Policy Update 3/14/22

By Cassidy Heit posted 03-15-2022 11:50


Congress Passes, President Signs 2022 Budget Bill

Last week, the House and Senate passed the FY22 Omnibus spending bill, which was signed by President Biden on Friday. The bill funds the federal government through the rest of the current fiscal year and contains a 3.7% ($65 million) increase in health center spending, consisting of:
  • A $25 million increase for school-based health centers, for a total of $30 million;
  • A $20 million increase for Ending the HIV Epidemic, for a total of $122 million; and
  • $5 million to establish a new program for Advanced Cancer Screenings in Underserved Communities.
The bill also includes an extension of telehealth flexibilities for 151 days (5 months) beyond the Public Health Emergency, including policies that have allowed health centers to provide virtual care to patients. The legislation also delays implementation of in-person visit requirements for telehealth behavioral health services under Medicare for five months.

Hearing on PREVENT Pandemics Act - This Week

On Wednesday, the Senate HELP committee will hold a hearing on the PREVENT Pandemics Act.  This bipartisan bill, which was drafted by the Chair and Ranking Member, contains a range of policies based on “lessons learned” from the COVID pandemic. These include: 
  • permanent reauthorization of the FTCA for Volunteer Health Professionals program (This program is currently scheduled to sunset on September 30, 2022.)
  • funding to recruit, hire, and train Community Health Workers, and
  • a grant program to address Social Determinants of Health.

CMS Vaccine Mandate - Phase 2 Deadline is March 16

As of next Wednesday, all health care providers in “Group Two” states (which includes Oklahoma) are expected to be in full compliance with the CMS COVID-19 vaccine mandate. For health centers, full compliance means that:
  • Appropriate Policies and Procedures have been developed and implemented.
  • 100% of “staff” (meaning all persons to whom the vaccine mandate applies, which includes volunteers, board members, etc.) have either:
    • Completed their “vaccine series” (meaning 2 Pfizer or Moderna, or one J&J); note that while boosters are strongly encouraged, they are NOT required.
    • Been approved for an exemption or delay.
For more information on the CMS vaccine mandate in general, see the 1/14/22 CMS guidance and the CMS vaccine mandate toolkit.

Provider Relief Fund Deadline - March 31

The Provider Relief Fund (PRF) Reporting Portal will close for Reporting Period 2 on Thursday, March 31. Providers who received one or more PRF payments exceeding $10,000, in the aggregate, during the second Payment Received Period must report on their use of funds no later than that date. To get started they must register in the Portal (if not yet completed). More information and resources can be found on the PRF Reporting webpage.


OHCA Asks Providers to Help Prepare for End of PHE

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) is encouraging SoonerCare beneficiaries to log into their accounts online to update information to avoid losing coverage when the public health emergency (PHE) expires.

During the PHE, Medicaid agencies have not been allowed to terminate coverage, but since PHE has been in effect, over 175,000 members have outstanding document requests. To help with those outstanding requests and avoid termination or a lapse in coverage, OHCA is encouraging members to:
  • ensure their login and password work.
    • If not, access account using a PIN.
    • If PIN is lost, call now for PIN reset. 
  • login to their accounts and update:
    • email addresses.
    • phone number.
    • income information.
    • address.
    • household information.
    • SSNs for babies born in the last 2 years.
    • any missing or outdated information.  
SoonerCare is also asking providers to help by updating patients' case information, renewing cases now instead of waiting for the renewal date, and encouraging members to access their online account. Some members may not have touched their case for 3-6 years due to passive renewal and PHE. This will help members avoid calling in at the same time and having a long wait period for PIN Reset. Their PIN number can also be found on the top right corner of any “DET letter.”