CMS on Friday finalized plans to increase oversight of Medicare Advantage plans, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from California, the District of Columbia, and Maryland.
- California: The board of directors for San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system on Wednesday voted unanimously to reinstate the mask mandate for the area's largest public transit system. Masks will be required on BART until at least July 18. Earlier this month, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency announced that masks were no longer required on trains, buses, and taxis. However, BART board president Rebecca Saltzman noted, "COVID cases are rising and we must keep riders safe, especially folks with health conditions, immunocompromised and kids not yet eligible to get vaccinated." (Doherty, Axios, 4/28)
- District of Columbia: White House communications director Kate Bedingfield on Friday tested positive for the coronavirus. According to Bedingfield, she is not considered a close contact of President Joe Biden, whom she last saw on Wednesday at a socially distanced meeting while wearing an N-95 mask. "Thanks to being fully vaccinated and boosted, I am only experiencing mild symptoms. In alignment with White House COVID-19 protocols, I will work from home and plan to return to work in person at the conclusion of a five-day isolation period and a negative test," Bedingfield tweeted. (Samuels, The Hill, 4/29)
- Maryland: CMS on Friday issued a final rule that will increase oversight of Medicare Advantage (MA) plans. Under the rule, CMS will strengthen oversight of third-party marketing organizations to ensure compliance with all required policies. In addition, MA plans will be required to include multi-language inserts for certain materials. The agency also outlined potential reasons a new contract or contract expansion could be denied based on past performance, including low star ratings, bankruptcy filings, and exceeding the CMS-designated compliance threshold. Any plan applying for MA approval will now need to provide proof of a sufficient provider network before the agency will approve a new or expanded plan. Under the new rule, MA plans and Part D sponsors will be required to report all underlying cost and revenue information used to determine their ratio. MA insurers will also be required to disclose how much they spend on supplemental benefits. (Goldman, Modern Healthcare, 4/29)