IHA Daily Briefing: Aug. 1

Monday, Aug. 1, 2022
Federal Advocacy Alert: Urge Support of Fall Legislation
Telehealth Conference: Virtual Care in a Changing World
FDA Update: Response to Monkeypox Outbreak
Illinois COVID-19 Update
Briefly Noted

Federal Advocacy Alert: Urge Support of Fall Legislation
In a federal advocacy alert released today, IHA urged hospital leaders to meet with lawmakers during the annual August Congressional recess to provide an overview of your organization’s financial challenges and urge support for hospital priorities to be included in fall legislation. The U.S. House adjourned on Friday, and the Senate is expected to adjourn in the coming days.

When Congress returns to Washington next month, it will consider “must-pass” legislation. IHA is asking lawmakers to include critical hospital and health system priorities and to prevent cuts to hospitals. Among the priorities highlighted in the action alert are:

  • Preventing cuts to hospitals by reversing 2% Medicare sequester cuts, preventing 4% PAYGO cuts and opposing site-neutral payment policies;
  • Extending pandemic flexibilities such as telehealth flexibilities and the Acute Hospital Care at Home program;
  • Extending rural hospital programs, including the Medicare-dependent hospital (MDH) program, enhanced low-volume adjustment (LVA) policy and Conrad State 30 program;
  • Investing in the healthcare workforce by, among other actions, lifting the cap on Medicare-supported physician residency positions, restoring funding to nursing and allied health programs, and streamlining the prior authorization process in Medicare Advantage plans to ease administrative burden.

The fiscal and political environment on Capitol Hill is extremely challenging, and it is important members of Congress hear firsthand from hospital leaders that despite historic financial support during the pandemic, Illinois hospitals are experiencing extreme financial strain due to the current inflationary economy and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Most importantly, it is critical to connect the impact the financial strain has on access to care for the patients and communities you serve.

Click here to send a message to your member of Congress. Click here to access a customizable template email available for your use, and IHA’s recent letter to the delegation is here.

Telehealth Conference: Virtual Care in a Changing World
On Aug. 30 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Southern Illinois University (SIU) will host the 2022 Telehealth Conference: Virtual Care in a Changing World. The conference is being offered both in-person at the Memorial Learning Center in Springfield as well as online/virtually.

Presenters include leaders from SIU School of Medicine, Carle Health, Penn State Health and a hospital leader panel. Topics addressed will include:

  • Telemedicine in maternal-fetal medicine – expanding maternal care throughout central and southern Illinois;
  • Lessons learned in operationalizing telehealth in internal medicine specialties and subspecialties;
  • Impacting skilled nursing facility care with virtual health;
  • Telehealth marketing strategies;
  • Incorporating compliance into your telehealth practice; and,
  • Clinical and educational applications of teleneurology.

For more information, see the conference brochure and conference registration.

FDA Update on Response to Monkeypox Outbreak
On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provided an update on national monkeypox response.

The update underscored that since the initial case of monkeypox was detected in the U.S., the FDA has worked with commercial laboratories and manufacturers to make monkeypox tests more readily available to consumers. The update also offered information on vaccine availability, noting that there are close to 800,000 doses of this vaccine pending release this fall and that the FDA has accelerated the timeline and has determined the vaccine meets its quality standards.

While the update stated that there is no FDA-approved or authorized medicine for the treatment of monkeypox, TPOXX (tecovirimat), an antiviral medication, is being made available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) under an FDA authority called Expanded Access or “compassionate use.” The FDA has been working with the CDC to streamline its Expanded Access Program for monkeypox to facilitate access.

In addition to information on the FDA’s efforts with regard to diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics, the agency also has a dedicated website where providers and the public can access information on regulatory activities and the FDA’s role in monkeypox preparedness and response.

For more information about Illinois’ response to the monkeypox outbreak, click here.

Illinois COVID-19 Update
The Illinois Dept. of Public Health (IDPH) today reported 2,903 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases and one COVID-19 deaths.

Most recent IDPH hospitalization data show 1,416 individuals in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 157 patients were in the ICU and 50 patients were on ventilators.

The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily in Illinois is 11,229 doses. IDPH reported that 78.1% of Illinoisans (18 years and older) have been fully vaccinated, while 86.3% have received at least one vaccination dose. For the Illinois population 12 years and older, 77% have been fully vaccinated, while 85% have received at least one vaccination dose. For the Illinois population 5 years and older, 73.6% have been fully vaccinated and 81.3% have received at least one dose.

Briefly Noted
Going back to school can be a stressful time for children and adolescents, which makes focusing on mental help more important than ever during this time. In response, the National Institute of Mental Health has made available back-to-school resources and information that providers, parents, educators and others can use to help kids cope with these challenges.

Secretary of State Jesse White is hosting a virtual National Minority Donor Awareness Month at www.LifeGoesOn.com to promote organ/tissue donation for multicultural communities. Secretary White said in a statement, “Unfortunately, minorities are in the greatest need of organ transplants, yet they donate at a lower rate.” According to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network in Illinois 1,484 Black people are on the waiting list, but in 2021 only 139 Black people became donors; 880 Latinos are on the waiting list, but last year only 90 Latinos became donors; and 239 Asian Americans are on the waiting list, but only nine Asian Americans became organ donors in 2021.