In The News

US Department of Labor Reopens Rulemaking Record, Schedules Public Hearing on Proposed Final Rule to Protect Healthcare Workers from COVID-19 Exposure

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has reopened the rulemaking record partially and scheduled an informal public hearing to seek comments on specific topics that relate to the development of a final standard to protect healthcare and healthcare support service workers from workplace exposure to the COVID-19 virus.

Submit comments online, identified by Docket No. OSHA-2020-0004. Submit written comments by the deadline of April 22, 2022.  

Individuals interested in testifying at the hearing must submit their notice of intention to appear no later than 14 days after the publication of the Federal Register Notice. The hearing will begin on April 27, 2022 and will take place online. If necessary, the hearing will continue on subsequent days. Learn more in the Federal Register notice

…As OSHA works towards a permanent regulatory solution, employers must continue to comply with their obligations under the General Duty Clause, Personal Protective Equipment and Respiratory Protection Standards, as well as other applicable OSHA standards to protect their employees against the hazard of COVID-19 in the workplace. More information, including compliance assistance materials, are available.

Learn more about the issue and obtain compliance assistance materials.


Becerra Shoots Down Giving More than 60 Days Notice on Ending COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

Fierce Healthcare | By Robert King
Giving more than 60 days notice that the COVID-19 public health emergency will end is going to be difficult, as states and lawmakers have pressed for a longer heads-up, according to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra.

The secretary spoke with reporters Friday during a press conference that included remarks on the status of unwinding the public health emergency (PHE) and how the agency’s COVID-19 relief efforts will be impacted if Congress doesn’t approve additional funding. 

The healthcare industry and states are waiting to find out when the PHE will end and with it the loss of key flexibilities for telehealth reimbursements and the start of eligibility redeterminations for Medicaid. 

The current PHE is scheduled to expire April 16 and will likely be extended again for 90 days. HHS has promised to give at least a 60-day notice when the PHE will expire for good. 

However, Republicans in Congress, payer groups and states have asked for more advance notice to get ready for the unwinding of the PHE. Several hospital groups have also asked for more notice as they must prepare for the end of the PHE’s requirement that Medicaid programs not disenroll beneficiaries. 

Becerra conceded, though, to reporters that it is “tough to give much more than 60 days” notice. 

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Latest Hip Preservation Technique Workshop with Live-Streamed Hip Arthroscopy and Ganz Osteotomy  (4 Free CEUs)

Panorama Orthopedics & Spine Center will be hosting an educational event for those in the physical therapy field on April 2nd from 9-1pm. The purpose of the event is to review the latest in hip preservation conditions, treatments and recovery. The session will be led by three of the organization’s esteemed orthopedic surgeons and include a live-streamed surgery of a hip arthroscopy and Ganz osteotomy. Each physical therapy attendee from Colorado will receive 4 CEU credits for attending. There is no cost to attend this event and virtual options are provided. I thought this might be something valuable to share with your network. 


Study: Value-Based Care Lowers Hospitalizations, ER Visits in Medicare Advantage

Fierce Healthcare | By Paige Minemyer 
Value-based care can drive down acute care episodes such as hospitalizations and emergency room visits among Medicare Advantage beneficiaries, a new study shows.

The research, published in JAMA Network Open and led by analysts at Humana and Harvard, found MA members treated by doctors in advanced value-based care models saw 5.6% fewer hospitalizations and 13.4% fewer emergency department visits compared to those treated in fee-for-service arrangements.

Value-based care models have been adopted in Medicare Advantage more rapidly than in traditional Medicare, Medicaid and commercial insurance.

"This is just more ammunition that value-based care works," said William Shrank, M.D., chief medical officer at Humana and one of the study's authors, in an interview with Fierce Healthcare.

Humana has seen notable success within its own member population through value-based care. In its most recent value-based care report, the insurer found that the members enrolled in its value-based care programs had a 60% lower risk of readmission after 30 days.

A majority (67%) of Humana members are cared for by a provider in a value-based care arrangement, according to the report.

Shrank said that while the insurer has tracked its own internal data for some time, Humana wanted to build the volume of evidence further with data that could be published in a peer-reviewed journal like JAMA. Participating in value-based care is not a simple or easy process for many providers, so having that database may make the pitch a bit easier, he said.

Having a rich collection of data can also be a valuable asset in continuing to iterate on existing models, making them work better for members, Shrank said.

"I hope that we as an industry, as a sector do a better job of evaluating and understanding the impact of value-based care on the member," he said.


Omnibus Provides Diverse Funding Options For Health Care Workforce

Inside Health Policy | By Bridget Early

As a worsening health care workforce crisis continues to plague providers across the country, federal legislators envision a financial fix including $1.3 billion for the health care workforce in the fiscal 2022 omnibus spending package, which passed the House and Senate this week and would address staffing shortages and bolster retention efforts across a multitude of struggling sectors.

Legislators and stakeholders have discussed a number of ways to slow the skyrocketing rates of resignations and retirements that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Student and educator loan forgiveness, increased graduate medical education slots, fast-tracked visa processes for foreign national providers, and broad additional funding for facilities have all been considered.

The omnibus funding encompasses all of these options, according to an explanatory statement that accompanies the legislation, with a special focus on groups experiencing the most acute worker shortages, including nurses, maternal care specialists, behavioral health specialists and rural providers.

Loan forgiveness and scholarships. The omnibus package includes $3.5 million in scholarships for disadvantaged students to educate midwives. The explanatory statement says this is meant to address the national shortage of maternity care providers and the lack of diversity in the maternity care workforce.

For nurses, the package includes $280.5 million for staff education and retention efforts, loan forgiveness and scholarships, which experts have recently lauded as a prime method of expanding the nursing pipeline. A complementary fund for loan forgiveness for nurse faculty would receive $28.5 million, the explanatory statement says.

The omnibus package also includes several separate funding pots for the education of health care providers, the explanatory statement says, such as $55 million for medical student education; $20 million for graduate psychology education; $24 million for substance use disorder treatment and recovery loan repayment programs; and $5 million for pediatric subspecialty loan repayments...

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