- 'I Went Into Medicine to Help My Community': Nez Perce Doctor Speaks on Rural Health Care and Building a Future for the Next Generation
- Using Virtual Care Tech to Curb Care Barriers in Rural South Carolina
- Research and Analysis: Rural Internet Subscribers Pay More, New Data Confirms
- In Texas' Panhandle, a Long-Awaited Oasis for Mental Health Care Is Springing Up
- Focus on Fellows: Checking in with Three Rural Leaders
- A Reason to Care: How Students Choose Rural Health
- A Prescription for Better Rural Nutrition
- City-Based Scientists Get Creative to Tackle Rural-Research Needs
- Public Payment of Dialysis Treatment Has Changed the Rural Healthcare Marketplace
- How the Bad River Tribe Flipped the Script on the Native American Opioid Crisis
- Reps. Sewell, Miller Introduce the Bipartisan Assistance for Rural Community Hospitals (ARCH) Act on National Rural Health Day
- Could a Solution to Provide Legal Care in Alaska Work in Rural Minnesota?
- How Telehealth Is Bringing Specialist Care to the North Country
- Western Alaska Salmon Crisis Affects Physical and Mental Health, Residents Say
- VA Announces New Graduate Medical Education Program to Help Expand Health Care Access to Veterans in Underserved Communities
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the HHS Office of Minority Health (OMH) developed the Minority Health Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) to enhance existing resources to support the identification of racial and ethnic minority communities at greatest risk for disproportionate impact and adverse outcomes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Minority Health SVI is an extension of the CDC Social Vulnerability Index, which is a platform that helps emergency response planners and public health officials identify, map, and plan support for communities that will most likely need support before, during, and after a public health emergency.
Click here to visit the OMH microsite where you can learn more about the SVI and its potential uses, as well as download the corresponding dataset and data dictionary.
To access the Minority Health SVI, click here.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service (CMS) is taking action to drive value-based, person-centered care, and promote sustainability and readiness to respond to future public health emergencies in our nation’s hospitals through the Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS)/ Long Term Care Hospital (LTCH) Prospective Payment System final rule released today.
The final rule, effective October 1, 2021, authorizes additional payments for diagnostics and therapies to treat COVID-19 during the current public health emergency (PHE), and beyond. The rule revises payment policies, as well as policies under certain quality and value-based purchasing programs for hospitals, to lessen the adverse impacts of the pandemic. Some of these changes will incentivize the meaningful use of certified electronic health record (EHR) technology that will help public health officials monitor for future unplanned events.
“How Medicare pays for hospital care and evaluates quality, are integral pieces of achieving and addressing gaps in health equity and strengthening our health care system for a more sustainable future. CMS is moving forward to incorporate what we have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic in order to improve quality and increase transparency so that patients are positioned to make informed decisions about their care,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “With this final rule, we are further improving how we measure and evaluate data while investing in quality care for people that rely on Medicare for coverage.”
Last week, CMS also finalized a number of other Medicare payment rules including for Skilled Nursing Facilities, Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities, Inpatient Psychiatric Facilities, and Hospice providers. Using lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, these final rules will enact policies that will further protect and deliver better care to Medicare beneficiaries. These payment rules finalized new quality measures to give beneficiaries and their families better insights into the quality of care rendered at hospice facilities and vaccination reporting of facility staff.
Improving Health Equity
In an effort to advance equity through the quality reporting measurement, CMS solicited feedback on opportunities to leverage diverse data sets such as race, ethnicity, Medicare/Medicaid dual eligible status, disability status, LGBTQ+, and socioeconomic status. The agency received more than 200 comments, reflecting the importance stakeholders place on this Biden-Harris Administration priority. CMS will consider the feedback it received to inform future actions.
“Standardization of equity data to improve hospital data collection is just one more way CMS will lead the national conversation on improving health equity,” said Brooks-LaSure. “CMS will use these comments and innovate on quality measures to help identify health equity data. We’re also measuring hospital initiatives to improve maternal health outcomes as we work to reduce disparities in maternal morbidity.”
Addressing the maternal health crisis and improving maternal health is a priority to advance health equity, and a quality improvement goal for CMS. To that end, CMS is adding a Maternal Morbidity measure to the hospital quality reporting program that would require hospitals to report whether they participate in statewide or national efforts to improve perinatal health, known as Quality Improvement (QI) initiatives. Many of the factors contributing to maternal morbidity are preventable, and differentially impact women of color. This measure is an important initial step toward implementation of patient safety practices to reduce maternal morbidity, and in turn, maternal mortality.
CMS is also adopting a measure that requires hospitals and long-term care hospitals to report COVID-19 vaccination rates of workers in their facilities. Having access to information about COVID-19 vaccination rates among health care personnel will help patients, caregivers, and their communities, make informed decisions when seeking care from hospitals, cancer centers and long-term care hospitals.
Ensuring Access to Life-Saving Diagnostics and Therapeutics
In November 2020, CMS established the New COVID-19 Treatments Add-on Payment (NCTAP) to encourage hospitals to provide new COVID-19 treatments during the PHE. CMS is finalizing its proposal to extend the NCTAP for certain eligible technologies through the end of the fiscal year in which the PHE ends to continue to encourage these new treatments, and to minimize any potential payment disruption immediately following the end of the PHE. These products include currently approved hospital treatments. Providing these therapies to COVID-19 patients early can help reduce hospital stays and deaths.
Sustaining Hospital Readiness to Respond to Future Public Health Threats
Strengthening public health functions through methods such as early warning surveillance, case surveillance, and vaccine uptake, increases information available to the public and helps hospitals better serve their patients. CMS continues its ongoing response to the PHE and future health threats by promoting the meaningful use of certified EHR IT to report data that supports public health efforts. Specifically, CMS is modifying the Promoting Interoperability Program for eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals to expand required reporting within the Public Health and Clinical Data Exchange Objective.
The final rule requires hospitals to attest they are in active engagement with public health agency to submit data for measures related to nationwide surveillance for early warning of emerging outbreaks and threats; automated case and laboratory reporting for rapid public health response; and visibility on immunization coverage so public health agencies can tailor vaccine distribution strategies. Hospital reporting of the measures will support public health agencies as they prepare to respond to both future health threats and long-term COVID-19 recovery.
For a link to the FY2022 IPPS/LTCH PPS Final Rule fact sheet, please visit: https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/fiscal-year-fy-2022-medicare-hospital-inpatient-prospective-payment-system-ipps-and-long-term-care-0 .
For a link to the FY2022 IPPS/LTCH PPS Final Rule on the Federal Register, please visit: https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection/current.
This August, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health (CMS OMH) is recognizing National Immunization Awareness Month and encouraging you to get vaccinated to protect yourself and your loved ones.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccination rates for preventable diseases like pnemococcal pneumonia, flu, and hepatitis B have declined, putting communities at an increased risk. Minority communities and underserved populations are in particular disproportionately affected when it comes to receiving recommended vaccines like those that protect against pnemococcal pneumonia, flu, and hepatitis B. Many factors can contribute to lower vaccination rates, including access to care and coverage; the likelihood that providers recommend vaccinations; and concerns about vaccinations, including vaccine safety.
During National Immunization Awareness Month, CMS OMH is encouraging minority and underserved people to stay up-to-date on routine vaccines and get vaccinated. With the flu season getting closer and the country continuing to combat COVID-19, we’re calling on providers and communities to help us share resources that may help high-risk individuals learn about the benefits of vaccines and talk to their providers about necessary vaccinations.
Below are resources you can share with your community to help them learn more about the vaccinations that are available at no or low cost under most health coverage:
- Visit our Immunization and Vaccine Resources webpage to find resources that you can share with your community.
- Check out the COVID-19 Vaccine Resources webpage which compiles federal resources on the COVID-19 vaccine for healthcare professionals, partners, and patients.
- Review the below resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which you can use to promote the importance of vaccination:
- Share the latest Coverage to Care resources, including our prevention materials (available in English and Spanish), to help patients understand preventive services that may be available to them at no or low cost.
- Learn about Medicare coverage for vaccinations (like those for flu, hepatitis B, and pneumococcal pneumonia).
- Share our Hepatitis Disparities in Medicare Fee-for-Service Beneficiaries to help your patients learn more about how hepatitis disproportionately affects certain racial and ethnic groups.
- Review our Rural-Urban Disparities in Health Care in Medicare report, which describes rural-urban differences in health care experiences and clinical care, including vaccination rates.
- For resources on childhood vaccination, refer to:
The Rural Health Value team recently released a brief to help prepare stakeholders to respond to requests for public comment on REH proposed rules and to outline considerations related to REH conversation for local rural leaders.
The Rural Emergency Hospital (REH) and Value-Based Care
Created by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, the REH is a new hospital designation to be effective January 1, 2023. An REH will be a rural hospital providing outpatient services (including emergency and observation services), but not providing inpatient care services. Medicare REH payment will be primarily fee-for-service. However, REHs may potentially have a role in value-based care by ensuring access to health care, or as a component of a regional health system participating in value-based care models. Anticipated REH proposed rules offer an important opportunity for stakeholder input and this brief outlines issues for consideration.