IHA Daily Briefing: Nov. 18

Wednesday, November 18, 2020  
CMS Retiring Original Compare Tools Dec. 1
U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week
HHS Updates FAQs on PRF Requirements
FDA Issues EUA for At-Home COVID-19 Test
State, National, Global COVID-19 Updates
Why Is Illinois is Behind in Telehealth Accessibility?

CMS Retiring Original Compare Tools Dec. 1
On Dec. 1, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is migrating to a new healthcare comparison platform, Care Compare, a streamlined tool that replaces the eight original compare tools including Hospital Compare. Housed on the Medicare.gov website, Care Compare provides information on cost, quality, service volume, and other relevant data across provider types in one place. Information from the eight original compare tools is still available through Care Compare, as well as in the Provider Data Catalog. Hospitals should update any links to Hospital Compare to instead direct patients to Care Compare.


U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week
Today marks the start of U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week (Nov. 18-24), an annual national observance that raises awareness of the threat of antibiotic resistance and the importance of appropriate antibiotic use. Sustaining antibiotic stewardship efforts is critical, especially now. Antibiotic resistance continues to be a public health threat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges healthcare providers to spread the word about the importance of improving antibiotic prescribing and use to effectively treat infections, protect patients from harms caused by unnecessary and inappropriate use, and combat antibiotic resistance. To get involved in U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week, the CDC suggests:

Also, visit IHA’s Healthcare Innovation Hub and download the Antibiotic Stewardship Program playbook to learn about how a hospital in Chicago utilized an innovative approach to implement an antibiotic stewardship program to address antibiotic resistance in the community.


HHS Updates FAQs on PRF Requirements
Today, the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) posted updated FAQs regarding use of Provider Relief Fund (PRF) payments for capital expenses and third-party payments.

Hospitals may fully expense capital equipment, inventory and facilities in cases where the purchase was directly related to preventing, preparing for and responding to the coronavirus. Examples of capital equipment and inventory include ventilators, masks, face shields, biohazard suits, general personal protective equipment, and disinfectant supplies. Examples of capital facilities include upgrades to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to support negative pressure units, enhancements to ICU capabilities, and leasing a permanent facility to increase hospital capacity.

Additional examples of such capital expenses are on pages 15-16 of the updated FAQs. Previously, providers could only use the PRF to pay for the value of depreciation for COVID-19 related capital purchases with useful lives of more than 12 months.

Additionally, HHS clarified that net patient revenues should not include payments received from or made to third parties for patient care provided prior to 2019. This addresses potential fluctuations in year-over-year net patient revenues due to settlements or payments for patient care provided outside of the current reporting period (2019-2020). This FAQ is on page 24 of the updated document.


FDA Issues EUA for At-Home COVID-19 Test
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration yesterday issued an emergency use authorization for the first self-test for Covid-19 that can provide rapid results at home. The Lucira COVID-19 All-In-One Test Kit is a molecular single-use test that will be available by prescription.

“The FDA continues to demonstrate its unprecedented speed in response to the pandemic. While COVID-19 diagnostic tests have been authorized for at-home collection, this is the first that can be fully self-administered and provide results at home. This new testing option is an important diagnostic advancement to address the pandemic and reduce the public burden of disease transmission,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, MD. “[Tuesday’s] action underscores the FDA’s ongoing commitment to expand access to COVID-19 testing.”


State, National, Global COVID-19 Updates
The Illinois Dept. of Public Health (IDPH) announced today 8,922 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases – the first day since Nov. 5 that the state has reported under 10,000 new cases – and 140 deaths.

The total number of cases in the state is 606,771 in 102 counties, with a total of 11,014 deaths. IDPH says that in the past 24 hours, 103,569 test specimens have been processed (a new record), with a positivity rate of 8.6%. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity rate for cases as a percent of total tests from Nov. 11 – Nov. 17 is 11.9%, and the seven-day test positivity rate is 14.2%.

Statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations in the past 24 hours increased from 5,887 patients to 5,953 patients – another new record high. Of that figure, 1,146 patients were in the ICU, with 547 patients on ventilators.

Today’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) figures show more than 11.3 million confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. (an increase of more than 164,000 cases), with 247,834 deaths.

Today’s WHO Coronavirus Disease Dashboard shows more than 55 million COVID-19 cases globally (an increase of more than 291,000 cases), with more than 1.328 million deaths. The Region of the Americas (includes the U.S.) continues to lead the world with more than 23.5 million cases and more than 682,000 deaths.


Why Is Illinois Behind in Telehealth Accessibility?
As the state of Illinois reviews the COVID-19 emergency executive orders and waivers used to facilitate a better public health response to the pandemic, Carl Bergetz, general counsel for Rush University System for Health, and an Adjunct Professor at University of Illinois College of Law, says many temporary reforms should be made permanent because our laws and regulations are outdated and out-of-step with the rest of the nation.

In a series of three Q&A interviews with  Crain's Chicago Business, Bergetz discusses health reform in Illinois including: 1)  how telehealth can continue to be expanded; 2)  why and how medical malpractice should be reformed; and 3)  how Illinois can rationalize its regulatory requirements. Click here to see the entire series of interviews.