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Daily News

June 23, 2020

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield told lawmakers on Tuesday that CDC is working to ensure nursing home reporting data include ethnicity and race when it is sent to CMS to be publicly reported, although CMS hasn’t yet confirmed whether it will include such data.

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CMS on Tuesday (June 23) rolled out its promised Office of Burden Reduction and Health Informatics to reduce administrative costs across Medicare, Medicaid, the exchanges and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the new office will also leverage the regulatory flexibilities put in place during COVID-19.

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HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) tells Inside Health Policy that it has received more than 908,700 claims to cover the costs of COVID-19 testing or treatment for uninsured individuals since the reimbursement program went live in May.

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Medical device manufacturers are urging FDA to release guidance detailing the agency’s expectations for products released under emergency use authorizations (EUAs) and emergency discretion guidances once the COVID-19 public health emergency comes to a close and the temporary approvals are suspended.

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HHS and drug makers that donated hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to the national stockpile are determining what to do with leftover inventory, an HHS spokesperson said.

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Policy experts said FDA’s emergency use authorization process needs to be more transparent and suggested lawmakers should set clear and consistent standards, especially for drugs, in the wake of the agency’s quick reversal on EUAs granted this spring for antimalarial drugs that were touted by President Donald Trump to treat and prevent COVID-19.

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June 22, 2020

CMS on Monday (June 22) released sought-after Medicare data on beneficiaries’ COVID-19 outcomes that found black beneficiaries had the highest rates of hospitalization, followed by Hispanic beneficiaries, Asian beneficiaries and white beneficiaries -- but CMS Administrator Seema Verma said the data also showed the impact of socioeconomic status and the need for providers to move to value-based care.

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The House of Representatives and a group of Democratic attorneys general have filed amici briefs in the City of Chicago’s suit against HHS and CMS for refusing to set up a special enrollment period though healthcare.gov during the pandemic.

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Lambda Legal on Monday (June 22) filed suit alleging the Trump administration violated the Affordable Care Act, several provisions of the Constitution and the Administrative Procedure Act by finalizing a reinterpretation of the ACA’s non-discrimination rule that rolls back protections based on gender identity and pregnancy status, removes language requirements and reduces the scope of the rule.

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President Donald Trump and White House officials issued contradictory messages about whether the administration is slowing tests for COVID-19, and Democrats accused the administration of withholding testing funds.

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House Democrats Monday (June 22) unveiled legislation to improve and expand the Affordable Care Act and reportedly plan to vote on the bill Thursday (June 25), the same day that opponents of the law are slated to file opening briefs in the high-profile case now before the Supreme Court, California v. Texas.

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CMS on Thursday (June 18) issued a second public update of nursing home COVID-19 data that scrubbed about 3,000 resident deaths from the total count, which CMS attributes to obtaining more precise data.

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Gilead is licensing nine generic drug companies to make remdesivir to boost supplies of the investigational COVID-19 drug, according to a statement on the company’s website dated Monday (June 22).

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The American Hospital Association on Friday (June 19) called on HHS to extend the public health emergency declaration set to expire on July 25 until testing capacity increases and fewer people test positive for COVID-19.

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FDA has given Gilead the go-ahead to test, in clinical trials, an inhaled version of investigational antiviral remdesivir that potentially could be used by early-stage COVID-19 patients outside of the hospital.

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Former U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Congress should provide more financial resources to the agriculture sector and USDA to help solve issues highlighted by the current COVID-19 pandemic.

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June 19, 2020

The House Energy & Commerce Committee set up a taskforce on racial health disparities, including those due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Senate Finance ranking Democrat Ron Wyden (OR) suggested policies for improving the health of minorities in response to Chair Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) request for input on the issue.

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CMS on Friday (June 19) announced the 25 members of an independent commission that will assess nursing homes’ response to COVID-19 and provide recommendations on immediate and future responses.

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Safety net hospital organizations said many of their members will not receive HHS' latest $10 billion in provider relief meant specifically for them.

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Provider relief recipients won’t have to submit a separate quarterly report to HHS or the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee because the department will develop a report to satisfy the transparency requirements, HHS says in CARES Act frequently asked questions.

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