The Blog to Transform Advanced Care

Advancing Care through Innovation, Observation and Collaboration.

Each week, C-TAC compiles the latest legislative and regulatory updates affecting the serious illness care field, combined with insider analysis from our policy experts. Here’s what you need to know for the week ahead:

Biden Administration Releases Executive Order Promoting Racial Equity

On January 21, the Biden Administration released an initial set of seventeen Executive Orders (EO) meant to reverse policies from the outgoing administration and promote the new Administration’s policy positions. Included in this group, was an EO entitled Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. This EO directs various components of the executive branch and federal agencies to consider racial equity in their policies and programs.

The EO mandates that the relevant agencies and departments adopt a systematic approach to embedding fairness in all decision-making processes to address barriers to equal opportunity. One example, the EO calls for the creation of an Equitable Data Working Group to gather the data necessary to inform efforts meant to promote equity across the Federal government. There has been an increasing recognition of the importance of data collection in addressing existing inequities, and C-TAC favors this governmental push. C-TAC is similarly committed to addressing the racial inequities that exist, specifically in underserved, seriously ill populations. Therefore, C-TAC supports the new Administration’s effort to continue building on the existing momentum emphasizing equity for all individuals.

HHS Signals Extension of COVID-19 PHE Through 2021

On January 24, Acting U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Norris Cochran wrote a letter to governors announcing the anticipated continuation of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) declaration through the end of 2021. The Acting Secretary indicated that states would be given a 60-day notice prior to the end of the PHE to allow them time to account for various reimbursement and regulatory changes. Since the beginning of 2020, the PHE declaration has given HHS and CMS the board authority to waive a host of existing regulations and guidance to help minimize the impact of the pandemic on providers and beneficiaries’ access to care. These flexibilities will continue to support the underserved serious illness population’s ability to access  safe, high-quality care.

Specifically, the extended PHE will keep in place emergency use authorizations of various treatments, diagnostics, and vaccines, and a slew of telehealth flexibilities employed by providers to reach patients throughout the duration of the pandemic.

President Biden Releases Executive Orders on COVID-19 Vaccines and Anticipates Vaccines will be Available this Spring

On January 21, President Biden signed an Executive Order (EO) on Improving and Expanding Access to Care and Treatments for COVID-19. Notably, the EO mandates that the HHS Secretary identify barriers preventing equitable use of COVID-19 treatments and provide support to state and local authorities to overcome those barriers. The EO also mandates that the HHS Secretary evaluate, promote, and support the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) COVID-19 uninsured program, which reimburses providers who furnish COVID-19 treatment and services to those without insurance coverage.

One of C-TAC’s policy priorities is ensuring equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine and we are encouraged to see the Administration take steps to address these issues.

President Biden Issues Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination based on Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation

On January 20, President Biden issued a series of Executive Orders (EO) for his new Administration, including an Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation. Specifically, the EO establishes the Administration’s interpretation of the definition of sex under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to include discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. This interpretation is consistent with the Supreme Court’s 2020 interpretation of the definition in Bostock v. Clayton County, GA. Those with advanced illness already represent a vulnerable population and they require all the legal and regulatory support possible. Individuals that identify as LGBTQ and their caregivers often experience challenges in accessing high-quality palliative and advanced illness care.

C-TAC endorses the Administration’s continued protections of these populations to allow them to achieve their personal goals, live their values, and attain their best health and quality of life.

For more information about C-TAC’s legislative and regulatory efforts, please contact Policy & Advocacy Manager Davis Baird at DBaird@theCTAC.org.

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