IHA Daily Briefing: Sept. 13

Monday, September 13, 2021
U.S. House Continues Drafting Reconciliation Package
PRF Stakeholder Briefing this Wednesday
Not Fully Vaccinated 11X More Likely to Die of COVID-19
State, National, Global COVID-19 Updates
Briefly Noted

U.S. House Continues Drafting Reconciliation Package
This week, the U.S. House continues its work to advance President Biden’s $3.5 trillion Build Back Better agenda, which would make massive investment in the nation’s social programs, clean energy and education, while raising taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations to help offset the cost. Today, the Energy and Commerce Committee continued marking up provisions under its jurisdiction (a section-by-section is here). The Ways and Means Committee will mark up numerous health provisions under its jurisdiction on Tuesday (a section-by-section is here).

IHA is working with the American Hospital Association (AHA) to urge Congress to include critical hospital and health system priorities, as outlined in a recent AHA letter.
Among the hospital field’s priorities are:

  • Expediting the visa authorization process for qualified international nurses to support hospitals facing staffing shortages (Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act, introduced by Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Brad Schneider (IL-10));
  • Lifting the cap on Medicare-funded residency positions (Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act, introduced by Rep. Rodney Davis (IL-13));
  • Addressing shortages of substance use disorder treatment providers by adding 1,000 Medicare-funded training positions in approved residency programs in addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry or pain medicine (Opioid Workforce Act/Substance Use Disorder Workforce Act, introduced by Rep. Schneider).
  • Supporting The Resetting the IMPACT Act (TRIA) to take into account unforeseen changes since the passage of the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act;
  • Providing direct capital investment grants to hospitals by updating the Hill-Burton Act; and
  • Removing Medicare’s limitations on telehealth and appropriately reimbursing hospitals and health systems for providing telehealth services.

Democratic leaders are working to finish drafting the $3.5 trillion spending package by Sept. 15, and hope to hold a floor vote by the end of the month. There is currently no Republican support for the bill, which means Democrats can only lose three votes in the House and must hold their entire caucus in the Senate.

Congress also needs to take action this month to raise the nation’s debt ceiling and fund the federal government beyond Sept. 30, the end of the federal fiscal year.

PRF Stakeholder Briefing this Wednesday
The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs (IEA) in partnership with the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) is hosting a stakeholder briefing on Wednesday, Sept. 15 at 3:30 p.m. CDT to discuss Friday’s announcement on the Phase 4 Provider Relief Fund (PRF) application process and other PRF policy changes.

The briefing will include remarks from Acting Administrator of HRSA Diana Espinosa and HHS Director of IEA Marvin Figueroa.

Registration is required. If you cannot attend the briefing, HHS IEA and HRSA indicated that the conversation will be recorded.

See IHA’s memo for more information about the PRF announcement.

Not Fully Vaccinated 11X More Likely to Die of COVID-19
People who were not fully vaccinated this spring and summer were more than 10 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 11 times more likely to die of COVID-19, than those who were fully vaccinated, according to a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC says across 13 U.S. jurisdictions, incidence rate ratios for hospitalization and death changed relatively little after the Delta variant reached predominance, suggesting high, continued vaccine effectiveness against severe COVID-19.

The CDC issued two other reports related to vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19. In one of the reports, the CDC says a multistate interim analysis of 32,867 medical encounters among adults of all ages during June–August 2021, when the Delta variant was predominant in the U.S., vaccine effectiveness of all three authorized COVID-19 vaccines combined remained high against hospitalization (86%) and Emergency Department/Urgent Care Clinic encounters (82%). In the other report, the CDC says during Feb. 1–Aug. 6, 2021, vaccine effectiveness among U.S. veterans hospitalized at five Veterans Affairs Medical Centers was 87%. Vaccine effectiveness in preventing COVID-19–related hospitalization was 80% among adults aged 65 years and older, and 95% among adults aged 18–64 years.

State, National, Global COVID-19 Updates
The Illinois Dept. of Public Health (IDPH) today reported 1,691 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases, including four additional deaths. On Saturday, 4,628 new cases and 71 deaths were reported; on Sunday, 2,833 new cases and 31 deaths were reported.

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 1,573,538 cases, including 24,367 deaths. In the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 52,958 specimens for a total of 30,011,596. As of last night, 2,247 individuals in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 554 patients were in the ICU and 341 patients were on ventilators.

The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests is 4.4%. The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity is 5%. The latest daily case positivity rate is 3.19%.

The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily in Illinois is 19,102 doses, with 59,104 doses reported administered since Friday. IDPH reports 62.5% of adult Illinoisans (18 years and older) have been fully vaccinated, while 79.8% have received at least one vaccination dose. For the Illinois population 12 years and older, 60.9% have been fully vaccinated, while 78.2% have received at least one vaccination dose.

Sunday’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) figures showed more than 40.8 million confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. (a daily increase of more than 162,000 cases; seven-day moving average of more than 135,000 cases), with 656,318 deaths (a daily increase of 1,860).

Today’s WHO Coronavirus Disease Dashboard showed more than 224.5 million COVID-19 cases globally (a daily increase of more than 330,000 cases), with more than 4.62 million deaths. The Region of the Americas (includes the U.S.) continues to lead the world with more than 86.5 million cases and more than 2.14 million deaths.

Briefly Noted
As part of President Biden’s COVID-19 action plan released last week, the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services has executed an amendment to the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act Declaration that expands the pool of professionals covered under the PREP Act for the administration of COVID-19 monoclonal antibody therapeutics to include licensed pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and pharmacy interns.

The Illinois Dept. of Healthcare and Family Services has issued a notice informing providers of an update in the use of procedure code M0201 for reimbursement for COVID-19 vaccination administration provided in the home specifically for patients who have difficulty leaving their homes or are hard-to-reach. It also confirms to providers the availability of a third COVID-19 booster vaccine eight months from a customer's second vaccine dose. These policies apply to claims for participants covered under both traditional Medicaid fee-for-service and the HealthChoice Illinois Medicaid managed care plans.

The Spring 2021 session resulted in several pieces of comprehensive legislation passed by the Illinois General Assembly addressing maternal health. Today, IHA sent members a memo providing a summary of those new laws, which includes new requirements for hospitals.

Today is World Sepsis Day—a day when people come together to raise awareness of the fight against sepsis—a life-threatening medical emergency that affects millions of people each year. Read the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Safe Healthcare blog about lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic by CDC sepsis experts, Dr. Runa Gokhale and Dr. Raymund Dantes, and see CDC’s sepsis webpage.