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February 16, 2024

Washington Roundup

The Federal Times reports,

  • “By the second week in February lawmakers are supposed to be busy picking apart the White House’ budget request with an eye towards policy debates in coming months. But the process hasn’t worked that way in recent years.
  • “Administration officials earlier this month announced their fiscal 2025 budget proposal would arrive more than a month late — on March 11 — marking the fourth consecutive year that Biden has missed the statutory deadline for a spending plan in early February.

STAT News reports

  • “Lawmakers are considering increasing doctors’ Medicare pay in an upcoming government funding package, but their policy would only partially offset cuts providers saw earlier this year, three lobbyists and two sources familiar with the talks told STAT.
  • “Physicians’ groups have agitated for Congress to undo a roughly 3.4% Medicare pay cut this year, resulting from the expiration of pandemic-era bonuses lawmakers chose to give the industry. 
  • “The cut went into effect on Jan. 1, but a fix hasn’t entirely fallen off of the agenda. A pay increase was discussed in negotiations over a stopgap funding bill earlier this year.
  • “There are more questions than answers at this point in negotiations. It’s unclear what the exact pay increase could be, when it could be passed, and how it could be paid for. The fate of legislation to fund the government is uncertain, too. But the five sources made it clear that an effort to completely offset the 3.4% cut is now off the table.”

The New York Times reports,

  • “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering loosening its recommendations regarding how long people should isolate after testing positive for the coronavirus, another reflection of changing attitudes and norms as the pandemic recedes.
  • “Under the proposed guidelines, Americans would no longer be advised to isolate for five days before returning to work or school. Instead, they might return to their routines if they have been fever free for at least 24 hours without medication, the same standard applied to the influenza and respiratory syncytial viruses.
  • “The proposal would align the C.D.C.’s advice with revised isolation recommendations in Oregon and California. The shift was reported earlier by The Washington Post, but it is still under consideration, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions
  • “The C.D.C. last changed its policy on isolation in late 2021, when it scaled down the recommended period to five days from 10. If adopted, the new approach would signal that Covid has taken a place alongside other routine respiratory infections.”

According to this press release,

  • “The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), announced today that two additional organizations—CommonWell Health Alliance and Kno2—have been designated as Qualified Health Information Networks™ (QHINs™) capable of nationwide health data exchange governed by the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common AgreementSM (TEFCASM). ONC has led a multi-year, public-private process alongside its Recognized Coordinating Entity®, The Sequoia Project, Inc., to implement TEFCA, which was envisioned by the 21st Century Cures Act to support nationwide interoperability. TEFCA became operational in December 2023 with the designation of the first five QHINs—eHealth Exchange, Epic Nexus, Health Gorilla, KONZA, and MedAllies.
  • “CommonWell Health Alliance and Kno2 can immediately begin supporting the exchange of data under the Common Agreement’s policies and technical requirements along with the other designated QHINs. QHINs are the pillars of TEFCA network-to-network exchange, providing shared services and governance to securely route queries, responses, and messages across networks for health care stakeholders including patients, providers, hospitals, health systems, payers, and public health agencies.”
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