May 15, 2020 |  Issue 20-15  Missed Last Week's Washington Report? Click Here to Visit our Archives!

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Top Story
HEROESHouse Democrats Set to Vote on HEROES Act as Next Supplemental Package in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (H.R. 6800) was introduced in the House of Representatives on May 12, 2020. The $3 trillion package provides further response and relief to federal agencies, and Tribal, state, local, and territorial governments in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Outlined below are top-line Tribally specific provisions that were included in the HEROES Act:

Indian Health Service (IHS):
  • $2.1 Billion overall
  • $1 Billion - to replenish shortfalls in third party healthcare revenue collection lost
  • $500 Million - for healthcare services, telehealth services, personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • $140 Million - for broadband infrastructure and information technology (IT) to support and expand telehealth services and electronic health record (EHR) operations
  • $20 Million - to address the needs of domestic violence victims, as well as homeless individuals and families
  • $64 Million - for urban Indian organizations
  • $10 Million - for safe drinking water and sanitation infrastructure development
  • $366 Million - to the IHS Facilities Account for the construction of new isolation and quarantine facilities, construction of shelters of opportunity, purchasing of updated equipment, and maintenance and improvement of existing facilities
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 
  • $100 Million - Tribal set-aside for COVID-19 public health response
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) 
  • $150 Million - Tribal set-aside for substance abuse prevention and treatment
The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) has developed a detailed breakdown of the public health appropriations and legislative statutes presented in the HEROES Act. 

Leading up to the introduction of the HEROES Act, the Congressional Native American Caucus and Caucus Co-Chair Representative Tom Cole (R-OK) both released their priorities for Indian Country. 

The House of Representatives is expected to the pass the bill this Friday evening May 15, and will then proceed to the Senate. 

If you have any questions regarding the funding and legislative proposals in HEROES Act, please contact NIHB Congressional Relations Director, Shervin Aazami at

In This Issue:



BHRemarksNational Indian Health Board Chairwoman Victoria Kitcheyan Provides Remarks to the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee on Behavioral Health in Indian Country
On Thursday May 14, National Indian Health Board (NIHB) Chairwoman Victoria Kitcheyan participated in a Virtual Roundtable with the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee to discuss behavioral health challenges in Indian Country during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Chairwoman Kitcheyan's remarks were accompanied by an official letter submitted to the committee highlighting specific behavioral health policy recommendations provided be NIHB including expansion of telehealth services, expansion of eligible provider types under Medicare for reimbursement to Indian Health Care Providers, among several others. 

ContactTracingCongressional Democrats Introduce Legislation for National Contact Tracing Program
On Thursday May 14, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Representative Andy Levin (D-MI) introduced bicameral legislative proposals to establish a federal contact tracing program to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus disease. 
Known as the "Coronavirus Containment Corps Act", the legislation requires the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) to develop a national contact tracing strategy within 21 days of consultation with state, local, and Tribal public health officials, Indian Tribes, and Tribal organizations. The plan would identify the number of contact tracers, support specialists, and investigators necessary to conduct culturally competent contact tracing. The propsoal includes $10 billion in funding to states and Tribes to hire more than 100,000 contact tracers, support specialists, and case investigators and to help public health systems shore up for a potential resurgence of COVID-19 in the Fall, with $1 billion at a minimum being specifically set aside for the Indian Health Services and Tribes. $500 million would be awarded to state and Tribal workforce agencies to help hire new contact tracers, focusing specifically on Americans who are currently unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

MedicarePharmaciesMedicare-enrolled Pharmacies and other Medicare-enrolled Suppliers May Temporarily Enroll as Independent Clinical Laboratories for COVID-19 Testing
On May 8, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced through its Medicare Learning Network that Medicare pharmacies and other suppliers can temporarily enroll as independent clinical diagnostic laboratories to help address COVID-19 testing. This should provide for additional laboratory resources to meet the urgent needs of individuals during the COVID-19 emergency.

FinalRuleFlexLatest CMS Interim Final Rule Introduces Unprecedented Flexibilities during Public Health Emergency
On May 8, CMS released an interim final rule, "Medicare and Medicaid Programs, Basic Health Program, and Exchanges; Additional Policy and Regulatory Revisions in Response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency and Delay of Certain Reporting Requirements for the Skilled Nursing Facility Quality Reporting Program" (CMS-5531-IFC). After publishing the first interim final rule on April 6, 2020 (with comments due June 1), CMS is now attempting to provide even more flexibility to health care providers in their efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19. In the latest interim final rule, CMS focuses on increasing access to hospital services and laboratory and diagnostic testing in settings that will allow individuals to receive the care without jeopardizing their health or the health of those providing the services. CMS is also allowing physical and occupational therapists, as well as speech pathologists, to bill select services provided within their scope of practice as telehealth. The new rule includes coding and documentation updates related to telehealth during the public health emergency, in addition to many other changes. A full listing of the codes eligible for telehealth can be found on the CMS website. Comments are due no later than July 7, 2020.
CMSVideoNew CMS Video on Medicare Coverage and Payment of Virtual Services
On May 8, CMS released a video that answers common questions about the expanded Medicare telehealth services benefit during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Some information in the video includes newly added telehealth services, additional practitioners providing telehealth services and the distant site services that Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) can provide.

CMSBenefitCMS Benefit and Payment Parameters for the 2021 Benefit Year
On May 7, CMS announced a final payment notice for the 2021 coverage year that contains several provisions, including blueprints for issuers to design innovative healthcare plans, provisions maintaining the lower user fee rates on issuers participating on the federal exchange platform previously set in the 2020 payment notice, and provisions aimed at improving consumer access to health coverage. In addition to these provisions the rule also announces a one week extension of the Qualified Health Plan (QHP) certification and rate review timelines.
FundingHRSAFunding from the Health Resources and Services Administration for all 50 states
On May 7, HRSA awarded $583 million to 1,385 HRSA-funded health centers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and eight U.S. territories to expand COVID-19 testing. For more information click here.
ACFConsultationAdministration for Children and Families (ACF) Tribal Consultation Session
ACF will hold a virtual Tribal Consultation on June 10-11, 2020 to consult on agency programs and Tribal priorities. The consultation will focus on Tribal leader input regarding barriers and opportunities for synchronizing early childhood initiatives in American Indian/Alaska Native communities. For more information on this consultation session click here.

Please see below for call information to the  IHS' All Tribes Call on Thursday, May 21st at 4:00 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, May 21st
Time:  4 :00 PM - 5:30 PM (Eastern)
Conference Call:   800-857-5577 | Participant Passcode:  6703929
Webinar Adobe Connect: | Participant Password:  ihs123
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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