Tag: Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

HHS Provides More Details on Phase 4 and Rural Provider Relief Fund Distribution

As previously reported by the AAA, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced that it will open on September 29, Phase 4 of the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) to allocate $17 billion dollars for COVID-19 relief. In addition, it will provide $8.5 billion specifically for rural providers. On September 15, HHS held a stakeholder call on the PRF in which the agency provided more details on the distribution.

The application process will remain open for 4 weeks. Providers will be able to use the funding through December 31, 2022.  The Administration’s goal is to release the rural funds before Thanksgiving and the Phase four funds by mid-December 2021. The agency indicated it has additional funding it is holding back to reimburse for the uncompensated care fund for which providers and suppliers can still apply.

The AAA has been advocating relentlessly for the Administration to open a fourth phase of funding and support rural providers and suppliers.  As described below, these phases of funding will rely upon data from Medicare, Medicaid, and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  It is important that all AAA members who qualify not only submit applications, but also make sure that you have appropriately submitted claims to these programs, including when allowed, claims under the ground ambulance treatment in place waiver. We strongly recommend that all AAA members apply for funding.

Phase 4 Funding

The Phase 4 PRF methodology and application will primarily follow the same rules set forth for Phase 3.  It will apply for Q2 2020 through Q1 2021.  The funding will be available for the same broad set of providers and suppliers that were eligible under Phase 3.

Phase 4 will have two components.  The Acting Administrator of HRSA has explained that 75 percent of the funding for Phase 4 will be determined based on a provider’s lost revenues and expenses that the provider submits through the application process.  HRSA will calculate the amount awarded based on the number of applications received.  However, it will establish a base for all providers and then adjust that base up for medium and small providers who have lower volumes over which to spread their costs.  The determination of provider size will be based on patient revenues.

The second component of Phase 4 funding will allocate 25 percent for bonus payments to providers serving Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP patients.  The final amounts awarded will be determined based on the volume of services provided to these patient populations.

The Acting Administrator also noted that once again providers who have higher values compared to their peer group will be flagged and may have the amount they receive capped or may not receive any funding.  There will be a reconsideration process for these providers as well.

Rural Funding

In addition to Phase 4, HRSA will provide rural-specific relief to providers and suppliers serving rural patients.  The determination of whether a provider qualifies will be based on the patient’s location, not that of the providers.  HRSA will use Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP data to calculate the payment, so the application process will be simplified and providers required to submit less information.  The amounts will be determine based on the number of patients served and the number of applicants.

Additional Relief

The Acting Administrator also indicated that HRSA will provide a 60-day grace period for those providers who received funds already and are required to report if they cannot meet the current reporting deadline.  She also noted that HRSA is establishing a reconsideration process for Phase 3 as well.  Details will be available on the HRSA website.

Additional Information

HRSA will be posting information on its website.  It will also host two webinars on September 30 and October 5 to provide more information about how providers can apply to these programs.

HHS: Availability of Add’l $25.5 Billion in COVID-19 Provider Funding

HHS Announces the Availability of $25.5 Billion in COVID-19 Provider Funding

This morning the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it will be making $25.5 billion in new funding available for healthcare providers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding, available through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will include $8.5 billion in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) resources for providers who serve rural Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or Medicare patients, and an additional $17 billion for Provider Relief Fund (PRF) Phase 4 for a broad range of providers who can document revenue loss and expenses associated with the pandemic.

Getting additional financial relief for ground ambulance service providers who are still struggling from the lost revenue and increased expenditures resulting from being on the frontlines of responding to the pandemic has been a top priority for the AAA. The AAA along with the International Association of Fire Chiefs, International Association of Firefighters, National Associations of EMTs and National Volunteer Fire Association have continually pressed HHS to release the remaining funds. We strongly encourage all AAA members to submit an application regardless of whether you have applied for previous rounds of funding.

Consistent with the requirements included in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2020, PRF Phase 4 payments will be based on providers’ lost revenues and expenditures between July 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021 (Q3 – Q4 2020 and Q1 2021). The PRF Phase 4 will reimburse smaller providers, who tend to operate on thin margins and often serve vulnerable or isolated communities, for their lost revenues and COVID-19 expenses at a higher rate compared to larger providers. PRF Phase 4 will also include bonus payments for providers who serve Medicaid, CHIP, and/or Medicare patients, who tend to be lower- income and have greater and more complex medical needs. HRSA will price these bonus payments at the generally higher Medicare rates to ensure equity for those serving low-income children, pregnant women, people with disabilities, and seniors.

Consistent with the focus of the ARPA, HRSA will make ARPA rural payments to providers based on the amount of Medicaid, CHIP, and/or Medicare services they provide to patients who live in rural areas as defined by the HHS Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. As rural providers serve a disproportionate number of Medicaid and CHIP patients who often have disproportionately greater and more complex medical needs, many rural communities have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. Accordingly, ARP rural payments will also generally be based on Medicare reimbursement rates.

In the announcement, HHS stated that it would “expedite and streamline” the application process and minimize administrative burdens, providers will apply for both programs in a single application. HRSA will use existing Medicaid, CHIP and Medicare claims data in calculating payments. The application portal will open on September 29, 2021. HHS has stated that to ensure that these provider relief funds are used for patient care, PRF recipients will be required to notify the HHS Secretary of any merger with, or acquisition of, another health care provider during the period in which they can use the payments. They have stated that providers who report a merger or acquisition may be more likely to be audited to confirm their funds were used for coronavirus-related costs.

To promote transparency in the PRF program, HHS also released detailed information about the methodology utilized to calculate PRF Phase 3 payments. Providers who believe their PRF Phase 3 payment was not calculated correctly according to this methodology will now have an opportunity to request a reconsideration. HHS announced that additional details on the PRF Phase 3 reconsideration process will be released at a later date.

In addition, many of you attended the PRF Reporting Q&A AAA webinar yesterday with Asbel Montes, Brian Werfel, and Scott Moore.  HHS has acknowledged the challenges facing many providers across the country due to recent natural disasters and the Delta variant, HHS announced a final 60-day grace period to help providers come into compliance with their PRF Reporting requirements if they fail to meet the deadline on September 30, 2021. While the deadlines to use funds and the Reporting Time Period will not change, HHS will not initiate collection activities or similar enforcement actions for non-compliant providers during this grace period.

Members can access more information about eligibility requirements, the documents and information providers will need to complete their application, and the application process for PRF Phase 4 and ARP Rural payments by visiting the HRSA website.

The combined application for American Rescue Plan rural funding and Provider Relief Fund Phase 4 will open on September 29, 2021.  Like we have done with the previous rounds of HHS funding, we encourage all ambulance service providers to submit an application for this Phase 4 funding.  If you have questions regarding this or any COVID-19 related questions, please contact hello@ambulance.org.

HHS/ASPR Project ECHO COVID-19 Clinical Rounds

From HHS/ASPR – Project ECHO COVID Clinical Rounds

COVID-19 CLINICAL ROUNDS
A Peer-to-Peer Virtual Community of Practice

We Are Back!
Thank you for your support in the HHS/ASPR – Project ECHO COVID Clinical Rounds.To sign up for emails regarding upcoming HHS/ASPR COVID-19 sessions, please click here!
You will be redirected to a page that will allow you to opt into an email list serve that will keep you up to date with our weekly sessions. 

Resources from past sessions are below

*Regional Ebola and Other Special Pathogen Treatment Centers
Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston, Massachusetts)
New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation/HHC Bellevue Hospital Center (New York City, New York)
Johns Hopkins Hospital (Baltimore, Maryland)
Emory University Hospital and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta/Egleston Children’s Hospital (Atlanta, Georgia)
University of Minnesota Medical Center (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (Galveston, Texas)
Nebraska Medicine – Nebraska Medical Center (Omaha, Nebraska)
Denver Health Medical Center (Denver, Colorado)
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (Los Angeles, California)
Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children’s Hospital (Spokane, Washington)
Resources

AAMC COVID-19 Clinical Guidance Repository:
https://www.aamc.org/covid-19-clinical-guidance-repository

ASPR’s Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange (TRACIE) Novel Coronavirus Resources:
https://asprtracie.hhs.gov/covid-19

CDC COVID-19 Resources for Health Care Professionals:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/index.html

NETEC, the National Emerging Special Pathogen Training and Education Center:
https://netec.org/

SCCM COVID-19 Guidelines:
https://www.sccm.org/SurvivingSepsisCampaign/Guidelines/COVID-19

WHO COVID-19 Technical Guidance:
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/technical-guidance

WHO COVID-19 Situation Reports:
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports

Please be mindful of COVID-2019 infection prevention and control, try to limit numbers of people joining this learning session from one gathering place and practice social distancing.
WHO guidance on getting workplaces ready for COVID-2019

Special Sessions

Transitions of Care – August 4
Update on Remdesivir and Dexamethasone – Oct 1
Home Health, EMS, Emergency Department and Critical Care – Oct 29

Monoclonal Antibodies – Dec 3

Crisis Care Update – Dec 10

100th Session – Dec 15

For resources and recordings of earlier sessions, visit the Project ECHO website

COVID-19 Clinical Rounds: Critical Care Resources

Feb 2 – System Level Surge Staffing and Resilience Strategies

Jan 26 – System Level Surge Capacity: Crucial Strategies

For earlier presentations and recordings, please visit the Project ECHO COVID-19 Webpage

COVID-19 Clinical Rounds: Emergency Department Resources

Feb 4 – ED Update

Jan 28 – ED Nursing Update

For earlier presentations and recordings, please visit the Project ECHO COVID-19 Webpage
COVID-19 Clinical Rounds: EMS Resources

Feb 1 – EMS Involvement in Monoclonal Antibody Infusion Programs

Jan 25 – COVID-19 and Riots

For earlier presentations and recordings, please visit the Project ECHO COVID-19 Webpage
Please direct any additional questions or concerns to
C19echo@salud.unm.eduFor help with connecting, please call (505) 750-4897 or email echoit@salud.unm.edu
ECHO is a movement to demonopolize knowledge and amplify the capacity to provide best practice care for underserved people all over the world.

Provider Relief Fund Reporting Requirement Deadline is Approaching

The American Ambulance Association wants to remind our members that the deadline to submit your initial report on your use of HHS Provider Relief Funds is fast approaching.  Any ambulance provider or supplier that received more than $10,000 in aggregate funds from the first two rounds of General Distribution funding will need to submit a report on their use of such funds by September 30, 2021.  This initial report will detail the expenditure of PRF funds through June 30, 2021.

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, with subsequent legislation adding further amounts to this fund.  In total, the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) will distribute $178 billion to health care providers and suppliers to fund healthcare-related expenses or to offset lost revenue attributable to COVID-10.

To date, HHS has distributed approximately $148.4 billion through three rounds of General Distribution funds ($92.5 billion) and multiple smaller Targeted Distributions.  A portion of the PRF is also being used to reimburse health care providers for the costs of testing, treating, and vaccinating the uninsured.

Summary of Final Reporting Requirements

On June 11, 2021, HHS issued its final PRF Reporting Requirements.  Under these new guidelines, health care providers will be required to report for any “Payment Received Period” in which they received one or more PRF payments that, in the aggregate, exceed $10,000.  Providers meeting this threshold for any Payment Received Period will report on their use of such funds during the corresponding “Reporting Time Period.”

The following table sets forth the applicable Payment Received Periods and corresponding Reporting Time Periods.  The table also sets forth the deadline to use funds received within each Payment Receiving Period.

 

Period Payment Received Period Deadline for use of Funds Reporting Time Period
1 April 10, 2020 – June 30, 2020 June 30, 2021 July 1, 2021 – September 30, 2021
2 July 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020 December 31, 2021 January 1, 2022 – March 31, 2022
3 January 1, 2021 – June 30, 2021 June 30, 2022 July 1, 2022 – September 30, 2022
4 July 1, 2021 – December 31, 2021 December 31, 2022 January 1, 2023 – March 31, 2023

 

PRF payments received in the first two rounds of General Distribution funding will fall within the first reporting period.  PRF payments received in the third round of General Distribution funding will fall within either the second or third reporting periods, depending on when the funds were actually received.

As a result, ambulance providers and suppliers that received more than $10,000 in the aggregate from the first two rounds of General Distribution funding will need to submit an initial report during the 90-day period starting on July 1, 2021.  This initial report will detail all expenditures of PRF funds through June 30, 2021.

Ambulance providers and suppliers that received between $10,001 and $499,999 in aggregated PRF funds during each Payment Received Period are required to report on their use of such funds in two categories: (1) General and Administrative Expenses and (2) Health Care Related Expenses.  Ambulance providers and suppliers that received $500,000 or more in aggregated PRF funds during each Payment Received Period will be required to submit more detailed information for each of these general categories.

Specific Instructions Related to Reporting of Lost Revenues

The American Ambulance Association has received numerous questions from members regarding the appropriate methodology to report lost revenues attributable to the coronavirus.  Specifically, many members have inquired as to the appropriate methodology for calculating their lost revenues.

HHS has indicated that health care providers must report their lost revenues using one of three methodologies:

  1. The difference between actual patient care revenues;
  2. The difference between budgeted patient care revenues and actual patient care revenues; or
  3. An alternative methodology selected by the provider for estimating lost revenues.

Based on HHS guidance, it appears that the default methodology is to measure the difference between actual patient care revenues for each calendar quarter during the applicable period.  The provider will also be asked to further break down patient care revenues by applicable payer.  In basic terms, the first methodology will compare: (i) your actual calendar year 2019 patient care revenues to (ii) your actual calendar year 2020 patient care revenues.  The A.A.A. suggests that all members start by conducting this basic revenue analysis.  To the extent your lost revenues in 2020 equal or exceed (in combination with your increased expenses, if any) the total PRF funds received during the first Payment Received Period, no additional revenue analysis is required. 

In some instances, you may find that your actual revenue losses for calendar year 2020 do not fully offset the PRF funds received during the First Payment Received Period.  In that event, it may be beneficial to conduct a separate revenue analysis using the budgeted vs. actual methodology.  Note: you are only eligible to use this methodology to the extent you had a formal budget approved prior to March 27, 2020. 

This methodology is likely to be beneficial to ambulance providers or suppliers that, pre-pandemic, were projecting significant revenue growth in calendar year 2020.  For example, consider the case of a hypothetical “ABC Ambulance Service, Inc.”  ABC Ambulance had $1 million in patient care revenues in calendar year 2019.  However, in November 2019, the company signed an agreement to be the preferred provider of a major hospital system in its service area.  As a result, the company was projecting significant revenue growth in calendar year 2020.  Specifically, when it created its 2020 budget in December 2019, it projected that its patient care revenues would rise to $1.5 million in 2020.

When the pandemic hit in mid-March 2020, the company saw a significant slowdown in its transport volume.  Like many ambulance providers, it saw its transport volume rebound somewhat in the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2020.  As a result, it ended the year with $1.2 million in patient care revenues.

A revenue analysis using the default methodology would show an increase in revenues, i.e., its revenues increased by $200,000 over 2019.  However, its 2020 actual revenues were $300,000 less than it projected in its 2020 budget.  Using this second methodology, the company would be able to claim $300,000 in lost revenues to offset against its PRF funds.

Please note that any ambulance provider or supplier using this second methodology will be required to submit additional documentation with its initial PRF report.  Specifically, you will be required to submit a copy of the 2020 budget relied upon to show the lost revenue, together with an attestation from its CEO, CFO, or other authorized official attesting to the fact that this budget was formally established prior to March 27, 2020.

HHS will also permit ambulance providers or suppliers to utilize an alternative methodology created by the entity for calculating their lost revenues.  However, to utilize an alternative methodology, the provider or supplier will be required to submit additional documentation explaining not only the methodology, but also the justification for why this methodology was reasonable.  HHS has indicated that providers or suppliers electing to use an alternative methodology will face an increased risk of audit.  As a good rule of thumb, the use of an alternative methodology is likely to limited to situations where the EMS agency’s business is extremely seasonal, or where there was some major change in their operations during the 2020 calendar year (e.g., a partial sale of the company, a large acquisition, etc.).

Further Information Related to PRF Reporting

HHS updated its instructions for how ambulance providers and suppliers should complete their PRF Reporting obligations.  These updated instructions start on Page 4 of the Revised Reporting Requirements.

HHS also recently updated its Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) associated with the PRF Reporting Program.

 

 

HHS | $103mm for Healthcare Workforce Resiliency and to Address Burnout

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: HHS Press Office
202-690-6343
media@hhs.gov

HHS Announces $103 Million from American Rescue Plan to Strengthen Resiliency and Address Burnout in the Health Workforce

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), announced the availability of an estimated $103 million in American Rescue Plan funding over a three-year period to reduce burnout and promote mental health among the health workforce. These investments, which take into particular consideration the needs of rural and medically underserved communities, will help health care organizations establish a culture of wellness  among the health and public safety workforce and will support training efforts that build resiliency for those at the beginning of their health careers.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring our frontline health care workers have access to the services they need to limit and prevent burnout, fatigue and stress during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “It is essential that we provide behavioral health resources for our health care providers – from paraprofessionals to public safety officers – so that they can continue to deliver quality care to our most vulnerable communities.”

Health care providers face many challenges and stresses due to high patient volumes, long work hours and workplace demands. These challenges were amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, and have had a disproportionate impact on communities of color and in rural communities. The programs announced today will support the implementation of evidence-informed strategies to help organizations and providers respond to stressful situations, endure hardships, avoid burnout and foster healthy workplace environments that promote mental health and resiliency.

“This funding will help advance HRSA’s mission of developing a health care workforce capable of meeting the critical needs of underserved populations,” said Acting HRSA Administrator Diana Espinosa. “These programs will help to combat occupational stress and depression among our health care workers as they continue their heroic work to defeat the pandemic.”

There are three funding opportunities that are now accepting applications:

  • Promoting Resilience and Mental Health Among Health Professional Workforce – Approximately 10 awards will be made totaling approximately $29 million over three years to health care organizations to support members of their workforce. This includes establishing, enhancing, or expanding evidence-informed programs or protocols to adopt, promote and implement an organizational culture of wellness that includes resilience and mental health among their employees.
  • Health and Public Safety Workforce Resiliency Training Program – Approximately 30 awards will be made totaling  approximately $68 million over three years for educational institutions and other appropriate state, local, Tribal, public or private nonprofit entities training those early in their health careers. This includes providing evidence-informed planning, development and training in health profession activities in order to reduce burnout, suicide and promote resiliency among the workforce.
  • Health and Public Safety Workforce Resiliency Technical Assistance Center – One award will be made for approximately $6 million over three years to provide tailored training and technical assistance to HRSA’s workforce resiliency programs.

To apply for the Provider Resiliency Workforce Training Notice of Funding Opportunities, visit Grants.gov. Applications are due August 30, 2021.

Learn more about HRSA’s funding opportunities.

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CMS Addresses Substance Use, Mental Health Crisis Care for Those with Medicaid

CMS Addresses Substance Use, Mental Health Crisis Care for Those with Medicaid

$15 Million Funding Opportunity for State Planning Grants to Bolster Mobile Crisis Intervention Services

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a funding opportunity made possible by the American Rescue Plan (ARP) to help states strengthen system capacity to provide community-based mobile crisis intervention services for those with Medicaid. The $15 million funding opportunity is available to state Medicaid agencies for planning grants to support developing these programs.

This funding opportunity provides financial resources for state Medicaid agencies to assess community needs and develop programs to bring crisis intervention services directly to individuals experiencing a mental health or substance use related crisis outside a hospital or facility setting. These services may include screening and assessment, stabilization and de-escalation, and coordination of referrals after the initial treatment.

“Investing in crisis intervention services ensures Americans experiencing a mental health or substance use disorder crisis get the care and treatment they need,” said Secretary Becerra. “These grants will help states build these critical services to help communities send a responder who is trained and ready to assist people in crisis.”

“It is vital that we can meet people where they are, especially when those individuals are in crisis,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “This funding will help state Medicaid agencies plan innovative ways to provide and better mobilize these essential intervention services to their communities.”

The planning grants provide funding to develop, prepare for, and implement qualifying community-based mobile crisis intervention services under the Medicaid program. Grant funds can be used to support states’ assessments of their current services, strengthen capacity and information systems, ensure that services can be accessed 24 hours a day/365 days a year, provide behavioral health care training for multi-disciplinary teams, or to seek technical assistance to develop State Plan Amendment (SPAs), demonstration applications, and waiver program requests under the Medicaid program.

Letters of Intent to apply from states and territories are due July 23, 2021. Final applications must be submitted by August 13, 2021, 3:00 pm ET. The period of performance for this grant will be from September 30, 2021, through September 29, 2022. The Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) provides additional details regarding eligibility and program requirements, as well as key deadline and application submission information.

To view the NOFO, visit Grants.gov and search for the announcement by CFDA# 93.639.

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.

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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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