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Daily News

April 09, 2021

The House Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Friday (April 9) floated its priorities for the next legislative package, which include lowering Medicare’s eligibility age and expanding the program’s benefits, and paying for the reforms with savings from policies it advocates to cut drug costs.

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CMS plans to reinstate on May 10 three nursing homes requirements waived due to the pandemic, including one that eliminated the advance notice that facilities must give patients before moving them, but the agency plans to continue the nurse aide training and certification waiver that lawmakers and patient advocates have said are no longer necessary.

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State Medicaid officials told the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission Friday (April 9) that while telehealth has been crucial throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency, refinements are needed before telehealth can be made permanent.

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Pfizer and BioNTech on Friday (April 9) asked FDA to expand the emergency use authorization for their COVID-19 vaccine to include adolescents ages 12 to 15, coming a little more than a week after the companies announced that phase 3 data show the vaccine is 100% effective in preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection and induces a robust antibody response in that age group.

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President Joe Biden’s fiscal year 2022 discretionary budget preview, released Friday (April 9), builds off health priorities in the recently enacted American Rescue Plan and proposed American Jobs Plan by calling for additional funding for home- and community-based services, tackling the opioid crisis, rural health and more.

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The Biden administration wants to enhance FDA’s “organizational capacity” as part of its larger goal of preparing the United States to respond to future public health crises.

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President Joe Biden wants Congress to give $8.7 billion to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in fiscal 2022 -- an increase of $1.6 billion over fiscal 2021 enacted levels that, if Congress were to follow through on, would be the largest budget authority hike for CDC in nearly 20 years, the White House says in its discretionary budget proposal released Friday (April 9).

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April 08, 2021

The Senate Finance Committee will hold confirmation hearings for CMS Administrator-nominee Chiquita Brooks-LaSure and Deputy HHS Secretary-nominee Andrea Palm on April 15, months after the Biden White House announced the appointments and as Democrats gear up for a potentially major health care overhaul.

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CMS proposes to increase skilled nursing facility’s pay a net 1.3%, or $444 million, in fiscal 2022, and to add two new quality reporting measures in fiscal year 2023: vaccination rates among health care personnel staff and health care acquired infections.

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While CMS limited its annual hospice payment policies last year to essential policies due to the pandemic, the agency recommends a slew of changes in its proposed fiscal year 2022 hospice pay policies: make a COVID-19 waiver permanent, make several changes to the Hospice Quality Reporting Program and revise the labor shares.

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In its latest guidance for the generic drug industry, FDA indicates that due to the backlog of onsite facility inspections, some generic drug makers might not be able to meet requirements for tentative approval for their drugs and as a result might not qualify for 180-day exclusivity, which raises questions about whether FDA will use its authority to disqualify companies from exclusivity, and if so, how the agency would decide which companies qualify and which don’t.

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Hospitals are calculating whether it would be better for them to immediately repay their Medicare loans or have the payments taken out of their claims after CMS announced it’s beginning to recoup payments under the Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payment Program.

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The American Hospital Association and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists want to meet with FDA to make their case that insurer “white bagging” policies, which prevent hospitals from buying outpatient drugs from the specialty pharmacies of their choice, threaten supply chain security and pose safety risks to patients.

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The National Pharmaceutical Council has named John O’Brien, a Trump-HHS point person on drug pricing, as its new president and CEO.

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The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission unanimously voted in favor of draft recommendations to cover all preventive vaccines under Part B for free to beneficiaries.

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The Government Accountability Office said the U.S. government doesn’t own patent rights to Gilead’s remdesivir, a coronavirus treatment for which HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra last year urged the government to break the patent when he was California attorney general.

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April 07, 2021

The Department of Labor on Wednesday (April 7) affirmed that unemployed workers can enroll in exchange plans once the American Rescue Plan’s temporary full federal subsidies for those on COBRA end in September.

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The Department of Labor on Wednesday (April 7) affirmed that unemployed workers can enroll in exchange plans once the American Rescue Plan’s temporary full federal subsidies for those on COBRA end in September.

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CMS plans to modify the inpatient psychiatric facilities’ quality reporting program by adding a measure that assesses COVID-19 vaccination rates among health care personnel and another that expands who can provide follow-up care for patients hospitalized with a mental illness, according to a proposed rule unveiled Wednesday (April 7) that would also increase next year’s pay for the facilities.

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CMS proposes to increase inpatient rehabilitation facilities' fiscal year 2022 pay by 1.8%, or $160 million, relative to last year's payments, and to advance the Biden administration’s focus on health equity.

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