Policy Update: The Primary Care Workforce Shortage and Health Equity Innovation

December 3, 2021

This is a shorter-than-usual policy update from Aledade because the big health policy news could happen later in December if Congress takes final action on the pending Build Back Better legislation. That legislation is still very much in flux but the House-passed version included significant expansions of ACA tax credits, Medicare negotiation for some part B and part D drugs, an annual cap on out-of-pocket drug expenses for Medicare beneficiaries, a specific cap on out-of-pocket costs for insulin, and a new Medicare hearing aid benefit. If Congress passes a final version of this bill this month, we will be back with a special edition of the policy update to summarize the final policies for you.  
Addressing Primary Care Workforce Challenges
The Policy team worked with primary care stakeholders in Michigan as well as our Community Health Center community to release evidence-based recommendations on short and long-term solutions to the primary care workforce shortage.
Health Equity Innovation
Later this month, our team will be participating in a Roundtable on CMS Innovation Center’s health equity strategy. We plan to submit comments relating to approaches or interventions for models that can eliminate health disparities, how to effectively collect self-reported demographic and social needs data, and how to address significant and avoidable obstacles for safety net providers who want to participate in innovation models. If you have suggestions or thoughts on any of these items, please email us with your comments.
Payment Updates
Back in April, we mentioned that the two percent Medicare sequestration suspension and a four percent PAYGO cut had been punted down the road. We have reached the end of that road. Both will likely be addressed in the House’s version of the continuing resolution with final details expected by Friday. We will provide an update as soon as we know more.
Provider Relief Fund and ARP Rural Payments
HRSA began distributing ARP rural payments this week to practices that submitted an application by the October 26 deadline. You should have received an email with more details, including a link to the portal where you must confirm receipt of the funds and agree to the Terms and Conditions. A list of practices that received this payment can be found here. HRSA expects to begin releasing the PRF Phase 4 portion of the payment over the coming weeks.
Thank you for everything you are doing and please stay safe.