Week Ending 7.3.2020

Weekly Policy Updates

Friday, July 2, 2020

TOP LINKS FOR THE WEEK ENDING 7.3.2020

Trump to Tap Senior HUD Official to Run Office of Personnel Management

Paid Parental Leave Proposed Rule Clears OMB

House Passes ACA Improvement Bill



FEHB & OPM

COVID-19

  • Lawmakers Press CDC for Plan on Distributing COVID-19 Vaccine: The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held a hearing this week with members of the coronavirus task force on safely reopening schools and workplaces. Top of mind to several senators was the lack of a comprehensive plan on vaccines from the CDC. CDC officials indicated that a plan is under development and will be available in the coming weeks.

  • FCC Boosts Rural Healthcare Funding by $198M, With Eye Toward Telehealth Expansion: Many small and remote providers are still in need of high-speed broadband, the FCC is responding my carrying forward unused funds from previous years to fill the gap.

  • HHS ‘Expects to Renew’ COVID-19 Emergency, Spokesman Says: A spokesperson from HHS tweeted on Monday night that the agency expects to renew the public health emergency which was set to expire later this month.

  • American Hospital Association Urges HHS to Maintain COVID-19 Flexibilities: In a letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma, the AHA to temporarily extend certain waivers and make others permanent beyond the COVID-19 public health emergency. AHA recommends that telehealth flexibilities should be permanent.

  • After Delay, Republicans Turn to Next COVID-19 Package. Senate Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, are expressing urgency about passing another stimulus package before the end of July. This comes after a period of inaction by Republicans, who had quickly dismissed the House-passed HEROES Act last month as a nonstarter. Democrats and Republicans have not reached agreement on the content of the next stage of COVID-19 relief, taking different positions on issues such as expanded unemployment support. Congress has just 11 days this month to pass a bill.

  • Senators Question COVID-19 Vaccine Price Controls. At a Thursday hearing, the Senate appropriations committee expressed concern about whether the government was doing enough to ensure that coronavirus vaccines developed with federal funds are affordable. Several Democrats charged the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) weakened language on pricing and patents in contracts the agency struck with manufacturers of candidate vaccines. Seven government grants for hundreds of millions of dollars for COVID-19 treatments apparently narrowed or remove boilerplate language designed to let the government assert authority over prices and production.

  • Indiana Approves Anthem’s Coronavirus Financial Relief Plan for Employers: The state of Indiana approved a plan from health insurer Anthem to provide COVID-19 relief to consumers and employers. Individuals will see credits ranging from 10-15% of their premium on their August bill. Dental plans will be discounted by 50% of the total premium.

  • Gilead Sets Price for COVID-19 Drug Remdesivir: The drug company will charge between $2,340 and $3,120 for a typical course of treatment. The price will vary depending on what kind of insurance coverage the patient has.

  • Humana to Offer Home COVID-19 Testing, Drive-Thru Testing at Walmart: Humana will offer in-home COVID-19 testing to its Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, Medicaid, and employer groups plans. Members will also have access to drive-thru testing at Walmart.


Policy Updates

  • House Passes ACA Improvement Bill: On Monday, House Democrats passed a bill expanding the Affordable Care Act, underscoring the health care law’s central role in their campaign pitch and drawing sharp contrast with President Trump’s efforts to eliminate the entire law. The bill would expand the law’s subsidies for private health insurance, encourage hold-out red states to expand Medicaid and reverse Trump administration policies seen as undermining the Affordable Care Act. The bill also contains a requirement for the government to negotiate drug prices. It is expected to be shunned by the Republican-controlled Senate.

Industry Updates

#COVID #ParentalLeave #ACA #OPMLeadership #OPMReorg #HealthIT #Telehealth

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