Health Policy Digest for May 2020

Read the latest in health policy and legislative and regulatory developments that may be of interest to rehabilitation nurses. 

 Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act
The fourth coronavirus supplemental package, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act was passed and signed into law by President Trump on April 24. This bill provides additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program ($310 billion), the Provider Relief Fund for hospitals and other health care providers ($75 billion), and COVID-19 testing nationwide ($25 billion). To review a summary from Powers of the key provisions in this fourth emergency bill, click here.

CMS Suspends Accelerated and Advance Payments for Medicare
On April 27, CMS announced that is suspending its Advance Payment Program to suppliers under Medicare Part B and reevaluating the Accelerated Payment Program for providers. This program was initially expanded nationwide on March 28, allowing providers and suppliers to borrow against their expected future Medicare payments during the COVID-19 crisis. Since expanding these programs, CMS approved over 21,000 Accelerated Payment Program applications and nearly 24,000 Advance Payment Program applications. Additional information regarding these programs is available here.

FY 2021 SNF Payment Proposal Released
On April 10, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the proposed rule updating the Skilled Nursing Facility Prospective Payment System (SNF PPS) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021. The full text of the rule can be found here, and CMS' fact sheet on the rule can be found here. This year, the SNF rule is largely limited to updates to the SNF payment system mandated by law and minor administrative changes to the SNF Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) program. Interested stakeholders can submit comments on the rule here by June 9, 2020.

FY 2021 IRF Payment Proposal Released
On April 16, CMS issued the proposed rule updating the Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility Prospective Payment System (IRF PPS) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021. The full text of the rule can be found here, and CMS' fact sheet on the rule can be found here. The rule includes proposed updates to IRF payment rates, as well as a notable proposal to significantly expand the role of non-physician practitioners in IRFs by allowing them to perform most of the duties that are currently required to be performed by rehabilitation physicians. To read the Powers memo on the IRF PPS rule, click here. Interested stakeholders can submit comments on the rule here by June 15, 2020.

Nursing Community Coalition Testimony to Senate
On April 23, the Nursing Community Coalition (NCC), of which ARN is a member, submitted testimony to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. The letter highlighted the NCC's priority asks for additional funding in FY 2021 for the Nursing Workforce Development programs and the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR). Read the written testimony here.

HPNEC Letter to Congressional Leadership
On April 27, the Health Professions and Nursing Education Coalition (HPNEC), of which ARN is a member, sent a letter to congressional leadership requesting supplemental emergency funding for health professions and nursing workforce programs in future COVID-19 legislation. See their letter here.

Nursing Community Coalition Letter to Capitol Hill
On April 28th, the Nursing Community Coalition sent a letter to House and Senate leadership urging them to incorporate their shared priorities in the fourth COVID-19 legislative package. See their letter here.

Additional CMS COVID-19 Emergency Declaration Waivers
On April 30, CMS released an interim final rule (IFR) with additional waivers to help health care providers combat and contain the spread of COVID-19. To read Powers' memo on the provisions in the IFR, click here. For an updated summary of waivers specifically applicable to inpatient rehabilitation hospitals and units (IRFs), click here. (Note: These waivers are being continuously expanded and updated by CMS. The links here reflect the most recent updates as of May 8, 2020).

DRRC Letter on COVID-19 Data Collection
On May 12, ARN joined a letter led by the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Coalition (DRRC), of which ARN is a member, urging the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to collect and report data on COVID-19 disaggregated by disability status. The letters requests that disability status be included in existing mandated reports regarding COVID testing, hospitalizations, and mortalities, and pushes HHS to expand data collection regarding treatment and outcomes in order to begin to address health disparities faced by people with disabilities.

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.

Did you see something recently that would impact rehab nurses and/or patients? Share your health policy/advocacy news by emailing it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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