IHA Daily Briefing: July 29

Wednesday, July 29, 2020
CMS Urged to Delay Repayment of Accelerated Payments
AGs Question Changes in Hospital Data Reporting System
New Restrictions on Youth/Adult Sports Announced
State, National, Global COVID-19 Updates
Occupational Mix Survey Deadline Extended to Sept. 3

CMS Urged to Delay Repayment of Accelerated Payments
Six national organizations representing hospitals, including the American Hospital Association, are urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to delay the start of repayments associated with the Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payment (AAP) Programs. The first hospitals and health systems to receive accelerated payments are scheduled to start repaying them soon.

In a letter to CMS, the organizations state: “The requirement to begin repaying these funds in the next few weeks will place hospitals and health systems in financial jeopardy while they work to recover from this unprecedented pandemic. Providers will continue to face historic challenges throughout this extended public health emergency and beyond, as we expect the immense financial strain facing hospitals and health systems due to COVID-19 will continue through at least the end of 2020. While there will be efforts to make improvements to AAP as part of the next COVID-19 relief package, Congress may not have this legislation completed until after Aug. 1, and we therefore ask that CMS delay the start of the repayments until legislators have the opportunity to make changes to the programs.”

IHA continues to urge the Illinois Congressional delegation to support key modifications in the Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payment Programs in the next COVID-19 legislative package, including loan forgiveness and, at a minimum, action to significantly improve the repayment requirements. See IHA’s advocacy alert, IHA’s list of COVID-19 legislative priorities and recent letter to the delegation.


AGs Question Changes in Hospital Data Reporting System
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and 21 other state attorneys general are urging the federal government to withdraw its new reporting process that has hospitals reporting COVID-19 data to a U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) system. In a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, the attorneys general urge HHS to restore the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to “its rightful role as the primary repository for and source of information about the nation’s public health data.”

“The CDC has nearly 75 years of experience in mitigating the spread of diseases and illnesses,” Raoul said. “Removing the CDC from the system for reporting hospital COVID-19 data will significantly inhibit its ability to battle this pandemic which has sickened and taken the lives of thousands throughout the United States, including more than 7,400 in Illinois.”

As of July 15, hospitals no longer report COVID-19 data to the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network but instead use HHS’ TeleTracking portal. HHS is now publicly posting the data on its HHS Protect Public Data Hub (also see FAQs).


New Restrictions on Youth/Adult Sports Announced
Governor J.B. Pritzker announced today guidance, effective Aug. 15, for youth and adult recreational sports, including, but not limited to, school-based sports, travel clubs, private leagues and clubs, recreational leagues and centers, and park district sports programs. Collegiate sports and professional leagues are not impacted by these restrictions. The guidelines are available at the state’s COVID-19 website.

“I know our hearts break when we hear the word ‘restrictions,' especially when it comes to our children's love for their sports. Whether this year is their first time on the court or it's their senior season - this isn't the news anyone wants to hear,” Governor Pritzker. “But with rising rates of spread of the virus, with rising positivity rates throughout Illinois and the United States, this is a situation where the toughest choice is also the safest one. Therefore today, my administration is releasing new guidance restricting youth and adult recreational sports in Illinois. We have worked in consultation with the governing bodies of many of these organized sports programs, and collectively we hope that, when metrics and risks improve measurably, we will be able to restart these sports.”

The new guidance categorizes sports into three risk levels – lower, medium, or higher – based on the amount of contact between athletes and their proximity during play. The guidance sets four levels of play allowed based on current public health conditions:

  • Level 1: only no-contact practices and training are allowed;\
  • Level 2: intra-team scrimmages are allowed with parental consent for minors but there can be no competitive play;   
  • Level 3: intra-conference, intra-EMS-region or intra-league play is allowed and there may be state- or league-championship games allowed for low-risk sports only; and   
  • Level 4: tournaments, out-of-conference/league play, and out-of-state play are allowed. Championship games are also allowed.

Based on current conditions, lower risk sports can be played at levels 1, 2 and 3. Medium risk sports can be played at levels 1 and 2, and higher risk sports can be played at level 1.


State, National, Global COVID-19 Updates
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced today 1,393 new COVID-19 cases and 18 deaths. The total number of cases in the state is 175,124 in 102 counties, with a total of 7,462 deaths. IDPH says that in the past 24 hours, 38,187 test specimens have been processed, with a positivity rate of 3.6%. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity rate from July 22 to July 28 is 3.8%. Statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations in the past 24 hours increased from 1,383 patients to 1,491 patients (highest level since July 8). Of that figure, 355 patients were in the ICU, with 152 patients on ventilators.

Today’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) figures show more than 4.3 million confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., with 148,866 deaths.

Today’s WHO Coronavirus Disease Dashboard shows more than 16.5 million COVID-19 cases globally, with more than 656,000 deaths. The Region of the Americas (includes the U.S.) continues to lead the world with more than 8.8 million cases and more than 342,000 deaths.


Occupational Mix Survey Deadline Extended to Sept. 3
IHA has received confirmation from National Government Services (NGS) and Wisconsin Physicians Service (WPS) that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) extended the occupational mix survey submission deadline to Sept. 3. CMS indicates that continued COVID-related concerns from hospitals about meeting the Aug. 3 deadline led them to extend the submission deadline an additional month. In addition, hospitals may make revisions to their occupational mix surveys, if needed, no later than Sept. 10. Hospitals must use the Excel hospital reporting form available on CMS’ website.