IHA Daily Briefing: Sept. 14

Tuesday, September 14, 2021
IHA Supports AHA in Key 340B Court Case
HFS Proposes Medicaid Coverage for Veteran Support Specialists
Webinar: IHA Partner Addresses COVID Staffing Challenges
Updated Infection Control Guidance for Healthcare Personnel
State, National, Global COVID-19 Updates
Cook County Announces Racial Equity Policy and Action Plan

IHA Supports AHA in Key 340B Court Case
IHA is supporting the American Hospital Association (AHA) in its pending challenge in the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the 2020 federal appeals court decision that upheld the authority of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services to substantially cut payments to certain hospitals that participate in the 340B Drug Pricing Program. IHA and many other state and regional hospital associations last Thursday (Sept. 9) filed an amicus brief in support of AHA’s challenge.

The brief states: “Covered entities in every amicus hospital association likely could identify a specific program or clinic whose survival is threatened by CMS’s 340B reductions. Indeed, in the 340B Health study discussed above, 40 percent of hospital respondents predicted that losing their 340B savings would force them to close one or more clinics entirely…Most covered entities within the amici hospital associations will not be able to weather these staggering financial losses without making considerable reductions to the range of medical services they provide…Put simply, CMS’s cuts to the 340B Program cause far more harm than the policy ends that CMS intended to achieve. As this Court evaluates the important legal questions at issue in this case, amici respectfully submit that it should not lose sight of the needless damage that the final rule inflicts on America’s 340B hospitals and the underserved communities they treat.”

The AHA filed its initial brief in the 340B Supreme Court case on Sept. 3.

HFS Proposes Medicaid Coverage for Veteran Support Specialists
In accordance with Public Act 102-0043, the Illinois Dept. of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) is proposing to recognize veteran support specialists who are certified by, and in good standing with, the Illinois Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Professional Certification Association, Inc. as mental health professionals. Existing qualifications for mental health professionals are defined in 89 Ill. Adm. Code 140.453. The proposed change is effective for dates of service on or after Oct. 1.

All questions or comments must be submitted in writing by Oct. 13 and addressed to:

Bureau of Program and Policy Coordination
Division of Medical Programs
Healthcare and Family Services
201 South Grand Avenue
East Springfield, IL 62763-0001
E-mail address: HFS.bpra@illinois.gov

Webinar: IHA Partner Addresses COVID Staffing Challenges
Healthcare staffing experts with Medical Solutions—an IHA Strategic Partner—will lead a Sept. 22 webinar on how the pandemic has altered staffing strategies in hospitals across the country. Becker’s Hospital Review is hosting the complimentary webinar, “The Healthcare Staffing Paradigm Shift – Lessons from a Pandemic.”

From noon to 1 p.m. CST, Medical Solutions Vice President of Clinical Quality and Assurance Amber Barna, MSN, RN, and Director Shawn Roeber will discuss:

  • The pandemic’s transformative effect on healthcare staffing now and in the future;
  • How strategies of a flexible staffing model and contingent labor can support hospitals’ immediate and long-term needs; and
  • Emerging trends in contingent labor.

As one of the largest providers of total workforce solutions, Medical Solutions has worked with hospitals to ensure optimal staffing during the pandemic. According to Medical Solutions, now more than ever, the need for an informed staffing plan is crucial to providing quality care. Learn more by participating in the webinar: Register today.

If you are unable to attend or would prefer a one-on-one discussion about Medical Solutions’ managed services program, please contact Courtney Dobernecker at courtney.dobernecker@medicalsolutions.com or 402-225-0483.

Updated Infection Control Guidance for Healthcare Personnel
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its recommendations for healthcare personnel on preventing and controlling infections during the COVID-19 pandemic. The update generally does not substantially change recommended practices, but aims to clarify and simplify guidance in several areas, including:

  • Updated source control recommendations to address limited situations for healthcare facilities in counties with low to moderate community transmission where select fully vaccinated individuals could choose not to wear source control. However, in general, the safest practice is for everyone in a healthcare setting to wear source control.
  • Updated quarantine recommendations for fully vaccinated patients who have had close contact with someone with SARS-CoV-2 infection to more closely align with recommendations for the community.
  • Clarified the recommended intervals for testing asymptomatic HCP with a higher-risk exposure and patients with close contact with someone with SARS-CoV-2 infection.
  • Added content from previously posted CDC guidance addressing:
    • Recommendations for fully vaccinated HCP, patients, and visitors
    • SARS-CoV-2 testing
    • Duration of Transmission-Based Precautions for patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection
    • Specialized healthcare settings (e.g., dental, dialysis, EMS).

The CDC has also updated its Interim Guidance for Managing Healthcare Personnel with SARS-CoV-2 Infection or Exposure to SARS-CoV-2. The guidance was updated to:

  • Combine information from previously posted CDC guidance addressing when healthcare personnel (HCP) with SARS-CoV-2 infection could return to work and risk assessment and work restriction for HCP with higher-risk exposure to SARS-CoV-2
  • Clarify the recommended intervals for testing asymptomatic HCP with a higher-risk exposure.

The CDC will hold a Project Firstline webinar on Sept. 17 at 1:15 p.m. CDT to review the updated guidance and answer questions. Register here.

State, National, Global COVID-19 Updates
The Illinois Dept. of Public Health (IDPH) today reported 4,660 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases, including 40 additional deaths.

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 1,578,198 cases, including 24,407 deaths. In the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 87,750 specimens for a total of 30,099,346. As of last night, 2,263 individuals in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 547 patients were in the ICU and 314 patients were on ventilators.

The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests is 4.5%. The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity is 4.9%. The latest daily case positivity rate is 5.31%.

The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily in Illinois is 19,802 doses, with 9,979 doses administered in the past 24 hours. IDPH reports 62.6% of adult Illinoisans (18 years and older) have been fully vaccinated, while 79.9% have received at least one vaccination dose. For the Illinois population 12 years and older, 61% have been fully vaccinated, while 78.3% have received at least one vaccination dose.

Monday’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) figures showed more than 41 million confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. (a daily increase of more than 38,000 cases; seven-day moving average of more than 117,000 cases), with 658,410 deaths (a daily increase of 279).

The American Academy of Pediatrics is reporting that there were 243,373 child COVID-19 cases across the U.S. the week from Sept. 2 to Sept. 9, with children representing 28.9% of the total weekly reported cases. Over two weeks, from Aug. 26 to Sept. 9, there was a 10% increase in the cumulated number of child COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic (495,154 cases added). Among 24 states reporting, children ranged from 1.6%-4.0% of their total cumulated hospitalizations, and 0.1%-1.9% of all their child COVID-19 cases resulted in hospitalization.

Today’s WHO Coronavirus Disease Dashboard showed more than 225 million COVID-19 cases globally (a daily increase of more than 451,000 cases), with more than 4.63 million deaths. The Region of the Americas (includes the U.S.) continues to lead the world with more than 86.6 million cases and more than 2.14 million deaths.

Cook County Announces Racial Equity Policy and Action Plan
As part of Cook County’s third annual Racial Equity Week, Cook County officials on Monday announced the implementation of a Racial Equity Policy and Racial Equity Action Plan to ensure that equity is operationalized through Cook County Offices Under the President. This policy has been implemented by Executive Order 2021-2.

The Action Plan outlines five strategies, with a timeline, accountability measures, performance measures, and desired outcomes:

  • Introduce and implement Racial Equity Assessment Tool
  • Create and drive adoption of Racial Equity Policy
  • Launch Racial Equity training program for employees
  • Launch and implement Language Access Policy
  • Create and launch Latinx strategy for administration.

“This Racial Equity Policy and Racial Equity Action Plan build on strategies we are currently using and seeks to codify them and provide us with a framework for the next several years,” said Denise Barreto, Cook County Director of Equity and Inclusion. “Publishing these documents will ensure that the work we do will last well into the future."