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Daily News

February 04, 2021

In less than 24 hours, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax published clinical trial results for their vaccine candidates that are likely to impact the bargaining position of government officials who are negotiating prices for vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna.

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February 03, 2021

Incoming Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden’s (OR) office said Wednesday (Feb. 3) the committee has no plans to hold a confirmation hearing this week for President Joe Biden’s nominee for HHS secretary, Xavier Becerra, despite reaching a power-sharing agreement in the Senate and increasing pressure from advocates to move on the nomination.

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday (Jan. 3) did not issue a ruling on high profile case over the Affordable Care Act, despite speculation a decision potentially could come due to Friday’s announcement that some opinions would be out Feb. 3.

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Pennsylvania’s newly launched state-based exchange says the state saw a nearly 10% increase in new enrollment compared to last year and announced it will join several state exchanges by reopening its exchange for three-months to align with healthcare.gov.

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President Joe Biden is seeking $4 billion to build and equip two state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities with the capacity to produce and fill 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses per month, according to a breakdown of the president's broader $160 billion direct pandemic relief request shared by Protect Our Care.

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The federal government is partnering with California to launch community vaccination centers in two areas of the state that have been hit hardest by the pandemic, Oakland and Los Angeles, and there are plans to work with other states to stand up new sites over the coming weeks, the Biden administration announced Wednesday (Feb. 3).

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The American Hospital Association says hospitals need more time to show they met interoperability requirements in 2020 due to problems with the reporting system and the burdens of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the group asks CMS to push the attestation deadline from March 1 to May 1.

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Progressive advocates and health experts say President Joe Biden’s newly signed order directing federal agencies to revisit the Trump administration’s controversial public charge rule is a good first step to increasing Medicaid enrollment, but it will take a formal reversal of the rule and community outreach to undo the chilling effects of the policy.

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President Joe Biden’s national COVID-19 response plan commits to expanding the social service safety net to provide for unmet basic needs exacerbated by the pandemic, which experts and advocates say will likely translate into broadening Medicaid to cover more social determinants of health down the road.

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February 02, 2021

Some local governments organizations are already supporting President Joe Biden’s stimulus proposal, which would give them $350 billion in flexible COVID-19 relief funds -- compared to nothing extra under the Republican plan -- but city and county health officials wary of previous distributions not making it to the frontlines are waiting to see more details from lawmakers.

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State health officials told lawmakers Tuesday (Feb. 2) they need better predictability around how many COVID-19 vaccine doses they’ll receive each week, and some said until they know for sure there’s ample supply, they will continue holding back doses to make sure everyone who got their first dose is able to get their second shot.

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Senate Democratic leadership tapped Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) as the newest member of the powerful Senate Finance Committee that oversees public health programs and taxes, and the progressive senator immediately announced that she will push for a wealth tax and work to expand Medicaid, lower the age to enroll in Medicare and cut drug prices.

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Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) is pushing legislation that, coupled with the executive orders signed last week, would advance President Joe Biden’s health reform agenda by eliminating the ACA’s subsidy cliff, allowing Medicare drug price negotiation, incentivizing Medicaid expansion, and establishing a public option, although Warner’s version is limited to individual and small group exchanges.

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The lobby representing employers that provide health benefits regulated under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) is pressing the Biden administration to suspend the ACA penalties on employers who fail to provide minimal coverage for 2020.

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The Biden administration recently withdrew an unreleased draft rule on end-stage renal disease conditions of coverage that was expected to address the controversial issue of whether insurers must accept premium payments from third-party charities -- a move quickly applauded by kidney care advocates, although the rule could resurface.

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States are having a hard time documenting how they aimed to meet mental health parity requirements in their Medicaid and CHIP programs, and stakeholders don’t think those requirements greatly improved access to behavioral health services for beneficiaries.

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The Biden administration announced that it will begin delivering COVID-19 vaccines directly to pharmacies in addition to the vaccines that have been allotted to states, territories and tribes to further the United States’ vaccination efforts as part of President Joe Biden’s national COVID-19 response strategy.

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President Joe Biden will sign an executive order Tuesday (Feb. 2) directing federal agencies to revisit the Trump administration’s public charge rule, which denies green cards to legal immigrants based on their potential use of public benefits, including Medicaid.

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February 01, 2021

Congressional Democratic leaders Monday (Feb. 1) kicked off the fast-track process for passing a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package based on President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which includes temporary subsidies for COBRÅ and enhanced ACA tax credits in addition to boosting funds for vaccinations, testing and more.

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Members of the White House COVID-19 Response Team tried to ease concerns that health care providers won’t have enough COVID-19 vaccine supply to give out second shots to everyone who got the first dose, and they urged providers to not hold back shots that were intended as first doses.

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