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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:

Frontrunner Emerges for Biden’s CMS Administrator

POLITICO reported on Thursday that Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, a longtime Democratic health policy expert, has emerged as the leading candidate to run the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, citing three sources familiar with the Biden team’s discussions.

Brooks-LaSure is currently a managing director of consulting firm Manatt Health. She served at CMS during the Obama Administration, where she was involved in the launch of the Affordable Care Act and was Deputy Director of the agency’s health insurance office. Brooks-LaSure also worked with Xavier Becerra, President Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, as a staffer on the House Ways and Means Committee.

C-TAC will monitor this story as it develops and we look forward to working with CMS under the Biden Administration to support people with serious illness and their families, during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

House Introduces Bill to Protect Telehealth Access Post-COVID

A bipartisan group of lawmakers has reintroduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that aims to expand access to telehealth beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. The Protecting Access to Post-COVID-19 Telehealth Act of 2021 would preserve access to telehealth through the following key provisions:

  • Allowing the beneficiary’s home to serve as the originating site for all services and removing restrictions that require the originating site to be in a rural area
  • Allowing rural health clinics and federally qualified health centers to serve as the distant site
  • Authorizing CMS to generally waive coverage restrictions during national emergencies

Telehealth services have long provided a lifeline for people with serious illness, many of whom had difficulty traveling for in-person visits before the COVID-19 pandemic. C-TAC applauds lawmakers for this bipartisan effort to ensure that the most vulnerable among us can access these services. The full text of the bill is now available.

Senate Developing Legislation Designed to Address Social Determinants of Health

Multiple pieces of legislation are in development that aim to tackle social determinants of health.

The Leveraging Integrated Networks in Communities (LINC) to Address Social Needs Act, expected to be introduced by Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Chris Murphy (D-CT), is designed to establish statewide or regional partnerships to better coordinate health care and social services. By leveraging these partnerships and local expertise, the goal is to connect people to food, housing and other non-medical supports that play a crucial role in their quality of life. Coordinating medical and non-medical services on the community level is a major challenge for those caring for people with serious illness. C-TAC is in favor of this community focus and supports efforts to strengthen the continuum of care. Learn more about the bill with this overview from Aligning for Health.

Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) has also introduced a bill to authorize the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to carry out a social determinants of health program. We will be tracking this legislation as it develops and will keep our members and partners informed. 

Bipartisan Group of Senators Urge HHS to Distribute Funding to Rural Communities Affected by COVID-19

In a letter to Acting HHS Secretary Norris Cochran, seven senators are urging the department to prioritize and distribute the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund to rural and underserved communities impacted by COVID-19. The letter, sent by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jon Tester (D-MT), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), and Angus King (I-ME), notes that rural areas are experiencing higher rates of COVID-19 and are home to a greater percentage of older Americans. If distributed, the funding could offer much-needed support for older Americans who are more vulnerable to chronic conditions and, as a result, more susceptible to complications stemming from COVID-19.

Feedback Opportunity for New Palliative Care Quality Measures

The American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) is partnering with the National Coalition for Hospice and Palliative Care and RAND to develop two new proposed patient-reported experience measures that assess the quality of care provided by palliative care teams working in doctor’s offices and clinics:

1. How much patients feel heard and understood, and
2. How much patients get the help they wanted for pain.

Until March 1, they will be seeking input on the measures’ “feasibility in practice to ensure they are actionable and useable.” To learn more and submit comments, visit the National Coalition for Hospice and Palliative Care’s website.

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

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