IHA Daily Briefing: March 10

Friday, March 10, 2023
IHA Comments on Prior Authorization Proposed Rule
FDA Seeks $7.2 Billion to Protect and Advance Public Health
HHS Reopens Health Sector Climate Pledge
Hospital Leadership Critical to Cybersecurity Efforts
Illinois COVID-19 Data
Briefly Noted


IHA Comments on Prior Authorization Proposed Rule
IHA submitted comments to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on its Advancing Interoperability and Improving Prior Authorization Processes proposed rule. IHA’s comments focused on the technical and operational prior authorization-related proposals in the rule.

IHA comments applauded the proposed rule as a good first step in improving prior authorization processes, and called on CMS to further standardize the electronic exchange of information and shorten prior authorization decision timelines across payers to improve patient access to care. IHA also encouraged CMS to provide enhanced federal financial participation for states that implement uniform prior authorization requirements across their Medicaid programs.

The deadline to submit comments is Monday, Mar. 13.

Contact us with questions. 


FDA Seeks $7.2 Billion to Protect and Advance Public Health
Yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced it is requesting $7.2 billion as part of the president’s fiscal year (FY) 2024 budget.

According to a news release, this funding will allow the agency to continue to leverage new and emerging technologies, recruit and support a highly skilled workforce, and adapt oversight to new production and business models. The FDA notes this would result in an immediate impact on food, tobacco and medical product safety in this country, while also preparing the agency to address rapid innovation across the food and medical products fields. The request includes an increase of $372 million in budget authority — or 10% above the FY 2023 Enacted Level — and a $150 million increase in user fees. 

For more details about the funding request, click here.


HHS Reopens Health Sector Climate Pledge
The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Climate Change and Health Equity (OCCHE) announced yesterday that the White House-HHS Health Sector Climate Pledge will accept new signatories on an ongoing basis. The announcement comes after multiple health sector stakeholders requested to join the initiative following its October 2022 deadline.

Originally launched last spring, the White House-HHS Health Sector Climate Pledge is a voluntary commitment to reduce emissions and improve climate resilience, according to a news release. Signing organizations agree to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050. HHS says the health care sector accounts for 8.5% of U.S. emissions.

Organizations that sign the Pledge will be recognized through two announcements this year: in an Earth Day announcement if they sign by April 12 and in an announcement around the time of the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) if they sign by November 1.

For more information, click here.


Hospital Leadership Critical to Cybersecurity Efforts
A new Cybersecurity Framework Implementation Guide was issued yesterday by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Health Sector Coordinating Council public-private partnership, encouraging the healthcare sector to align their cybersecurity practices with the National Institute for Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework in response to cybersecurity challenges.

The report stresses the “crucial role” of senior leadership in effectively communicating how cybersecurity investments contribute to meaningful risk reduction, stressing, “The NIST Cybersecurity Framework bridges the communications divide to improve leadership’s oversight and engages individuals at all levels in defining maturity level targets, common nomenclature, and complex cybersecurity decisions to effect measurable outcomes.” In particular, the Cybersecurity Framework offers guidance on how leaders can become more involved in their organizational strategy to prevent cyberattacks, and outlines ways in which the NIST Cybersecurity Framework can serve as a guide to improve cybersecurity—and therefore boost security and resilience of critical healthcare infrastructure.

Recently, the White House rolled out its National Cybersecurity Strategy, outlining its approach to protecting critical infrastructure—including hospitals and healthcare systems—from cyber threats.


Illinois COVID-19 Data
The Illinois Dept. of Public Health (IDPH) is following the lead of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with weekly reporting of new COVID-19 cases and deaths. IDPH reports weekly data on Wednesday of each week for the previous week ending Sunday. IDPH will continue daily reporting of ICU bed availability and hospital admission data.

Today, IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra warned that cases of group A strep throat leading to severe complications are on the rise in Illinois, with more cases reported in 2023 than in any of the past five years. For more information on today’s warning, click here.


Briefly Noted
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has published updates to mammography regulations to, among other things, require mammography facilities to notify patients about the density of their breasts, strengthen the FDA’s oversight and enforcement of facilities, and help interpreting physicians better categorize and assess mammograms. The final rule amends regulations issued under the Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA) of 1992, a law passed to ensure quality mammography, which is very important for early breast cancer detection.

UPI reports ongoing shortages of a medication that hospitals and emergency rooms rely upon to treat breathing problems are likely to worsen in coming days and weeks, experts warn. According to UPI, one of the two major U.S. suppliers of liquid albuterol, Akorn Pharmaceuticals, abruptly laid off its entire workforce and closed plants in New Jersey, New York, and Illinois in late February. UPI reports the FDA is working with Nephron, the remaining supplier of liquid albuterol, to speed up production and increase supply. It is also looking into importing foreign supplies of liquid albuterol to help the nation get through the shortage.