Congress Resolves Shutdown, CMS Finalizes Interoperability Rule

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TL/DR –

This week in health care, Congress approved a laddered continuing resolution with new funding deadlines and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a final rule on interoperability and prior authorization. Various government agencies and departments, including the Department of Health and Human Services and CMS, issued notices, rules, and guidance regarding health care regulations. Moreover, the Indian Health Service awarded $55 million in funding to 15 tribes and tribal organizations as part of the Small Ambulatory Program, aiming to invest in the construction, expansion, or modernization of small ambulatory health care facilities.


Health Care Week in Review Highlights

This week, a laddered continuing resolution (CR) with new funding deadlines on March 1 and March 8, 2024, was passed by Congress, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule on interoperability and prior authorization. Details about these actions and other health policy news can be found below.

Regulations, Notices & Guidance

On January 16, 2024, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a notice updating HHS’s poverty guidelines to account for last year’s increase in Consumer Price Index prices. On January 18, 2024, CMS issued a notice to reopen the comment period for the proposed rule on Federal Independent Dispute Resolution Operations. The same day, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) published a notice announcing the opportunity for public comments on draft toxicological profiles of chloroform and chloroethane. CMS also released a rule to improve the electronic exchange of health care data and streamline processes related to prior authorization. HHS issued a notice extending the comment period on the Implications of Access and Benefit Sharing Commitments.

Event Notices

Several meetings were announced, including a meeting of the Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care, and Services on January 22, 2024, a meeting of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee and the National Advisory Child Health and Human Development Council Stillbirth Working Group on January 24, 2024, and a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Interdisciplinary, Community-Based Linkages (ACICBL) on January 25, 2024. More meetings are scheduled throughout January, February, and March 2024.

Hearings & Markups

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing entitled, Addressing Long COVID: Advancing Research and Improving Patient Care on January 18, 2024.

Reports, Studies, & Analyses

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on public health preparedness on January 16, 2024. The report assesses the workforce capabilities of the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response’s (ASPR) and provides recommendations to improve emergency responses. The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) also published a brief titled States Obtain Special Waivers to Help Unwinding Efforts on January 16, 2024.

Other Health Policy News

On January 17, 2024, CMS issued the final CMS Interoperability and Prior Authorization Rule. On the same day, Congress passed the laddered continuing resolution (CR), H.R.2872, to prevent a partial government shutdown. On January 18, 2024, CMS introduced a new model called the Innovation in Behavioral Health (IBH) Model to enhance the quality of care, access, and outcomes for individuals with mental health conditions and substance use disorders. Lastly, on January 19, 2024, HHS awarded $55 million in funding to 15 tribes and tribal organizations as part of the Small Ambulatory Program.

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