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Daily News

March 23, 2020

Republicans on the House Energy & Commerce Committee are pushing for the bipartisan Safeguarding Therapeutics Act (H.R. 5663) to be included in the COVID-19 response legislative package moving through Congress.

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The broad-based coalition of health care stakeholders that successfully lobbied to axe the Affordable Care Act’s 40 percent tax on high-cost health plans -- known as the “Cadillac tax” -- has relaunched as a lobby for policies to stabilize employer-sponsored coverage, arguing such coverage is a cornerstone of the health care system that must be protected.

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FDA announced Monday (March 23) that it will not take enforcement action against drug makers that don't conduct certain laboratory testing and imaging studies required by Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) amid the COVD-19 crisis.

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President Donald Trump on Sunday reaffirmed his support for the ongoing challenge to the Affordable Care Act, even as the suit threatens to strip protections for people with preexisting conditions in the midst of a global epidemic, infuriating health care advocates and Democratic officials.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL) blasted President Donald Trump and his administration’s response to the growing coronavirus pandemic for failing to open a healthcare.gov special enrollment period or to urge states to expand Medicaid, in a call Monday (March 23) marking the 10-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.

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CMS on Sunday (March 22) announced exceptions from reporting requirements and extensions for clinicians and providers participating in Medicare quality reporting programs -- including accountable care organizations and the Merit-based Incentive Payment System -- but the agency hasn’t yet laid out what it will do about 2020 data for MIPS and ACOs.

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The major health care insurance lobbies ask the National Governors Association to designate health insurance providers, including the workers and vendors that manage health plans, as “essential infrastructure” and “essential business” in all 50 states throughout the crisis.

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March 22, 2020

The Senate GOP’s third COVID-19 response package would fund a number of so-called health extenders through 2021 or through the end of that fiscal year, including funding for community health centers, and would delay the Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital pay cuts until fiscal 2022, as well.

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The Senate GOP stimulus coronavirus package includes an additional $75 billion in surge funding for hospitals, falling short of the $100 billion in funding sought by the hospital lobby.

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The updated phase three coronavirus package unveiled Sunday (March 22) by Senate Republicans keeps all the provisions proposed by the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday (March 19), including language expanding telehealth and increasing funding for community health centers.

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Senate Republicans attempted to remove language that would exempt drug shortage reports from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) disclosures while adding in confidentiality language in their phase three COVID-19 package unveiled Sunday (March 22).

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Senate Republicans continue to push for liability protections for mask manufacturers in their latest stimulus package, which includes a provision that would protect from lawsuits the manufacturer of any respiratory protective device that’s approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and deemed a medical countermeasure by HHS.

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The Senate GOP’s phase three coronavirus stimulus bill released Sunday (March 22) removes language, which had been included in a previous version of the legislative package that would allow inpatient hospitals to get paid for qualifying antibiotics under Medicare, and would require the Government Accountability Office to study possible barriers to antibiotic development.

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The Senate GOP’s third coronavirus stimulus bill includes several Medicare and Medicaid extenders, which jeopardizes the surprise billing and drug pricing policies that were excluded.

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March 20, 2020

All parties involved in the high-profile Texas v. USA case challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act asked the Supreme Court to approve an extended briefing schedule that would still allow oral arguments to be held in the October session.

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CMS is encouraging Medicare Part D plan sponsors to ensure that medication is delivered to patients without face-to-face contact during the COVID-19 outbreak. The agency notified Part D plans and Congress about the new policy Friday (March 20).

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Two members of a three-judge panel on Friday (March 20) seemed inclined to uphold the Trump administration’s expansion of short-term, limited-duration health plans that do not comply with the Affordable Care Act’s market reforms.

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The Alliance of Community Health Plans (ACHP) sent a letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma Thursday (March 19) asking her to open a special enrollment period for all Affordable Care Act marketplace coverage in light of President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency last week.

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S&P analysts recently ran a stress test of a hypothetical pandemic and found that 900,000 to 4 million of 170 million Americans in fully insured plans could be hospitalized, depending on the severity of the illness.

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Key insurance industry lobbies are now calling for federal lawmakers to open healthcare.gov for a special enrollment period (SEP) to ensure anyone who needs coverage can get it regardless of coverage status, but also request a temporary federal backstop to mitigate the financial risk.

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