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COVID-19 News: More Stimulus and Regulation Changes

Posted on Apr 20, 2021 by Lea Chatham

    As the U.S. gets close to one million cases and surpasses 50,000 deaths, everyone continues to struggle with this new world we live in. We will keep providing a regular update on news that impacts hospitals and health systems.

    More Funding
    The small business loan program ran out of funds faster than expected. Congress worked on a new program to bolster funds, which passed last week. This new package provides $320 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program and $60 billion for SBA disaster loans and grants. In addition, there is another $100 billion in emergency funding for hospitals and COVID-19 testing.

    Telehealth is taking off as the main way most ambulatory care providers are seeing patients right now. It is being used by many specialties as well, from orthopedists to dentists. We reported previously that the government lifted many restrictions on telehealth and it continues to do so. In support of expanding telehealth, the FCC announced that they providing, “$200 million in funding, appropriated by Congress as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, to help health care providers provide connected care services to patients at their homes or mobile locations.” More information about the FCC program can be found HERE

    Regulatory Changes
    According to an article in Becker’s Hospital Review, HHS has delayed enforcement of interoperability rules. These regulations, which were finalized in March, were intended to give patients free access to their health data via third-party apps. The article says that CMS will give hospitals an additional six months to meet the new requirements and the ONC will exercise enforcement discretion fo three months at the end of certain compliance dates for its final rule. For more details on what this means, read the full article on Becker’s.

    HealthPayer Intelligence reports that CMS has suspended additional quality reporting measures. According to the article, “The announcement came on April 18, halting all data collection and reporting for the Qualified Health Plan Enrollee Survey, Quality Improvement Strategy, and Quality Rating System for plan year 2021. These previously mandated reporting tools capture key quality indicators of effective health plan preventive strategies, care management, and member satisfaction.” Learn more in the this announcement from CMS.

    We'll monitor the news for additional updates on funding and regulatory changes that impact health systems and hospitals as we continue to work through these difficult times. If you need support woth patient communication and telehealth, we are offering our emergency messaging free for 30 days and new SR Telehealth free until July 31. You can find out more here.

    Lea Chatham

    Lea Chatham

    Lea Chatham is the Director of Content Marketing at Solutionreach and the editor of the Solutionreach blog. She develops educational resources to help healthcare organizations improve patient engagement. Her work has been published in many leading journals including Physicians Practice and Medical Economics and she has presented webinars for industry groups like MGMA.

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