Here are the latest regulatory actions as of Monday, April 6.
CDC to provide weekly updates on COVID-19
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it will publish a weekly surveillance report called “COVIDView” each Friday that will summarize and interpret key indicators, including information related to COVID-19 outpatient visits, emergency department visits, and hospitalizations and deaths, as well as laboratory data. The first issue indicates that the overall COVID-19 associated hospitalization rate is 4.6 per 100,000, with the highest rates in persons 65 years and older (13.8 per 100,000) and 50-64 years (7.4 per 100,000). These rates are similar to what is seen at the beginning of an annual influenza epidemic, according to the CDC. The percentage of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza increased to 8.2 percent and is above the epidemic threshold of 7.2 percent. The percent of deaths due to pneumonia has increased sharply since the end of February, while those due to influenza increased modestly through early March and declined this week. The CDC said this could reflect an increase in deaths from pneumonia caused by non-influenza associated infections, including COVID-19. Next week’s issue will include deaths associated with COVID-19 based on data from The National Center for Health Statistics.
OIG report reveals the conditions at American hospitals fighting COVID-19
Among the biggest challenges that hospitals face with COVID-10 are testing and caring for patients with known of suspected COVID-19 and keeping staff safe, according to a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services’(HHS) inspector general. The report is based on interviews with administrators from 323 hospitals and health systems between March 23 to March 27. Hospitals also reported difficultly maintaining or expanding their facilities’ capacity to treat patients with COVID-19. They described specific challenges, mitigation strategies, and needs for assistance related to personal protective equipment, testing, staffing, supplies and durable equipment; maintaining or expanding facility capacity; and financial concerns. A spokesperson from HHS told Politico that as a result of the report, the department plans to take steps to loosen regulations to allow licensed health care providers to work across state lines to alleviate staffing shortages.
CMS releases video about Medicare coverage and payment of telehealth services
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released a video that provides answers to common questions about the Medicare telehealth service benefit. CMS has expanded the benefit on a temporary and emergency basis under the 1135 waiver authority and Coronavirus Preparedness and Responses Supplemental Appropriations Act.
HHS: CDC to provide $186M in funding for COVID-19 response
HHS announced that the CDC will provide $186 million in funding for additional resources to state and local jurisdictions to expand the country’s ability to track and prevent the spread of COVID-19. The funding will support a range of activities, including staffing, shipping, supplies, data management, infection control, and monitoring of individuals.
Gov’t warns against discrimination of disabled in treatment for the novel coronavirus
No one should be left behind in this emergency, warns the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in a recent bulletin that reminds covered entities about the obligations under the laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, and exercise of conscience and region in HHS-funded programs. Of particular concern: people with disabilities who should not be denied medical care on the basis of stereotypes, assessments of quality of life, or judgments about a person’s relative “worth” based on the presence or absence of disabilities or age. “Persons with disabilities, with limited English skills, or needing religious accommodations should not be put at the end of the line for health services during emergencies,” said Roger Severino, OCR director, in the bulleting. “Our civil rights laws protect the equal dignity of every human life from ruthless