Washington Healthcare Update - September 2021 #3

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This week in Washington: Reconciliation talks continue.

Congress

Upcoming Hearings/Markups

House

  • Reconciliation Update
  • House Passes Bill Aimed at Avoiding Government Shutdown
  • Bipartisan Letter to President Biden Urges Increase of COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

Senate

  • Sen. Wyden Calls for Hospital Health Care Pricing Transparency Measures
  • MACPAC Holds September Meeting
  • Finance Committee Members Request Stakeholder Input on Behavioral Health Care Improvements

Administration

  • President Biden Announces the Launch of the Joint COVID-19 Manufacturing and Supply Chain Taskforce
  • President Biden Convenes Global COVID-19 Vaccine Summit
  • HHS Asks HHS OIG to Investigate Pharmaceutical Companies Restricting 340B Discounts
  • HHS ONC Announces Public Health IT Workforce Development Program Awardees
  • Pfizer-BioNTech to Seek FDA Emergency Use Authorization for COVID-19 Vaccine for Children
  • FDA Approves Booster Doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 for Some Populations
  • FDA Approves First Biosimilar to Treat Macular Degeneration
  • FDA Announces Public Meeting on BsUFA Reauthorization Recommendations
  • FDA Announces Regulatory Science Pilot for Biosimilar Interchangeability
  • CMS Announces New Tool to Compare Nursing Home COVID-19 Vaccination Rates
  • CDC Director Overrules Agency Advisors and Endorses Booster Pfizer Doses for People with Occupational Risk

Proposed Rules

  • Agencies Propose Regulations for Air Ambulance Reporting
  • CMS Issues Proposed Rule to Repeal Trump-Era Medicare Breakthrough Device Coverage Rule
  • CMS Issues Proposed Rule to Reassign Medicaid Provider Claims

Final Rules

  • CMS Issues Final Rule on Prospective Payment System and Consolidated Billing for Skilled Nursing Facilities
  • CMS Issues Final Rule on Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility Prospective Payment System
  • CMS Issues Final Rule on Inpatient Psychiatric Facilities Prospective Payment System
  • CMS Issues Final Rule on Hospice Wage Index and Payment Rate Update
  • CMS Issues Final Rule for Long-Term Care Hospital Quality Reporting Program

Courts

  • Supreme Court to Hear Dobbs. v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in December
  • Federal District Court Rules that FDA’s Drug Compounding Policy was Improperly Developed

Reports

  • HHS OIG Report on Medicare Advantage Companies Leveraging Chart Reviews and HRAs to Disproportionately Drive Payments
  • HHS OIG Report on States’ Challenges to Provide Behavioral Health to Medicaid Enrollees
  • HHS OIG Report on Opportunities to Strengthen Telehealth Oversight for Behavioral Health in Medicaid
  • NIH Report Finds Methamphetamine-Involved Overdose Deaths Almost Tripled Between 2015-2019
  • GAO Report on DOD COVID-19 Assistance Cash Management and Pandemic Response
  • GAO Report on DOD Implementation of New Electronic Health Records System
  • GAO Report on Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities

Upcoming Hearings/Markups

September 27

House Rules Committee Meeting: to discuss H.R. 3110 — PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act, H.R. 3992 — Protect Older Job Applicants (POJA) Act and H.R. 2119 — Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act of 2021
2:00 p.m.
For more information, click here.

September 28

House Education and Labor Committee, Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services Hearing: “How to Save a Life: Successful Models for Protecting Communities from COVID-19”
10:15 a.m.
For more information, click here.

September 29

Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing: “Texas’s Unconstitutional Abortion Ban and the Role of the Shadow Docket”
10:00 a.m.
For more information, click here.

House Education and Labor Committee, Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Hearing: “Back to School: Highlighting Best Practices for Safely Reopening Schools”
10:15 a.m.
For more information, click here.

House Oversight and Reform Committee, Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Hearing: “Upgrading Public Health Infrastructure: The Need to Protect, Rebuild, and Strengthen State and Local Public Health Departments”
2:00 p.m.
For more information, click here.

September 30

House Oversight Committee Hearing: “A State of Crisis: Examining the Urgent Need to Protect and Expand Abortion Rights and Access”
10:00 a.m.
For more information, click here.

Senate Health Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Hearing: “School Reopening During COVID-19: Supporting Students, Educators, and Families”
10:00 a.m.
For more information, click here.

House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Technology Modernization Hearing: “Modernizing and Securing VA’s IT Infrastructure”
2:00 p.m.
For more information, click here.

Congress

House

Reconciliation Update

On Sept. 17, Democratic leadership acknowledged that the reconciliation package will not be ready for a Sept. 27 vote. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had previously stated that the reconciliation package would be voted on together with the infrastructure bill on Sept. 27.

House Passes Bill Aimed at Avoiding Government Shutdown

On Sept. 21, the House voted 220-211 along party lines to pass a continuing resolution intended to prevent a government shutdown at the start of Oct. The House-approved package would lift the limit of federal borrowing, known as the debt ceiling, and fund the government at current levels through Dec. 3, 2021. The debt ceiling limit would be lifted until the end of 2022. The bill also includes funds for natural disaster recovery and Afghan refugees.

The resolution now goes to the Senate, where it faces Republican opposition due to its inclusion of the debt ceiling. If the resolution does not pass by Oct. 1, funding for the government ends and the federal government will have to shut down.

Bipartisan Letter to President Biden Urges Increase of COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

On Sept. 21, a group of 37 bipartisan representatives led by Reps. Susan Wild (D-PA), Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and Michael McCaul (R-TX) wrote to President Biden requesting that the U.S. increase global COVID-19 vaccine supply and distribution efforts by redirecting unused vaccines and increasing vaccine production. The letter also asks President Biden to enlist allies and partners in these efforts. The letter comes while the Biden administration is considering a booster shot regimen while a majority of the world’s population has not received a first dose.

Senate

Sen. Wyden Calls for Hospital Health Care Pricing Transparency Measures

On Sept. 20, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) wrote to the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to express his support for improving transparency of hospital health care prices. In the letter, he observed that despite the recent Medicare Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) and Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) Payment System Proposed Rules, more needs to be done. He called for finalizing policies that increase the accessibility of price data for consumers and researchers.

MACPAC Holds September Meeting

On Sept. 23 and 24, the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) held a public meeting.

For more information on the meeting, click here.

Finance Committee Members Request Stakeholder Input on Behavioral Health Care Improvements

On Sept. 21, chair and ranking member of the Finance Committee Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) wrote a letter requesting stakeholder input on how Congress can best address behavioral health challenges. The senators stated they are particularly interested in ideas to improve the behavioral health workforce, increase access to care, ensure parity between behavioral and physical health care and advance telehealth.

The letter can be found here.

Administration

President Biden Announces the Launch of the Joint COVID-19 Manufacturing and Supply Chain Taskforce

On Sept. 22, the White House released a joint statement from the United States and European Commission announcing the creation of the joint COVID-19 Manufacturing and Supply Chain Taskforce. The taskforce aims to increase collaboration between the U.S. and the EU supply chains by reducing bottlenecks, building production facilities, avoiding unnecessary export restrictions and sharing information.

The press release can be found here.

President Biden Convenes Global COVID-19 Vaccine Summit

On Sept. 22, the White House convened a virtual COVID-19 Summit. During the summit, President Biden stated that the U.S. would increase its purchase of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines to one billion doses. He called on wealthy countries to increase their vaccine donations and to provide them for free, with no political obligations.

The White House fact sheet titled “Targets for Global COVID-19 Summit” can be found here.

HHS Asks HHS OIG to Investigate Pharmaceutical Companies Restricting 340B Discounts

On Sept. 22, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asked the HHS Inspector General to investigate six pharmaceutical companies that restrict 340B discounts to pharmacies that contract with hospitals. The investigation could result in fines and is an attempt to incentivize pharmacies to comply with the law.

The HHS general council issued an advisory opinion under the Trump administration stating that pharmaceutical companies are required to give discounts to hospitals in the 340B program regardless of how many contract pharmacies dispense the drugs. Pharmaceutical companies ignored the opinion. In May 2021, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) threatened to fine companies that did not comply with the advisory opinion. A federal judge rejected the Biden administration request to dismiss a lawsuit against the advisory opinion. HRSA then withdrew the advisory opinion but stated it would still fine companies that do not follow it.

HHS ONC Announces Public Health IT Workforce Development Program Awardees

On Sept. 22, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) awarded $73 million in cooperative agreements. The awards were granted as part of the agency’s Public Health Information and Technology (PHIT) Workforce Development Program. The funding was provided through the American Rescue Plan and aims to improve public health information technology (IT) efforts, COVID-19 data collection and public health workforce diversity.

The press release can be found here.

Pfizer-BioNTech to Seek FDA Emergency Use Authorization for COVID-19 Vaccine for Children

On Sept. 20, Pfizer and BioNTech announced that they will seek Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5-11. A clinical study found that the two-dose vaccine is effective for children aged 5-11 at a lower dosage than what is administered to individuals aged 12 and above.

FDA Approves Booster Doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 for Some Populations

On Sept. 22, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amended the emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to permit booster shots six months after the primary series in certain cases. Those approved for a booster dose include individuals aged 65 and older, individuals aged 18-64 at high risk of severe COVID-19 and individuals aged 18-64 whose institutional or occupational exposure puts them at high risk for severe COVID-19 or complications.

The press release can be found here.

FDA Approves First Biosimilar to Treat Macular Degeneration

On Sept. 20, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it has approved Byooviz (ranibizumab-nuna) to treat neovascular (wet) age-related macular degeneration and other conditions. Byooviz is a biosimilar to Lucentis (ranibizumab injection) and is also approved to treat macular edema following retinal occlusion and myopic choroidal neovascularization, which is a complication of myopia. Age-related macular degeneration is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness for Americans aged 65 and above.

FDA Announces Public Meeting on BsUFA Reauthorization Recommendations

On Sept. 21, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it will be holding a virtual public meeting to discuss proposed recommendations for the reauthorization of the Biosimilar User Fee Act (BsUFA) for fiscal years 2023-2027. The meeting will be held on Nov. 2, 2021, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Register for the meeting here.

FDA Announces Regulatory Science Pilot for Biosimilar Interchangeability

On Sept. 21, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its plan to establish a regulatory science pilot to determine what data and testing is needed to establish interchangeability as part of the agency’s plan to advance the development of biosimilars and interchangeable biosimilars. The pilot will also help the FDA develop guidance documents on interchangeable product development. The plan was laid out in the Biosimilar User Fee Act (BsUFA) commitment letter for fiscal years 2023-2027.

The commitment letter can be found here.

CMS Announces New Tool to Compare Nursing Home COVID-19 Vaccination Rates

On Sept. 21, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new tool on Medicare.gov to check COVID-19 vaccination rates for nursing home staff and residents. The announcement states that the tool will help people make informed decisions when choosing a nursing home for themselves or a loved one. In addition, CMS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will continue to monitor the data to identify facilities that may need resources or assistance.

The press release can be found here.

CDC Director Overrules Agency Advisors and Endorses Booster Pfizer Doses for People with Occupational Risk

On Sept. 24, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky overruled a decision made by the agency’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) to recommend Pfizer COVID-19 boosters for a range of Americans but excluding people whose jobs put them at high risk for COVID-19. With the decision to overrule the ACIP, Dr. Walensky extended booster eligibility for those with high occupational risk and aligned the CDC’s COVID-19 booster policy with that of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Proposed Rules

Agencies Propose Regulations for Air Ambulance Reporting

On Sept. 16, the Office of Personnel Management, the Internal Revenue Service, Departments of the Treasury, Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), Employee Benefits Security Administration and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a set of proposed rules to implement provisions of the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) of 2021. The CAA provisions to be enacted include reporting requirements for group health plans, insurers and providers regarding air ambulance services as well as disclosure requirements for agents and brokers for compensation received in connection with the sale of individual health insurance.

The CAA requires air ambulance providers to report information about services, costs, locations and denied claims to HHS and the Department of Transportation. In addition, the proposed rules provide context for reporting requirements to help providers understand potential issues and reporting timelines.

The proposed rules can be found here.

CMS Issues Proposed Rule to Repeal Trump-Era Medicare Breakthrough Device Coverage Rule

On Sept. 15, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a proposed rule that would repeal Medicare Coverage of Innovative Technology (MCIT) and the “Reasonable and Necessary” final rule published Jan. 14, 2021. CMS stated that the rule would be repealed due to patient safety risks posed by requiring CMS to immediately cover devices going through the FDA approval path.

The Trump administration rule automatically granted four years of Medicare coverage to breakthrough devices awarded FDA market authorization. In addition, the rule codified the Medicare definition of “reasonable and necessary.”

Public comments on the proposed rule will be accepted for 30 days.

The proposed rule can be found here.

CMS Issues Proposed Rule to Reassign Medicaid Provider Claims

On July 30, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a proposed rule titled “Medicaid Program; Reassignment of Medicaid Provider Claims.” The proposed rule would explicitly authorize states to make payments to third parties to benefit individual practitioners by ensuring health and welfare benefits, training, and other benefits customary for employees, if the practitioner consents to such payments to third parties on the practitioner’s behalf.

Comments will be accepted until Sept. 28.

The proposed rule can be found here.

Final Rules

CMS Issues Final Rule on Prospective Payment System and Consolidated Billing for Skilled Nursing Facilities

On July 29, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a final rule titled “Prospective Payment System and Consolidated Billing for Skilled Nursing Facilities; Updates to the Quality Reporting Program and Value-Based Purchasing Program for Federal Fiscal Year 2022; and Technical Correction to Long-Term Care Facilities Physical Environment Requirements.” The final rule updates the payment rates used under the prospective payment system (PPS) for skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) for fiscal year (FY) 2022. In addition, the final rule includes a forecast error adjustment for FY 2022, updates the diagnosis code mappings used under the Patient Driven Payment Model (PDPM), rebases and revises the SNF market basket, implements a recently enacted SNF consolidated billing exclusion along with the required proportional reduction in the SNF PPS base rates and includes a discussion of a PDPM parity adjustment. The regulations are effective Oct. 1, 2021.

The final rule can be found here.

CMS Issues Final Rule on Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility Prospective Payment System

On July 29, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a final rule titled “Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility Prospective Payment System for Federal Fiscal Year 2022 and Updates to the IRF Quality Reporting Program; Payment for Complex Rehabilitative Wheelchairs and Related Accessories (Including Seating Systems) and Seat and Back Cushions Furnished in Connection with Such Wheelchairs.” The final rule provides updates to and finalized proposals for the fiscal year (FY) 2022 Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities Quality Reporting Program (IRF QRP). This rule includes one new finalized measure, the COVID-19 Vaccination Coverage among Healthcare Personnel (HCP) Measure, as well as an update to the specifications for the Transfer of Health (TOH) Information to the Patient-Post-Acute Care Quality Measure. The rule will go into effect on Oct. 1, 2021.

The final rule can be found here.

CMS Issues Final Rule on Inpatient Psychiatric Facilities Prospective Payment System

On July 29, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a final rule titled “FY 2022 Inpatient Psychiatric Facilities Prospective Payment System and Quality Reporting Updates for Fiscal Year Beginning October 1, 2021 (FY 2022).” The rule updates the prospective payment rates, the outlier threshold and the wage index for Medicare inpatient hospital services provided by inpatient psychiatric facilities (IPF), which include psychiatric hospitals and excluded psychiatric units of an acute care hospital or critical access hospital.

The final rule can be found here.

CMS Issues Final Rule on Hospice Wage Index and Payment Rate Update

On July 29, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a rule titled “FY 2022 Hospice Wage Index and Payment Rate Update, Hospice Conditions of Participation Updates, Hospice and Home Health Quality Reporting Program Requirements.” The final rule updates the hospice wage index, payment rates and aggregate cap amount for fiscal year 2022. In addition, this rule makes changes to the labor shares of the hospice payment rates and finalizes clarifying regulations text changes to the election statement addendum that was implemented on Oct. 1, 2020. The regulations are effective on Oct. 1, 2021.

The final rule can be found here.

CMS Issues Final Rule for Long-Term Care Hospital Quality Reporting Program

On Aug. 2, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule titled “Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems for Acute Care Hospitals and the Long Term Care Hospital Prospective Payment System and Policy Changes and Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Rates; Quality Programs and Medicare Promoting Interoperability Program Requirements for Eligible Hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals; Changes to Medicaid Provider Enrollment; and Changes to the Medicare Shared Savings Program.” The rule will update and finalize proposals for the FY 2022 Long Term Care Hospital Quality Reporting Program and includes the new COVID-19 Vaccination Coverage among Healthcare Personnel (HCP) measure, among other things. The rule will go into effect Oct. 1, 2021.

The final rule can be found here.

Courts

Find a comprehensive look at “The Courts and Healthcare Policy” here.

Supreme Court to Hear Dobbs. v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in December

On Sept. 20, the Supreme Court announced it would hear oral arguments in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, et al., starting Dec. 1, 2021. The case is a challenge to a 2018 Mississippi law that bans almost all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The law has not been enforced due to preliminary injunctions issued by lower courts.

Federal District Court Rules that FDA’s Drug Compounding Policy was Improperly Developed

On Sept. 21, the D.C. district court ruled in favor of pharmacy compounders in a lawsuit that challenged the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) drug compounding memorandum of understanding (MOU). In the ruling, the federal district court said the MOU’s stance on interstate shipping of compounded drugs violates the law, is unenforceable and did not follow the proper rulemaking procedures. In addition, the judge stated the FDA failed to consider the economic impact of the policy on small pharmacies that prepare compounded drugs for patients that are not approved by the FDA.

Compounding pharmacists had taken issue with the MOU’s requirement that states alert the FDA when pharmacies ship more than half their compounded drugs out of state. States that opted out of the MOU were only permitted to ship up to 5 percent of all compounded products out of state. The FDA will now have to decide to either reissue the MOU using the correct rulemaking procedures or revise it.

Reports

HHS OIG Report on Medicare Advantage Companies Leveraging Chart Reviews and HRAs to Disproportionately Drive Payments

On Sept. 20, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) published a report regarding Medicare Advantage (MA) company payments. The report notes that although chart reviews and health risk assessments (HRAs) are permittable sources of diagnoses for risk adjustment, there are concerns that MA companies may leverage these sources to maximize risk-adjusted payments without beneficiaries’ receiving care for these diagnoses. This could create financial incentives for MA companies to make their beneficiaries seem as sick as possible.

The study, which analyzed MA encounter data from 2016, found that 20 of the 162 MA companies drove a disproportionate share of the $9.2 billion in payments from diagnoses that were only reported on chart reviews and HRAs. The companies’ share of payments could not be explained by the size of their beneficiary enrollment. One company generated 40 percent of all risk-adjustment payments from diagnoses submitted only on chart reviews and HRAs, but only enrolled 22 percent of MA beneficiaries. The IG recommended that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) take action to determine the appropriateness of the 20 companies’ conduct and payments.

The full report can be found here.

HHS OIG Report on States’ Challenges to Provide Behavioral Health to Medicaid Enrollees

On Sept. 20, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report titled “States Reported Multiple Challenges with Using Telehealth to Provide Behavioral Health Services to Medicaid Enrollees.” The report observes that most states found multiple challenges with using telehealth, such as lack of provider and enrollee training, limited internet connectivity, information privacy and cost of telehealth infrastructure, among other things. The report notes that these challenges limit states from meeting the behavioral health needs of Medicaid enrollees. The OIG recommends that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) share information, best practices and examples to help states address telehealth challenges. In addition, the OIG recommends that CMS collect information from states detailing their experiences and challenges.

The report can be found here.

HHS OIG Report on Opportunities to Strengthen Telehealth Oversight for Behavioral Health in Medicaid

On Sept. 20, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report titled “Opportunities Exist to Strengthen Evaluation and Oversight of Telehealth for Behavioral Health in Medicaid.” The report found that several states were unable to identify which services are provided via telehealth. In addition, only a few states have evaluated the impact of telehealth, and many states do not conduct any sort of telehealth monitoring or oversight. The OIG recommends that CMS take several actions to evaluate and oversee telehealth, including: (1) ensuring that states can distinguish telehealth from in-person services; (2) conducting evaluations and supporting state evaluations of telehealth access, cost and quality; and (3) monitoring for fraud, waste and abuse.

The report can be found here.

NIH Report Finds Methamphetamine-Involved Overdose Deaths Almost Tripled Between 2015-2019

On Sept. 22, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a study that found that methamphetamine-involved overdose deaths almost tripled between 2015 and 2019 despite the number of people using methamphetamine only increasing 43 percent during this time. The NIH states that the increase in overdose deaths is caused by an increasingly risky use of methamphetamine across a more diversified population. In 2020, more than 93,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, the largest one-year increase in overdose deaths ever recorded.

The study can be found here.

GAO Report on DOD COVID-19 Assistance Cash Management and Pandemic Response

On Sept. 22, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report titled “COVID-19: Defense-Wide Working Capital Fund Cash Management and Defense Logistics Agency Pandemic Response.” The report stated that the Department of Defense (DOD) received $500 million for a working capital fund to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, which was used by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) to provide medical supplies from DOD and non-DOD customers. The report found that DOD actions helped maintain the Defense-Wide Working Capital Fund (DWWCF) within the targeted ranges and allowed DLA to respond to a surge in demand for medical materials. In addition, the DLA increased contracting in some areas, reduced contracting in other areas and tracked performance. The report was carried out following a request from the Readiness Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee.

The full report can be found here.

GAO Report on DOD Implementation of New Electronic Health Records System

On Sept. 20, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report titled “Electronic Health Records: DOD Has Made Progress in Implementing a New System, but Challenges Persist.” The report notes that the Department of Defense (DOD) recently deployed its new electronic health record system, called MHS GENESIS. The report finds that DOD deployed the new system in six of 24 planned deployment stages. In addition, DOD improved system performance and addressed issues with initial sites. However, some incidents identified during testing remain unresolved and DOD has not made plans to conduct additional testing. Implementation of MHS GENESIS has also faced communication and training challenges.

GAO recommends that DOD develop a plan for retesting incidents, improve training and ensure that MHS GENESIS users are aware of system changes.

The full report can be found here.

GAO Report on Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities

On Sept. 23, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report titled “Health Care Capsule: Racial and Ethnical Health Disparities.” The report, which drew from several GAO reports, provides examples of health disparities faced by people from various racial and ethnic groups, and offers policy considerations.

The full report can be found here.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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