IMPAQ Health News
From our experts to your inbox. Every two weeks.
In this edition, learn about COVID-19 case and vaccine updates, President Biden’s budget blueprint, Medicare penalties for readmissions, and more.
In September, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) launched the Equity Initiative, through which AIR will commit more than $100 million over five years to advance equity in several important areas: workforce development, education, public safety and policing, and health. At a kick-off event, a panel of AIR and community experts shared how stakeholders can work together to pursue an agenda to increase economic mobility and prosperity for the many Americans who are currently being left behind. In a new blog post, AIR’s Kimberly DuMont and Irma Perez-Johnson capture five themes from the event. (IMPAQ is an affiliate of AIR.)
Manufacturing issues have created both price increases for and shortages of naloxone, a medication that can be used to reverse opioid overdoses, at a time of record high deaths from drug overdoses in the U.S. Amanda Latimore, director of AIR’s Center for Addiction Research and Effective Solutions, discusses the situation and potential consequences in a recent article in The Guardian. Latimore also addressed the naloxone shortage and ways to shore up distribution in an In the Field piece on AIR’s website.
COVID-19 Cases and Related Updates. Cases of COVID-19 in the United States are down 58 percent from the Sept. 13 peak of 172,500 daily cases. The CDC forecasts a continued decrease in COVID-19 cases through the end of November. Despite encouraging predictions in the United States, recent reports show that the COVID-19 death toll has surpassed 5 million worldwide.

  • The antidepressant fluvoxamine has been shown to reduce hospitalizations among high-risk adults who have contracted COVID-19. The antidepressant costs $4 per course of treatment, a small sum compared to antibody IV treatments, which cost around $2,000, and Merck’s experimental antiviral pill, which costs $700.

Vaccinations and Vaccine Mandates.

Long COVID and Disabilities.

Administration News
The $1.75 trillion budget blueprint the president unveiled last week allots $130 billion for health care initiatives. These include extending ACA premium subsidies established under the American Rescue Plan and allowing low-income individuals in states that have not expanded Medicaid eligibility to buy ACA health plans without paying a premium through 2025. Some administration officials noted that the budget plan would be the largest expansion of health insurance in about a decade, potentially extending coverage to 7 million people. Washington Post (10/28)

CMS’ Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) final rule will expand access to behavioral telehealth services and diabetes protection programs to improve health outcomes for traditionally underserved Medicare patients. The rule also finalizes policies for the 2022 performance year of the Quality Payment Program. CMS News (11/2)
Additional Health News
Patient advocates are calling for stricter compliance of transparency rules after published hospital prices show large variations in the price of the same procedures at different facilities. Although federal rules requiring hospitals to display prices on their websites have been in effect since January, multiple surveys show that the vast majority of hospitals are still not compliant. Advocates argue that hospitals must be held accountable for federal transparency rules because patients need accessible price information to make informed decisions about their care. Modern Healthcare (10/22)
CMS is changing its End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Treatment Choices Model policies so providers can offer more in-home dialysis treatment options to Medicare patients with chronic kidney disease. This final rule’s goal is to decrease hospital readmission rates and increase preventive care for ERSD patients with lower socioeconomic status, marking one of the first CMS Innovation Center models to directly address health equity. CMS News (11/1)
Graphic of the Week
ACA Marketplace Open Enrollment began on Nov. 1, 2021, and will last until Jan. 15, 2022. CMS has released the Marketplace 2022 Open Enrollment Fact Sheet detailing its efforts to assist consumers, as well as resources for navigators to share with consumers. 
Upcoming Events, Trainings, & Webinars
Intended for community partners and providers working in rural areas, this webinar will offer attendees the opportunity to learn more about federal COVID-19 resources, toolkits, and information. Attendees will also receive information on health care workforce mandates, health care coverage related to the vaccine, and more. Register here.
The webinar will explore ways to improve patient-centered cancer care and the relationship between patient-centered care practices and health equity. Register here.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have significant health, economic, and social effects in the United States. In this webinar, the Bipartisan Policy Center hosts Dr. Anthony Fauci and other experts to discuss the future of the pandemic, in light of the approaching holidays and the beginning of the new year. Register here.
NOTE: The information, analyses, and opinions expressed in the articles, publications, or comments contained therein are those of the authors and should not be considered verified or endorsed by IMPAQ or any of our partners or clients.