POLICY BRIEFINGS


Hart Health Strategies provides a comprehensive policy briefing on a weekly basis. This in-depth health policy briefing is sent out at the beginning of each week. The health policy briefing recaps the previous week and previews the week ahead. It alerts clients to upcoming congressional hearings, newly introduced bills, regulatory announcements, and implementation activity related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and other health laws.


THIS WEEK'S BRIEFING - JUNE 6, 2016


Zika Update


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said that Democrats will attempt to force a vote on the administration’s request for emergency funding to combat the Zika virus when the chamber returns from its Memorial Day recess this week. While the Senate has already approved a $1.1 billion funding package, Reid wants to force Republicans to vote against the White House’s request for $1.9 billion in funding. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has warned that federal health agencies are soon going to run out of funding reserves to address the outbreak of the virus, likely at a time coinciding closely with the start of mosquito season in the United States. Without final congressional approval of emergency federal assistance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be forced to eliminate emergency public health funding from as many as 62 health districts starting in July. For many local health departments, this would mean staff cuts or hiring freezes. In an effort to inform Medicaid agencies about how Medicaid services and authorities can help states and territories prevent, detect, and respond to the Zika virus, the Centers for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS) issued an informational bulletin last week outlining the program flexibilities available to help provide critical services to Medicaid beneficiaries. Medicaid programs can choose to cover mosquito repellents, family planning services and contraception, diagnostic services, targeted case management services, physical therapy for Zika related disabilities, prescription drugs for the management of Zika symptoms, as well as long-term services and supports for children born with microcephaly or individuals recovering from Guillain-Barré Syndrome. The Zika outbreak is proving particularly complicated for providers in Puerto Rico, where the territory’s financial problems are affecting its Medicaid program. The nonprofit CDC Foundation is working to find a way to reimburse physicians for the Zika-related care they are providing. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has rejected a push from some public health experts to move the Olympic Games in Brazil this summer due to the outbreak of the Zika virus. While WHO has said that pregnant women and travelers should take appropriate precautions and public health travel advice, the organization does not believe that the Olympics will significantly impact the spread of the virus because the Games will coincide with Brazil’s winter weather. The Olympics are scheduled to start on August 5.



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