Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

Delayed Start Date for the Radiation Oncology Payment Model

In response to stakeholder feedback, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is changing the start date of the Radiation Oncology Model to July 1, 2021, instead of January 1.  Participation in this model is required for all providers of radiotherapy treatment.  It creates a single, bundled payment system that is the same across providers, regardless of whether care occurs in an outpatient department or in a physician’s office.

CMS Announces Fourth COVID-19 Interim Final Rule with Comment Period

On October 28, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued its fourth Interim Final Rule with Comment Period (IFC) in response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE). Highlights of interest to rural stakeholders in this rule include vaccine-related provisions; flexibilities for states maintaining Medicaid enrollment during the COVID‑19 PHE; enhanced Medicare payments for new COVID-19 treatments; and price transparency for COVID-19 tests. Comments will be due 60 days after the date of display in the Federal Register.

Request for Information: Maternal and Child Health Bureau Strategic Plan – Respond by December 18. 

The Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) at the Health Resources and Services Administration supports research and federal grant programs that ensure the health and well-being of mothers, children, and families.  The bureau seeks feedback from the public about future plans for their work, including how MCHB can support efforts to eliminate disparities based on race, income, disability, and geography.

COVID-19 Hospital Data Coverage Report – Updated Weekly

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is providing weekly updates to the data set tracking whether hospitals, including rural and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs), are completing their COVID-19 data reporting.   As specified in recent guidance, hospitals and CAHs must report daily to the federal government, or to their state if they receive a written release from the state, a set of required data elements.  Failure to do so will result in a series of enforcement actions over several weeks that could result in termination of the Medicare provider agreement.

Expanded Provider Relief Fund Eligibility and Updated Reporting Requirements

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) expanded the types of providers that are eligible for Phase 3 Provider Relief Funds (PRF) to include residential treatment facilities, physician assistants, and advanced practice nursing providers, among others.  Providers may submit applications until November 6.  HHS also updated the reporting requirements and auditing instructions in response to stakeholder feedback.  This new guidance now allows providers to apply PRF payments against all lost revenues without limitation.

Open Enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace Begins November 1

The six-week period during which consumers may enroll in a health insurance plan using the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace begins on Sunday and ends on Tuesday, December 15.   Those without an employer-based plan may visit and to shop for plans that will begin coverage on January 1, 2021.  Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have their own state-based websites for enrollment in individual/family or small business health coverage, or both.  Some consumers may qualify for Medicaid coverage or a lower cost Marketplace plan depending on their state of residence and household size.