IHA Daily Briefing: Nov. 21

Monday, Nov. 21, 2022
IHA Board Focuses on Key Issues, Strategies for 2023
New Health Sector Ransomware Threat
AG: Permanently Extend Telehealth Flexibilities for OUD Treatment
HAN: Monkeypox in Patients Receiving Therapeutics
AHA Webinar on Potential Energy Tax Benefits
Illinois COVID-19 Data
Briefly Noted

IHA Board Focuses on Key Issues, Strategies for 2023
Meeting Thursday and Friday at its annual retreat and bimonthly meeting, the IHA Board of Trustees focused on strategic priorities and key advocacy issues for IHA and the hospital community in 2023.

After reviewing the results of the recent state elections, and the political landscape heading into the new year, the Board discussed and agreed on IHA’s state and federal advocacy agendas for next year.

IHA’s top state advocacy priority is advocating for additional state investment and financial support for Illinois hospitals dealing with unsustainable post-pandemic supply and staffing costs. Other top state priorities include addressing workforce challenges by advancing the nurse licensure compact, blocking nurse staffing ratios, curbing workplace violence against healthcare workers, and resolving licensure challenges. Another key state advocacy priority for 2023 is addressing Medicaid MCO and commercial payer practices which are causing significant barriers to patient care and burdens on the hospital community. The IHA Board also discussed other key state advocacy issues for next year, including advancing health equity, preserving tax exemption, boarding of behavioral health patients, and rural emergency hospitals.

At the federal level, in 2023 IHA’s key advocacy issues will center on advancing financial stability, supporting hospital resiliency and advancing healthcare transformation. Critical to this effort will be preventing cuts to hospitals, investing in the healthcare workforce, expanding access to virtual care, and advancing models of care that strengthen quality while lowering costs.

Illinois Dept. of Public Health Director (IDPH) Dr. Sameer Vohra also led a roundtable discussion centered on how the state and the hospital community can work together moving forward. Dr. Vohra identified areas of opportunity where hospitals can make a significant impact on health in Illinois. The Director pointed to heath equity and social and structural determinants of health, and underscored the importance of health delivery that is built around Illinois residents. Finally, Dr. Vohra stressed the importance of collaboration between IDPH and the hospital community.

IHA President & CEO A.J. Wilhelmi also recognized several Board members whose terms end this year. In recognition of their leadership and service, IHA thanks William Santulli, Chief Operating Officer, Advocate Aurora Health; José R. Sánchez, President & CEO, Norwegian American Hospital; Steve Tenhouse, CEO, Kirby Medical Center; and Brenda Wolf, President & CEO at La Rabida Children’s Hospital. IHA also congratulated Rex Budde, President & CEO at Southern Illinois Healthcare, on his approaching retirement.

A.J. concluded the meeting by thanking 2022 IHA Board Chair Ted Rogalski for his mentorship and great leadership on behalf of IHA and the hospital community.

New Health Sector Ransomware Threat
A joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) was issued last week by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS), to help healthcare organizations and other critical infrastructure sectors protect against Hive ransomware. More than 1,300 healthcare and other organizations have been the victim of Hive ransomware since June 2022.

FBI, CISA, and HHS are encouraging organizations to implement the recommendations in the Mitigations section of their CSA to reduce the likelihood and impact of ransomware incidents. Key actions to take immediately include:

  • Prioritize remediating known exploited vulnerabilities.

  • Enable and enforce multifactor authentication with strong passwords.

  • Close unused ports and remove any application not deemed necessary for day-to-day operations.

CISA encourages network defenders to review the CSA and to apply the included mitigations. See StopRansomware.gov for additional guidance on ransomware protection, detection, and response.

AG: Extend Telehealth Flexibilities for OUD Treatment
Last week, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul joined 44 other attorneys general in calling on federal agencies to permanently extend telehealth flexibilities granted for an opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment.

The letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services urges these flexibilities be extended past the end of the public health emergency (PHE), anticipated to come to an end in 2023. During the PHE, providers have been allowed to prescribe some controlled substances through telehealth. This includes buprenorphine, one of three medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat patients suffering from opioid use disorder.

On Sept. 1, the Illinois Dept. of Human Services, Division of Substance Use and Recovery (IDHS/SUPR) launched a statewide medication assisted recovery (MAR) program, called MAR NOW, using the aforementioned federal telehealth flexibilities granted for OUD. MAR NOW is accessible through the 24/7 Illinois Helpline for opioids and other substances (833-234-6343). Patients asking for opioid treatment between the hours of 6 a.m.-10 p.m., seven days a week, can be quickly connected to immediate treatment for OUD. This includes telephonic prescriptions and home induction on buprenorphine, or same-day clinic appointments for methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone. MAR NOW can also connect patients to withdrawal management and residential treatment.

In the hospital setting, the addiction staff at MAR NOW can assist hospital-based physicians and advanced practice providers with induction in the emergency department or inpatient services, in addition to setting up referrals upon discharge from the acute care setting. The program serves as a bridge clinic after acute care discharge, and will assist patients with insurance enrollment and connection to other behavioral health supports as needed. Patients are treated regardless of insurance status, ability to pay, or documentation.

Contact us with questions.

HAN: Monkeypox in Patients Receiving Therapeutics
Monkeypox cases have declined since mid-August 2022 in the United States; however, new cases—including clinically severe cases—continue to occur. While there are currently no treatments specifically approved for monkeypox, therapeutics developed for patients with smallpox have been deployed during the current outbreak. 

A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Health Alert Network (HAN) Health Update provides clinicians and public health officials with new information for managing monkeypox in patients requiring therapeutics.

Click here to access the updated guidance, including recommendations for healthcare providers.

AHA Webinar on Potential Energy Tax Benefits
On Thursday, Dec. 8 at 1 p.m. CT the American Hospital Association (AHA) will host a member webinar on potential provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act (Public Law 117-169) that may be available to hospitals and health systems, including tax credits. The webinar will feature experts to provide an in-depth look at how new energy and efficiency tax credits contained in the law may apply to hospitals. They will also answer participant questions.

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (H.R.5376) was signed into law Aug. 16, 2022, making tax incentives available to hospitals that prioritize energy efficient construction and clean energy vehicles. AHA members may access a detailed summary of key provisions by clicking here.

Illinois COVID-19 Data
To access updated Illinois COVID-19 data on daily case numbers, testing outcomes and deaths, click here. Hospitalization data, including the number of patients in the ICU and patients on ventilators, can be accessed by clicking here. The most recent COVID-19 vaccination data can be found by clicking here. The Illinois Dept. of Public Health (IDPH) updates its COVID-19 data at 1 p.m. Monday – Friday.

Briefly Noted
A spike in suicides and deaths by substance abuse has strained rural communities already struggling with a lack of clinical and inpatient resources. Part two of a special American Hospital Association (AHA) podcast series features Stephanie Greer, president of Cannon Memorial Hospital, an Appalachian regional behavioral health hospital and critical access hospital in Newland, North Carolina. Greer discusses how Cannon Memorial succeeded in obtaining an unprecedented Medicare waiver that allowed it to expand the inpatient capacity for psychiatric services in the community. Click here to listen in.