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February 27: As part of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) ongoing efforts to provide up-to-date information to prepare for the end of the Public Health Emergency (PHE) for COVID-19, which is expected on May 11, 2023, they are providing a new overview fact sheet on CMS Waivers, Flexibilities, and the Transition Forward from the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. COVID-19 efforts have been a significant priority for the Biden-Harris Administration, and with the use of whole-of-government approach, the country is in a better place. Over the next several months, CMS will work to ensure a smooth transition back to normal operations.
The CMS Waivers, Flexibilities, and the Transition Forward from the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency provides clarity on several topics including:
COVID-19 vaccines, testing, and treatments;
Health Care Access
In the coming weeks, CMS will be hosting stakeholder calls and office hours to provide additional information. Please visit the CMS Emergencies Page for continuous updates regarding PHE sunsetting guidance as information becomes available to the public.
February 2: HHS, through HRSA, awarded nearly $11 million to 22 HRSA-funded health centers to improve access to life-saving cancer screenings and early detection services for underserved communities. These awards double support for an initiative launched last year by the Biden-Harris Administration through which HRSA-funded health centers are working to close the cancer screening gap and decrease the impact of preventable cancers. Read the HHS press release.
The Accelerating Cancer Screening program focuses on leveraging outreach specialists and patient navigators to conduct patient outreach in underserved communities served by health centers to promote early detection of cancer, connect patients to screening services, and provide hands-on assistance with accessing high quality cancer care and treatment as needed.
HRSA has released the fiscal year (FY) 2023 Early Childhood Development (ECD) notice of funding opportunity (NOFO, HRSA-23-028). HRSA will make approximately $30 million available for up to 150 awards (up to $200,000 per award).
In 2021, health centers served nearly 3 million children ages 0-5, representing a key opportunity to increase developmental screening and needed follow-up services. Health centers will use FY 2023 ECD funding to:
Health Center Program operational grant (H80) award recipients are eligible to apply. Visit the ECD technical assistance page to access the NOFO, application aids, and other resources.
FY 2023 ECD applications are due in:
February 14: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has selected three new models for testing by the CMS Innovation Center to help lower the high cost of drugs, promote accessibility to life-changing drug therapies, and improve quality of care. The Secretary released a report describing these three models to respond to President Biden’s Executive Order 14087, “Lowering Prescription Drug Costs for Americans,” which complements the historic provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) that will lower prescription drug costs.
As part of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, for the first time in history, Medicare will be able to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for beneficiaries, and starting this year, drug companies that raise their prices faster than inflation will have to pay Medicare a rebate.
The three models selected by the Secretary for testing by the CMS Innovation Center and described in the report address the themes outlined in the executive order and meet the selection criteria thresholds of affordability, accessibility, and feasibility of implementation. The models are:
To help identify model options, the CMS Innovation Center solicited input from a variety of sources, including beneficiary advocates, health care providers, prescription drug manufacturers, and more. The CMS Innovation Center looks forward to additional input as these models are further developed.
For more information on the selected models and the additional areas of research that address the executive order, a Fact Sheet is available via this link.
February 21: Two years ago, the Biden-Harris Administration recognized the importance of ensuring equity in COVID-19 vaccine distribution. The Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program directly allocated COVID-19 vaccines to health centers. To date, HRSA-supported health centers in and outside of the program have administered more than 23 million vaccines. A historic achievement! Take a moment away from your to-dos and look back at these past two years.
You’ve been creative, patient, and tireless in getting your communities vaccinated. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the Vaccine Program dramatically raised the profile of the entire Health Center Program. Now, leaders in government and health care want to know, “How can health centers help?” And that’s because of you!
Building on your success, in late 2021/early 2022, HRSA added COVID-19 Response Programs to ensure access to masks, testing supplies, and therapeutics. More recently, HRSA awarded Expanding COVID-19 Vaccination funding to support your continued work to get people vaccinated. Our January 17 webinar featured examples of your partnerships that leverage trusted messengers in addressing vaccine confidence issues.
As a reminder, any HRSA-supported health center is welcome to join the COVID-19 Response Programs. Submit a ticket via the BPHC Contact Form if you’re interested.