Yearend Review of Opioid Use in Medicare Part D in 2020
Identifying patients who are at-risk of overdose or abuse is key to addressing this crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has made this need even more pressing. The National Institutes of Health recently warned that individuals with opioiduse disorder could be particularly hard hit by COVID-19, which is a respiratory virus that attacks the lungs. Respiratory disease is known to increase mortality risks among people taking opioids. This data brief would provide information on opioid utilization among beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Part D in 2020.
Awardee Challenges in Implementing COVID_19 Vaccination Program
CDC Immunization and Vaccines for Children Cooperative Agreement awardees, which are typically State and large metropolitan area public health departments, plan for and oversee the vaccine distribution and administration process. Stakeholders have acknowledged challenges early in Phase 1 distribution and dispensing, and note that these challenges will likely span all three phases identified in the CDC's COVID-19 Vaccine Playbook. We will interview all awardees to identify the reported challenges they are facing while distributing and dispensing vaccines. We will also ask awardees about effective strategies to mitigate those challenges, new challenges they anticipate, and how HHS can best support them in distributing and dispensing COVID-19 vaccines. In doing so, this review will provide HHS with timely and actionable information to address challenges associated with the COVID-19 vaccination efforts.
Audits of Medicare Part B Telehealth Services During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
Telehealth is playing an important role during the public health emergency (PHE), and CMS is exploring how telehealth services can be expanded beyond the PHE to provide care for Medicare beneficiaries. Because of telehealth's changing role, we will conduct a series of audits of Medicare Part B telehealth services in two phases. Phase one audits will focus on making an early assessment of whether services such as evaluation and management, opioid use order, end-stage renal disease, and psychotherapy (Work Plan number W-00-21-35801) meet Medicare requirements. Phase two audits will include additional audits of Medicare Part B telehealth services related to distant and originating site locations, virtual check-in services, electronic visits, remote patient monitoring, use of telehealth technology, and annual wellness visits to determine whether Medicare requirements are met.
Audit of Home Health Services Provided as Telehealth During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
President Trump declared a national emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which allowed the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to take proactive steps to support the response to COVID-19 through the use of section 1135 waivers. By means of this authority, CMS waived certain requirements in order to expand Medicare telehealth benefits to health care professionals who were previously ineligible, including physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, and others. CMS also amended regulations to allow home health agencies to use telecommunications systems in conjunction with in-person visits. We will evaluate home health services provided by agencies during the COVID-19 public health emergency to determine which types of skilled services were furnished via telehealth, and whether those services were administered and billed in accordance with Medicare requirements. We will report as overpayments any services that were improperly billed.
Medicaid and ACA Enrollment Processes during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Economic and health impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have left States facing increases in new applications for health insurance through the Medicaid and ACA Marketplace programs. Responding to the pandemic, including meeting the new enrollment and oversight demands, has taxed State health care systems. This evaluation will assess efforts by the States and CMS to effectively enroll residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in Medicaid and ACA Marketplace plans. By identifying effective practices or any breakdowns in enrollment and oversight systems, this review would help improve the efficiency of State health insurance enrollment processes under both emergency and more typical conditions.
Surveys of BOP Federal Prison Inmates
The OIG is conducting a survey of inmates in BOP-managed federal prisons regarding BOP's COVID-19 pandemic response.