focus on critical care, emergency departments, and EMS.
  • Format of Sessions: Each Clinical Rounds session includes brief presentations from experienced expert clinicians complemented by discussion among expert panelists in response to Q&A from participants.
  • Sharing of Experience, Not Official Guidance: Rounds are intended to be the sharing of clinical experience rather than formal recommendations or guidance.
  • Evolving Clinical Round Topics: Topics of Clinical Rounds evolve to address the dynamic COVID-19 medical response.
  • Continuing Medical Education (CME) Credit: Participants can fill out a short survey and receive 1 hour of Continuing Medical Education credit instantly for each session.

HRSA | Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Update

HRSA | Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Update | May 13, 2021

What’s New

CDC and USDA Team Up for Vaccine Education Effort.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is providing $9.95 million in funding to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to improve vaccine confidence in rural areas.  NIFA will work with local partners through the Land Grant University System and its Cooperative Extension System, a nationwide educational network that provides non-formal higher education and learning to farming communities.

HRSA COVID-19 Coverage Assistance Fund.  The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will provide claims reimbursement at the national Medicare rate for eligible health care providers administering vaccines to underinsured individuals. This may be particularly helpful in rural communities given higher rates of uninsured and underinsured.

HHS/DoD National Emergency Tele-Critical Care Network.  A joint program of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is available at no cost to hospitals caring for COVID-19 patients and struggling with access to enough critical care physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists and other specialized clinical experts. Teams of critical care clinicians are available to deliver virtual care through lightweight telemedicine platforms, such as an app on a mobile device. Hear from participating clinicians and email to learn more and sign up.

HHS Coordinates New Effort to Vaccinate Migratory/Seasonal Workers in Agriculture.  The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) is working with several divisions, including the Food and Drug Administration and the Health Resources and Services Administration to boost vaccination rates in a workforce often at heightened risk of COVID-19 infection.

RAND/RWJF Report:  COVID-19 and the Experiences of Populations at Greater Risk.  The RAND Corporation joined with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to examine the way people view health issues. Researchers asked people in the United States about their experiences related to the pandemic, and their views on issues such as freedom, racism, and the role of government.


COVID-19 Resources

New: FCC Emergency Broadband Benefit ProgramThe Federal Communications Commission (FCC) created this temporary program to help eligible individuals and households afford internet service during the pandemic. Eligible households can enroll through an approved broadband service provider or by visiting GetEmergencyBroadband.org.  The program will end when the fund runs out of money, or six months after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the COVID-19 health emergency, whichever is sooner.

We Can Do This: COVID-19 Public Education Campaign.  The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services announced a national effort to help community partners promote COVID-19 vaccine confidence.  The campaign includes educational materials targeted to specific audiences and seeks volunteers for the COVID-19 Community CorpsNew: The Rural Communities Toolkit provides resources for building vaccine confidence.  

Volunteer to Administer COVID-19 Vaccines.  The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has expanded its definition of persons authorized to give the vaccine.  These include, among others, current and retired traditional and non-traditional health care professionals, and students in health care programs.

HHS Facts About COVID Care for the Uninsured. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) helps uninsured individuals find no-cost COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccines.  The HRSA Uninsured Program provides claims reimbursement to health care providers generally at Medicare rates for testing, treating, and administering vaccines to uninsured individuals, including undocumented immigrants.  There are at-a-glance fact sheets for providers and for patients in English and Spanish.

Federal Office of Rural Health Policy FAQs for COVID-19.  A set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) from our grantees and stakeholders.  NewResources for Rural Health Clinics.

COVID-19 FAQs and Funding for HRSA Programs. Find COVID-19-related funding and frequently asked questions for programs administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

CARES Act Provider Relief Fund Frequently Asked Questions.  Includes information on terms and conditions, attestation, reporting and auditing requirements, general and targeted distributions, and how to report capital equipment purchases.

CDC COVID-19 Updates.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides daily updates and guidance, including a section specific to rural health care, a vaccine locator by state, and COVID-19 Vaccination Trainings for new and experienced providers.  NewUpdated Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 vaccination, including new guidance for use in adolescents 12 and older.

CMS Coronavirus Partner Resources.  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) provides information for providers, health plans, state Medicaid programs, and Children’s Health Insurance Programs and holds regular stakeholder calls to provide updates.

HHS Coronavirus Data Hub.  The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) website includes estimated and reported hospital capacity by state, with numbers updated daily.

NIH Community Engagement Alliance Against  COVID-19 Disparities.  The National Institutes of Health (NIH) created a collection of online resources with information for communities hit hardest by the pandemic, such as African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and American Indian/Alaska Natives.

COVID-19 Data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The site provides access to demographic and economic data, including state and local data on at-risk populations, poverty, health insurance coverage, and employment.

ATTC Network COVID-19 Resources for Addictions Treatment. The Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC) Network was established in 1993 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.  The online catalog of COVID-related resources includes regularly-updated guidance and trainings for professionals in the field.

GHPC’s Collection of Rural Health Strategies for COVID-19.  The FORHP-supported Georgia Health Policy Center (GHPC) provides reports, guidance, and innovative strategies gleaned from their technical assistance and peer learning sessions with FORHP grantees.  New: The Impact of Rural Residence on COVID-19 Disparities.

Confirmed COVID-19 Cases, Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Counties.  The RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis provides up-to-date data on rural and urban confirmed cases throughout the United States.  An animated map shows the progression of cases beginning March 26, 2020 to the present.

Rural Response to Coronavirus Disease 2019.  The Rural Health Information Hub has a compendium of rural-specific activities and guidelines, including Rural Healthcare Surge Readiness, a tool with resources for responding to a local surge in cases.

SAMHSA Training and Technical Assistance Related to COVID-19.  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) created this list of resources, tools, and trainings for behavioral health and recovery providers.

Mobilizing Health Care Workforce via Telehealth.  ProviderBridge.org was created by the Federation of State Medical Boards through the CARES Act and the FORHP-supported Licensure Portability Program. The site provides up-to-date information on emergency regulation and licensing by state as well as a provider portal to connect volunteer health care professionals to state agencies and health care entities.

Online Resource for Licensure of Health Professionals.  Created by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards, the site provides up-to-date information on emergency regulation and licensing in each state for psychologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists assistants, and social workers. 


Funding and Opportunities

Nurse Corps Scholarship Program – extended to May 26. The Nurse Corps Scholarship Program provides financial support to students enrolled in nursing degree programs in exchange for a commitment to serve in high-need areas across the country. This year, Nurse Corps has additional funding for qualified nursing students that includes tuition, fees, other reasonable educational costs, and a monthly living stipend.

DOJ National Tribal Clearinghouse on Sexual Assault – June 3. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will make one award for $980,000 to an organization that can provide nationwide training and technical assistance for response to sexual assault crimes and services for victims in American Indian/Alaska Native communities.

DOJ Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Site-Based Program – June 7. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will make 110 awards with total funding of $163 million to support state, local, tribal, and territorial response to use of illicit substances.  A subcategory of the program will award up to $600,000 each for projects in rural areas, small counties, and tribal areas with a population of fewer than 100,000 for a federally recognized tribe.

HRSA Rural Northern Border Region Planning Program – June 14. The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) will make approximately four awards of up to $190,000 each to support health care needs in underserved rural communities of the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) service area.

DOJ Second Chance Act Youth Offender Reentry Program – June 15.  The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will make 13 awards of up to $750,000 each to support youth returning to their communities from correctional facilities.  The program encourages collaboration between state agencies, local government, and community- and faith-based organizations.  Separately, the DOJ will make approximately 15 awards of up to $750,000 each for the Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Program – June 15.

USDA Local Food Promotion Program – June 21.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will make grants of up to $200,000 each for planning grants, and up to $750,000 for implementation grants.  Grant recipients will create or expand projects that increase the availability of locally produced food.

DOJ Strategies to Support Children Exposed to Violence – June 22.  The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) estimates eight awards with total investment of $7 million to support community-level strategies for children exposed to violence.  Priority consideration will be given to applications promoting civil rights, building trust between law enforcement and the community, and that are intended to benefit high poverty areas.

HUD Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS – July 6.  The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will make 18 awards of up to $2.25 million each for community projects that provide housing for people with HIV/AIDS in underserved areas. Rural populations are among those of interest for ensuring health equity. Also known as Housing as an Intervention to Fight AIDS, the program aims to create housing and service models that can be replicated in other similar localities.


Rural Health Research

Research in this section is provided by the HRSA/FORHP-supported Rural Health Research Gateway.  Sign up to receive alerts when new publications become available. 

Medicare-Paid Naloxone: Trends in Nonmetropolitan and Metropolitan Areas.  Previous research has found that Medicare paid for an increasing share of naloxone prescriptions from 2016 to 2018 and pays for 1/3 of all naloxone dispensed from retail pharmacies as of 2018.  This brief from the Rural and Underserved Health Research Center examines trends in Medicare-paid naloxone dispensing rates in nonmetropolitan versus metropolitan areas from 2014 to 2018.


Policy Updates

Visit the FORHP Policy page to see all recent updates and send questions to ruralpolicy@hrsa.gov.

Request for Information on Advancing Equity and Support for Underserved Communities – Comments due July 6.  The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) seeks input from a broad array of stakeholders in the public, private, advocacy, not-for-profit, and philanthropic sectors, including State, local, Tribal, and territorial areas, on available methods, approaches, and tools that the Government can use to promote equity and support underserved communities.

Increased Medicare payment for COVID-19 monoclonal antibody infusions.  The Centers and Medicare & Medicaid Service (CMS) announced last week an increase in the national average payment rate for administering monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19 from $310 to $450 for most health care settings.  Additionally, they have established a higher national payment rate of $750 for monoclonal antibody treatments administered in a beneficiary’s home, including the beneficiary’s permanent residence or temporary lodging.  CMS is updating its COVID-19 toolkits for providers, states, and insurers to reflect this change.

Medicare Guidance on Interoperability Rule Requirements for Hospitals.   This interpretive guidance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) outlines the Conditions of Participation (CoPs) requiring hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) to send electronic patient event notifications of a patient’s admission, discharge, and/or transfer to another healthcare facility or to another community provider or practitioner, which are effective as of May 1, 2021.  These CoPs were finalized in the May 2020 Interoperability and Patient Access Final Rule and are addressed in the recently released Interoperability Final Rule FAQs.

Medicare Waiver for Ambulance Treatment in Place.  This Fact Sheet describes the circumstances in which ground ambulance services may be reimbursed by Medicare for treatment provided in place because a patient was not able to be transported to a destination permitted under Medicare regulations due to community-wide emergency medical service (EMS) protocols due to the COVID-19 PHE.  This waiver is retroactively effective to March 1, 2020.


Learning Events and Technical Assistance

ONDCP Workshop for SUD: Rural Faith-Based Leaders – Thursday, May 13 at 1:00 pm ET.  The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) will hold a second session (90 minutes) in its series for faith leaders in rural areas.  The workshops are meant to increase understanding of substance use disorder (SUD) and provide guidance on connecting faith to prevention, treatment, and recovery.  If you would like to attend, please RSVP to Betty-Ann Bryce, Special Advisor for Rural Affairs at MBX.ONDCP.RuralAffairs@ondcp.eop.gov with your name, title, organization, state/county, and contact information/email address. The Rural Health Information Hub has a recording of the first workshop for faith leaders in its Community Toolbox for SUD.

MATRC: Answering Questions About Telehealth and Telemental Health – Friday, May 14 at 12:00 pm ET.  The Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center (MATRC) holds a live, two-hour event to answer questions about the basics.  The MATRC is one of 14 FORHP-Supported Telehealth Resource Centers.  This is a recurring session taking place every other Friday from 12:00 to 2:00 pm ET.

HRSA Telehealth Series: Learn About Licensure Compacts – Monday, May 17 at 12:30 pm ET.  Experts from the National Center for Interstate Compacts will discuss agreements for doctors, nurses, psychologists and other clinicians to see patients across state lines via telehealth.

SBIRT for SUD Native American Communities – Tuesday, May 18 at 11:00 am ET.  Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is a process to quickly assess substance use disorder (SUD) in a person and move them toward more extensive treatment.  This hour-long session is hosted by the National American Indian & Alaska Native Prevention Technology Transfer Center.

AgriSafe: Zoonotic Disease and Pregnancy – Wednesday, May 19 at 1:00 pm ET.  The AgriSafe Network will hold a one-hour session to explain the risk that diseases transmitted between farm animals and humans pose to pregnant women.

Overcoming Mental Health Stigma in Rural Communities – Wednesday, May 19 at 2:00 pm ET.  The Mental Health Technology Transfer Center Network will host a one-hour workshop to discuss what influences negative attitudes toward mental health and techniques to overcome various forms of stigma.

Assessment of Opioid Misuse Risk Among Farmers in the Clinical Setting – Friday, May 21 at 1:00 pm ET. The AgriSafe Network will host an hour-long webinar to provide insight on misuse risk factors and warning signs among farmers.

SAMHSA Connecting Prevention Specialists to Native Communities – Friday, May 21 at 1:00 pm ET.  The Tribal Training and Technical Assistance Center at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) holds virtual trainings to cover topics such as crisis response, youth engagement, and sexual assault awareness.  Trainings will take place on the third Friday of each month.


Resource of the Week

Successful COVID-19 Messaging in Rural CommunitiesIn this 30-minute video, the state leadership in West Virginia present insight from their research and vaccine outreach campaign.


Approaching Deadlines

CDC Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention and Surveillance – extended to May 14 (from April 25)

Park and Recreation Mentorship Grants for Rural Youth Impacted by Opioids – May 15

ARC Investments Supporting Partnerships/Recovery Ecosystems – Letters of Intent May 17

CDC Drug Free Communities – extended to May 17 (from May 10)

Cross-Jurisdictional Sharing in Public Health: Small Grants Program – May 17

EPA Technical Assistance for Wastewater Treatment – May 17

SAMHSA Overdose Treatment for Use by First Responders – May 17

HRSA Expanding Community-Based Workforce for COVID-19 Vaccine Outreach – May 18

Comments Requested:  Proposed Changes to the Census Bureau Definition of Urban – May 20

CMS Primary Care First Model Cohort 2 – extended to May 21 (from April 30)

CDC Community Health Workers for COVID Response – May 24

New Sites for National Health Service Corps (NHSC) – May 25

Native American Agriculture Fund Grants for Youth – May 25

Nurse Corps Scholarship Program – extended to May 26

ASPR TRACIE Newsletter April 2021

From HHS ASPR TRACIE Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Information Gateway

This issue of The Express highlights the following new/updated resources:

Please continue to access our Novel Coronavirus Resources Page, the National Institutes of Health Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Treatment Guidelines, and CDC’s Coronavirus webpage, and reach out if you need technical assistance (TA).

New: COVID-19 and the Changing Healthcare Delivery Landscape (Speaker Series)
Paul Biddinger, MD, FACEP, Medical Director, Emergency Preparedness, Mass General Brigham; Mark Jarrett, MD, MBA, MS, Chief Quality Officer, SVP & Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Northwell Health; and Meghan Treber, MS, ICF TRACIE Program Director, HHS ASPR highlight the impact of COVID-19 on healthcare delivery (e.g., supply chain, patients delaying emergency care, the delay of elective procedures, and financial impacts to the healthcare system) in this brief recording. Access the rest of the Healthcare Operations during the COVID-19 Pandemic speaker series for more information.
Updated: Healthcare Delivery Impacts Tip Sheet and Summary Document
This updated tip sheet describes the short- and long-term effects of COVID-19 related community mitigation measures on the healthcare system, including morbidity and mortality from chronic health conditions and lack of access. The accompanying summary document can help healthcare system planners prepare to mitigate these potential healthcare delivery impacts.
New: Acute Care Delivery at Home Tip Sheet
Some healthcare providers and systems have been providing hospital-level care in patient’s homes for years; others have implemented acute care delivery at home models in response to overcrowding at hospitals due to COVID-19. This tip sheet provides an overview of characteristics of various types of acute care delivery at home programs to help healthcare providers better understand this care model.
Issue 12: COVID-19 and Healthcare Professional Stress and Resilience
The articles in Issue 12 of The Exchange focus on three categories: understanding acute and chronic stressors in the healthcare worker population, identifying at-risk employees, and promising practices in building resilience. Be on the lookout for Issue 13, which will focus on the significant contributions made by supportive care providers and healthcare engineering representatives during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mind Over Matter: Strategies to Help Combat the Coronavirus Blues
This document (created by the COVID-19 Schools Task Force, FEMA Region VII, and HHS Region 7) summarizes the contents of the Mind Over Matter Resource Guide, which can be used to support messaging for college and university campus communities to help combat COVID-19 fatigue and promote general wellness, both during and after the pandemic.
UCSD Health Medical Cyber Disaster Preparedness Study
The University of California San Diego (UCSD) is interested in better understanding how cybersecurity and cyber attacks impact our hospital systems and how we can better prepare in the future. This brief survey will provide a basic understanding of where we stand nationally on healthcare cyber preparedness. Your responses will be kept confidential and all data will be deidentified and reported in FEMA regions. The survey should take approximately five minutes to complete. You will receive no compensation for your participation and participation in this research is voluntary. The principal investigator of this study can be contacted at:

 

Dr. Christian Dameff, MD

University of California San Diego

Department of Emergency Medicine

200 W. Arbor Dr. #8676

San Diego, CA 92103

 

COVID-19 Clinical Rounds Peer-to-Peer Virtual Communities of Practice are a collaborative effort between ASPR, the National Emerging Special Pathogen Training and Education Center (NETEC), and Project ECHO. These interactive virtual learning sessions aim to create a peer-to-peer learning network where clinicians from the U.S. and abroad who have experience treating patients with COVID-19 share their challenges and successes; a generous amount of time for participant Q & A is also provided. These webinar topics are covered every week:

  1. EMS: Patient Care and Operations (Mondays, 12:00-1:00 PM ET)
  2. Critical Care: Lifesaving Treatment and Clinical Operations (Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00 PM ET)
  3. Emergency Department: Patient Care and Clinical Operations (Thursdays, 12:00-1:00 PM ET)

Access previous webinars and special topic sessions and sign up today to receive information on upcoming events.

ASPR | The Exchange | COVID-19 December Update #2

From the US Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR)

Download The Exchange Newsletter PDF

This issue of The Express highlights the following new/updated resources:

Please continue to access our Novel Coronavirus Resources Page and CDC’s Coronavirus webpage and reach out if you need technical assistance (TA).

New! The Exchange, Issue 12–Special Edition: COVID-19 and Healthcare Professional Stress and ResilienceIn the months that have passed since a pandemic was declared, we have witnessed our nation’s healthcare providers working tirelessly to care for patients, with surges testing their facilities’ and their own personal resilience. This kind of work is grueling and can take a significant toll on physical and mental health. The resources developed for/highlighted in this issue can help individuals identify and address risk and the negative mental health effects of stress in themselves, their colleagues, and their staff.New: Crisis Standards of Care and COVID-19: What’s Working and What Isn’t?Speakers in this webinar discussed clinical consultation versus triage support, systems-level information sharing, coalition-level coordination activities, and recent publications/resources to help with planning efforts. Access those and the set of resources referenced during the webinar in our COVID-19 Crisis Standards of Care Resource Collection.New: Support for Overstretched Clinicians During the Ongoing PandemicIn this video, Dr. Eileen Barrett, Director of Continuous Medical Education and Graduate Medical Education Wellness Initiatives from the University of New Mexico, discusses proactive programs available to support staff during stressful times. Check out the related article in Issue 12 of The Exchange and the entire COVID-19 Healthcare Professional Stress and Resilience speaker series.New: Emergency Responder Self-Care Plan: Behavioral Health PPETaking care of oneself is difficult during a pandemic, where responders experience additional stressors related to home and personal circumstances as well as those brought on by challenging mission demands. This fillable form includes steps people can take to stay healthy and fit for duty while caring for others. The form can be completed before each mission/event and keep handy to help apply coping strategies when things get tough.New: Lessons Learned by a COVID-19 Designated HospitalThe speakers in this brief video share lessons learned when The University Hospital of Brooklyn, the primary teaching hospital for the State University of New York Downstate Health Sciences University, became the only COVID-19 designated hospital in Brooklyn.New: Armed Intruder/Active Shooter Training Module

This free short training module provides healthcare providers and other staff with an overview of strategies and protocols for an armed intruder/active shooter incident. Speakers describe the “run-hide-fight” and “secure-preserve-fight” approaches and share “Stop the Bleed” basics, a video for how to apply a tourniquet, and resources for managing stress. Though this training was created by the Mount Sinai Health System, it is applicable to other healthcare providers and healthcare systems.

 

COVID-19 Clinical Rounds Peer-to-Peer Virtual Communities of Practice are a collaborative effort between ASPR, the National Emerging Special Pathogen Training and Education Center (NETEC), and Project ECHO. These interactive virtual learning sessions aim to create a peer-to-peer learning network where clinicians from the U.S. and abroad who have experience treating patients with COVID-19 share their challenges and successes; a generous amount of time for participant Q & A is also provided. These webinar topics are covered every week:

  • EMS: Patient Care and Operations (Mondays, 12:00-1:00 PM ET)
  • Critical Care: Lifesaving Treatment and Clinical Operations (Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00 PM ET)
  • Emergency Department: Patient Care and Clinical Operations (Thursdays, 12:00-1:00 PM ET)

Access previous webinars and sign up today to receive information on upcoming webinars.

 

The Healthcare & Public Health Sector Partnership led by ASPR’s Division of Critical Infrastructure Protection is actively engaged in responding to COVID-19. Register here to receive regular response bulletins.

WaPo | Pandemic is pushing America’s 911 system to ‘breaking point’

From the Washington Post by William Wan on December 3, 2020

Pandemic is pushing America’s 911 system to ‘breaking point,’ ambulance operators say
Surging demand, financial strain are leaving ambulance teams exhausted and running out of funds

The coronavirus pandemic has pushed America’s 911 system and emergency responders to a “breaking point,” with ambulance operators exhausted and their services financially strained, according to the group that represents them.

The situation since the novel coronavirus struck last winter has grown so dire that the American Ambulance Association recently begged the Department of Health and Human Services for $2.6 billion in emergency funding.

Continue Reading

The Hill | 911 system at ‘breaking point,’ AAA Says

From The Hill by Zack Budryk on December 3, 2020

911 system at ‘breaking point,’ American Ambulance Association says

The American Ambulance Association has warned that the emergency response system has reached a “breaking point” as the coronavirus rages across the country in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services.

“The 911 emergency medical system throughout the United States is at a breaking point,” Aarron Reinert, the president of the American Ambulance Association, said in the Nov. 25 letter, obtained by The Hill. “Without additional relief, it seems likely to break, even as we enter the third surge of the virus in the Mid-West and West.”

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Rural Healthcare Grants from HRSA FORH

From the HRSA Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

The Health Resources and Services Administration’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy has released the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the Rural Health Care Services Outreach Program (Outreach) (HRSA-21-027).  HRSA plans to award 60 grants to rural communities as part of this funding opportunity.

Review the Funding Opportunity

The Outreach Program administered by HRSA’s FORHP focuses on expanding the delivery of health care services to include new and enhanced services exclusively in rural communities. Applicants are required to deliver health care services through a consortium of at least three health care provider organizations, use an evidence-based or promising practice model to inform their approach, and demonstrate health outcomes and sustainability by the end of the four-year performance period.

In addition to funding Outreach programs through the regular Outreach track, in FY 21, FORHP will also afford applicants a unique opportunity to take part in a national effort that targets rural health disparities through a second track called the “Healthy Rural Hometown Initiative.” This initiative was created through the HHS Rural Task Force and driven by findings from a report published by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that noted that the number of preventable death from the five leading cause of death in rural areas was higher than those in urban areas. Unfortunately, these findings echo earlier CDC research on the rural disparities in avoidable or excess death in 2017.

The Healthy Rural Hometown Initiative (HRHI) is an effort that seeks to address the underlying factors that are driving growing rural health disparities related to the five leading causes of avoidable death (heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury/substance use, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke). The goal of the HRHI track is to demonstrate the collective impact of projects that better manage conditions, address risk factors and focus on prevention that relate to the leading causes of death in rural communities. This track should be a good fit for applicants who want to identify and bridge the gap between the social determinants of health and other systemic issues that contribute to achieving health equity with regards to excess death in rural communities. Furthermore, this is a rural-specific and community-based approach to addressing these disparities and represents a new and more targeted strategy given the enduring health gaps between rural and urban populations.

Of the successful 60 award recipients, HRSA aims to award approximately 45 to regular Outreach track applicants and at least 15 to HRHI applicants for a ceiling amount of up to $200,000 (Regular Outreach) or $250,000 (HRHI) total cost (includes both direct and indirect, facilities and administrative costs) per year (and final numbers will be subject to how applicants score). 

The HRHI is part of an ongoing multi-year effort by FORHP to highlight how rural community health efforts can improve health at the local level. We are encouraging rural health stakeholders to join us in this broader effort while also taking on the challenge of addressing these long-standing rural health disparities related to the five leading causes of death.    

NOTE: The eligibility criteria for this program has changed and now includes all domestic public and private, nonprofit and for-profit entities with demonstrated experience serving, or the capacity to serve, rural underserved populations. Urban-based organizations applying as the lead applicant should ensure there is a high degree of rural control in the project. The applicant organization must represent a network that includes at least three or more health care provider organizations and, at least 66% (or two-thirds) of consortium members must be located in a HRSA-designated rural area.

Please review the guidance in its entirety for more information about eligibility criteria and specific program requirements. Visit www.grants.gov to review the Outreach NOFO and apply. Learn about the Outreach Program.

A webinar for applicants is scheduled on Tuesday October 13, from 3-4:30 p.m., EST. A recording will be made available for those who cannot attend.

For more information about this funding opportunity, contact the Program Coordinator, Alexa Ofori, at RuralOutreachProgram@hrsa.gov.

HHS Funding Portal Open for Tranche 3

The online portal for ambulance service providers and suppliers to submit applications for additional funding under the HHS Provider Relief Fund is now open.

Access Portal Now

Apply Soon for Funds!

While providers and suppliers have until November 6 to apply for funding, we strongly recommend that AAA members submit applications as soon as you are prepared as funding is on a first-come, first-served basis. HHS allocated a total of $20 billion for this round of funding.

Attend Today’s AAA Funding Webinar

The AAA will be hosting a webinar today, Monday, October 5, at 11:00 am (eastern), on how to apply for the funds and what information you will need in applying.

Register for the Webinar

Thank You AAA Members!

As reported by the AAA on October 1, the additional funds are a direct result of the efforts of the AAA and our members and we thank all of you who reached out to the White House or your members of Congress advocating for the funds.

 

 

 

Newsmax | Will Trump Get Ambulance Services Needed Pay From Government?

By John Gizzi via Newsmax.com

Although President Donald Trump promised Newsmax earlier this month that he would “certainly look into it,” several ambulance professionals and their representatives have since told us they have seen none of the operating funds in question from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Continue Reading on Newsmax.com

Department of Health and Human Services Extends Deadline to Apply for Provider Relief Funds

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced that it would be extending the deadline for health care providers to apply to receive general distribution funding from the HHS Provider Relief Fund.  The deadline to apply for these funds was previously June 3, 2020.

Relevant Background

On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).  As part of that Act, Congress allocated $100 billion to the creation of a “CARES Act Provider Relief Fund,” which will be used to support hospitals and other healthcare providers on the front lines of the nation’s coronavirus response.  An additional $75 billion was allocated as part of the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, bringing the total “Provider Relief Fund” up to $175 billion.  This $175 billion will be distributed to health care providers and suppliers to fund healthcare-related expenses or to offset lost revenue attributable to COVID-10.

HHS ultimately elected to allocate these funds through a $50 billion “general allocation,” and multiple smaller “targeted allocations.”

Under its general allocation program, HHS intended to provide health care providers with funds roughly equal to 2% of the provider’s 2018 “net patient revenue,” i.e., the provider’s total revenues from patient care minus provisions for bad debt, contractual write-offs, and certain other adjustments.   This general allocation was made in two tranches, with the first tranche being distributed to all providers in mid-April.  This first tranche was made based on provider’s 2019 Medicare revenues.  As a result, any provider that received payments from the Medicare Fee-for-Service Program in 2019 automatically received an initial relief payment.  However, HHS required providers to submit an application to receive relief funding as part of the second tranche.  The deadline for applying for the second tranche of relief funding was June 3, 2020.

Scope of New Extension

 HHS indicated that the new extension is limited to health care providers that missed the June 3, 2020 deadline to apply for the second tranche of relief funding.  The extension also applies to providers that were ineligible for the first tranche of relief funding due to a recent change of ownership.  The specific situations that HHS indicated would meet the requirements for the extension include:

  • Health care providers who were ineligible for the first tranche of relief funding because: (1) they underwent a change in ownership in calendar year 2019 or 2020 under Medicare Part A and (2) did not have Medicare Fee-for-Service revenues in calendar year 2019;
  • Health care providers who received a payment in the first tranche of funding but: (1) missed the June 3, 2020 deadline to submit revenue information or (2) did not receive funds in the first tranche that total approximately 2% of their net patient revenue; or
  • Health care providers who received a payment in the first tranche of funding, but who ultimately elected to refund that payment (e.g., because they did not believe they met the eligibility requirements), and who are now interested in reapplying.

Health care providers that meet one of the requirements listed above will have until August 28, 2020 to submit an application for additional relief funds.  This deadline aligns with the extended deadline for other eligible Phase 2 providers, such as Medicaid, Medicaid Managed Care, CHIP, and dental providers.

Applications should be submitted through the CARES Provider Relief Fund webpage, which can be found at: https://cares.linkhealth.com/#/.

HHS Report Calls for Congressional Action to Combat Surprise Billing

From HHS.gov on July 29, 2020

HHS Secretary’s Report Calls for Congressional Action to Combat Surprise Billing and Promote Price Transparency

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the HHS Secretary’s Report on Addressing Surprise Billing. The report, called for in Section 7 of President Trump’s Executive Order 13877, Improving Price and Quality Transparency in American Healthcare to Put Patients First, outlines critical steps, including Congressional action, to implement the Administration’s principles on surprise billing. Sound surprise billing legislation will not only protect patients but will encourage a fairer, more transparent, patient-centered healthcare system that benefits all Americans.

“Americans have the right to know what a healthcare service is going to cost before they receive it,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “President Trump and his administration have done their part to deliver historic transparency around the prices of many procedures. Now it’s time for Congress to do what we all agree is necessary: combat surprise billing with an approach that puts patients in control and benefits all Americans.”

Surprise medical billing is a widespread and costly problem in the United States, and the need to address it has been highlighted during the Public Health Emergency (PHE) presented by COVID-19. Research shows that 41 percent of insured adults nationwide were surprised by a medical bill in the past two years alone, and that two thirds of adults worry about their ability to afford an unexpected medical bill.  At a time when Americans are increasingly seeking medical care, practices such as surprise billing leave many patients vulnerable to the financial burdens presented by a nationwide pandemic.

HHS has taken regulatory and administrative action to increase price transparency permanently. On June 24, 2019, President Trump signed Executive Order 13877. Following direction from this Executive Order, HHS published two rules supporting the Administration’s mission to improve accessibility of healthcare price information to help patients make informed decisions about their use of healthcare services. The first, poised to go into effect January 1, 2021, requires hospitals operating in the United States to establish, update, and make public, at least annually, a list of their standard charges for the items and services that they provide. The second companion proposed rule would demand similar transparency from most group health plans and issuers of health insurance coverage within both the individual and group markets.

To supplement this progress, Congress must take additional action to build on the achievements of the Administration to eliminate the threat of surprise billing once and for all. This should be accomplished with the following principles in mind, as laid out by the Trump Administration on May 9th, 2019:

  • Patients receiving emergency care should not be forced to shoulder extra costs billed by a care provider but not covered by their insurer;
  • Patients receiving scheduled care should have information about whether providers are in or out of their network and what costs they may face;
  • Patients should not receive surprise bills from out-of-network providers they did not choose; and
  • Federal healthcare expenditures should not increase.

If done swiftly, a remarkable burden will be lifted from the shoulders of millions of Americans. By building on the foundation placed by Executive Order 13877, there is an opportunity to fill the remaining gaps and solve comprehensively a longstanding flaw, equivalent to price-gouging, within our healthcare industry.