What Happened, What You Missed: August 1-5


Administration Declares Monkeypox a Public Health Emergency            

On Thursday, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra declared a public health emergency over the monkeypox outbreak, giving federal agencies access to emergency funding and other resources for efforts to fight the virus’ spread.  Becerra is also considering a second declaration that would enable the Food and Drug Administration to issue emergency use authorizations for medical countermeasures like treatments and vaccines.  So far, over 616 cases detected in the US, although that total is likely an undercount. Most cases in the US are concentrated in the gay and queer community, primarily among men who have sex with men.

Administration Releases National Research Plan on Long-COVID

The Biden administration released on Wednesday a national research plan outlining a government-wide agenda focused on improving prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and provision of services for people experiencing long-COVID.  To meet the administration’s objectives, the research plan directs HHS to issue two reports within 120 days laying out an “actionable path forward” to address long-COVID and associated conditions.  The administration also issued a report outlining services and supports for long-COVID patients and as well as resources for individuals confronting challenges related to mental health, substance use, and bereavement.  According to a press release, the administration estimates that nearly one million Americans may be out of the workforce at any given time due to long-COVID, which equates to roughly $50 billion in lost earnings annually.

CMS Finalizes 4.3% Payment Increase for Inpatient Services in FY23

Medicare payments for hospital inpatient services will get a 4.3% boost in Fiscal Year 2023, according to a final inpatient prospective payment system (IPPS) rule released on Monday.  The final rule also carries out the administration’s focus on health equity by adding health equity-focused measures to hospital reporting programs like the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting (IQR) Program.  Among other provisions, the rule finalizes proposals to create a “birthing friendly” hospital designation, continue COVID-19 reporting requirements for hospitals, apply a budget-neutral 5% cap on any decrease to a hospital’s wage index from the prior fiscal year, and make prescription drug monitoring program queries mandatory under the Medicare Promoting Interoperability Program.

ICYMI: National Air and Space Museum to Partially Reopen in October

Since March, visitors to the Smithsonian museums in Washington, DC haven’t had the opportunity to view the Apollo 11 command module or the Spirit of St. Louis.  That will change on October 14 when the National Air and Space Museum partially reopens to the public following a lengthy renovation period.  In anticipation of strong interest, the museum will be requiring free timed entry passes that will be available on September 14.  Come October 14, visitors to the museum will have the opportunity to see eight new exhibits, including ones on the Wright brothers and the planets of the Solar System.

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