In The News

US Has a "Very Serious" Problem with Covid-19 Vaccine Uptake

CNN / By Ivana Kottasová and Hafsa Khalil 

The United States has a "very serious" problem with Covid-19 vaccination uptake, a top health official has warned.

Vaccines are by far the most powerful tool available against the coronavirus, protecting people from getting seriously ill, being hospitalized, and dying from the virus.

Unlike many less developed countries, the US has enough doses to vaccinate everyone as well as the necessary infrastructure to support the rollout.

The problem: not everyone wants the shot.

"We do have a problem with vaccine uptake that is very serious in the United States and anything we can do to get people more comfortable to be able to accept these potentially life-saving medical products is something that we feel we are compelled to do," said Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 48.7% of people over the age of 12 have been fully vaccinated and received at least one booster dose in the US.

That is a lower rate than in other countries with similar access to vaccines. For example, 69.6% of people over the age of 12 have been boosted in the United Kingdom and 55.5% in Canada. Across the 27 European Union countries, 62.6% of adults have been boosted…

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Call for 2022 Nominations for HHAC Board of Directors

The Nominating Committee of the Home Care & Hospice Association of Colorado seeks members to run for seats on HHAC's Board of Directors and Nominating Committee.

It is our goal to have fair representation on the Board from all the types of companies present in our membership, including home health, hospice and home care. We also desire representation from all types of ownership, including hospital-affiliated; free-standing; governmental; not-for-profit; large and small. We also want representatives from each of the geographical regions in the state: the Western Slope, Southeast, Northeast and Metro Denver areas. We accept nominations for the board all year long. 

Board members commit to serving a three-year term, staggered so that the makeup of the board changes regularly. Board members serve HHAC by attending quarterly Board meetings and the annual convention to conduct the business of the association and by chairing committees that accomplish the mission and vision of the association. Attendance at board meetings and the annual convention is mandatory. To see a current list of Board members, click here.

In selecting a slate of nominees, the Nominating Committee looks at several factors: the applicant's experience in home care and hospice, leadership capability and potential, and history of involvement in the work of HHAC. If you would like to make a commitment to run in the 2022 elections and serve on the board as a director or on the Nominating Committee, please complete the form below no later than Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Submit Nomination

 

IRS Increases Mileage Rate for Remainder of 2022

The Internal Revenue Service announced yesterday an increase in the optional standard mileage rate for the final six months of 2022. Taxpayers may use the optional standard mileage rates to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business and certain other purposes.

For the final six months of 2022, the standard mileage rate for business travel will be 62.5 cents per mile, up four cents from the rate effective at the start of the year. The new rate for deductible medical or moving expenses (available for active-duty members of the military) will be 22 cents for the remainder of 2022, up 4 cents from the rate effective at the start of 2022. These new rates become effective July 1, 2022. The IRS provided legal guidance on the new rates in Announcement 2022-13, issued yesterday.

In recognition of recent gasoline price increases, the IRS made this special adjustment for the final months of 2022. The IRS normally updates the mileage rates once a year in the fall for the next calendar year. For travel from Jan. 1 through June 30, 2022, taxpayers should use the rates set forth in Notice 2022-03.

“While this decision is welcome, it is important that government payers like Medicare and Medicaid to increase payment rates to recognize cost increases impacting the entire economy, particularly health care,” said NAHC President William A. Dombi.

“The IRS is adjusting the standard mileage rates to better reflect the recent increase in fuel prices,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “We are aware a number of unusual factors have come into play involving fuel costs, and we are taking this special step to help taxpayers, businesses and others who use this rate.”

While fuel costs are a significant factor in the mileage figure, other items enter into the calculation of mileage rates, such as depreciation and insurance and other fixed and variable costs.

The optional business standard mileage rate is used to compute the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business use in lieu of tracking actual costs. This rate is also used as a benchmark by the federal government and many businesses to reimburse their employees for mileage.

Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.

The 14 cents per mile rate for charitable organizations remains unchanged as it is set by statute.

Midyear increases in the optional mileage rates are rare, the last time the IRS made such an increase was in 2011.

Mileage Rate Changes

Purpose Rates 1/1 through 6/30/22 Rates 7/1 through 12/31/22
Business 58.5 62.5
Medical/Moving 18 22
Charitable 14 14
 

Lawmakers Focus on Prevention, Cures to Curb US Health Insurance Costs

The Hill | By Paige Kupas
 
House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) discussed their differing visions for an improved health care system on Wednesday, with the Democrat focusing largely on prevention and the Republican on breakthroughs in cures. 
 
Schweikert told The Hill’s Steve Clemons that shifting the system from the current “maintenance model” to a “curative model” would eventually reduce health care needs and bring costs down for the insurance industry. 
 
“Maybe instead of spending our money in a maintenance model, it’s now time to say that we as Americans are going to fixate on the curative model because that has the long-term benefit of crashing health care spending,” he said at The Hill’s “Closing the Gaps in Health Insurance” event. 
 
“And it is shocking the lack of embracing of that idea around here because it blows up much of the health care business model,” he added.
 
Some 60 percent of Americans report skipping or delaying treatment because out-of-pocket costs are too high, according to a poll commissioned by Consumers for Quality Care, which sponsored Wednesday’s event. 
 
Schweikert noted that people with chronic diseases represented the majority of health care spending in the country, meaning that finding cures for diseases such as diabetes would create disproportionate savings in the system. 
 
The co-chairman of the Congressional Telehealth Caucus also said that expanding at-home access to medical technologies could lower health care costs. 

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CMS Offers Extra Year to Spend Enhanced Medicaid Home Care Funding 

Modern Healthcare | By Maya Goldman
 
States will get an extra year to use enhanced Medicaid home- and community-based services funding, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Friday.
 
The dollars will now be available through March 31, 2025, for states that want the additional time, CMS wrote in a letter to Medicaid directors.
 
Congress provided states with a 10-percentage-point increase in federal Medicaid matching funds for home- and community-based services spending as part of COVID-19 relief legislation last year. States were originally required to spend the money by March 31, 2024.
 
"We are addressing states' concerns, giving states the time and resources to strengthen connections to care at home and in communities," CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in a news release.
 
States can use the funds to increase home care workers' pay, invest in capital improvements, expand home care offerings, broaden eligibility for services, improve health equity and support regulatory compliance.
 
As a condition of the increased matching funds, states cannot create stricter eligibility standards for Medicaid home care, reduce home- and community-based service payment rates or scale back the scope of services. All 50 states and the District of Columbia earned approval to claim the higher funding.
 
President Joe Biden's administration pushed for permanent expanded funding for home- and community-based services but the effort stalled in the Senate. The administration asked for $400 billion to be included in a budget reconciliation package last year. The House passed a bill in November that would have authorized an additional $150 billion for home- and community-based services, but the measure died in the upper chamber.
 
Senate Aging Committee Chair Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and other proponents continue to press for the more money to support these services.
 
"An investment in home-based care is urgently needed. It will help people get back to work. It will give families peace of mind because they know that their loved ones are cared for. It will also give home care workers, the majority of whom are women from communities of color, a much-needed and long overdue raise," Casey said in a news release in March.

 
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