April 4, 2020 |  Issue 20-10  Missed Last Week's Washington Report? Click Here to Visit our Archives!

Community Health Aide Program (CHAP) TAG Vacancies
 In February 2018, with the announcement of CHAP expansion to Tribes beyond Alaska, IHS created a CHAP Tribal Advisory Group.

 Information on CHAP and CHAP TAG, including vacant  positions, is available on the CHAP
website .

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Top Story
National Indian Health Board Launches  COVID-19 Tribal Resource Center Website

The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) is pleased to launch its COVID-19 Tribal Resource Center website with Tribally-specific Coronavirus-related developments, tools and information for Tribes. The website has COVID-19 community health and advocacy tools, fact sheets and information about congressional developments, federal agency and Tribal response plans. Tribal leaders, tribal health workers and administrators, Tribal community members and advocates for tribal health policy are encouraged to visit the site and use and share the resources with their respective communities and networks. 

"The Tribes told the National Indian Health Board that they needed more resource materials on Coronavirus and we listened. The NIHB COVID-19 Tribal Resource Center website is the place for Tribes and Tribal health authorities to gather resources to help educate and protect Native youth, elders and families," said NIHB CEO Stacy A. Bohlen. "During this public health crisis, NIHB seeks to ensure that the Tribes remain informed on COVID-19 and have the resources and assistance needed to respond to the pandemic. The website will help bring awareness of the disease to tribal members."

for all of the latest updates and resources on Coronavirus (COVID-19) response.

For all media inquiries, please contact
April Hale at ahalepr@gmail.com
In This Issue:


NIHB along with the National Congress of American Indians, the Native Farm Bill Coalition, the National Indian Education Association, the National Council of Urban Indian Health, the United South and Eastern Tribes Sovereignty Protection Fund, the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, and the Tribal Self-Governance Advisory Committee sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue providing recommendations for rapid disbursement of the $100 million in additional funding for the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) under the CARES Act. This letter urges USDA to ensure FDPIR funds are distributed with maximum administration flexibility for the Tribes and ensure funds are delivered to the Tribes as expeditiously a possible to address nutrition priorities. 

The coalition sent an additional letter to US Department of Health and Human Services Alex Azar urging prompt issue of guidance for how Indian Health Service and I/T/U health sytems may access funding under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The CARES Act includes significant direct funding for the care of American Indian/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) including $1.032 billion for the IHS Services Account; a minimum of $125 million set aside for public health through the CDC; a minimum of $15 million set aside for mental and behavioral health services through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA); and a minimum of $15 million set aside for health surveillance through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

For the most rapid and comprehensive distribution of funds, the coalition made the following recommendations: 

  • Quickly engage in meaningful Tribal consultant and Urban confer
  • Ensure the appropriate Tribal advisory committe (TAC) is included in the agency decision-making as a supplemental to Tribal conultant and Urban confer
  • Implement ways to facilitate interagency transfers of funding that Tribal nations can access to address COVID-19 and its impacts so that funding can be disbursed to Tribal nations quickly
  • Implement ways to disburse funding to Tribal nations using existing funding mechanisms already in place when possible
The full letter may be read here. 
AdvancedPaymentCMS Authorizes Inclusion of Medicare Part A Providers and Part B Suppliers to the Accelerated and Advance Payment Program
On March 28, 2020 the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a fact sheet on their expansion of the Accelerated and Advanced Payments Program for providers and suppliers during the COVID-19 emergency. The fact sheet discusses CMS's guidance on increasing cash flow to providers for services and suppliers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, CMS is expanding the Payment Program to now include Medicare Part A providers and Part B suppliers. To qualify the provider or supplier should have billed Medicare for claims within 180 days, not be in bankruptcy, not be under active medical review or program integrity investigation, and not have any outstanding delinquent Medicare overpayments. This expansion is said to only last the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
CDC Seeks Public Input on Interim Final Rule to Suspend Entry into the United States of Persons and Property from Designated Countries AdvancedPayment
On March 24, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), published an interim final rule regarding procedures to suspend entry of individuals traveling into the United States from designated foreign countries - should the HHS Secretary determine that suspension is necessary to protect the public health. Current regulations permit CDC to quarantine or isolate persons entering the United States, but do not address suspending entry of persons into the United States. The primary legal authority supporting this rulemaking is section 362 of the Public Health Service Act. Pursuant to the Act, the agency is undertaking this rulemaking and comment request, with the intention of slowing down the infection rate and exposure of COVID-19, and mitigating the risk of another emerging, or re-emerging, communicable disease that may harm the American public. This interim final rule is effective as of March 20, 2020 and will be in effect until (1) one year from its publication, or (2) when the HHS secretary determines there is no longer a need for the rule.  The public may comment on this rule through April 23, 2020.

ScholarshipsIndian Health Service Requests Comment on Participant Applications for its Scholarship Program

On March 24, 2020, the IHS published a request for comments and an extension of approval on their Scholarship Program Application. The information collected is needed by the IHS Scholarship Branch in order to administer the program and issue awards to IHS Pre-graduate, preparatory and or Health Professional Scholarship recipients. Comments on this notice are due April 23, 2020.

HHS Sets Public Meeting dates for the Health Information Technology Advisory Committee (HITAC) in 2020

On March 26, 2020, HHS published a notice on ten public meetings to be held in 2020 for the HITAC. The HITAC is a federal advisory committee that makes recommendations to the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology on interoperability, privacy and security, and patient access. All HITAC meetings are open to the public and conference instructions and information can be found here. The next HITAC meeting will be held virtually on April 15, 2020, from approximately 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Call-in information can be found HERE. Five meetings are scheduled after that date.

MedicalDevicesHHS Notice on the Emergency Use Authorization Declaration to Justify Use of Emergency Medical Devices
On March 27, 2020, HHS published a Notice of Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) Declaration. The notice authorizes emergency use of an unapproved drug, an unapproved or un-cleared device, an unlicensed biological product, an unapproved use of an approved drug, approved or cleared device or a licensed biological product. This EUA is in effective until March 24 th 2020 and is designed to allow for these specific medical devices to be used to take response measures based on information currently available on the COVID-19 virus. On February 4, 2020, the Secretary determined pursuant to his authority under section 564 of the FD&C Act that there is a public health emergency that has a significant potential to affect national security or the health and security of United States citizens living abroad and that involves a novel (new) coronavirus (nCoV) first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China in 2019 (2019-nCoV). The virus is now named SARS-CoV-2, which causes the illness COVID-19. The EU became effective on March 24, 2020.

telehealthCMS Releases Long-Term Care Nursing Homes Telehealth and Telemedicine Tool Kit
As part of President Trump's emergency declaration and the regulatory flexibilities aimed to limit the spread of community COVID-19 in the United States, CMS has published a telehealth toolkit. The toolkit provides information on how CMS has broadened access to Medicare telehealth services so that beneficiaries can receive a wider range of services from their doctors without having to travel to a health care facility. CMS is expanding this benefit on a temporary and emergency basis under the 1135 waiver authority and the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act. The telehealth benefits are part of the larger CMS and White House efforts ensure that all Americans - particularly those at high-risk of complications from the virus that causes COVID-19, are aware of easy-to-use, accessible benefits that can help keep them healthy while helping to contain the community spread of this virus.

In Response to COVID-19, CMS Announces Relief for Clinicians, Providers, Hospitals, and Facilities Participating in Quality Reporting Program

CMS has extended the 2019 Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) data submission deadline to April 30, 2020 to provide relief to clinicians responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the MIPS automatic extreme and uncontrollable circumstances policy will apply to MIPS eligible clinicians who do not submit their MIPS data by the April 30, 2020 deadline.  If you are a MIPS eligible clinician and do not submit any MIPS data by April 30, 2020, you will not need to take any additional action to qualify for the automatic extreme and uncontrollable circumstances policy. You will be automatically identified and will receive a neutral payment adjustment for the 2021 MIPS payment year .

SurveyResponsesNIHB Requesting Responses to 2nd COVID-19  Needs and Priorities Survey

The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) is asking for Tribes' continued assistance in assessing the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) prevention and response capacity in Indian Country. An initial survey was distributed on March 3rd, 2020 and received over 190 responses, providing much needed information in advocating for funding for Indian Country, as was approved by Congress in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or CARES Act last week. NIHB thanks you all for the response.

As the pandemic continues to expand across the nation and challenges our public health infrastructure and capacity on a daily basis, it is crucial that NIHB continue to hear the needs of Tribes.  This second survey will assess current and expected needs for medical countermeasures, workforce, infrastructure, and communication in response to COVID-19.
We ask that you please consider the questions at the link below and share any information you can with NIHB.
This survey should take about 10-15 minutes to complete. You can access the survey here:  https://survey.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_56WOzrDU1jkmpcF

IHS COVID-19 All Tribes CAll
Please see below for call information to the 
IHS' All Tribes Call on Thursday, April 9th at 3:30 PM Eastern . This call is intended to update Tribes on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Tribal Leaders will have an opportunity to provide comments and ask questions to federal officials. IHS has also scheduled a COVID-19 call for the following week at the same time-call info is the same for both calls.

Date:   Thursday, April 9th
Time:   3:30 PM - 5:00 PM (Eastern)
Conference Call:   800-857-5577 | Participant Passcode:  6703929
Webinar Adobe Connect:   https://ihs.cosocloud.com/r4k6jib09mj/ | Participant Password:  ihs123
Rural Communities Opioid Response Program Notice of Funding Opportunity
Application Deadline: April 24, 2020
HRSA recently released the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) notice of funding opportunity (HRSA-20-031). HRSA plans to award approximately 89 grants to rural communities as part of this funding opportunity. Applications are due by Friday, April 24, in Grants.gov .
Successful RCORP-Implementation award recipients will receive $1 million for a three-year period of performance to enhance and expand substance use disorder (SUD), including opioid use disorder (OUD), service delivery in high-risk rural communities. They will implement a set of core SUD/OUD prevention, treatment, and recovery activities that align with HHS' Five-Point Strategy to Combat the Opioid Crisis.
The target audience for CMS ITU Trainings includes:
  • Business Office staff
  • Benefits Coordinators
  • Patient Registration staff
  • Medical Records staff
  • Purchased/Referred Care staff
Please click here to access the schedule of virtual CMS ITU trainings. 
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Fax: 202-507-4071
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