Health Policy Digest for February 2021
We are pleased to present the February issue of the ARN Health Policy Digest. This member benefit provides updates on health policy and legislative and regulatory developments that may be of interest to rehabilitation nurses.
Biden Administration Early Executive Orders on COVID-19
In the early days of the new Administration, President Biden issued a number of Executive Orders (EOs) to guide the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Ensuring an Equitable Pandemic Response and Recovery: This EO establishes a COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force within HHS to develop recommendations for mitigating the health inequities caused or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. It also directs all agencies with responsibility over the pandemic response to strengthen equity data collection, reporting, and use; assess the equitable distribution plans for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 tests, vaccines, and other resources; and modify pandemic response plans and policies to advance equity.
- Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain: This EO empowers cabinet agencies to coordinate and assess the availability of critical materials used to combat COVID-19, including PPE, and work to fill any supply chain shortfalls via all existing authorities, including the Defense Production Act.
- Strengthening Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act: This EO authorizes HHS to open a special enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It also directs HHS and other cabinet agencies to review all existing regulations impacting Medicaid and the ACA and revokes two Trump Administration EOs determined to weaken the ACA.
- Ensuring a Sustainable Public Health Workforce for COVID-19: This EO establishes a COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board to coordinate federal COVID testing efforts, directs cabinet agencies to support free COVID-19 testing across insurance providers, and directs HHS to develop a plan for a national contact tracing and COVID-19 public health workforce program, the U.S. Public Health Job Corps.
- Improving and Expanding Access to Care and Treatment for COVID-19: This EO directs the National Institutes of Health to develop a plan for supporting large-scale COVID-19 treatment research, directs cabinet agencies to provide "targeted surge assistance" to critical care and long-term care facilities to combat the spread of COVID-19, and establishes targets for the production, allocation, and distribution of COVID-19 treatments.
NCC Welcomes 117th Congress
On January 21, the Nursing Community Coalition (NCC, of which ARN is a member) sent welcome letters to the House and the Senate in honor of the 117th Congress. The letters noted the community's eagerness to work with members of Congress to advance public policy impacting patients and nurses across the country. They also outlined key priorities for the NCC, including funding for Title VIII Nursing Workforce Development Programs and the National Institute of Nursing Research. Read the House and Senate letters.
NCC Welcome Letter to House Appropriations Chairwoman
On January 29, the NCC sent a letter of congratulations to Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03), elected as the House Appropriations Committee's new chair. Rep. DeLauro has long been a champion of strong investment in nursing programs and for improving the health care delivery system. Read the NCC letter.
Coalition Letter on Funding for National Concussion Surveillance System
On February 3, a coalition of brain injury, rehabilitation, and therapy organizations (including ARN) sent a letter to Congress supporting $5 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 for the National Concussion Surveillance System (NCSS). This system is operated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. ARN has supported funding for the NCSS in prior years. Read the House and Senate letters.
Biden Administration Opens Special Enrollment Period for ACA Marketplace
On January 28, HHS announced a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for individuals and families to enroll in health coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning February 15 and through May 15, 2021, eligible consumers will be able to enroll via the HealthCare.gov platform and states operating their own platform will have the opportunity to open their own SEPs. Read the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) fact sheet on the SEP.
If you haven't already, we recommend that you visit ARN's COVID-19 Resource page on the ARN website for the latest information and resources for rehabilitation nurses.