HHS announced that certain hospitals that participate in the 340B Drug Pricing Program should expect to see adjusted payment rates in about two weeks, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from the District of Columbia and North Carolina.
- District of Columbia: After a federal judge last week ruled that HHS must restore full payments to the 340B program for the remainder of 2022, the agency said it will start adjusting payment rates of average sales plus 6% for 340B drug claims in around two weeks. In a brief filed by HHS on Friday, the agency wrote that "the process of adjusting the 2022 OPPS payment rates for 340B hospitals would take approximately two weeks" because it "requires revisions to four different electronic data files and then testing by multiple offices to confirm that the revised files function appropriately before the files are loaded to the production environment where they will be used to calculate OPPS reimbursements on a prospective basis." Last week, American Hospital Association General Counsel and Secretary Melinda Hatton said that "halting these cuts will help 340B hospitals provide comprehensive health services to their patients and communities." (AHA News, 10/4)
- District of Columbia: HHS and the Labor Department will award grants totaling more than $346 million to train nurses, community workers, and public health professionals. These investments are part of the federal government's effort to address staffing shortages that worsened during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Labor Department on Monday announced that it will offer $80 million in grants through its Nursing Expansion Grant Program to help organizations offer additional training and career opportunities for nurses. Separately, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) on Friday announced plans to award $225.5 million to 83 grantees under the Community Health Worker Training Program, which will run through 2025. HRSA said it will award $40.7 million to 29 grantees through the Public Health Scholarship Program, which helps encourage people to pursue careers in public health. "These investments will equip community and public health workers with the skill sets needed to provide effective community outreach, increase access to care, and assist individuals with critical prevention and treatment services," said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. (Devereaux, Modern Healthcare, 10/3)
- North Carolina: The North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS) this month will expand a telehealth program to start providing dentistry services to inmates. Under the initiative, inmates at state prisons will be able to have telehealth appointments with dentists to determine if their dental issues require an in-person visit or if they can be resolved without one. According to officials, specialized scopes and lenses will hopefully allow inmate to access dentistry services through the decade-old telehealth program, cutting the number of inmates who travel into local communities for care. Terri Catlett, director of health care administration for NCDPS, noted that addition of dental services to the telehealth program will help save the state money while improving service for inmates. (Wood, StateScoop, 10/3)