Medicare and Medicaid Programs, Basic Health Program, and Exchanges; Additional Policy and Regulatory Revisions in Response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
The National Health Council (NHC) is pleased to submit its comment to the above-referenced Interim Final Rule with Comment Period (IFR). The COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) has made it abundantly clear that, now more than ever, all people need access to adequate and affordable health care. The NHC continues to support the Administration’s efforts to ensure that patients maintain access to the care they need without incurring increased out-of-pocket costs or compromising adherence to social distancing behaviors, which are particularly important for people with chronic conditions. We believe that the recently released set of additional policy and regulatory revisions contained in the IFR demonstrate the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS’) commitment to monitoring and responding to PHE-related burdens on health care resources and threats to patient health, safety, and access.
Created by and for patient organizations 100 years ago, the NHC brings diverse organizations together to forge consensus and drive patient-centered health policy. We promote increased access to affordable, high-value, sustainable health care. Made up of more than 140 national health-related organizations and businesses, the NHC’s core membership includes the nation’s leading patient organizations. Other members include health-related associations and nonprofit organizations including the provider, research, and family caregiver communities; and businesses representing biopharmaceutical, device, diagnostic, generic, and payer organizations.
The NHC supported many of the flexibilities created in CMS’ March 30, 2020 Interim Final Rule with Comment Period, particularly those related to allowing patients to receive care in their homes. For patients with chronic diseases and disabilities, the risk of serious COVID-19 disease is particularly high, and the need to avoid exposure to the novel coronavirus will continue even when the general public moves toward resuming normal daily activities. Our comments remain focused on ensuring that the needs of patients and caregivers are met throughout the duration of the PHE and undoubtedly for an extended period afterwards, due to continued risk for people with chronic conditions after the PHE declaration expires. We:
- Support the Agency’s expansion of access to and payment for telemedicine services;
- Urge CMS to implement mechanisms that protect Medicare patients from increased out-of-pocket expenses that might be associated with in-home administration of Part B drugs;
- Ask that CMS evaluate the impact of its PHE-related flexibilities, waivers, and policy refinements to identify those that best meet our shared goal of providing innovative health care and improving access to quality care while also reducing administrative burden; and
- Urge the Agency to leverage its enforcement authority to ensure that individuals suffering loss of income during the PHE do not lose access to affordable coverage through the exchanges.