Modern Healthcare reports this evening that Health and Human Services (“HHS”) Secretary Alex Azar has signed a 90 day extension of the COVID-19 national health emergency. The current emergency period was otherwise set to expire on Saturday July 25. Modern Healthcare explains that
The renewal gives the healthcare industry certainty through the fall on several key policies to assist with the COVID-19 response. Some notable policies tied to the public health emergency are the 20% Medicare inpatient add-on payment for COVID-19 patients, increased federal Medicaid matching funds for states, a mandate that insurers cover medically necessary COVID-19 tests without cost-sharing, relaxed telehealth restrictions, and Section 1135 waivers that give providers additional flexibility to respond to COVID-19.
In other news,
- Aetna is rolling out two new benefit design offerings for employer sponsored health plans per Fierce Healthcare.
The new designs, called Upfront Advantage and Flexible Five, offer members coverage for some preventive services before they meet their deductibles. In Upfront Advantage, members will have access to services worth up to $500 for an individual and $1,000 for a family for free before their deductible is met. In Flexible Five, members will instead be offered five coupons per person for these services; a family of four, for example, would receive 20 coupons that can be applied to services such as primary care visits, behavioral health visits, urgent care, lab tests or x-rays conducted during those visits and generic drugs.
- Health Payer Intelligence informs us that Humana “has committed to mail out over a million preventive care packages that members can use in their homes. The in-home preventive care packages are designed to support chronic disease prevention for members with diabetes or colon cancer. Members can take the test in their homes to detect diabetes or colon cancer developments as early as possible.” That’s quite an investment.
- HHS’s Office for Civil Rights announced a HIPAA Privacy Rule breach settlement with a North Carolina based healthcare provider today. It’s noteworthy that the settlement resolved issues that were touched off by a data breach in 2011.