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Daily News

March 18, 2020

Large self-insured employers who praised Treasury for quickly clarifying that they can offer coronavirus-related services pre-deductible for consumers with high-deductible health plans linked to health savings accounts are also pushing legislation to codify that guidance and allow telehealth services to be covered for any visits, not just those related to coronavirus.

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Several pharmacist associations say FDA’s new guidance allowing compounding of hand sanitizers during the COVID-19 emergency falls short because key ingredients aren't available, and they ask for more flexibility in a letter to FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn Wednesday (March 18).

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce this week established a task force to address supply chain and trade disruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

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FDA issued a temporary policy easing its implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) to allow alternatives to onsite supplier verification methods due to the spread of COVID-19.

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March 17, 2020

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) sent a letter to his colleagues on Tuesday (March 17) calling for additional funding for hospital providers to help manage their response to COVID-19 as Congress prepares a third legislative package to tackle the pandemic.

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Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) unveiled on Monday (March 16) a plan to accept capped Medicaid spending while implementing work requirements, premiums and other conservative policies as the state seeks to be the first to take advantage of controversial new guidance from CMS inviting states to convert portions of their Medicaid programs into block-grant-style funding.

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State marketplaces continue to lead the effort to offer coverage to eligible uninsured individuals by opening up special enrollment periods while the coronavirus pandemic continues to grow.

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CMS on Tuesday (March 17) approved a 1135 waiver for Florida’s Medicaid program, just days after a national emergency declaration prompted a series of blanket waivers and encouragement from CMS for states to submit waivers for additional flexibilities in their Medicaid programs to respond to COVID-19.

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CMS, the HHS Office of Inspector General and the HHS Office for Civil Rights will be using enforcement discretion and regulatory waivers to ease access to telehealth for Medicare beneficiaries during the COVID-19 pandemic, the administration announced Tuesday (March 17).

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In light of the growing coronavirus threat and reported hand sanitizer shortages, FDA announced Saturday (March 14) it will not pursue enforcement action against compounders, including pharmacists, federal facilities, or outsourcing facilities, producing hand sanitizers for consumers -- provided certain conditions are met -- until the declared national emergency has ended.

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FDA late Monday evening (March 16) gave states authority to authorize coronavirus diagnostic tests in their own states and said private laboratories can develop and use coronavirus diagnostic tests prior to FDA approval.

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CMS' attempt to provide clarity on which coronavirus-related services are included in the essential health benefits (EHB) package required by the Affordable Care Act falls short, a health policy expert tells Inside Health Policy.

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March 16, 2020

Hospitals are asking Congress to remove the Medicare sequester at least for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and providers separately are asking for at least $1 billion in direct funding in COVID-19 legislation to cover a number of pandemic expenses including training for and implementing telemedicine.

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The White House Coronavirus Task Force on Monday (March 16) gave more details on the new phase of COVID-19 testing announced Sunday, saying it will begin to track test results from private labs and offering a timeline for the rollout of the new diagnostic tests.

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The National Institutes of Health announced the launch of the world's first COVID-19 vaccine trial on Monday (March 16).

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Immigrants who receive Medicaid-funded testing or treatment for COVID-19 will not be penalized under the Trump administration’s so-called public charge rule, federal immigration authorities announced late Friday (March 13).

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Community health centers on Monday (March 16) called on Congress to include an immediate increase in funding for community health centers as well as long-term funding for the centers, the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) and the Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program in its latest coronavirus package that passed the House late Friday (March 13).

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The hospitals and insurance companies wrapped up in the surprise billing debate on Capitol Hill say they will ban surprise, out-of-network bills for care related to coronavirus.

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Legislation that would create a standardized plan that must be offered by any insurer participating in Colorado’s insurance exchange passed an early hurdle as the House Health and Insurance committee voted 7-4 along party lines to refer the bill to the appropriations committee.

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March 13, 2020

President Donald Trump on Friday (March 13) said his national emergency orders will give broad authority to loosen telehealth restrictions and waive other Medicare regulations, many of which affect hospitals. Hospitals praised the national emergency declaration for breaking down regulatory barriers.

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