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Connection Newsletter - Louisiana court issues nationwide injunction on vaccine mandate

Experts expect the federal government will appeal the district court’s order to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Louisiana court issues nationwide injunction on vaccine mandate

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana issued a nationwide injunction Tuesday preventing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from enforcing the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers. Arizona, through Attorney General Mark Brnovich, was a party to this lawsuit. The Louisiana District Court used much the same reasoning as the Missouri District Court and relied heavily on the recent U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that halted implementation of the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) vaccine requirement. The Louisiana Court ultimately said states had standing to sue since the CMS rule preempted their state lawmaking authority, and states were likely to succeed on the merits of their case based on both Constitutional arguments and alleged Administrative Procedure Act violations. It is expected that the federal government will appeal the district court’s order to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and ask the appeals court to stay the district court’s preliminary injunction pending appeal.

Implementation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's emergency temporary standard vaccine mandate applicable to employers with at least 100 employees has also been stayed nationwide by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. On November 30, a U.S. district court in Kentucky issued a preliminary injunction halting enforcement of the vaccine mandate for federal employees and contractors in three states: Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee. Earlier in November, U.S. district court judge Michael Liburdi declined to issue a nationwide injunction of the mandate for federal employees and contractors in a case brought by Arizona Attorney General Brnovich.

Members with questions about the ruling may reach out to AzHHA Policy and Advocacy Team.

Hospitals may face Medicare payment cuts in the upcoming year

As we approach the end of the year, hospitals face a 6% cut to Medicare payments due to automatic federal policies like Statutory PAYGO - pay as you go - and the resumption of the Sequester. If implemented, the cuts would have overwhelming consequences for hospitals as well as the patients and communities they serve. The moratorium on the Medicare sequester cuts is currently scheduled to expire at the end of this month. If not delayed, hospitals are expected to see a reduction of $4.7 billion in fee-for-service Medicare payments. In times like these, hospitals need all the resources available to survive the increased costs the pandemic has generated. AzHHA will be reaching out to the state’s delegation advocating for no reductions in Medicare spending.

2020 Quality Payment Program preview period ends December 14

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is providing doctors and clinicians an opportunity to review their 2020 Quality Payment Program (QPP) performance through December 14, 2021, before the data becomes publicly available. Slides created by CMS and the Doctors and Clinicians Guide to the Preview Period provide additional resources on reviewing the information. Providers and clinicians with questions may contact the QPP Service Center at [email protected].   

CDC issues health advisory on expected increase in influenza activity

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health advisory November 24 via the health alert network (HAN) warning clinicians of a possible increase in seasonal influenza activity. CDC cites communal settings like universities as primary locations of such increases. In the HAN, clinicians are encouraged to continue efforts urging patients to vaccinate against the flu, along with COVID-19 vaccines.

New Omicron COVID-19 variant, what we know so far

The World Health Organization (WHO) named the COVID-19 variant first identified by South Africa, Omicron, on November 24. As the United States confirmed its first case in California yesterday, it is a concern due to its increased transmissibility and immune escape. The variant has been reported in 23 other countries according to WHO. Because of the limited information available, the impact is still unknown.

As of Wednesday, the Arizona Department of Health Service reported 3,163 new cases of COVID-19 in the state and unfortunately, 43 deaths. Vaccination continues to be the best way to protect yourself and those around you against COVID-19. Until we know more about the new variant, we can help our healthcare workforce by doing our part and getting fully vaccinated along with a booster shot when eligible.

Molecular approaches for clinical and public health applications to detect influenza and SARS-CoV-2 viruses – COCA call

The CDC will host a Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA) call December 9 at 2 p.m. EST on molecular approaches to detect Influenza and SARS-CoV-2 viruses. During the COCA call, clinicians will learn critical information about molecular approaches for clinical and public health applications to detect the influenza virus and SARS-CoV-2. The CDC will review the most up-to-date guidance on clinical testing for influenza, including situations when influenza and SARS-CoV-2 are co-circulating in a community or other setting. Presenters will also discuss SARS-CoV-2 sequencing applications for public health. First-time COCA call attendees must register for a Train account to access the call; create an account here.

Hospital Assessments and HEALTHII Payments 101

AzHHA will host Hospital Assessments and HEALTHII payments 101, December 8, for hospital members interested in learning about the two hospital assessments and the quarterly HEALTHII payments. The presentation will include an overview of why the assessments were created, which types of hospitals are exempt from the assessments, how the amounts have changed over time, why hospitals receive quarterly HEALTHII payments and why payments will be reconciled in future years. AzHHA members who have not received an invitation but are interested in attending may contact Amy Upston, director of financial policy and reimbursement, at [email protected].

Attend one of our upcoming Introduction to POLST workshops. Register at no cost

Interested in learning how to use the Arizona POLST form with your patients? The one-hour Introduction to POLST workshop equips healthcare professionals with knowledge and resources to begin using POLST, Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment, in Arizona. The objectives are to describe what POLST is at the state and national level, explain why POLST is important, define the population for POLST, when to begin the conversation and who completes POLST, describe the process for completing, reviewing and updating POLST and learn the process of submitting healthcare planning documents to the Arizona Healthcare Directive Registry. To register for a workshop, click on a date below.

Upcoming Events

December 15 - 2021 Coding Clinic: Fourth Quarter Updates

AzHHA Affiliated Partner, NJHA Healthcare Business Solutions, is offering member health information managers and coding specialists 2021 Coding Clinic Updates - Everything You Really Need to Know. The webinar provides a concise overview of the current issue of Coding Clinic and allows participants an opportunity for discussion and Q&A. Register here.

February 7 - Developing a Telemedicine Program

This course is ideal for individuals or groups who have some telehealth experience and are interested in expanding their services. It is also a great course for those new to telehealth who are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the growing industry. The course fee is waived for Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Nevada residents. Register here.

In the News

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Testing labs brace for first U.S. cases of Omicron