COVID-19 Federal Response Update – Wednesday, June 17, 2020

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By Capitol Associates, Inc. 

Congress

  • Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander endorsed making permanent two temporary Medicare telehealth policies. He would like patients to receive telehealth services from any location and he supports an expanded list of Medicare telehealth services.
  • Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Senate Finance Chairman, asked Committee members for suggestions on policy aimed at tackling racial and ethnic health disparities, especially during COVID-19.
  • Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as well as other health officials, are scheduled to appear at the House Committee of Energy and Commerce hearing on June 23.
  • Gerald Connolly, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee’s Subcommittee on Government Operations, sent letters to 24 Inspectors General (IG) that requests each IGs’ plans to monitor their respective agency’s return from telework to federal offices.

White House and Federal Agencies

  • HHS will hold two webinars on its recently announced $15 billion Provider Relief Fund distribution to Medicaid and CHIP providers. Pre-registration is required.
  • The first COVID-19 vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may only prevent severe symptoms instead of preventing the infection itself.
  • Fauci warned that we are still in the first COVID-19 wave despite the fact that many states and localities have begun reopening. He is advising people to “not let their guard down” despite the recent re-openings.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report that found that people with co-existing conditions are 12 times more likely to die from COVID-19.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) moved the deadline for health plans to submit 2019 Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) Annual Reporting Forms from July 31 to August 17.
  • The U.S.-Canada border will remain closed to non-essential travelers until July 21.
  • CMS Administrator Seema Verma published an Op Ed about how CMS will refocus its efforts on non-COVID-19 policies.

Economic Recovery

  • Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is encouraging Congress to pass more COVID-19 economic relief funding.
  • The Federal Reserve announced it will take more unprecedented action to help strengthen the economy. The Fed will begin purchasing individual corporate bonds both directly from companies and on secondary markets.
  • Retail sales in May increased by 17.7 percent.

Vaccine, Testing and Treatment

    • Results from a University of Oxford study showed that Dexamethasone, a commonly used steroid, reduces death in severe COVID-19 patients by up to one third. Scientists around the world are cautiously optimistic about the study but are remaining skeptical until they can review the research data.
    • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a fact sheet that provides more details for the White House Operation Warp Speed initiative to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.
    • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced it will leverage its “All of Us” research program to research COVID-19. All of Us is a collaborative NIH health research program intended to enroll at least one-million people. According to the announcement, it currently has 350,000 people enrolled.
    • The NIH is continuing its research and clinical trials of the malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, even though the FDA revoked the drug’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) earlier this week.

Please  contact the AHRA Regulatory Affairs Committee with any regulatory questions you may have at regulatory@ahra.org.


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