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AzHHA Member Advisory - October 31

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) began posting reports on its HHS Protect Public Data Hub this week on how hospitals are reporting COVID-19 situational awareness data to the agency.

Vaccine update

The Arizona Department of Health Services yesterday held a Vaccine Distribution and Operational Logistics Summit. The major objective of the summit was to identify challenges and best practices in the allocation and administration of vaccines under the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan.

AzHHA hosted a call between the Arizona Healthcare Human Resource Association and employment attorneys yesterday to discuss legal issues surrounding the implementation of mandatory COVID-19 vaccination programs.

HHS releases COVID-19 hospital data

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) began posting reports on its HHS Protect Public Data Hub this week on how hospitals are reporting COVID-19 situational awareness data to the agency. HHS requires hospitals to report this data under an interim final rule which is being enforced via a multi-phase notification process. Hospitals that are out of compliance with reporting conditions will receive a series of warning letters and could be terminated from the Medicare program following six weeks of non-compliance. Hospitals should check the HHS Protect Public Data Hub and pay attention to days at 100% and the percentage of required fields, as CMS requires 7 days of reporting at 100%. The data hub identifies which fields are missing, so your staff can use this report to problem solve. If your hospital is submitting data through the Arizona Department of Health Services’ (ADHS) EMResource and have questions, contact ADHS directly. Or if your hospital is submitting data directly to Teletracker and have questions, email the HHS Protect Service Desk at protect-servicedesk@hhs.gov

In related news, HHS has posted slides from its webinar on the CMS updated guidance on COVID-19 data reporting requirements for hospitals that participate in Medicare.

Updates from the American Hospital Association

The American Hospital Association (AHA) released a Readiness Advisory this week to help hospitals manage times of civil unrest, as anticipated following the upcoming election, including protests, demonstrations or community violence. In addition, AHA released a Special Bulletin on an increased and imminent cybercrime threat to U.S. hospitals and healthcare providers.

CMS releases COVID 19 vaccination payment rule

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced an interim final rule this week establishing additional Medicare hospital payment to support Medicare beneficiaries’ access to COVID-19 vaccines and new treatments when they become available. Under this new rule:

  • Hospitals would qualify for additional payments for inpatient cases when they treat patients with innovative new products approved or authorized to treat COVID-19 to mitigate any losses they may experience from making available COVID-19 therapies, even if they do not reach the current outlier threshold.
  • Changes are made to reimbursement for outpatient hospital services to ensure payment for certain innovative treatments for COVID-19 that occur outside of bundled arrangements and are paid separately.
  • An exception is made to Medicare payment policy under the outpatient prospective payment system to ensure separate payment for certain innovative treatments for COVID-19 — even if those treatments would otherwise be packaged into a comprehensive Ambulatory Payment Classification under standard outpatient PPS policy.
  • Medicare will cover any preventive vaccine at no cost to beneficiaries so long as it receives FDA approval via an emergency use authorization or Biologics License Application.

HHS staffing resources

HHS recently reminded partners of several available resources for dealing with staffing shortages:

COVID-19 disease outbreak outlook 

Joe K. Gerald, MD, PhD, Associate Professor at the University of Arizona Zuckerman College of Public Health has released his latest COVID-19 Disease Outbreak Outlook. The report shows how cases and hospitalizations continue to increase state-wide and suggests safety measures such as mask wearing and physical distancing should continue to help mitigate the spread. To download the detailed report, click here.