CEO Message

CEO Message: Better, but Far from OK

The often-shared parable of the frog that is boiled over time because it fails to recognize that the temperature of the water it is in is slowly rising could well be an appropriate metaphor for COVID-19’s arc in California. 

Some data to put things into perspective: Daily COVID-19 cases have dropped to about 25,000, a welcome improvement from the more than 53,000 peak in mid-December. But, unfortunately, these numbers – especially over the course of weeks and months – remain untenable and unsustainable as 12% of those infected will likely end up in California’s hospitals. And the problem is the surge may plateau but not decrease rapidly enough to provide relief to hospitals still overwhelmed by people in need of acute care. 

When considering that the summer surge topped out at a little more than 12,000 daily cases, it’s easy to see why the frog might be an important cautionary tale at this juncture. 

Also, the daily caseload is an aggregate state number. While statewide average daily COVID-19 cases have dropped 21% from the third week of December, for Los Angeles County (which alone has accounted for a third of all cases) the decline has been far more gradual – only 12%.  

That’s the concern at this moment – that all of us are becoming desensitized by a sea of numbers; some form of data fatigue, perhaps. 

But we cannot become calloused to the pain families are feeling from deaths of loved ones. We cannot ignore the exhaustion of nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, and others who have been in this fight for more than a year. We cannot just accept the current daily levels of COVID-19 cases as a “new normal.” 

We cannot do these things because those we rely on to heal cannot continue at this pace indefinitely. California’s dwindling health care workforce is tired, sick, pulled in many directions as a result of this pandemic, and we must protect these pillars of our state’s health care system as we begin to rebuild. 

For now, vigilance is critical – we must keep our eyes on the potential impact of new COVID-19 variants, the speed and efficiency of vaccine delivery, and the potential for all Californians to become prematurely comfortable with a drop in cases that could lead to yet another spike. 

We will continue to stay close with federal, state, and county officials through this phase of the crisis so that hospitals have the information and policies needed to adapt quickly as conditions on the ground shift. 

~ Carmela

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COVID-19

CHA News Article

President Issues Executive Orders to Coordinate Unified Federal Response to COVID-19
For CEOs, COOs, government relations staff

On Jan. 20, President Biden issued two executive orders intended to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The first executive order creates the role of a COVID-19 response coordinator to oversee the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

CHA News Article

HHS Adds Optional Data Reporting Fields for Health Care Personnel, Patient Vaccinations
For COVID-19 tracker designees

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) recently announced updates to COVID-19 hospital reporting. HHS added seven new optional fields related to health care personnel and patient vaccinations that hospitals can report on each Wednesday. While currently optional, the fields are likely to become mandatory in the future. An interim final rule added collecting and reporting COVID-19 data to the Medicare and Medicaid conditions of participation.   

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Medicare

CHA News Article

CMS Releases Final Medicare Advantage Part C & D Payment Policies for CY 2022
For CEOs, CFOs, government relations executives, finance & reimbursement staff

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has finalized the Medicare Advantage Part C and Part D payment methodologies for calendar year 2022. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, CMS is providing earlier notification of the finalized payment changes to give plans more time to prepare bids for 2022, which are due June 7. The finalized changes are expected to increase plan revenue by 4.08%.  

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Finance

CHA News Article

HHS Updates Provider Relief Fund Reporting Requirements
For CEOs, CFOs, finance and reimbursement staff, government relations staff

On Jan. 15, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) updated its Provider Relief Fund (PRF) reporting requirements to reflect changes required by the recently passed Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (CAA). In addition to calculating lost revenue attributable to COVID-19 based on the difference between 2019 and 2020 actual patient care revenue, PRF recipients may now choose from two other methodologies.

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Regulations

CHA News Article

CMS Finalizes Rule on Prior Authorization Process
For CEOs, CFOs, finance & reimbursement staff, government relations staff, post-acute care staff

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) – in coordination with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology – has issued a final rule intended to streamline and reduce the burden associated with health plan prior authorization processes through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).   

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Behavioral Health

CHA News Article

HHS Expands Access to Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder
For emergency department directors, behavioral health directors

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has eliminated the X-waiver for physicians, meaning that physicians can prescribe buprenorphine without taking an eight-hour course and without obtaining a waiver from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.  

CHA News Article

NAMI California Releases Two State of Community Reports
For behavioral health directors

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) California has released its 2020 State of Community Reports for both families and diverse communities. NAMI California engaged families from across the state, compiling both qualitative and quantitative data highlighting the most important issues facing Californians.   

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Education

CHA News Article

HQI to Host Root Cause Analysis Innovation Virtual Summit
For CMOs, CNOs, nurses, compliance officers, clinical operations staff, quality & patient safety staff

The Hospital Quality Institute (HQI) along with the Collaborative Healthcare Patient Safety Organization (CHPSO) and the Alliance for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety (AQIPS) are partnering to present the Root Cause Analysis (RCA) Innovation Virtual Summit. This first-of-its-kind summit kicks off Feb. 16 with a series of four “pre-summit” webinars.

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CMS News Roundup

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Education

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