Health Policy News February 2023

As the end of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) nears, much attention has been paid to the implications for Medicaid enrollment as states prepare to restart eligibility redetermination. However, the PHE end will have a much broader impact on health policy. Over the coming months, Health Policy News will be exploring these implications. As we continue to monitor activity around Medicaid redeterminations, we will also explore the implications on topics including coverage for COVID-related health care services and telehealth services. 

We start the series this month with a focus on flexibilities related to telehealth that will be coming to an end over the next two years. 

Also, this month, we provide a short piece on several drug affordability and accessibility efforts underway by the Administration, including a recent report released by the Innovation Center at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on the delivery and cost models they plan to target in the coming months and years.   

Implications of the End of the Public Health Emergency for the National Telehealth Landscape 

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding Public Health Emergency (PHE) in January of 2020, the use of telehealth for both physical and behavioral healthcare has increased exponentially. To make it easier for more providers to offer a greater number of services via telehealth, the federal government implemented the temporary flexibilities discussed in this article and added newly reimbursable telehealth services early in the pandemic. Similarly, every state relaxed licensure requirements to allow providers to practice telehealth across state lines in some capacity. As the PHE comes to a close, many of the temporary changes implemented during the pandemic will expire, casting uncertainty onto the future of telehealth. To learn more about the upcoming federal telehealth policy changes, click here.  

Drug Affordability and Accessibility Report Released by CMS Innovation Center in response to Executive Order 14807- Lowering Prescription Drug Costs for Americans 

In October of 2022, the Biden Administration released Executive Order 14087 – Lowering Prescription Drug Costs for Americans (Executive Order) as a companion piece to several other health cost containment initiatives, including the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA).  The Executive Order enhances the efforts already underway in the Administration to improve competition and reduce prices for prescription drugs by tasking the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Center with exploring new payment and delivery models to reduce drug costs, while also opening the pathway to innovative drug therapies for Medicare and Medicaid recipients- to read more about the proposed models the Innovation Center is exploring, click here.  

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