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Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center Releases 2021 Policy Roadmap

The Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center at The University of Texas at Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs released its 2021 Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Roadmap, which compares the investments states are making to support children and families. The roadmap is published annually for policy leaders and advocates to guide how each state can implement effective state-level policies and strategies that promote equity and measure the well-being of infants and toddlers. The guide also monitors each state’s progress toward implementing effective solutions for the prenatal-to-3 population.

The roadmap looks at five state-level policies and six strategies that positively impact one of eight prenatal-to-age-3 policy goals:

  • Access to needed services
  • Parents’ ability to work
  • Sufficient household resources
  • Healthy and equitable births
  • Parental health and emotional well-being
  • Nurturing and responsive child-parent relationships
  • Nurturing and responsive child care in safe settings
  • Optimal child health and development

Pennsylvania has successfully implemented one of the five state policies that impact one policy goal: expanded income eligibility for health insurance. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania has much more work to do in the other policy areas, including reduced administrative burdens for SNAP, and implementing legislation for paid family leave, an increased state minimum wage, and a state earned income tax credit.

Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children is working strategically with the Prenatal-to-Age-Three Collaborative to address some of the policy roadmap goals, policies, and strategies to serve our prenatal-to-age-3 population better. Under Early Learning PA, which includes Start Strong PA, Childhood Begins at Home, and Thriving PA, these statewide campaigns seek to put forward policies that positively make a difference in the lives of infants and toddlers, as well as their families. Using this roadmap and working with stakeholders, our goal is to increase access to high-quality services for infants and toddlers and their families by 50% by 2025.

CTE Fact Sheet Outlines Solutions for Increasing Access for Students

The Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children released Career and Technical Education is Essential for our Economy Post-COVID-19, a fact sheet produced with PA Schools Work coalition partner the Pennsylvania Association of Career & Technical Administrators (PACTA), outlining the impacts of the pandemic on CTE programs, which are essential for our state’s workforce and economy. The fact sheet includes the results of a survey conducted earlier this year by PPC on PACTA members to understand better the challenges they face in delivering education during the public health crisis.

While federal stimulus funds received from Washington over the past year have helped address one-time costs – including additional expenses associated with equipment in delivering CTE – state investments over the past two years have stalled. We highlight how access to these programs has not improved and the timing because CTE is a pipeline for many industries that supply the frontline workforce. To ensure that all interested students have an opportunity to access career and technical education, we call on Governor Wolf and policymakers to make a $25 million investment in CTE in the upcoming 2022-23 state budget.

CPSTF 2020 Annual Report to Congress

The Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) has released its 2020 Annual Report to Congress.

The report summarizes the CPSTF’s work from fiscal year 2020 and includes recommendations for intervention approaches that address health equity, HIV prevention or tobacco and economic reviews of previously recommended interventions that address cardiovascular disease or cancer screening. The report also lists critical evidence gaps identified by the systematic reviews and highlights the priority topics CPSTF selected to guide future reviews from 2020 to 2025.

Methods to Mitigate Systemic Racism in Clinical Preventive Services

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has published an article titled, “Actions to Transform U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Methods to Mitigate Systemic Racism in Clinical Preventive Services,” in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The article details action the Task Force is taking to promote antiracism and health equity in preventive care by confronting these issues throughout its recommendation development process. These efforts are aimed at reducing the effects of social injustices in health care and, ultimately, helping better equip clinicians with the evidence-based guidance they need to prevent disease and keep everyone as healthy as possible.

Leveraging Primary Care, Public Health & Social Assets

The Primary Care Collaborative (PCC) has released an annual research report for 2021, Primary Care and COVID-19: It’s Complicated-Leveraging Primary Care, Public Health, and Social Assets. In their first broad report on COVID-19, the PCC examines community factors at the county level—starting with primary care but also including local public health and social assets—to determine if these factors can help mitigate the effects of the pandemic and other health emergencies.

2020 Showed Steep Declines in U.S. Life Expectancy

The United States had the second-steepest decline in life expectancy among high-income countries in 2020, according to research published last week. U.S. men saw life expectancy fall by 2.3 years, from about 76.7 to 74.4. Women lost more than 1.6 years, falling from about 81.8 to 80.2. Researchers compared observed life expectancy in 2020 with what would have been expected for the year based on historical trends from 2005-2019. Life expectancy dropped in 31 of the 37 countries studied. Only Russia had a steeper decline than the U.S.

FDA Recalls Ellume At-Home COVID Tests

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced a recall of about 2 million at-home COVID-19 test kits made by the Australian-based biotech company Ellume, indicating the test kits may produce “false positives” due to a manufacturing defect. The defective tests were manufactured by Ellume between Feb. 24, 2021 and Aug. 11, 2021. So far, 35 false positives from these tests have been reported to the FDA. Earlier this year, the Biden administration cut a $231.8 million deal with Ellume to boost the availability of the tests in the U.S. market.

Ellume says it has corrected the manufacturing problem and the FDA says it is continuing to monitoring the company’s efforts.

Federal Judges Offer Mixed Ruling Concerning 340B Drug Program

Fierce Healthcare reported on November 8, 2021, that drug manufacturers cannot unilaterally restrict sales of 340B drugs to contracted pharmacies, but they do not have to provide discounts either, according to two separate rulings by federal judges. The lawsuits were filed by Novo Nordisk, Sanofi, Novartis and United Therapeutics in response to a Biden administration warning to drug makers to walk back restrictions imposed in summer 2020.

Read more.

CMS Releases Guidance on Mandatory Coverage of COVID-19 Treatment

CMS released guidance on the American Rescue Plan’s requirement that state Medicaid and CHIP programs cover COVID-19-related treatments without cost-sharing. Beginning Mar 11, 2021, state Medicaid programs are required to cover treatments for COVID-19, including specialized equipment and therapies, preventive treatments and treatments for “long COVID-19.” States must also cover the treatment of conditions, without cost sharing, that may seriously complicate the treatment of COVID-19 (like cardiovascular diseases, chronic lung diseases, and cancer) if these services are already included in the state plan or a waiver.

To ensure that all state plans reflect the statutory requirements, states must submit a Medicaid state plan amendment attesting to coverage of these treatments without cost-sharing.

OSHA ETS to Minimize COVID-19 Transmission in the Workplace

On Thursday, November 4, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS) with the goal of minimizing COVID-19 transmission in the workplace. The ETS is for employees of large employers (100 or more employees).

Who is covered by the ETS? The ETS applies to employers in all workplaces that are under OSHA’s authority and jurisdiction, including the health care industry. However, this standard does not apply in settings where employees provide health care services or health care support services when subject to the requirements of the CMS health care ETS.

Are remote workers subject to the requirements? The ETS does not apply to employees who do not report to a workplace where other individuals are present. However, even though the employee does not report to the workplace, the individual counts toward the count of employees.

When is this rule effective? The ETS is effective immediately upon publication in the federal register. The deadline to be vaccinated from COVID-19 is January 4, 2022. By that point, workers must be fully vaccinated, completing a two-dose regimen of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Do you have to be vaccinated to comply with this regulation? No, you do not. However, if an employee decides to not be vaccinated by January 4, 2022, the employee must provide weekly test results to their employees at their own expense. Additionally, workers who remain unvaccinated will be required to wear a mask at work.

Information an employer must supply. The ETS requires employers to provide employees information in understandable language and literacy about: 1) information about the requirements of the ETS and workplace policies and procedures; 2) the CDC document “Key Things to Know About COVID-19 Vaccines,” 3) information about protections against retaliation and discrimination; and 4) information about laws that provide for criminal penalties for knowingly suppling false statements or documentation.

Is this rule being challenged in court? Yes, on Friday, November 5, 2021, 26 states filed suit challenging the ETS regarding COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements issued by OSHA. In response, a federal appeals court halted the vaccine mandate for businesses. Timeline for when this rule will be litigated remains unclear, but that this time there has been no change to the January 4, 2022, effective date.