Texas Health and Human Services Digest: January 15, 2021

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From HHSC: While every effort has been made to offer an accurate and current listing of meeting agendas and events on this calendar, the information has been compiled from a variety of sources and is subject to change without notice to the user.

January 15, 2021

January 20, 2021

January 21, 2021

January 22, 2021

January 25, 2021

January 26, 2021

January 27, 2021

January 29, 2021

February 5, 2021

Proposed Rules
Formal Comments via the Texas Register
To let the public know about a rulemaking action – such as new, amended or repealed rules – HHS publishes a notice in the Texas Register, a publication of the Texas Secretary of State. Interested parties then can review and comment on the proposed rule. The Secretary of State publishes a new issue of the Texas Register each Friday.

The Administrative Procedure Act (Texas Government Code, Chapter 2001) requires the notice published in the Texas Register to include a brief explanation of the proposed rule and a request for comments from any interested person. The notice also includes instructions for submitting comments regarding the rule to the agency, including the date by which comments must be submitted. Agencies must give interested persons “a reasonable opportunity” to submit comments. The public comment period begins on the day after the notice of a proposed rule is published in the Texas Register and lasts for a minimum of 30 calendar days.

Below is a list of proposed rules that have been published in the Texas Register. The proposed rules that are published in the Texas Register are open for public comment until the end of the comment period.

TitleProject No., DescriptionContactComment End Date
Title 25, Chapter 411, Subchapter J, Standards of Care and Treatment in Psychiatric Hospitals#20R008: Voluntary Admission for Psychological ServicesHHS Policy, Rules and Training2/1/21
Title 26, Chapter 568, Standards of Care and Treatment in Psychiatric Hospitals#20R008: Voluntary Admission for Psychological ServicesHHS Policy, Rules and Training2/1/21
Title 25, Chapter 289, Subchapter E, Section 289.233, Radiation Control Regulations for Veterinary Radiation Machines#20R030: Veterinary Radiation MachinesDSHS Consumer Protection Division2/1/21
Title 26, Chapter 368, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) Habilitative Specialized Services#20R055: IDD Habilitative Specialized ServicesHHS IDD Services2/1/21
Title 1, Chapter 353, Sections 353.1305, 353.1306, and 353.1307, concerning Uniform Hospital Rate Increase Program#21R027: Uniform Hospital Rate Increase ProgramHHSC2/1/21
Title 1, Chapter 353, Subchapter O, Sections 353.1309 and 353.1311, concerning Physician Directed Payment Program#21R028: Physician Directed Payment ProgramHHSC1/25/21
Title 26, Chapter 748, Minimum Standards for General Residential Operations#20R039: Legislative and Other Updates to Chapters 745 and 748Gerry Williams1/19/21
Title 25, Chapters 133, 135, 137, 139, and 229, concerning Medical and Health Care Billing#20R045: Medical and Health Care BillingHHS Policy, Rules and Training1/19/21
Title 26, Chapters 506, 507, 509, 510, and 564, concerning Medical and Health Care Billing#20R045: Medical and Health Care BillingHHS Policy, Rules and Training1/19/21
Title 25, Chapter 217, Subchapters A and B, concerning Milk and Diary#20R051: Milk and DairyDSHS Milk and Dairy Unit1/19/21
Title 26, Chapter 280, Pediatric Teleconnectivity Resource Program for Rural Texas#20R081: Pediatric Teleconnectivity Resource Program for Rural TexasHHS Rules Coordination Office1/19/21
Title 40, Chapter 109, Subchapter C repeal, concerning Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Program#18R061: Specialized Telecommunications Assistance ProgramBryant Robinson1/19/21
Title 26, Chapter 360 Subchapter C, concerning Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Program#18R061: Specialized Telecommunications Assistance ProgramBryant Robinson1/19/21
Title 25, Chapter 411, Subchapter M repeal, concerning Standards of Care in Crisis Stabilization Units#18R040: Standards of Care in Crisis Stabilization UnitsHHS Rules Coordination Office1/19/21
Title 26, Chapter 306, Subchapter B, concerning Standards of Care in Crisis Stabilization Units#18R040: Standards of Care in Crisis Stabilization UnitsHHS Rules Coordination Office1/19/21
Title 26, Chapter 558, Licensing Standards for Home and Community Support Services Agencies#19R069: Legislative Implementation and TULIP Process UpdateJoyce Stamatis1/19/21
Title 26, Chapter 744, Minimum Standards for School-Age and Before or After-School Programs#20R026: Regulation of Child-Care FacilitiesAimee Belden1/19/21
Title 26, Chapter 746, Minimum Standards for Child-Care Centers#20R026: Regulation of Child-Care FacilitiesAimee Belden1/19/21
Title 26, Chapters 747, 748, & 749, Minimum Standards for Child-Care Homes, General Residential Operations, and Child-Placing Agencies#20R026: Regulation of Child-Care FacilitiesAimee Belden1/19/21
Title 26, Chapter 745, Licensing#20R039: Legislative and Other Updates to Chapters 745 and 748Gerry Williams1/19/21

Draft Rules Informal Comments

Informal opportunities to comment occur before a rule is published in the Texas Register. HHS staff may solicit informal public and stakeholder input by:

  • inviting stakeholders to submit comments on potential rule changes during rule development.
  • sharing a draft rule with stakeholders for review.
  • using existing HHS advisory committees to comment on rules.
TitleProject No.ContactComment Start DateComment End Date
Title 1, Chapter 353, Subchapter Q, Process to Recoup Certain Overpayments#20R082Marina Hench1/14/211/27/21
Title 26, Chapter 925, Research Involving Health and Human Services Commission Services#20R104HHSC Health and Specialty Care System1/11/211/25/21
Title 26, Chapter 304, Diagnostic Assessment#20R124Lisa Habbit1/8/211/22/21
Title 25, Chapter 295, Subchapter I, Texas Environmental Lead Reduction#21R034DSHS Environmental Hazards Branch1/4/211/19/21
Title 26, Chapter 551, Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with an Intellectual Disability or Related Conditions#19R072HHS Policy, Rules and Training1/4/211/19/21

2021 Schedule
As HHSC has received a waiver to Rate Hearing Requirements, there will not be a rate hearing conducted on many of these rates.

TitleProposed Effective DatePacket
Updated
Documents
Notice Of Proposed Prospective Reimbursement For Rural Hospitals Participating In MedicaidSeptember 01, 2021 Notice Of Proposed Prospective Reimbursement For Rural Hospitals Participating In Medicaid
09-01-2021-prospective-reimbursement-rural-hospitals-in-medicaid.pdf

Notice Of Proposed Prospective Reimbursement For Rural Hospitals Participating In Medicaid Attachment
09-01-2021-prospective-reimbursement-rural-hospitals-in-medicaid-attch-rate-vis.pdf

Notice of Proposed Adjustments to Fees, Rates or Charges for Wound CareMarch 01, 2021 Notice of Proposed Adjustments to Fees, Rates or Charges for Wound Care
03-2021-policy-woundcare.pdf
Notice of Proposed Adjustments to Fees, Rates or Charges for Telemonitoring UpdateMarch 01, 2021 Notice of Proposed Adjustments to Fees, Rates or Charges for Telemonitoring Update
03-2021-policy-telemonitoring.pdf
Notice of Proposed Adjustments to Fees, Rates or Charges for Stereotactic RadiosurgeryMarch 01, 2021 Notice of Proposed Adjustments to Fees, Rates or Charges for Stereotactic Radiosurgery
03-2021-policy-stereotactic-radiosurgery.pdf
Notice of Proposed Adjustments to Fees, Rates or Charges for Nutritional (Enteral) Products, Supplies, and Equipment – Home Health & CCP: Immobilized Lipase CartridgeMarch 01, 2021 Notice of Proposed Adjustments to Fees, Rates or Charges for Nutritional (Enteral) Products, Supplies, and Equipment – Home Health & CCP: Immobilized Lipase Cartridge
03-2021-policy-nutrional-prod-sup-equip.pdf
Notice of Proposed Adjustments to Fees, Rates or Charges for Digital Breast TomosynthesisMarch 01, 2021 Notice of Proposed Adjustments to Fees, Rates or Charges for Digital Breast Tomosynthesis
03-2021-policy-dbt.pdf
Notice of Proposed Adjustments to Fees, Rates or Charges for Colorectal Cancer Screening PolicyMarch 01, 2021 Notice of Proposed Adjustments to Fees, Rates or Charges for Colorectal Cancer Screening Policy
03-2021-policy-colorectal-cancer-screen.pdf
Notice of Proposed Adjustments to Fees, Rates or Charges for Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS)March 01, 2021 Notice of Proposed Adjustments to Fees, Rates or Charges for Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS)
03-2021-policy-hcpcs.pdf

Notice of Proposed Adjustments to Fees, Rates or Charges for Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) Attachments
03-2021-policy-hcpcs-att.zip

Biennial Calendar Fee ReviewMarch 01, 2021 Biennial Calendar Fee Review
03-2021-biennialcalendarfeereview.pdf

Biennial Calendar Fee Review Attachments
03-2021-biennialcalendarfeereview-att.zip

Notice of Adjustments to Fees, Rates or Charges for Quarterly Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) Updates Related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) High Throughput TestingJanuary 01, 2021 Notice of Adjustments to Fees, Rates or Charges for Quarterly Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) Updates Related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) High Throughput Testing
01-01-2021-notice-adjfees-hcpcs-covid19-highthrouhput-testing.pdf
Notice of Adjustments to Fees, Rates or Charges for Quarterly Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) Updates Related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)January 01, 2021 Notice of Adjustments to Fees, Rates or Charges for Quarterly Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) Updates Related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
01-01-2021-notice-adjfeesratescharges-hcpcs-covid19.pdf

CMS Puts Patients Over Paperwork with New Rule that Addresses the Prior Authorization Process.  Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized a signature accomplishment of the new Office of Burden Reduction & Health Informatics (OBRHI). This final rule builds on the efforts to drive interoperability, empower patients, and reduce costs and burden in the healthcare market by promoting secure electronic access to health data in new and innovative ways. These significant changes include allowing certain payers, providers and patients to have electronic access to pending and active prior authorization decisions, which should result in fewer repeated requests for prior authorizations, reducing costs and onerous administrative burden to our frontline providers. This final rule will result in providers having more time to focus on their patients and provide higher quality care.

The “CMS Interoperability and Prior Authorization” rule is the next phase of CMS interoperability rulemaking, aimed at improving data exchange while simultaneously reducing provider and patient burden. This final rule requires the payers regulated under this rule (namely, Medicaid and CHIP managed care plans, state Medicaid and CHIP fee-for-service programs (FFS) and issuers of individual market Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) on the Federally-facilitated exchanges (FFEs)) to implement application programing interfaces (APIs) that will give providers better access to data about their patients, and streamline the process of prior authorization. APIs are the foundation of smartphone applications, and when integrated with a provider’s electronic health record (EHR), they can enable data access at the touch of a button.  By exchanging relevant health information between patients, providers and payers, APIs support a better health care experience for patients. Patients have easier access to their own health information, their providers have a more complete picture of their care, and patients can take their information with them as they move from plan to plan, and from provider to provider throughout the healthcare system. This ensures more coordinated, quality care, and less repetitive and unnecessary care that is costly.

Today’s final rule requires Medicaid and CHIP (FFS) programs, Medicaid and CHIP managed care plans, and issuers of individual market QHPs on the FFEs to include, as part of the already established Patient Access API, claims and encounter data, including laboratory results, and information about the patient’s pending and active prior authorization decisions. These payers are also required to share this data directly with patients’ providers if they ask for it and with other payers as the patient moves from one payer to another. In this way, patients, providers, and payers have the data when and where they need it, to help ensure that patients receive the best possible care. While Medicare Advantage plans are not included in and therefore not subject to this final rule, CMS is considering whether to do so in future rulemaking.

Read the full release.

Changes to Medicare Advantage and Part D Will Provide Better Coverage, More Access and Improved Transparency for Medicare Beneficiaries. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule that further advances the agency’s efforts to strengthen and modernize the Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug programs. The changes finalized today are generally effective for the 2022 plan year and will potentially lower enrollee cost sharing on some of the most expensive prescription drugs. This final rule will allow enrollees to know in advance and compare their out-of-pocket payments for different prescription drugs. The changes will result in an estimated $75.4 million in savings to the federal government over ten years.

Read the full release.

For a fact sheet on the Contract Year 2022 Medicare Advantage and Part D Final Rule (CMS-4190-F2), please visit: https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/contract-year-2022-medicare-advantage-and-part-d-final-rule-cms-4190-f2-fact-sheet

The final rule can be downloaded from the Federal Register at: https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection/2021-00538/medicare-and-medicaid-programs-contract-year-2022-policy-and-technical-changes-to-the-medicare

Submit Comments on Wave 4 Candidate Episode Groups Now through February 2021. CMS and its contractor, Acumen, LLC, are gathering input on episode groups to consider for Wave 4 of Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) cost measure development through a Call for Public Comment. Stakeholders are invited to submit their feedback in response to the information and questions included in the document between now and February 5, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.

Where can stakeholders learn more about the public comment period?
recording of the MACRA Wave 4 Cost Measure Development presentation is available on the Quality Payment Program Webinar Library. The goal of this recording is to provide detailed information about the Wave 4 public comment approach.

The rest of this email contains more details about the public comment posting and participation. Please feel free to share this message with anyone who may be interested in providing input on the public comment posting.

Why use a public comment approach?
CMS and Acumen are using a public comment approach to solicit input on which measures to prioritize for Wave 4 development instead of the traditional Clinical Subcommittee (CS) approach. We understand that 2020 has presented new challenges and clinicians and specialty societies have expressed concern about their limited bandwidth during this time. The public comment approach allows for broader and more flexible stakeholder participation.

Where can stakeholders access the public comment materials and provide feedback?
Stakeholders may access the public comment materials on CMS’s Currently Accepting Comments Page. The following documents are available for stakeholders to download and review:

To submit feedback, stakeholders may either: (i) email a comment letter to macra-episode-based-cost-measures-info@acumenllc.com, or (ii) submit a response to the Wave 4 Measure Development Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/wave_4_development.

How will the public comment process work?
CMS and Acumen are soliciting input similar to what has been gathered in the past via the CS. Stakeholders may respond to targeted questions about the clinical areas and candidate episode groups. Stakeholders may also be able to provide input on:

  • Important considerations for measure development in Wave 4
  • Preliminary measure specifications for the Wave 4 candidate episode groups
  • Clinical areas and concepts to explore for future Waves of development

Should you have any further questions, please contact the Acumen MACRA Cost Measures Support Team via email at macra-episode-based-cost-measures-info@acumenllc.com.

New Resources are Now Available on the QPP Resource Library and QPP Webinar Library. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has posted many new Quality Payment Program (QPP) resources to the QPP Resource Library and the QPP Webinar Library:
Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS)

  • MIPS Value Pathways (MVPs) Development Kick-Off Webinar: These webinar materials provide an overview of MVP development for the 2022 performance year and beyond:

2021 Performance Year

2020 Performance Year

  • 2020 MIPS Opt-In and Voluntary Reporting Election Toolkit (zip): This toolkit describes how to elect to opt-in or voluntary report to MIPS for the 2020 performance year.
  • 2020 MIPS EMA and Denominator Reduction User GuideThis guide provides an overview of the Eligible Measures Applicable (EMA) process and lists related quality measures by clinical topic for both registry and claims data submission.
  • 2020 Data Submission VideosThese videos provide an overview of 2020 data submission and review processes such as how to opt-in as a QPP eligible clinician and a registry, manual attestation of improvement activities and promoting interoperability measures, and file upload and quality scoring.
  • 2020 Data Submission FAQsThis document helps answer frequently asked questions about data submission for the 2020 performance year of MIPS.

Alternative Payment Models (APMs)

For More Information
Contact the Quality Payment Program at 1-866-288-8292 or by e-mail at: QPP@cms.hhs.gov. To receive assistance more quickly, consider calling during non-peak hours—before 10 a.m. and after 2 p.m. Eastern Time (ET).

  • Customers who are hearing impaired can dial 711 to be connected to a TRS Communications Assistant.

Geographic Direct Contracting Model Request for Applications (RFA) Now Available. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is pleased to announce that the Geographic Direct Contracting Model (“Geo”) Request for Applications (RFA) is now available. The Model will test a geographic-based approach to improve health and reduce costs in selected regions across the country.

Please review the RFA for full details on the Model, including:

  • Eligibility and participation requirements;
  • Model design elements, such as beneficiary eligibility and alignment, beneficiary outreach and education requirements, financial methodology, model overlap, benefit enhancements, beneficiary engagement incentives, capitation payment mechanisms, payment integrity and medical review;
  • Application questions, scoring and selection, including the proposed discount review process.

Today, CMS also posted the following Geo resources:

  1. Geo Data Book (XLS) and Geo Data Book Guidance (PDF)
  2. Proposed Discount Tool (XLS) and Proposed Discount Tool Guidance Document (PDF)

CMS expects to accept applications for Geo from March 1-April 2, 2021 via an online portal.

Further details will be available on the Geo webpage in the coming month.

For more information, please refer to the Geo webpage at https://innovation.cms.gov/innovation-models/geographic-direct-contracting-model. Stakeholders can also email the Geo team with questions and comments at DCGEO@cms.hhs.gov.

CMS Updates the CMS Chronic Conditions Information Products with 2017 and 2018 Data. Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released updated information products on chronic conditions among Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries with data for 2017 and 2018.  The suite of chronic conditions information products present data on prevalence, utilization of select Medicare services, and Medicare spending.

The Chronic Conditions data are available at: http://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/Chronic-Conditions/index.html

Qualifying APM Participant (QP) Threshold Update. On December 27, 2020, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 was signed into law. Under this law, the Quality Payment Program’s Qualifying Alternative Payment Model (APM) Participant (QP) thresholds for payment years 2023 and 2024 are frozen at 50% for the payment amount threshold and 35% for the patient count threshold for performance years 2021 and 2022.

The partial QP thresholds have also been frozen at the same levels used for the 2022 payment year and 2020 performance year.

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As a reminder, if you qualify as a QP, you may be eligible for the 5% APM incentive payment and be exempt from participating in MIPS.

How do I know if I am a QP in 2021?
CMS will use three snapshot dates—March 31, June 30, and August 31, 2021, to review data to make QP determinations. CMS will make determinations approximately 4 months after the end of each snapshot date, at which point you will be able to check the Quality Payment Program Participation Status Tool for updates to your APM status.

How do I know if I’m required to participate in MIPS in 2021?
If you are MIPS eligible and not determined to be a QP or a Partial QP, you will be required to participate in MIPS and will receive a MIPS Final Score and payment adjustment. To learn more about MIPS, visit qpp.cms.gov.

For more information

HHSC Rate Hearing Notice – February 5, 2021. Due to the declared state of disaster stemming from COVID-19, the rate hearing scheduled for Friday, February 5, 2021 will be conducted online only.

Due to a delay in publication of necessary information by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), HHSC has delayed the Annual HCPCS Rate Hearing until February 5, 2021.

Please register for the online HHSC Public Rate Hearing for Medicaid Calendar Fee Review and Annual HCPCS Updates to be held on February 5, 2021 9:00 AM CST.  After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

The rate hearing packets, with the proposed effective dates of January 1, 2021 and April 1, 2021, for the public rate hearing scheduled for Friday, February 5, 2021, at 9:00 a.m. will be posted on the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) Provider Finance Website no later than January 22, 2021.

The hearing will be for the purpose of receiving public testimony on the proposed Medicaid Rates:

Proposed to be Effective January 1, 2021
Biennial Calendar Fee Review:
(1) Medical Transportation Program
Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System Updates
(1) Physician Administered Drugs – TOS 1 (Medical Services)
(2) Medical Services – TOS 1 (Medical Services)
(3) Surgery and Assistant Surgery – TOS 2 (Surgery Services) and TOS 8 (Assistant Surgery)
(4) Hospital Diagnostic Imaging – TOS 4 (Radiology)
(5) Radiological Services – TOS 4 (Radiology), TOS 6 (Radiation Therapy), TOS I (Professional Component), and TOS T (Technical Component)
(6) Clinical Diagnostic Laboratory Services – TOS 5 (Laboratory
(7) Nonclinical Laboratory Services – TOS 5 (Laboratory), TOS I (Professional Component), and TOS T (Technical Component)TOS 5 Clinical Labs
(8) Ambulatory Surgical Center and Hospital Ambulatory Surgical Center – TOS F (Ambulatory Surgical Center)
(9) Dental Services – TOS W (Texas Health Steps Dental/Orthodontia)

Proposed to be Effective April 1, 2021:
Biennial Calendar Fee Review:
(1) Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCS)

The notice for the rate hearing will be published no later than the January 29, 2021, issue of the Texas Register, and will be published on the HHSC website no later than January 22, 2021. As it will be indicated in the notice and the rate hearing packets, written comments regarding the proposed payment rates may be submitted instead of, or in addition to, oral testimony until 5 p.m. the day of the hearing. Written comments may be sent by U.S. mail, overnight mail, special delivery mail, fax or email, as follows:

U.S. Mail:
Texas Health and Human Services Commission
Attention: Provider Finance, Mail Code H-400
P.O. Box 149030
Austin, Texas 78714-9030

Overnight mail or special delivery mail:
Texas Health and Human Services Commission
Attention: Provider Finance, Mail Code H-400
Brown-Heatly Building
4900 North Lamar Boulevard
Austin, Texas 78751

Phone number for package delivery: 512-730-7401
Fax: Attention: Provider Finance at 512-730-7475
Email

Persons with disabilities who wish to attend the hearing and require auxiliary aids or services should contact Provider Finance at (512) 730-7401 at least 72 hours before the hearing so appropriate arrangements can be made.

Preferred Communication.  During the current state of disaster due to COVID-19, physical forms of communication are checked with less frequency than during normal business operations.  For quickest response, and to help curb the possible transmission of infection, please turn to e-mail or phone if possible for communication with HHSC related to this rate hearing.

Please forward this information to providers and organizations in your programs as appropriate.

40 TAC Ch. 19 is Relocated to 26 TAC Ch. 554 Effective Jan. 15. As part of the transformation of the Texas Health and Human Services system, the rule chapter below is now located in the Texas Administrative Code.

40 TAC Social Services Assistance, Part 1, Department of Aging and Disability Services, Chapter 19, Nursing Facility Requirements for Licensure and Medicaid Certification, is transferred to:
26 TAC Health and Human Services, Part 1, Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Chapter 554, Nursing Facility Requirements for Licensure and Medicaid Certification.

This administrative transfer was filed with the Texas Register. It was published in the Dec. 11, 2020 issue and is effective Jan. 15, 2021.

Email PolicyRulesTraining@hhsc.state.tx.us or call 512-483-3161 for questions about these rules.

40 TAC Ch. 98 is Relocated to 26 TAC Ch. 559 Effective Jan. 15. As part of the transformation of the Texas Health and Human Services system, the rule chapter below is now located in the Texas Administrative Code.

40 TAC Social Services Assistance, Part 1, Department of Aging and Disability Services, Chapter 98, Day Activity and Health Services Requirements, has been transferred to:
26 TAC Health and Human Services, Part 1, Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Chapter 559, Day Activity and Health Services Requirements.

Email PolicyRulesTraining@hhsc.state.tx.us or call 512-438-3161 for questions about these rules.

A Community Care Services Eligibility Bulletin Has Been Released. A Community Care Services Eligibility Bulletin has been released with new policy or policy clarification.

Click here to see the bulletin.

REMINDER: Texas Respite Advisory Committee Applications Due Jan. 22. If you are interested in issues surrounding respite and informal caregiving, you may want to apply to be a member of the Texas Respite Advisory Committee. But act quickly as applications are due Jan. 22!

Click here to learn more and apply.

Agenda for January Drug Utilization Review Board Meeting Now Available. The agenda for the Friday, January 22, 2021, Texas Drug Utilization Review Board is now available.

Also available are instructions for registering, submitting written materials to the board before the meeting, and testifying on the day of the meeting.

Other news:

EVV Compliance Oversight Reviews Delayed for EVV Usage and Misuse of EVV Reason Codes. HHSC told managed care organizations to delay compliance oversight reviews for EVV Usage and Misuse of EVV Reason Codes. Evaluation of visit data collected during the grace period ensures the compliance measures continue to align with current EVV policy.

EVV Usage and Misuse of EVV Reason Codes reviews for the compliance grace period ended on Aug. 31, 2020 for:

  • EVV visits with Sept. 1, 2019 to Aug. 31, 2020 dates of service.
  • Program providers required to use EVV by state law before the Cures Act Implementation identified on pages 3 and 4 of the Programs and Services Required to Use EVV (PDF) document.

Next Steps

  • HHSC will notify program providers 90 calendar days before reviews begin for EVV Usage and Misuse of EVV Reason Codes for EVV visits with dates of service on and after Sept. 1, 2020.
  • HHSC and MCOs will continue reviews for EVV Landline Phone Verification and Required Free Text.
  • Program providers can use the EVV Usage Report, and EVV Reason Code Usage and Free Text Report in the EVV Portal to track these compliance measures.

Program providers can contact their payer or email HHSC EVV with their questions or concerns.

Register for February 4 Quarterly FMSA Webinar. HHSC is offering online training and updates for financial management services agencies. All FMSAs currently contracted with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission or a managed care organization must attend this mandatory webinar. The webinar will last approximately 1.5 hours.
Webinar topics will include:

  • COVID-19 Updates
  • Electronic Visit Verification

Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021
1:30 p.m.
Register for Quarterly FMSA Webinar.

When you register, you can also submit specific questions or topics you would like to hear about during the webinar.

Email questions to CDS@hhsc.state.tx.us.

Click here to run a test of your computer’s connectivity if you have never attended a webinar from your computer. You can run this test at any time prior to the date of the training and are advised to do this early in case of a problem that only your IT technician can fix.

DSHS Flu Surveillance Activity Report Update. This information has recently been updated and is now available.

Resources for PEI Stakeholders and Providers

COVID-19 AND TEXAS
COVID is still on the rise in Texas. Now more than ever it’s important for Texans to practice safety precautions where they live, work, and play.

Coronavirus Guidance from DSHS and the Governor is available online for all Texans as we respond to the pandemic. Information changes weekly; it’s a good idea to bookmark this page for the most up-to-date, accurate information on current response efforts.

The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs has published updated resources for Texas families regarding the eviction moratorium on their COVID-19 page.

What’s Next with the COVID‑19 Vaccine in Texas: Texas continues to receive doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, and is distributing statewide to hospitals, pharmacies, local health departments, freestanding ERs and other clinics. Remember:

  • Do not show up at hospitals or clinic looking for vaccines.
  • Instead please check their website for information about vaccine availability.
  • Call only if the website doesn’t answer your questions.

FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES
The Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) Division seeks applications to develop and implement the following program:

All requests, questions or other communication about this RFA shall be made in writing to:

Jennifer Kim, CTCD, CTCM
Health and Human Services Commission 1100 West 49th Street; Mail Code 2020 Building S Austin, TX 78756
Jennifer.Kim@hhs.texas.gov

All communications between Applicants and DFPS staff members concerning the RFA are strictly prohibited, unless noted elsewhere in this RFA. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in disqualification of Applicant’s Grant Application.

PN-3 Collaborative Mini Grants
The Texas Prenatal to Three (PN- 3) Collaborative seeks to award up to six mini-grants to city, county, or regional-level organizations that are interested in focusing on building increased support for healthy beginnings, supported families, and quality early care and learning for infants and toddlers. The mini grant application can be found at the following link and proposals are due by February 1, 2021.

PROVIDER SPOTLIGHT: HIGHLIGHTING HOPES
Healthy Outcomes through Prevention and Early Support (HOPES) is a flexible community grant that funds a wide variety of innovative initiatives and supports for families with children 5 years old and younger. HOPES grants also include local collaborations with health care, faith-based organizations, child welfare, early childhood education, and other child and family services in the community.

Here’s a few HOPES success stories from around the state:

North Texas Area United Way was chosen to participate in a positive parenting pilot, a Zero to Three program that will recruit 8-12 parents to take part in this initiative. The pilot will include a total of ten 90-minute parent education sessions and Parent Group Leaders will be selected to attend and participate in workshops, trainings, and forums to help support positive parenting education.

The El Paso Center for Children Incredible Years program received this recent graduate testimonial:
“I am writing this letter to express my gratitude for the help provided to my family.  Times are difficult right now. Unfortunately, my husband’s job had to cut hours for employees because of the pandemic. The gift card given to my family helped us a lot and the bill paid for us; all this help meant a lot for our family. I’m thankful because I was part of this wonderful program, “The incredible Years” not only did it help me become a better mother with the right tools to guide my children and I was blessed for the economic help that was given to my family. I hope “The incredible Years” program can continue to help other families in the future. Again, thank you so much for the help. I greatly appreciate the assistance you have provided me and my family.”

MHMR Tarrant’s Help Me Grow North Texas was recognized by the National Help Me Grow system as demonstrating exemplary efforts during the pandemic; a stipend of $7000 was awarded recognizing the Central Access Point initiative and marketing strategies. HOPES program will share strategies with other Help Me Grow affiliates throughout the nation. Laura Kender, Chief of Early Childhood Services of MHMR Tarrantwas nominated for the Outstanding Leadership Award from PEI, The First 3 Years Advocacy Award, and was the Children at Risk Outstanding Child Advocate nominee in Fort Worth.

REQUEST FOR FEEDBACK: FAYS PROGRAM
The Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) division is seeking feedback regarding the Family and Youth Success (FAYS) (formerly STAR) Program. FAYS is the longest-standing statewide prevention grant program administered by PEI. FAYS addresses family conflict and everyday struggles while promoting strong families and youth resilience.

PEI welcomes written responses and comments by January 29, 2021 at 2:00 P.M. CST.
Visit the PEI Request for Feedback page for more details.

PEI COMMUNITY RESOURCES
First3Years will hold its first annual Build Up! Conference to support early childhood professionals March 2-3. The virtual conference will focus on different ways to reinforce and solidify a strengths based perspective to support early childhood professionals in their skills and how to care for themselves as a provider.

To learn more and register for the workshop, visit the First3Years website.

pre-conference workshop is available on March 1st and will be limited to 50 attendees. This pre-session workshop will allow for an interactive time together learning about brain development and playing the Brain Architecture Game. Attendees will learn how early experiences impact young brains and the importance of protective factors.

Resilience Breakthrough Podcast: Putting People First
How can we continue the conversations about race and equity in a forward-thinking, resilient manner in ourselves, the people we support, and the communities we work in? Join Dave Biesinger and Dr. Damien Sweeny, Program Coordinator for School Counseling at the Kentucky Department of Education as they explore tools on how to build bridges, acknowledge differences, and create a new approach to working in the social support community. Listen to the episode.

Research: On the Front Lines of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Occupational Experiences of the Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Assault Workforce
In the face of increasing risk for intimate partner violence (IPV) and sexual assault during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an urgent need to understand the experiences of the workforce providing support to survivors. This journal article outlines the results of an online survey of members of the IPV and sexual assault workforce about managing work and challenges during the pandemic.

The Texas Education Agency has updated resources for remote learning. Texas Home Learning is an optional, aligned suite of resources for the new learning environment. Texas Home Learning helps Texas educators to use high quality instructional materials – one of the most impactful components of a student’s education – through adoption, professional learning, and technology supports for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

RESOURCES FOR FAMILIES
Stop TX Eviction portal now online. The Stop TX Eviction portal is an online tool for anyone having trouble paying their rent in Texas. This interactive tool helps people understand their legal rights, the typical eviction process, and what steps they should take to protect themselves. All of the information and resources provided throughout the site and tool are free. The service is available in English and Spanish.

Our parenting tips website HelpAndHope.org has a new look, feel, and URL. We listened to parents and built it to be easier to find for parents looking for help. You can now find our updated resources at GetParentingTips.com!

While the name has changed, the mission of our site stays the same: to provide quality parenting resources that help normalize the challenges of parenting, encourage seeking help, and support parents through their parenting journey. Bookmark the site today and share with families in your programs.
Check out these articles on Get Parenting Tips!

RESOURCES FOR KIDS AT HOME
How to talk to your children when the news is scary. NPR’s Life Kit spoke with a handful of child development experts about what parents, teachers and other caregivers can do to help prepare and protect kids from all the scary news out there, whether it’s fighting overseas, a school shooting, devastating wildfire or a global pandemic.

Monday, January 28th is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Celebrate MLK and teach your kids about this American hero with activities like reading a book about the civil rights movement, volunteering in your community and choosing a local community organization to donate resources or money to as a family.

2021 PREVENTION CALENDARS NOW AVAILABLE
This free family resource is filled with helpful tips for parents and caregivers of children of all ages. It’s available in English and Spanish, and endorsed by The Texas Pediatric Society.

Order while supplies last! Calendars are shipped for free and in quantities of 100 calendars per box. Questions? Contact us.

Order 2021 Calendars