Biweekly Briefing Articles

5 Things To Know: AFL on Infant Formula, EMSA and CDPH Waivers, Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

EMSA AND CDPH WAIVERS: CHA is seeking the extension of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) COVID-19 waivers from June 30 to Sept. 30. With a projected summer wave of COVID-19 threatening to strain an already stressed health care delivery system, these flexibilities are critical to maintaining the current health care capacity in California. Specifically, the waivers at risk are: 

Both waivers will need an executive order to be issued by the governor’s office to update the most recent executive order’s provisions that otherwise will expire. CHA is advocating for these executive order provisions, and corresponding CDPH and EMSA waivers, to be renewed as soon as possible. CHA has developed talking points that hospitals may want to use in outreach to state legislators and department officials about the impacts to their communities if these flexibilities are not extended. HASD&IC submitted feedback from members to help with CHA’s advocacy efforts.

INFANT FORMULA: CDPH has issued All Facilities Letter 22-11, requesting that hospitals report to their Medical Health Operational Area Coordinator each patient they treat who is suspected or confirmed to have experienced symptoms of lack of proper infant formula. Hospitals should report each day they have an emergency department visit or admission related to the infant formula shortage. CDPH will use the reports to assess the impact of the shortage and assist with resource allocation. In addition, CDPH has developed an infant formula web page (also available in Spanish) to provide the latest information about the supply shortage and connect California families in need of formula to helpful resources. The web page includes FAQs and resources for families and providers. It serves as a resource for local health departments, community-based organizations, and other related partners to help share messages on social media with an infant formula communications toolkit.

PSYCHIATRIC BED CAPACITY: A new report from the Rand Corporation examines California’s psychiatric bed capacity, need, and shortages for adults at each of three levels of care: acute, subacute, and community residential care. The authors used multiple methods for assessing bed capacity and need in order to overcome limitations to any single method of estimating the potential psychiatric bed shortfall. Among the findings was that, when state hospitals were excluded, there was a uniform deficit of subacute psychiatric beds in every region of the state except the northern San Joaquin Valley. Likewise, the authors estimate that every region of the state has a deficit in community residential facilities, apart from San Diego County. The report also documented regional differences in the shortfall and identified special populations that contributed to bottlenecks in the continuum of inpatient and residential care in the state.

ALZHEIMER’S AND BRAIN AWARENESS MONTH: The Alzheimer’s Association sponsors Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month in June to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed several infographics related to Alzheimer’s disease and healthy aging. California’s Master Plan for Aging has also released its first report. This month is also an opportunity to explore the Healthy People 2030 Dementias objectives, which are aimed at improving health and quality of life for people with dementia, including Alzheimer’s. Additional consumer-friendly information on healthy aging is available from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.  

PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY UNWINDING PLAN: The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) has released a comprehensive view of the agency’s plan to unwind the flexibilities implemented over the course of the COVID-19 public health emergency, including programmatic changes in many of Medi-Cal’s delivery systems (Part I), and the resumption of normal Medi-Cal eligibility operations (Part II). The topics covered in Part I include future changes to telehealth, Medi-Cal benefit and reimbursement rates, behavioral health delivery systems, Home and Community Based Services, provider enrollment, and state fair hearings. Part II describes the agency’s plan to resume normal eligibility operations, including — but not limited to — DHCS’ guiding principles, anticipated losses in coverage, and federal flexibilities specific to eligibility processes.