IHA Daily Briefing: Nov. 6

Friday, November 6, 2020  
IHA Board Looks Ahead to 2021
Interim Final Rule: COVID-19 Vaccine/Treatment Coverage
State, National, Global COVID-19 Updates
State Releases Contact Tracing Data
Next IDPH COVID-19 Update Webinar on Tuesday
Job Growth, Unemployment Decline in October

IHA Board Looks Ahead to 2021
Meeting virtually over the past two days at its annual retreat and bimonthly meeting, the IHA Board of Trustees focused on key advocacy issues and strategic priorities for IHA and the hospital community for 2021.

After reviewing the political landscape, which continues to be very challenging and volatile, the Board discussed IHA’s local, state and federal advocacy agendas, which the Board will formally adopt at its January 2021 meeting.

Top local and state advocacy priorities – requiring both defense and offense – include: the state budget and Medicaid; hospital/healthcare transformation; health equity; Medicaid managed care oversight and accountability; telehealth; nurse staffing ratio legislation; a public option; and payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs).

Key federal priorities include: COVID-19 pandemic response; coverage; health equity; price transparency; surprise billing; telehealth; drug prices and shortages; Medicare and Medicaid; the 340B drug pricing program; workforce; rural health; and quality and value-based care.

As part of the virtual meeting, the Board held a special session on diversity, equity and inclusion, and reviewed and discussed the ongoing work of the Board’s Committee on Health Disparities, which expects to present a report to the Board in the first quarter of 2021.

The IHA Board also met separately with Governor J.B. Pritzker and Healthcare and Family Services Director Theresa Eagleson. The Board and Governor Pritzker discussed mutual concerns and issues related to the hospital community’s and the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Board and Director Eagleson focused on HFS’ recommendations and strategies for healthcare transformation, which may be considered by the Illinois General Assembly in a few weeks if lawmakers proceed with their fall Veto Session.

IHA President and CEO A.J. Wilhelmi also recognized and thanked several Board members for their service and leadership: Northwest Community Healthcare President and CEO Stephen Scogna and Morris Hospital and Health Centers President and CEO Mark Steadham, who will be leaving the Board at the end of the year; and Riverside Healthcare Center President and CEO Phillip Kambic, who is completing his year as IHA Board Chair

Interim Final Rule: COVID-19 Vaccine/Treatment Coverage
Today, the U.S. Departments of the Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services published a fourth COVID-19 interim final rule with comment period in the Federal Register (CMS-9912-IFC). This interim final rule:

  • Implements several aspects of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), including COVID-19 vaccine payment and administration;
  • Establishes Medicare add-on payments for new COVID-19 treatments under the inpatient and outpatient prospective payment systems (IPPS and OPPS);
  • Implements Medicaid beneficiary enrollment maintenance requirements from the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA);  
  • Extends the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement model by 6 months; and   
  • Revises regulations specific to State Innovation Waivers.

The effective date for the majority of the provisions in the interim final rule is Nov. 2, 2020. Comments are due Jan. 4, 2021.

State, National, Global COVID-19 Updates
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced today 10,376 new COVID-19 cases – another new record high and the first time over 10,000 new daily cases – and 49 deaths.

The total number of cases in the state is 465,540 in 102 counties, with a total of 10,079 deaths. IDPH says that in the past 24 hours, 98,401 test specimens have been processed, with a positivity rate of 10.5%. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity rate for cases as a percent of total tests from Oct. 30 – Nov. 5 is 9.6%, and the seven-day test positivity rate is 11.1%.

Statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations in the past 24 hours increased from 3,891 patients to 4,090 patients, the highest daily level and first time over 4,000 patients since May 20. Of that figure, 786 patients were in the ICU, with 339 patients on ventilators.

Seventy-five counties, plus the city of Chicago, are currently reported at a warning level – Adams, Alexander, Bond, Boone, Bureau, Calhoun, Carroll, Chicago, Christian, Clay, Clinton, Coles, Cook, Crawford, Cumberland, DeKalb, Douglas, DuPage, Effingham, Franklin, Fulton, Gallatin, Greene, Grundy, Hamilton, Hancock, Iroquois, Jackson, Jasper, Jersey, Jo Daviess, Johnson, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Knox, Lake, LaSalle, Lee, Livingston, Logan, Macon, Madison, Marion, Mason, Massac, McHenry, Mercer, Monroe, Morgan, Moultrie, Ogle, Peoria, Perry, Pike, Pulaski, Putnam, Randolph, Rock Island, Saline, Sangamon, Scott, Shelby, St. Clair, Stephenson, Tazewell, Vermilion, Wabash, Warren, Washington, Wayne, Whiteside, Will, Williamson, Winnebago, and Woodford. That’s an increase of 26 counties from the 49 counties reported on the warning list last week.

Today’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) figures show more than 9.5 million confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. (an increase of more than 117,000 cases), with 234,264 deaths.

Today’s WHO Coronavirus Disease Dashboard shows more than 48.1 million COVID-19 cases globally (an increase of more than 266,000 cases), with more than 1.22 million deaths. The Region of the Americas (includes the U.S.) continues to lead the world with more than 21.1 million cases and more than 650,000 deaths.

State Releases Contact Tracing Data
Governor J.B. Pritzker and Illinois Dept. of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike this afternoon gave an update on the state’s and local health departments’ contact tracing efforts at their daily COVID-19 update press conference.

They reported that interviews have been conducted in connection with more than 100,000 cases statewide, and nearly 100,000 interviews have been conducted with contacts. The Governor and the Director urged anyone who has tested positive or has been in close contact with someone who tested positive to answer calls from contact tracers and answer their questions to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

According to their update, the top outbreak locations are: Factory, Community Event, Church, College, and Corrections. Outbreak locations are locations where five or more cases are epidemiologically linked to a specific setting during a 14-day period.

The top exposure locations are: Restaurant/Bar, School, Workplace, Hospital/Clinic, and Business/Retail. Exposure locations are locations where someone who tested positive went in the time before they were symptomatic or tested positive.

Next IDPH COVID-19 Update Webinar on Tuesday
Because of the Veteran’s Day holiday, the Illinois Dept. of Public Health will hold its next COVID-19 Situational Update webinar on Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 11 a.m. To register, click here.

Job Growth, Unemployment Decline in October
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today that nonfarm payrolls increased by 638,000 and that the unemployment rate declined by one percentage point to 6.9% in October.

Employment in healthcare and social assistance rose by 79,000 last month but is down by 950,000 since February. In October, healthcare employment increased by 58,000, with the largest gains occurring in hospitals (+16,000), offices of physicians (+14,000), offices of dentists (+11,000), and outpatient care centers (+10,000). These increases were partially offset by a decline of 9,000 in nursing and residential care facilities.