This week in Washington: Washington is relatively quiet because of Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 3rd.


Grassley, Hassan Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Increase Transparency and Accountability within the Federal Government
On Oct. 26, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH), along with Reps. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Jody Hice (R-GA), introduced bipartisan legislation to increase transparency and accountability within the federal government. The Authorization Act would formally authorize the establishment and maintenance of a website to help the public more easily access reports that have been generated by the independent work of Inspectors General (IGs). Additionally, the bill would improve accountability over funds related to COVID-19 federal spending and the work of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee by bolstering the webpage dedicated to housing this information as mandated under the CARES Act. Find the bill here.


CMS Advances Seven Finalists in Artificial Intelligence Health Outcomes Challenge
On Oct. 29, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced seven finalists who will advance to the final round of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Health Outcomes Challenge. This multistage competition launched last year with more than 300 entities proposing AI solutions for predicting patient health outcomes aimed at revolutionizing health care for potential use by the CMS Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. In this last stage of the competition, the seven finalists will further develop algorithms that demonstrate how AI tools can be used to predict unplanned hospital and skilled nursing facility admissions and adverse events, and also will develop predictive algorithms for a standard target to be selected by CMS. CMS will announce the grand prize winner (who will receive up to $1 million in prize money) and runner-up (who will receive up to $230,000 in prize money) by the end of April 2021.

The finalists are:

  • Ann Arbor Algorithms (Sterling Heights, MI)
  • (Austin, TX)
  • Deloitte Consulting, LLP (Arlington, VA)
  • Geisinger (Danville, PA)
  • Jefferson Health (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. (Princeton, NJ)
  • University of Virginia Health System (Charlottesville, VA)

CMS to Make COVID-19 Vaccines, Treatments Free for Medicare Beneficiaries
On Oct. 28, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) announced that the COVID-19 vaccines would be free to all Medicare beneficiaries. Medicare will cover, in entirety, the up to $2.6 billion cost of paying doctors to administer coronavirus vaccines, and doctors will bill traditional Medicare for all beneficiaries so private Medicare Advantage plans do not need to cover the cost. CMS will also make antibodies and other COVID-19 treatments free to seniors by paying hospitals extra for using newly approved or authorized COVID-19 treatments and by paying outpatient providers for those products separately from bundled payments. Medicare will pay doctors $28.39 to administer coronavirus vaccines. For vaccines that require two doses, Medicare will pay $16.95 for the first dose and $28.39 for the second dose. These rates will be geographically adjusted and recognize the costs involved in administering the vaccine, according to an interim final rule.

HHS Rewards 10,000-Plus Nursing Homes for COVID-19 Mitigation
On Oct. 28, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced more than $330 million will be distributed this week to nursing homes that HHS determined made significant reductions in COVID-19 cases and deaths in their facilities between August and September. There will be four more opportunities for nursing homes to qualify for the incentive funds. Find more information here.

Read more on healthcare policy in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.