In The News

U.S. Congress Could Punt Funding Bill into 2023, McConnell Says

Reuters / By David Morgan and Moira Warburton

WASHINGTON, Dec 6 (Reuters) - The U.S. Congress may be forced to delay until early 2023 final agreement on funding the government through the end of its fiscal year, instead relying on a stopgap measure to keep the lights on, the top Senate Republican said on Tuesday.

The federal government is currently set to run out of money on Dec. 16 without a vote on either an "omnibus" bill funding the government through Sept. 30, 2023, or a short-term bill known as a "continuing resolution," or CR.

"We're running out of time, and that may end up being the only option left that we could agree to pursue," Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell told reporters a day after meeting his Democratic counterpart Chuck Schumer to discuss a comprehensive omnibus package.

"We don't have agreements to do virtually anything," McConnell said. "We don't even have an overall agreement on how much we want to spend."

An omnibus bill would be expected to exceed the $1.5 trillion funding package Congress approved last March. Senator Richard Shelby, the top Republican appropriator, said the two sides were about $25 billion apart, which he described as "pretty close."

McConnell spoke the day after House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy told Fox News negotiators should hold off until January, when the new Congress with a slim Republican majority in the House is sworn in.

A Republican congressional aide, who asked for anonymity to describe intra-party dynamics, said McCarthy's warning was meant to pressure Democrats to move forward on an omnibus deal. The aide added that McCarthy has privately backed a longer-term bill to avoid a funding stand-off early in 2023.

Schumer acknowledged that there was still "a lot of negotiating left to do" to get an omnibus bill.

"Leader McConnell and I have agreed to try and work together to make sure we get a year-long omnibus funding bill done. We hope it can be done this year," Schumer told reporters.

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Confluence of RSV, COVID-19, and Influenza

Healthcare Ready Alert

  • New hospitalizations for respiratory illnesses, especially influenza and COVID-19, are spiking following the Thanksgiving holiday. Flu hospitalizations “remain at a decade high” and COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased more than 20% compared to the previous week.
  • While RSV may have peaked in some areas, overall increases in hospitalizations from COVID-19 and flu in adult and pediatric populations puts additional strain on hospitals that are already at or above capacity. Such strain, especially with months of the respiratory season still ahead, may further constrain capacity to care for critically ill patients of all ages across the US. 
    • Some facilities have reported upticks in illness in staff, creating staffing impacts that further constrain the surge capacity of hospitals and other facilities.
  • The uptake of COVID-19 and influenza vaccines will be a crucial factor for limiting respiratory-related hospitalizations throughout the winter months. 
    • As of 11/19, about 40% of children between the ages of 6 months and 17 years have been vaccinated for influenza for the 2022-2023 season.
 

Put the Brakes on PAYGO, Providers Tell Congress

McKnights Home Care / By Diane Eastabrook

The National Association of Home Care & Hospice and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization recently urged Washington lawmakers to prevent the statutory Pay-As-You-Go sequestration cuts to Medicare from taking effect at the end of this congressional session.

In a letter to House and Senate leaders, NAHC, NHPCO and five other provider groups said failure to waive PAYGO would result in $38 billion in cuts to Medicare next year, which would have a devastating and destabilizing impact on healthcare access. 

“In previous years Congress has stepped in to pass legislation to avoid triggering PAYGO,” the letter stated. “Congress once again needs to waive these cuts, to prevent them from taking effect in 2023. We urge Congress to prevent these cuts. Now is not the time for reductions in Medicare payments to providers.” 

Home health also is contending with a $635 million cut scheduled to take effect in 2023 related to the final Medicare home health rule.

The Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010 requires across-the-board reductions in Medicare payments to providers, including home health and hospice agencies. Congress paused a 4% PAYGO cut in 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The cut was supposed to resume this year, but Congress voted in late 2021 to delay it another year.  

PAYGO is aimed at preventing the introduction of any new laws that would increase projected budget deficits. 

 

Informational Memo - Private Duty Nursing (PDN) Temporary Administrative Approval Process Extension (Dec. 6, 2022)

The purpose of this Informational Memo is to inform stakeholders of an extension to the temporary administrative approval process for PDN services through at least Feb. 28, 2023, and what this means for members and providers. Based on stakeholder feedback, the Department also intends to use this memo to clarify ongoing PDN benefit information for members and stakeholders and reiterate provider responsibilities related to the PDN benefit.

Read Full Memo

 

Help HHAU and HCAOA Pass the Homecare for Seniors Act!

The Homecare for Seniors Act is gaining serious momentum in Washington, DC, and we need your help to get it passed and signed into law!

As you may know, the bill would allow home care services to be paid for with money from a Health Savings Account. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), the sponsor of the bill, has formally asked Senate leaders to add this bill to an end-of-the-year package of bills, making it much more likely that it will pass.

PLEASE CLICK HERE to have a pre-written letter sent to your member of Congress and your Senators asking them to support the Homecare for Seniors Act now! Make your voice heard in Washington and help make homecare more affordable!

Thank you for your advocacy!

 
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