(January 8 – 14, 2021)

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HHS Renews COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Determination

The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) has once again renewed his January 31, 2020 national public health emergency determination for the United States in response to the continued consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. This renewal becomes effective January 21, 2021 and will continue for 90 days. This is the fourth renewal of this public health emergency declaration.

CMS Issues Rules on Hospital Outpatient and ASC Payment Systems

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) released a final rule updating the Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (“OPPS”) and Ambulatory Surgical Center (“ASC”) payment system for 2021. Among other items, the final rule increases rates for both by a net 2.4%, finalizes CMS’s proposal to remove the inpatient-only list over the next three calendar years, continues the policy that cuts Medicare Part B payments for drugs and biologicals under Medicare’s 340B Drug Discount Program, and updates CMS’s Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating calculation methodology.

As part of this final rule, CMS issued an interim final rule with comment period that modifies the Radiation Oncology Model calendar year 2021 performance period and creates new requirements in the Medicare Conditions of Participation for hospitals and critical access hospitals regarding the tracking and reporting of COVID-19 therapeutic inventory and usage, as well as the incidence and impact of Acute Respiratory Illness, during the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency. The deadlines for submitting comments for this interim final rule vary, so please check the rule for specific dates.